Major: Sustainability and Studio Art
Hometown: Rocky River, Ohio
Study Abroad Programs: Seminar in Europe; Discover Iceland
Why did you select BW's Discover Iceland program?
After participating in BW's Seminar in Europe program, I made travel more of a priority in my life. When I found out that I could travel to Iceland and get credit toward my sustainability major, I decided to start saving money and apply for the trip.
What benefits did you gain from this experience?
I learned a lot about sustainability and economics in Iceland, as well as mythology. I was able to see some of the most fascinating geological features on the face of the planet. I also learned about the migratory bird species that go to Iceland every spring to breed. Upon returning home, I did an independent study on all of the bird species we recorded.
What surprised you most about Iceland?
I was amazed at the common Icelander's knowledge of mythology. I found these myths to be very beautiful and interesting, and I loved that so many of the different geological features (certain glaciers, waterfalls, mountains, etc.) had their own myths. The island was so diverse that it felt like I was in multiple countries during the trip. Lastly, I was quite surprised that Icelandic people eat Hákarl (putrefied shark) and even more amazed that I tried it!
Can you recall any heartwarming experiences?
All over Iceland there were red paper cut-outs pasted all over store windows and different parts of the country. They were all the same heart shape, made up of human silhouettes holding hands. When I asked our guide what they were, she told me people started putting them up sometime after their economy crashed as a way to encourage one another. It was symbolic of unity within the country to show that Icelandic people could work together to overcome this obstacle.
Another heartwarming experience was when our class climbed a giant volcanic crater. It was very steep and difficult to climb. The majority of the class stopped near the top, but three of us climbed to one of the highest points on the crater and celebrated our accomplishment together. It was a wonderful bonding experience. The air was so cool and clean. It felt like I could see forever. I could see many beautiful snow-capped mountains, teal water, and the countryside stretched out below.
Did re-entry pose any challenges to you?
I missed Iceland's mountains and the adventures I experienced there. Since being home, I have tried to be more adventurous in my own life and have been more open to talking with strangers. Honoring and reflecting on what you have learned abroad always helps you to keep the experience alive.