The sun doesn’t set in Tromsø, Norway, at this time of the year. So, 3:00 in the afternoon looks and feels almost identical to 3:00 in the morning. I’ve never experienced anything like this before, so these past couple of days have been a very interesting learning experience for me.
When I arrived in Bergen at the start of the Dialogue, I was amazed by the sun setting around 10:30 pm. However, over the course of these past two and a half weeks, we have continued to move up the coast of Norway to higher and higher latitudes. The sunset was later and later at all of these locations, and now we officially have 24 hours of daylight since arriving in Tromsø and entering the Arctic Circle. Being in the Arctic Circle is a very strange existence, and I wanted to reflect on how my life is affected by experiencing 24 hours of daylight.
The most significant way that so much daylight has affected me is perhaps the most obvious – my sleep schedule is way different than at home. When I’m at college, I’m a huge morning person. I go to bed around 10:00 pm and wake up around 6:00 am to start my day nice and early. This is especially important in the winter when I want to take advantage of the limited hours of sunlight that Boston receives. However, since being here in Norway, I have noticed that I’m not getting tired as early as usual. It looks the same outside regardless of the time of day, which makes it difficult to gauge the time. And, since I’m not receiving any cues from the sun that it’s time to go to bed, I’ve been staying up a lot later. I often find myself going to bed at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning after staying up late doing homework or calling my family and friends from back home.
On some days, this has significantly impacted my energy levels since I still need to wake up early to participate in each of the day’s activities. Although it may be difficult, I am going to try to start going to bed earlier and returning to more of my usual sleep schedule. This is important to me since I will be starting co-op as soon as I return to the United States, so I need to make sure that my body is adjusted to waking up early again!
So much daylight has also impacted how and when I do school work. Since I’m usually a morning person, I’m used to doing homework in the mornings and not doing homework after a certain time at night. But, similarly to why I’m going to bed later, I have been doing homework later and later while I’m here. I’ve noticed that doing homework late at night has affected my productivity. So, I’ve also started to try to stop doing work at a certain time here as well so that I’m on a similar schedule as I am back home.
Twenty-four hours of daylight definitely has its perks, though. On the second day that we were here, a group of us decided to go on a hike to see the “Midnight Sun.” Near midnight, the sun is lower in the sky, and it casts a beautiful golden glow on the surrounding area. We decided to hike up to where the cable car goes since that would provide us a view of the entire island of Tromsø. Our, at times, steep and snowy hike brought us to the top of the viewpoint just before midnight, and we were amazed by the intensity of the sun at that hour. Along our hike, we saw people with skis on their backs that were going to ski at the top and other people who were trail running up the many stone steps leading to the viewpoint. It was really interesting to see people walking, running, and skiing as if it was the middle of the afternoon when in reality, it was the middle of the night.
A couple of days after that, one of my friends on the Dialogue had a birthday. We celebrated her birthday the whole day, and we ended up going to 7/11 at 2:30 am for a late-night hot dog run. When we walked outside, it was completely bright out. That was a bit disorienting at first, but at the same time, it was really cool. Especially as a female traveler, it provided me with comfort to know that, even when it was the middle of the night, I was able to walk around in the daylight. Norway is already considered one of the safest countries for female travelers, but the added hours of daylight made me feel even safer.
In a couple of days, we will be traveling to Svalbard, which is even further north. There, we will also have 24 hours of daylight. I’m looking forward to continuing to experience the strangeness of daylight at all hours of the day while beginning to work on fixing my sleep and homework schedule.