Professor Polack
Professor Polack, a distinguished computer science professor at the University of Mary Washington, possesses a deep curiosity for global exploration. Driven by a desire to broaden her understanding of different cultures and technological landscapes, she aspires to study abroad in countries across the world. Professor Polack's ambition to study abroad exemplifies her commitment to enriching both his own academic perspectives and the field of computer science as a whole.
View UMW Trip 2024
Iceland, where we spent weeks exploring the stunning landscapes of this Nordic island. One of the highlights of the trip was driving around the famous ring road, a 1,332-kilometer highway that circles the entire country. Along the way, we marveled at cascading waterfalls, rugged coastlines, and towering glaciers. We had the chance to immerse yourself in Icelandic culture, sampling traditional cuisine and learning about the country's history and geology. This unforgettable journey through Iceland's dramatic beauty left a lasting impression all of us.
View UMW Trip 2023
After leading a study abroad trip to Brazil and Argentina, where the students explored the wonders of the Amazon Rainforest, embarked on a captivating river cruise along the Amazon, and marveled at the breathtaking Iguazu Falls from both sides of the border, Professor Polack decided to create a photo book. With meticulous attention to detail, he curated a collection of photographs capturing the vibrant landscapes, fascinating wildlife, and joyous moments of the trip. I aimed to provide a visual narrative that would forever remind the students of their remarkable journey.

Brazil. Argentina. Paraguay Oh My!

We started our study abroad trip in the Amazon Rainforest.  We embarked on a five-hour hike through the Amazon rainforest to discover an ancient cave used by tribes for shelter, rituals, and ceremonies.  The journey began at daybreak, as the sun’s rays pierced through the canopy, casting dappled light onto the forest floor. The air was thick with humidity, and the chirping birds and buzzing insects filled the atmosphere. We set off on a narrow trail, winding our way through towering trees and vibrant vegetation, constantly immersed in the symphony of nature.

Our guides shared stories of ancient tribes who once roamed these lands, their customs, and beliefs. The anticipation built as we delved deeper into the rainforest, crossing gentle streams and traversing rugged terrain. The dense foliage seemed to thicken as if guarding the secrets of the cave we were going to.

After hours of hiking, we arrived at a hidden clearing. Here, the guides reveal an entrance to the ancient cave and a waterfall hidden amongst the rocks and adorned with moss and vines. As we stepped inside, a cool, damp air enveloped us in an aura of mystery. The cave walls were covered in paintings, but we couldn’t go far because it was considered sacred land.

Hiking in the Amazon rainforest was indeed both strenuous and muddy. Despite the challenges, the rewards of hiking in the Amazon rainforest, experiencing its unparalleled biodiversity, and witnessing its stunning natural beauty make the effort completely worthwhile.

Next up was a trip on a riverboat to Manaus, the heart of the Amazon rainforest.  This five-day cruise offered a unique and unforgettable experience. We embarked on this adventure, journeying deep into the Amazon’s vast and beautiful natural environment.

Traveling along the mighty Amazon River, we witnessed the breathtaking sights and sounds of the rainforest. The boat will take us through winding tributaries, providing a close-up view of the lush vegetation, towering trees, and diverse wildlife that call this region home. We spotted colorful birds, playful monkeys, majestic alligators, and even the elusive pink river dolphins along the riverbanks.

As we cruised deeper into the rainforest, our boat made stops at the indigenous communities of local alligators. Here, we had the opportunity to learn about their rich cultural heritage and traditions. We interacted with the local communities, gained insight into their way of life, and even sampled traditional cuisine.

During the trip, we engaged in adventurous activities: a jungle trek, canoeing, swimming with pink dolphins, and fishing in the tributaries. Amidst the dense foliage, we encountered exotic plants, medicinal herbs, and fascinating insects. Our naturalist guides on board shared their knowledge about the region’s flora and fauna, enhancing our understanding of the rainforest ecosystem.

In the evenings, the riverboat served as our cozy floating hotel. We relaxed on the deck, feeling the gentle breeze and enjoying panoramic views of the rainforest, and some of us had to work on a computer science air quality program.

As we continue our journey, we witness the magical sunrise and sunset over the Amazon River. These moments offered a mesmerizing display of colors and a deep sense of tranquility that can only be experienced in this pristine natural setting.