One Week Beyond the Arctic Circle

I can't remember the first time I fell in love with a map. Growing up as the daughter of two immigrants, I gave a lot of meaning to maps and the distances between places and the people in those places. When my dad bought a big atlas and put it in our living room book case many years ago, I would open it to the page with the world map and wonder about the isolated corners of the earth. Especially, the bottom and the top, where the map seemed to just "end". I wondered about life in every corner of the world and promised myself that I would get to the end of the earth in the only way I knew possible- to become a geologist. Week one beyond the Arctic Circle (Longyearbyen, Svalbard) and I think I have learned more about people than I have about geology. I'm living with Russians, swedes, norwegians, Fins, Danish, Dutch, Chinese, Portugese. Most of all, I am learning more about who I am, and where I come from. Ironically, it is in these spaces that I feel the most American- As the daughter of two immigrants, I have made it to the end of the earth. The giant atlas in my home bookcase smiles back at me and a faint whisper in my head sings- Home is weeks away in time but all around in space and in mind.