Thursday, June 8, 2017

Reflection


This morning at 12:00 a.m. my plane landed in the Raleigh airport after a long day of travel. I’m glad one of my new friends from The GREEN Program who also lives in North Carolina was able to keep me company both getting to and leaving from Iceland! Now, after some rest and recovery, I’ve had time to reflect on my Icelandic adventure.

It seems like just yesterday I was sitting at my kitchen table researching summer abroad programs and now I’ve turned my dream into a reality. I had an ambitious goal of leaving the country right after my first year of college and, even though it is not the most traditional approach, it was the best thing I could have done.

I wanted to travel as early as possible because I know I only really get four years of college and I won’t always have such huge chunks of free-time as I do now with summer break. Additionally, I don’t really know if I want to take a whole semester to go abroad because I love racing both cross-country in the fall and track in the spring. If I went to another country I would have to sacrifice a competitive season. It seems like with each semester of college, breaks get busier with internships and work so, now, at the very beginning was a perfect time to travel.    

Because my school is more structured for semester abroad programs I had to do most of the research and planning on my own instead of with an adviser. I had to take ownership of my summer and put effort in to make it all work. It did seem stressful during the application and funding stage but I didn’t give up when it got rough and made it happen. The Corvias Foundation played a huge role by funding the tuition of the program even though it was nontraditional. All I had to do was reach out and ask for a little help.  

Jumping into such a unique opportunity right out of the gate opened my eyes to the possibilities of world travel. Although I have traveled a lot because of my military background, this was my first time flying internationally and visiting a country without my family. Now I know that not only can I do it but I can do it well. I’m thankful that the program I participated in was pretty structured, organized, and short so I could ease into solo foreign travel. After this experience, I am ready to go abroad again but this time with more confidence in myself which will allow me to do things more independently and not rely as much on others to plan my adventures.

I was kind of nervous that the trip would not live up to my expectations because it looked so amazing on online but it far exceeded all expectations. This was largely due to the people I met along the way. In general, I consider myself a more introverted person who takes a while to warmup to people so it surprised me how close I got to the other students and the staff around me after 10 days. Although we come from different backgrounds, we all share a common interest and passion for the natural world. It was amazing how well we all worked together during the academic and adventure aspects of the program. Now I have connections all across the country and even some across the world. Like I said before, I made friendships that I do not plan on ending anytime soon. I would have never met these people if it wasn’t for The GREEN Program and I am so thankful that I did!   

My advice to anyone considering going abroad, especially those who are a bit younger, is to just do it! Seeing a new country, hearing a new language, and experiencing new things is a priceless and unique experience. If an opportunity presents itself, go and run with it. You only get one life to live so make it full of as much adventure as you can as soon as you can.  


I’ve enjoyed sharing my experiences with you and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this grand adventure. 

Þakka þér fyrir 
(Thah-ka thyer fi-rir)
Thank you!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Weekend Recap

First things first, I apologize for the long delay between posts. To say I’ve been busy is an understatement!

Here’s a quick recap of my recent activities:

·         Friday:

o   Icelandic tomato greenhouse
o   Camping in the mountains


·         Saturday:
o   all day mountain hike
o   bonfire

·         Sunday:
o   Super jeep drive back to basecamp
§  Waterfall used in Game of Thrones
§  Glacier
§  Double waterfall


·         Monday:
o   Glacial hike
o   Lecture on biofuels
·         Tuesday:
o   Final exam
o   Capstone Project presentations

Needless to say, I’ve been having quite the adventure! However, it is sad that today is my last full day in Iceland. I don’t really want to leave this beautiful country and all the new friends I’ve made. I’m thankful that I’ll be able to keep in touch with everyone. In particular, two of my friends and I would love to continue traveling together. I am a firm believer that with a little bit of effort, these dreams could become a reality!

Now, I have to enjoy my last few hours in the land of fire and ice!


If you want to know more about a particular excursion, comment below!

Þakka þér fyrir 
(Thah-ka thyer fi-rir)
Thank you!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday

The past three days have been a blur of activity! 

Before class on Tuesday, I went on my first run in Iceland. Since then I’ve been on three beautiful runs! Tuesday classes were about Iceland’s history and hydropower at Reykjavík University. Then we went to the oldest hydrothermal plant in Reykjavík. After resting up at the guest house, working on our Capstone Projects, and eating dinner, we took a night hike up to a hot spring and enjoyed a natural jacuzzi. The water felt wonderful but the five minetes between getting out and putting on my clothes was quite cold!

Wednesday also started with a run and then class. This time, we learned about geothermal energy and energy policy. Then we went to a geothermal plant and a naturally heated swimming pool. 

Thursday was the best day thus far on the trip. We did the “Golden Circle” of Icelandic tourism and stopped by the three most popular destinations in the Reykjavik area. First was Gulfass waterfall, then Geysir, and finally Þingvellir National Park. Þingvellir includes the no man's land between the two tectonic plates drifting apart. It is also the meeting place of the first Icelandic parliament in year 930 AD. We got the opportunity to snorkel in a lake formed by the divergent boundary and soon I'll have awesome underwater pictures.



Today we are setting off into the wilderness to camp so I'll be radio silent for the next few days! 


Þakka þér fyrir 
(Thah-ka thyer fi-rir)
Thank you!

Monday, May 29, 2017

I'm in Iceland!

After a full night of travel and a full day of exploration, I can proudly say I am writing this post from a guesthouse in Iceland. I’ve already seen the divergent boundary between the Eurasian and North American Tectonic Plates (yay geology!), a geothermal vent, and the famous Blue Lagoon. Currently, I have a few hours to myself before some team building activities with my fellow GREEN Program students and dinner. Although it’s awesome to meet so many cool people in one day (there are 19 total students in this session of the program) it is also nice to sit down and relax.

I took the picture from the Eurasian Plate and the North American Plate is across the bridge.

Geothermal vent 

Blue Lagoon 

Today I learned that the program leaders will only tell us the itinerary for the following day at dinner the night before. This ensures that we focus on the present and not worry about planning out every minute of every day for the whole trip. I know that I can personally focus a little too much on making and keeping plans than allowing for spontaneity so I am looking forward to a new approach to travel. No matter what we do, it will be awesome! However, if possible, I’d still like to plan out a little run for tomorrow morning…if I do, I’ll make sure to take pictures!


We’ll see what tomorrow brings! 

Þakka þér fyrir 
(Thah-ka thyer fi-rir)
Thank you!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

T-24 Hours

Ready to wear hiking clothes for 10 days straight!
Less than seven days after the plane from Los Angeles touched down in Raleigh, I’m heading back to the airport for my flight to Iceland. My bags—one big backpack and one small backpack—are all packed and ready to go! Some of the more interesting items include: a spork, a headlamp, a power adapter, an Oxy beanie, and many, many pairs of wool hiking socks. Plus, my faithful running shoes of course! I don’t know how much free-time I’ll have but I’ll fill as many minutes of it as I can exploring the country by foot.

However, there are a few steps before I show my passport to Icelandic customs. Getting to the closest airport is actually an hour drive and I have a couple more hours of layover in Boston. Then I get to the actual five-hour flight to Reykjavík. As they say, the more hours of travel the merrier, right?! I’ll actually touch down in Iceland on Monday, May 29 and hit the ground running with The GREEN Program. Although it will be a long day of getting from Point A to Point B, I’ll savor the opportunity and enjoy the adventure of traveling.  

For now, it’s time to rest up and practice my Icelandic…

Þakka þér fyrir 
(Thah-ka thyer fi-rir)
Thank you!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Let the Blog Begin!

Hello Blog Readers!

It’s hard to believe that in less than two weeks I’ll embark on my trip to Iceland! I’ll be there for 10 days with The GREEN Program to study renewable energy and sustainability. Judging by the itinerary they sent me, I’ll be pretty busy but I’m going to keep this blog to document my adventures along the way.

Currently, I’m still in Los Angeles, California although I’m done with all my classes at Occidental College. Now I’m officially on summer break between freshman and sophomore year! I still need to declare my major but I have a pretty good idea on what I want to study. Tentatively, I’m looking at a major in Geology and a minor in Urban and Environmental Policy but I still have some time before I have to commit to anything. Thank goodness!

I knew that I wanted to go abroad this summer and, when I found The GREEN Program’s website, I had to apply! This program combines traditional classroom experiences at Reykjavik University’s School of Science and Engineering, exclusive tours of hydroelectric, geothermal, and biofuel facilities, and excursions into the natural wonders of Iceland. Additionally, I’ll get the chance to experience a new culture and meet new people. Needless to say, I am so excited!

However, there still is a lot to do before I board a plane and fly to Reykjavik! I’ll keep you updated on my journey as the departure date gets closer and closer!

Þakka þér fyrir 
(Thah-ka thyer fi-rir)
Thank you!