Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Winter Activities in Fairbanks

By Maura Sullivan


If you haven’t lived in Fairbanks all your life, or are a “Sourdough” as they are called, you might be looking at these increasingly colder temperatures and wondering what in the world people do up here during the winter. We are currently averaging about four hours of daylight, which doesn’t leave much time to enjoy the outdoors if you have a busy class schedule. Here are some things that you can do if you’re staying in Fairbanks over winter break!

See the Northern Lights! If you haven’t already, go out for a walk on a cold, clear night with a few friends, a thick coat and a thermos of hot chocolate! Seeing the Aurora Borealis is one of the most worthwhile reasons of living in Alaska, and if you see a color other than green, it is one of the best experiences one can have. The NOAA website has a really great Aurora forecast, that updates about every 30 minutes of so.


Get a great workout and enjoy some cross country skiing at Birch Hill! Located on Wilderness Drive, the area offers extensive and challenging cross country ski trails for use.


If you prefer downhill skiing and snowboarding, you can “shred some pow” at the Moose Mountain Ski Resort. Birch Hill is open Monday through Sunday, and Moose Mountain is open November through February.

heading down moose.jpg

Since you are UAF students, you have free entry to the Museum of the North, that really cool iceberg looking building on campus, past the Reichhardt building. While there you can enjoy a cup of coffee from ACRC while looking out the window at the beautiful Brooks Range. You can also check out the various exhibits in the museum, including the new dinosaur exhibit, the Aurora Room, the Gallery of Alaska, and the Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery. You can also get a wonderful Alaskan-made souvenir from the gift shop, and watch the 30 minute movies that all about the geographic and historical aspects of Alaska. On December 31st from 7-9pm you can watch the fireworks at West Ridge, and enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies in the museum.


Take a drive or cab ride out to Chena Hot Springs. This may be a little pricy, but in the winter, it is one of the best places to enjoy the Northern Lights and get a wonderful soak in the natural hot springs. They’re open everyday from 7am till midnight. You can also book massage appointments, eat at the restaurant and visit the bar if you’re 21. You can also visit the Ice Museum, which features amazing ice sculptures in the constant 25 ˚F. Perks for those who are 21, you can drink a martini made out of a glass carved from ice!



Visit LARS, the large animal research station. Located off of Ballaine road, near the University, you can see muskox and reindeer, as well as some of their cute calves!


Friday, December 11, 2015

Fall 2015 Flag Dedication Ceremony Highlights

By Maura Sullivan


The UAF Flag dedication ceremony has been a tradition at the Fairbanks campus for many years, and promotes diversity and international connections. The flags that hang in the Wood Center show the diversity of the student body at UAF. For each international student or exchange student, a flag is hung to represent their home country. On November 20th, we heard from four speakers; the Director of the International Programs, Donna Anger , the ISO president and two of our international students. Our two students that spoke for their flag dedication were from Denmark and Jordan.

The Danish student, Peter Ladefoged, told the story of how the Danish flag came to be what it is today. The most popular legend is that on the field of battle with Estonians in 1219, the Danish were losing, but after praying to God, a flag fell from the sky and the Danes went on to win the battle. The flag is called the Dannebrog, and is the oldest continuously used national flag in the world.


The white cross represents Christianity, and the red stands for the battle and bloodshed where it appeared.

The second student we heard from is Ala’a Mutawe, a degree seeking student from Jordan. She presented a slideshow about the beautiful sites of her home country, and gave us a wonderful introduction to her culture. She was wearing her traditional Jordanian dress, that had the most amazingly intricate beading. She explained that though they have a similar style dress in other Middle Eastern Countries, you could tell the difference by the pattern of the beading. She also served some delicious black spiced coffee that had cardamom in it, which is one of the essential spices for Jordanian cooking. The black, red and white bands represent the three caliphs: Abbasid, Umayyad and Fatimid. The red chevron is for the Hashemite dynasty, and the seven pointed star signifies the unity of the Arab people and seven verses for the first surah in the Qur’an.


The third flag to be dedicated was the flag from Greenland, but unfortunately the student was not able to make it. The local name in the Greenlandic language is Erfalasorput, which means ‘our flag’, and has been used as the national flag for 20 years. It is the only Nordic country to not use a cross on their flag. Because Greenland is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, they use red and white of the Danish flag. The colors represent the white of the snow and the red of the sun. The circle in the middle represents the rising and setting sun.


Here are some pictures taken at the event: 
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UAF's International Student Organization (ISO) leading the ceremony.

Danish exchange student Peter Ladefoged speaking about his flag.

Jordanian student Ala'a Mutawe, dressed in a traditional Jordanian dress, speaks about her flag.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Feature of the Month- November

"I Picked the Farthest University I could Find From Home!"

Johanna Bocklet is a graduate student in Economics at UAF. She is from Koblenz, Germany, a city similar to Fairbanks. Johanna started her bachelor’s degree in Economics in Heidelberg University and wanted to study abroad for a semester. She didn’t know a lot about Alaska when she chose to go to school here but when she got here, she was infatuated. 

She was fascinated by the Alaskan outdoor, waking up to see the mountains outside her window every morning and viewing the northern lights. After a semester at UAF, she returned to Germany to finish her degree and realized her bond with Alaska was more than an infatuation. She got so used to living and learning in and around the wilderness in Alaska that on her return, Heidelberg seemed to have lost some of its familiarity. She also missed the close attention that the professors provide to the students at UAF because of the small class sizes.
She says “I picked the farthest university I could find from home!” mentioning her love for traveling and living in different countries

She didn’t really know if she wanted to do a job or go to grad school after she earned her bachelor’s degree. But given the chance, she would definitely go back to experience more of Alaska.

Johanna with her colleagues after first snow in September 2015

She says, “I applied to UAF for a master’s in Economics degree in the summer of 2014, got accepted and also got offered a job as a Teaching Assistant in the Economics Department!” She says her master’s program is quite interesting and absorbing.

What do you like about Alaska?

She admires the outdoors and loves to travel. “My favorite places in Alaska are Seward and Valdez!- There are mountains on one side and the ocean on the other, and it is simply amazing!”

(L) Johanna in the coastal city of Seward 
She loves to go backpacking and on skiing trips when she isn’t busy with her job and studies

How were you first summer and winter experiences?

The summer of 2015 was her first one here. “It is crazy to explore Alaska when it is not cold!”

Having not been to a place that isn’t road accessible, she says “I’d love to go to a place where you have to be dropped off by an aircraft and spend some time there. Because in Alaska, you don’t have to “find” great spots. It is beautiful no matter where you go. So whenever I can, I try to head out of Fairbanks and explore!”

“My experience transitioning into winter was a funny one. In the beginning, -5°C seemed pretty cold and I didn’t know if I could bear more but come November it just kept on getting colder and darker!”

Johanna at the temperature display on the UAF campus- very close to joining the 40 below club

Being an exchange student then, she would sometimes find comfort in the fact that she was going home at the end of the semester. The dark and cold however, wouldn’t hold her back from being outdoors. “I would go out skiing in December with my headlight on!” she laughs.

“Even after having a sunrise at 11am and walking back from class at 6pm in pitch black darkness to be greeted by the Northern Lights in the winter is a pretty good deal for living in such a cold place in the winter”

What do you miss about home?

German politics, Sparkling water, family, friends, and especially seasonal food from her region in Germany. Döbbekuchen: also called “poor man’s food”, she adds “Döbbekuchen is made from grated potatoes baked in a pot with sausages (pepperoni or salami) and served with applesauce” with a tone of nostalgia. 

“Specific months remind me of specific delicacies. Like November reminds me of Döbbekuchen: it is a very regional food and other parts of Germany probably haven’t heard about it!”

Are you ready to graduate and leave Alaska?

“Easy answer!
She would love to work in Alaska after she earns her master’s degree. “My interest is in environmental consulting. I will apply for jobs and see how it goes from there”. She says, “If not Alaska, I would probably go back and work in Europe.”

UAF in one word

Zu Hause- The feeling of being home.
English sometimes does fall short of expressing feelings with words…
She likes being part of the very friendly community here and feels safe living on the UAF campus.

“If I was traveling home to Koblenz, I would say I’m going home… If I was traveling to UAF, I would definitely say the same”

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Hello all!


My name is Panav Hulsurkar and I am an international student and a Global Ambassador for International Programs and Initiatives at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
I will be blogging about everything related to living and learning here at UAF and the United States of America, from the point of view of an “alien” :D
If you are a prospective international student or just a curious soul, you will find a few interesting things here!

My experience as a tropical dwelling creature, leaving the comfortable 25°C (77°F) weather in Pune, India to travel to the other side of the world to -37°C (-34.6°F) to Fairbanks, Alaska, temperature- wise, was shocking.

My first step out of the airport wasn’t a comfortable one…
It didn’t take me long to get used to it, though

I had never left my native India (apart from that one trip to Nepal when I was 8) and I knew it was going to be an exciting adventure for me. Thanks to the internet and the unwavering ripple of westernisation that has been traveling East, I already knew a lot about the USA, its culture and people. As my departure neared, an air of nervousness and doubt started to creep in with all my friends and family visiting me, giving me gifts and saying their goodbyes

I guess most of us go through this phase of uneasiness when we are about to start a new, a very different chapter in our lives. But when you persevere through that last crest, you rarely regret your decision. 

(L) I got a lot of stuff, including a loofah from a friend who wanted to remind me of them every time I took a shower

All the research and reading I did before I left for Fairbanks was not going to prepare me for its sheer beauty and all the amazing people I met here. This is one of those places where you can only truly experience when you actually are there. The climate, wildlife, the bizarre day- night cycles, the very welcoming people and of course, the best light show on Earth; The Aurora Borealis!

The Office of International Programs (OIP) is the usually the first official place you visit and file your immigration documents (documentation that says you are a legal alien in the US!). It sounds a little intimidating, but the staff at OIP makes the process anything but intimidating.
Sue Wolfe (L) and I at OIP. Sue was cheerful and very involved. She would always put a smile on your face

The International Programs and Initiatives staff
L- R: Jo, Donna, Joanna, Nicole, Carol and Reija

Everyone at the office is kind, helpful and welcoming. First impressions are very important and I am glad that the OIP was my first formal interaction with UAF!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Feature of the Month- October

"Full of Surprises!"


Junko Yanagida was born and raised in Japan, moved to Hawaii, lived in the lower 48 (the mainland US) for a few years before moving to Alaska in 2010 and to UAF as a graduate student in fine arts and native arts studio program. She lived here for two years after which she got married to Vitaly Lednev, a television and newspaper commercial designer, also an ice sculptor.

She came back to complete her degree in the spring of 2015. Her two week long thesis show, based on birch bark begins on March 19, 2016. 

Junko with one of her Birch Bark and Ceramic creations (L) and at work in the studio

Why UAF?

She is very interested in indigenous culture. She has been studying the Australian Aborigines, the native Hawaiians, The Navajo and Utah Indian.  Junko points “Alaska is home to indigenous people living under extreme weather conditions” UAF is the only university in the United States to offer a graduate program in native arts studio.

Junko’s Birch Bark Kimono Project.
This Kimono was the Jury’s first choice of exhibition for the 30th Annual, 64th Parallel Bear Gallery Art Show at the Fairbanks Art Community. The show runs all of October 2015

She added, “In the Japanese culture, viewing the northern lights as a child is considered to bring good luck and I wanted to experience the charming lights”, another reason Junko wanted to live in Alaska.

“Don’t forget the Alaskan Salmon!”, she chuckled in the end.

               The Northern Lights, seen by the author in the 
                                  Denali National Park

All these factors made her decide that UAF would be a terrific place to start her Alaskan journey.

First winter and summer experience

She loves the nature and says “UAF is the perfect place for me: situated in the interior, close to the wilderness, but civilized enough to be able to enjoy modern conveniences like going grocery shopping”
Her first winter in Alaska was tough. Even then, she went to the temperature display screen on campus when it was -40°C (-40°F) to take a photo next to it with as little clothes as she could with her friends, to be in the 40 below club. She says “Me and my friends took off our jackets and beanies and posed in the very popular Japanese peace signs!” She caught a cold the next day, but says it was totally worth it!
She loves the summer. She says, “Trees grow quick, faster and longer in the summer. It is beautiful. The contrast is amazing from no leaves at all in the winter to all of the trees exploding with color and life in the summer. It makes me feel like they are bustling with joy” It gives her a lot of inspiration and energy for her birch bark based art work.
(L) "The 40 below club" (From UAF ambassador's blog)

She likes both the extremes. But the transition in between isn’t as fun, she adds. “It is muddy and rainy and you have to wash your car after every drive!”

What do you miss about home?

“I miss food. Especially Miso soup. I even carry a pack on instant Miso soup in my pocket every day for security!” She misses a simple, comfortable meal like rice and Miso soup with family. She comes from a large family where communal meals are commonplace. Though the Japanese community sometimes gets together, having the workload of a graduate student, she has to settle for a lot of alone- meals…

Instant Miso Soup
(From Otakuisine's blog)

She also misses Onsen (Hot springs) “I have to drive an hour and a half to get to Chena hot springs- the closest hot springs to Fairbanks"

What Next?

“I hope to teach drawing/ art in the US for a little bit to students pursuing higher education during my OPT period” She doesn’t mind going to villages/ country sides and teaching drawing.

“You just need paper and pencil. And it is so much better than sitting in front of the computer!” she says. Helping her husband with his designs and ice sculptures is another thing she considers doing after she turns the final leaf in her UAF chapter.

(L) Junko with her student

UAF in a phrase.

Full of surprises!

She says there are countless little surprises hidden here. The weather, food, people, the occasional days off when students get to sleep in because the roads are too slippery, how people dress for up- winter weddings in boots and jackets and so on…

UAF is a very different and interesting place. She hopes many of international students have their first experience in the United States here at UAF.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Feature of the Month- July

‘It was my first time abroad’


Marcel Soubrovsky Clemente, 20 years old, left São Paulo, Brazil, to go live abroad and study petroleum engineering at UAF.
Why Choosing UAF/Fairbanks?
Clemente lived all his life in Brazil, mainly in São Paulo but he traveled all around his home country. He decided to go abroad for the first time in his life about a year ago. He chose the United States. “Mainly because of my field of study: petroleum engineering,” Clemente said. After researching about the different schools and places he messaged some UAF students on Facebook to make sure UAF was a good place for him and his degree.
What does he do in his study?
Clemente chose UAF because of the Petroleum Engineering program. He worked with his professor Dr. Shirish Patil to develop software to calculate the pressure inside. They built it from what the professor will need to teach his students. “The software calculates the pressure in different parts of a pipe with multiple fluids,” Clemente said, “such as water, oil, gas.” His professor will use the software for basic calculations in his Introduction to Petroleum Engineering, Drilling class. The software will be “in a friendly platform,” Clemente said, “it will run on Windows, Mac, Linux and even smartphones.”
UAF in one word: ‘Awesome experience’
Fairbanks and UAF was a totally new experience for Clemente. “My university was in Santos,” Clemente said, “I could see the sea from our windows.”
Fairbanks was a challenge and a big change for Clemente. Instead of the sea, the beach and the sun, he experienced mountains, snow, and -40°F. “It is a different place,” Clemente said, “not like anything else.”
Outside his studies he was able to experience and enjoy winter and summer Alaska. He loves photography, “every night I would go outside and take pictures of the Northern Lights,” Clemente said. During the summer, he takes his bike at least twice a week to take pictures of Alaska’s beauty. He also participated to expositions, such as “The Night Sky.”
His favorite thing about Fairbanks and UAF are the landscapes.
‘Search for Adventures’
Clemente is having a great experience at UAF and he has few tips for the future exchange students.
“Go to Outdoor Adventures.” Outdoor Adventures rent equipment to experience Alaska’s many adventures possibilities. They also offer trips, organized by UAF, to experience Alaska fully and to meet new people. It is a great way to see around Alaska, especially without a car.
“Search for the activities.” UAF has a lot of activities all around campus, from sports to board game to photography and theater. There is something for everyone’s interest. (Come see our “What to do at UAF” page for more details.)
“Try to meet people.” UAF and Fairbanks are “full of interesting people,” meeting people is a big part of your experience wherever you are. People living in Alaska are from all over the world and have stories and experiences to share. Also, people from here will have seen so much more of Alaska. “You can learn from their experiences,” Clemente said.
Where does he come from?
Clemente is from São Paulo, the biggest city in Brazil. There is about 20 million people, a big change from the almost 32 thousand inhabitants of Fairbanks. “It is more crowded than New York,” Clemente said.
His university in Santos is about an hour away from São Paulo. Clemente’s experience at UAF is going well but he still misses the beach, “I used to walk on the beach everyday after class,” Clemente said. Brazil has a lot of delicious food that Clemente can’t have here, such as “brigadeiro,” made out of chocolate, sweetened condensed milk and chocolate sprinkles.
One of Clemente’s favorite things here was the campus.  Through the activities on campus and outside the campus he plainly enjoyed his experience here. In Brazil, as many part of the world, there are no campuses. The U.S. is one of the countries where college is not only studying but also about experiencing and enjoying your youth. Campuses make it easier for students to meet people but also to learn and experience the part of the country where your campus is.
His next adventures
Clemente will leave UAF on August 3rd but he is not done traveling. After the end of his research project he will be going back to Brazil and start a new adventure in Pau, France in 2016.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Global Ambassadors Take Flight!

Image source:http://www.liftstudios.ca/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/liftoff_city_blog.jpg

Hi all!

Welcome to our fresh-out-of-oven blog! On behalf of the OIPI staff, thank you for your commitment to the Global Ambassador Program and to UAF. We all look forward to helping you guys develop to your full potential and seeing what you have to offer. The Global Ambassador Program (or the GAP Initiative as I secretly like to call it because I love acronyms :P) is practically newborn so we will be learning as much as you guys throughout the year. We always welcome suggestions for improvement so don't be afraid to speak up! Again, thank you for choosing the GAP and for choosing UAF.