A Journey South, as far south as it is possible to go

The Lemaire Channel

The Lemaire Channel

Antarctica.

The stuff of legends.

Of Polar explorers battling against the elements in unsuitable tailored tweed with husky dogs and sledges.

Over six months ago I received an email that changed my life.

I often apply for many various programs and from over the one hundred applications I send in I surprisingly am selected for a few things.

This was how I ended up living and studying in Thessaloniki, Greece and also how I ended up in Jakarta, Indonesia interning at a radio station.

I had heard about a program, for young environmental leaders, focusing on sustainability and leadership as a way of protecting Antarctica.

After writing my application whilst I had the flu I had no hopes of being selected, but I desperately wanted to be.

I dont consider myself an environmental leader, in fact compared to many of my environmentally active friends I have hardly done anything interesting.

Yet I really, really wanted this opportunity to learn more and to re affirm why it is important to protect the environment.

I thought I had not been accepted because so many other people had been already, so when I received the email accepting me into the Antarctic Youth Ambassadors Program I was in shock.

Then commenced the craziest four months of my life.

As part of the program we were going on an expedition with polar explorer and environmental leader Robert Swan (OBE) to Antarctica!

I had to raise over $20,000.00 in just three short months to be able to on the expedition.

This was for the ship, expedition fees etc.

I had never fundraised for anything in my life so after days and days of researching on the internet I started to try and raise the funds.

Long story short through trial and error, fundraisers, online campaigning and gaining wonderful corporate sponsors who believed in me enough to support me I made it to the Antarctic.

It has taken me quite a while to write about my time in Antarctica and now it honestly feels like a dream, like I was never really there.

Thats the thing with Antarctica, there is such a magical force at work down there that even when I was there standing on the Antarctic continent I didn’t feel really truly there.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The continent makes you feel so incredibly small and insignificant whilst also reminding you of the simple beauty that can come from a colour palette of black, blue and white.

This is the harshest and driest environment on earth and the biting cold was a constant reminder that humans are not built to last here.

Even after the two week expedition my face was starting to look older, wrinkles were standing out more strongly that I didn’t know I had.

I now understand how polar explorers look the way they do in the photographs from their expeditions.

Antarctica is her own well oiled machine with nature running the show barely blinking at the fact that humans are around.

Whales, penguins, orcas and seals swam past with barely a glimpse our way.

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ayap excitment on the iceThey have been able to adapt to a life living down there, yet we have not.

To me it was a sign that we are not meant to be down there permanently.

The expedition helped to reinforce my personal life outlook.

That the environment is the center of our world and should be looked after and protected.

That Antarctica is the most beautiful place on this earth and that we need to live more sustainably in order to prevent any more environmental damage to it.

That there are strong young leaders from around the world who care as much as I do.

That anything is possible if you stay positive and work hard.

That Robert Swan is an inspiring individual who knows the power of a personal story and faces any challenge head on.

That strong leaders often are skilled in one key area of leadership, but if they pair up or group up with others that have the other key leadership skills magic can happen.

and that Antarctica will never ever leave me, it has a place in my heart until the day I die and I will find a way to return.

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