In terms of studying, this is a new experience for me. We are taking a course with only 13 students from Germany, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom. The atmosphere is even more informal than I am used to at the University of Twente, and the teacher takes part in all lessons. As a study, we often go for a walk at the weekends, or dive into the sea for a short while.
Before I left for Svalbard, I asked my staff worker Jan Jaap, if he happened to know whether IFES was also present there. His answer was short but clear: “no, but… of course you can also set something up”. That’s how I got in touch with the Norwegian IFES: LAGET, and the church there. They were very excited. Even before the lectures at the university started, I happened to meet 3 other Dutch students in church. They already followed the Student Alpha and we thought it would be nice to do something similar here. Later we got in touch with a French classmate who also wanted to participate, and we were offered a space by the church to meet.
Being a Christian in Spitsbergen is different from what I was used to at my student union back home. Only 2000 people live here, so you can only choose from 1 church. Besides that, most of the students are here only for six months, which made it hard for a Christian student group to be established. We would like to change this, but it will be difficult for the coming semesters.
Now that the sun is staying below the horizon longer and the Northern Lights are emerging, I would like to ask you if you would like to pray for the people here. That the polar night may not bring any dangers, no one becomes depressed and that a Bible study group for students in Longyearbyen may continue to exist in the coming semesters. I would also like to thank God for the beautiful nature he has created and how he has brought us together here as Christians.
Greetings from the far north!