UMD Senior Completes Tour of Sweden’s Arctic North

Troy Vegel stands with other members of his group while touring Laponia, a region of vast wilderness in northern Sweden. 

Troy Vegel stands with other members of his group while touring Laponia, a region of vast wilderness in northern Sweden. 

Troy Vegel, a Senior at the University of Minnesota Duluth, recently completed a 10 day ecology course in Laponia, an Arctic region in the north of Sweden. Vegel was the only student from the United States to join on the trip.

“I was the only student currently living in the US,” Vegel said. “The other American student that was there was originally from Florida, but she has lived in Sweden for 8 years now. Of course Tom, originally from Duluth, was also with us."

Vegel is speaking of Tom Beery, a UMD professor that is currently with UMD’s Sea Grant Minnesota program. Beery achieved his post doctorate from the University of Kristianstead in Sweden.

“During my time in Sweden I contacted some colleagues in Duluth to encourage students to travel over to Sweden and participate in this course,” said Beery. “There was a lot of paperwork to be done pre-departure and Troy worked hard to get it done so he could come.”

Over 4,200 miles from Minneapolis, Vegel landed in Stockholm to board an overnight train headed North to Laponia.

Troy Vegel (lower center) and others pose near a waterfall in the wilderness of northern Sweden.  Photo provided by Troy Vegel. 

Troy Vegel (lower center) and others pose near a waterfall in the wilderness of northern Sweden. Photo provided by Troy Vegel. 

“Including all the travel, the trip lasted two weeks on the dot, with the course lasting 10 of those days,” Vegel said.

Once in the wilderness, having a roof over your head becomes a luxury.

“We stayed in a hut where the host wouldn’t turn anyone away,” Vegel said. “There was very limited space for us, but I thought having these huts was a luxury. I’m used to just camping and sleeping outside.”

Being in such close quarters supported a growth in team bonding, increasing the group’s chemistry.

“With all of us being together and in such close quarters contributed to the chemistry with our crew being phenomenal,” Vegel said. “I can legitimately say that I came away from this trip with all group members becoming my friends.”

The chemistry was essential, as up ahead challenging trails started to test members of the group.

“Some of the professors got sick and we had one student hurt her knee hiking, but everyone completed the course,” Vegel said. “The hiking trails got rocky and challenging in places, however they also had wooden walkways to help over muddy and tricky areas.”

Getting across those tricky areas and long hikes was well worth it for Troy.

“Getting to this nature area that is so vast and so mountainous gave me feelings of exploration and discovery that I just can’t describe,” Vegel said.

While in Laponia, Vegel said that students not only learned about the area they were in, but they taught about it too.  

Troy stands up while completing a group task.  Photo provided by Tom Beery.

Troy stands up while completing a group task. Photo provided by Tom Beery.

“All of us students had the opportunity to teach the entire group, which I thought was a really cool aspect of the trip,” Vegel said. “I was teaching about the wolverines that live in Sweden, and I used a lot of games as methods.  It was really cool to show them methods that I like to use.”

“You get to see all these people from different parts of the world, have all these people with different experiences, and they get to show their teaching methods to share lessons while out on the trails,” Vegel said.

Being out in the woods for so long requires a lot of food preparation. Vegel found the best food to be naturally occurring, gathering berries and even eating reindeer.

“We packed a lot of freeze dried meals, fruit soups and other assorted bars,” Vegel said.

“We would come across fields upon fields upon fields of blueberries and every once in awhile we would stumble upon my favorite, the cloudberry,” Vegel said.

While Vegel spent the trip learning, teaching and bonding with the other members of the group, Professor Tom Beery was still making sure all was going according to plan.  He mentioned how great it was to have Vegel with on the trip.

“With all the learning and teaching Troy has done at UMD it was great to have such a positive, friendly, and helpful influence with us in Lapland,” Beery said. “Being so trustworthy and tough, I knew he would be a great person to have on this trip.”


Photo at top provided by Troy Vegel. 

Update 10/9/17: The original publish misspelled Troy's last name as Vogel, corrected to Vegel. 

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