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My Svalbard Story - Part 2: Daily Life in the Arctic Town

Longyearbyen is by far most the most memorable town where I have stayed in. A town filled with mine workers with their families, adventure guides and scientists. The daily life in Longyearbyen evolved around work, grocery shopping at the only supermarket in the city centre, lunch at cafe Fruene and the two options for after-work beer, Svalbard or Kroa. Every day had the same pace: 8 o'clock meeting, pre-flight, lunch if not flying (always the Serrano-ham sandwich), post-flight, grocery, Netflix or a beer and bed. Some join yoga retreats to lead an ascetic life style and some do airborne field campaigns.

In an era where you can get everything everywhere and every time, Longyearbyen was a reminder that limitless consume is an illusion. Often it was the case that some groceries had sold out and not available before the next shipment would arrive. How happy I was to finally get my favourite beer brand after days of out-of-stock. Also I grow to really appreciate fresh vegetables in a land of a permafrost. A simple salad with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber was an investment but well worth it.

The stay in Longyearbyen was made even more memorable by the town itself, the buildings and people. In the city itself all the housing was in condos with one or two stories high. All condos had more or less the same style. Maybe some had balconies and some not but otherwise everybody seemed to live equal. I bet this has an effect on the community feeling. In a town like Longyearbyen towner have to stick together as the changing climate have issued a repeating avalanche danger. In 2015 one person got killed in an avalanche and this year several homes were destroyed.

Longyearbyen is going through a transformation. Mines are closing down and what former was a mining town is looking for a new identity. Also since the ongoing climate change is really hitting Longyearbyen hard, promoting an image as a coal mining town would be somewhat contradictory. The new image of Longyearbyen, and the whole Svalbard, is orienting itself towards town of scientists. The University is well present in the city centre and educating visitors of not only of polar bears but the chances taking place in the economy. As a scientists I found Longyearbyen as a perfect base with most of the modern luxuries and unforgettable scenery for my daily work.

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