Autumn in 2018 and the beginning of the winter term brought the students of Transcultural Communication the obligation to decide about the topic of their bachelor thesis. I had no idea what to write about, but I knew I would like to base my text on field research. Coincidentally, that time doctor Sokolíčková gave a lecture in which she presented us a short promo video from Svalbard. Without a single additional comment, she began asking us about our views on this very unique place. This conversation was followed by a brief presentation of her research which she was conducting in Svalbard under the leadership of Thomas Hylland Eriksen. Then we were given the offer to travel to Svalbard and carry out field research in which Czech scientists, tourists and residents were involved. This research was expected to be a basis on which the bachelor thesis could be built. I am not a lover of cold regions, so travelling to the Arctic in summer was not one of my dreams. But that was a kind of challenge, and I like accepting challenges. At the same time, it was clear to me from the beginning that Longyearbyen is anthropologically very interesting. That is why I decided to send an e-mail to doctor Sokolíčková in which I accepted her offer and asked her for supervising my bachelor thesis. The field research in Svalbard was one part of my thesis. Thanks to coincidence of several circumstances I spent one and a half month on doing that kind of research.
I landed in Longyearbyen just after midnight in early July. As soon as I left the airport hall, I was welcomed by fresh Arctic air and by the desolate landscape of a fjord surrounded by the mountains. Although it was shortly after midnight, the sun was shining in the sky. You know immediately that you are in a special place. Svalbard is the wildest place accessible in the world. Although you will find all the achievements of the modern world, such as a swimming pool, fitness centre, luxury restaurant, shop, library, cinema and church, you are in the complete wilderness and habitat of a polar bear. About 3,500 of these predators live in the archipelago, and their presence in the city surroundings is not exceptional. That is why you cannot leave the territory of this little town with the population of 2,000 people if you are not armed. The territory is administered by Norway, so the official currency is the Norwegian krone. Norwegian is mostly spoken in this territory, but you can easily speak English to anyone. The community of local inhabitants is very diverse and cosmopolitan, it consists of 58 nationalities. Svalbard is a very interesting place concerning its geography and population because you are in no man’s land and it is very complicated to exactly define who Svalbard people are. The average length of stays in Svalbard is 5 years and a large part of the community consists of seasonal workers. The issue of the Svalbard community is therefore anthropologically but also socially very interesting. What is probably life like in such a small “aquarium” in which you meet constantly the same faces in shops and streets? This is the question the answer to which I was trying to find during several weeks.