I have this really amazing group of friends here in Bethel. The four of us all started teaching here during the same year. Hard to believe we're all still here 5 years later and that we all just signed a contract for one more year as well. I think the fact that we've had a tight little group of friends throughout these years here is one of the reasons why we're all still here.
Bethel (and Alaska in general) is a pretty difficult place to live. There are many hardships to endure including the cold, the long hours of darkness in the winter, the extreme weather, living within a new culture, high cost of living, some subpar housing/utility standards, and a loss of basic life amenities that you grow use to when living in the lower 48. But more bothersome than all of those things is the remoteness of life in bush Alaska...the disconnect...from friends and family, from quality grocery and other resources, from sources of entertainment and a social scene.
Life in Bethel, however, is also wonderful. There are many great qualities to life in bush Alaska including the long hours of daylight in the summer, hundreds of miles of open uninhabited land, wild fish/game to eat, beautiful colors of the changing tundra in the spring/fall, the pay scale, ability to travel, the interconnectedness of the community, living within one of the strongest native cultures in the world, and the resourcefulness that a person develops when living here. But more important than any of those things are the friends that take this journey with you....the friends...that lift you up when things are tough, that celebrate your successes, that make you laugh, that let you cry, that experience new adventures with you, that motivate you to workout and become a better person, who remind you to write on your blog:), that stand with you and shake their heads and say, "Only in Alaska...".
Most of the people that I've seen come here and dislike it have been people who did not take opportunities to establish a solid foundation of friends. Thankfully, I've found an amazing group of people here in Bethel that I love and care for....my Bethel family. Some of them have been here from the beginning, we came together in the same year and (I have a feeling) many of us will leave together in the same year. It's nice to have a group of people who have been there with you through it all, but some of them came to Bethel in the years after that and still became part of our solid group of friends. I know for a fact that there is NO WAY I would have lasted this long in Bethel without an amazing group of people by my side. One of the BEST things about living in Bethel is that it forces you to slow down and focus on the things that are REALLY important...people!