Meet one of the few people who were actually raised in Spitsbergen. Read a story of a young mother below.
Transcription from interview with Maria [30-09-2016], unedited:
“I was going to leave “the Arctic life” and never ever go back. There was no chance I would would continue my life on the island. I am more of a city girl. A lot of people who go to Spitsbergen go for the nature and have a unique experience. Me and my friends are like… big city people. We don’t like snow, darkness, or the cold. But then I finished school went to the mainland and… I don’t know if it something in the water… But this is home. I know this now. And it is funny because I actually like the winter most up here. When it is dark, I just sit inside and listen to the wind… as long as I don’t have to get outside. The winter on the mainland was colder because you did not wear appropriate winter clothing, like extra pants or a thick jacket. That’s something you don’t do – It is all about looking good. Here you would wear something appropriate for the cold. I do consider it important that kids get to know what life is like on the mainland. That as well. Because it is fully possible to have a good life on the mainland as well and most people have to go back to the mainland. People are not allowed to stay if they can’t manage for themselves. Or if they get sick. There is a little hospital here, but no caretaking for elderly people, unless you want to pay for it yourself. So people are not supposed to die and be born up here.
My mother (67) worked for more than 42 years on the island. So she always says that if she has to leave they have to take her to sea and shoot her. And I kind of understand because after 42 years you don’t have anything to “go back to”. You have your life here. She owns her own house. So as long as her pension can cover her expenses, she can stay. She was a waiter. She probably won’t have the biggest pension ever, but I think it is okay. She has nothing to go back to. I guess we have to move before we get to that point.
When I grew up there was this racy house development, can’t explain it, it was so extreme. It was kind of quiet. And then suddenly this exploded with buildings everywhere. It went from 1,000 people to 2,000 people. It just doubled in a couple of years. All of the sudden you don’t know everyone on the local Facebook page anymore. The environment changes as well: glaciers are getting smaller and are withdrawing. My husband works as a politician for the environmental party and my mother does not believe in climate changes, I am not sure what to believe although there is no denying that the climate is subject to change. It is currently 10 ˚C in September which is not a good sign. Last winter we did not have much frost, not much colder than –10 ˚C degrees or so. No good. We had this avalanche this winter. And it was the worst winter weather in 30 years. It is probably hard to tell if it is global warming, but something is happening for sure.”