After having finished the elementary course in physics at the University of Ulm in Germany (the "Vordiplom"), I spent 2 semesters as an exchange student at the University of Tromsø in Northern Norway.
Tromsø is the main city of Northern Norway, situated at 69° North approximately 500km north of the Polar Circle (that's the same latitude as Point Barrows in Northern Alaska).
|Tromsø in July when the sun is above the horizon 24 hours a day.|
But due to the Gulf Stream, the climate is quite moderate spanning -18°C in winter to 30°C in summer. The harbour remains ice-free all year round, so fishing and other activities connected to the sea are a very important economical factor in whole Northern Norway.
Another special thing about Northern Norway is the beautiful nature one can find everywhere. The settlements are spread along the fjords and sounds and in the few bigger cities. Nearly everything else is free nature where one can walk for hours and hours without meeting any signs of human civilization.
The Midnight Sun is THE tourist attraction in summer. Due to the geographical location of Tromsø the sun is not setting between 24th May to 20th July. If there is clear sky, you can see the sun 24 hours a day. In this time, the Norwegian people are trying to catch as much sun and light as possible. As it is light all day long (and night long), you can start your mountain trip at 8pm after work and dinner. And still you will have sunlight all the way up to the summit which you might reach around midnight and home again. Or you go out fishing in the sun at 10pm.
|"Evening" sun in summer at the bathing beach called "telegrafbukta" (telegraph bay).|
In winter, the sun doesn't rise from 24th November to 24th January. During noon, there are the "blue" hours when the sky is blue and the sun - though not rising - is painting the sky with beautiful red and violett colors. Winter is the time where people are eager to meet in town to have a beer, go to the theater or to a private party. And the footwalks in the city are never as crowded as at 2am at night in winter.
|Tromsø during the winter months when the sun is under the horizon.|
As soon as it is getting dark enough, the glorious Northern Lights (Aurora borealis) can be seen in Tromsø nearly every night, weather permitting. This spectacular phenomena is caused by the solar wind, i.e. charged particles (ions and electrons) from the sun entering the earths atmosphere at high speed. In heights of 100-400km, these particles are colliding with the oxygen and nitrogen molecules and atoms in the atmosphere. The energy of the collision is transformed to light which can be seen from the ground. I'm sure you have seen pictures of Northern Lights but they cannot capture the large dynamics of this phenomena. Northern Lights steadily change color, shape and position at the sky. You really have to come to Northern Norway to watch them yourself !
Even with the sun back in end of January, there remains a long winter with plenty of snow normally. The Norwegians are used to the snow and it is said that they are born with ski on there feet. Nearly all Norwegians like skiing and they do so extensively. As there are not many ski ressorts with the infrastructure for alpine skiing, most people do cross-country skiing, starting directly from the backyard.
|Winter sun shining on the houses of the student hostel where I lived during my stay in Tromsø.|
This is only a very short description of life and people in Northern Norway. If you want to learn more about Tromsø, you should visit the homepage of the tourist information in Tromsø. There you will also find many more links to websites about Northern Norway and Tromsø in particular.
And if I find time, I will add some more pictures and information about this country which I like very much and which I visit very often.