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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Student captures phenomenon in Arctic Circle

Do you prefer mountains or the beach? That has always been an essential question in getting to know a person.

Connie Lai studying abroad in London.

Having been born in Sunnyvale, California, where it was always sunny (no pun intended), my obvious answer would be the beach, right?

Well, not exactly. After moving to New England and living there most of my life, I have formed a certain attachment to mountains.

Growing up, my father’s job as a scientist frequently demanded travel. That was the beginning of my love affair with globe-trotting. I remember always running to the bottom of the stairs when I knew he was coming back from a trip, excited to see if he brought back cool souvenirs. There’s also the fact that I can’t remember the last time I spent a summer in my town because we were always away.

Now, fast forward to 2015 in London. I have been studying abroad for exactly four months. While I have fallen in love with London’s natural charm, there are also parts of me that yearn for the remote solitude I have been missing, and that is what prompted me to travel to the Arctic Circle two weekends ago.

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It was a quick and rash decision, to say the least. I had been thinking about this for some time now, but actually going through with it? I didn’t expect myself to. I had always dreamed of traveling to that part of the continent one day, and I guess I just ended up having one of those private moments with myself where I said, “Why the hell not?”

Rewinding to the moments from that weekend, I am stumped. I feel as if I can’t accurately put my experience down on paper because the moment I set foot in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, I was speechless. My first thought was that I have only had two other moments like this in my life, where words have failed me and I cried on the spot. The place was so beautiful it took my breath away.

Photos by Connie Lai/Journal Staff

You could say I was lucky to have witnessed the string of otherworldly events that occurred that weekend: the solar eclipse and the famous aurora borealis.

You may want to know if the northern lights were as beautiful as they look on paper, and my answer is no. They were better.

While observing the spectacle was truly an awe-inspiring experience, the photos that came out of my DSLR still cannot compare to what I witnessed with the naked eye. The intensity of the lights was something that mystified me in the most beautiful way. My father would tell you that the northern lights are just charged particles that stem from the solar wind and earth’s magnetic fields. And while that may be true, I still choose to look at it as a phenomenon.

Eight countries so far. All beautifully different. My experience of being abroad is not something I am able to sum up in a few words. All I can tell you is that sometimes it is good to get lost for a while, whether it be in Boston or the Arctic Circle. I have fallen in love with 100 more people and places this year, and the truth is, I have no idea where I am going to end up anymore. Sometimes, not having a plan is the best plan. So far, it has worked out for me.

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Connie Lai
Connie Lai, Staff Writer
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Student captures phenomenon in Arctic Circle