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.

Echoes of Fire and Ice: Adventures in Iceland

I’m thrilled to share with you the unforgettable journey I embarked upon during my spring break in 2024. As part of a captivating study abroad course, I had the extraordinary opportunity to explore the breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage of Iceland for ten remarkable days. From towering glaciers to hot springs, each day was a new adventure. Join me as I recount the highlights of this immersive Icelandic adventure.

video with highlights from our trip

Our journey around Iceland’s Ring Road, culminating in the vibrant capital of Reykjavik, was a whirlwind of awe-inspiring landscapes, thrilling adventures, and enriching cultural encounters. Setting off on the Ring Road, we traversed dramatic coastlines, cascading waterfalls, and volcanic plains, each stop offering its own unique blend of natural wonders and cultural heritage. From the majestic glaciers of Vatnajökull National Park to the hot springs, we marveled at Iceland’s marvels at every turn. Along the way, we engaged with local communities, learning about Icelandic traditions, folklore, and cuisine, and forging connections that enriched our understanding of this resilient island nation. As our adventure came full circle in Reykjavik, we found ourselves amazed by the sights we saw on our trip to Iceland.

Reflecting on my time in Iceland, several moments stand out as truly unforgettable highlights of the journey. One moment was the exhilarating hike to Glymur waterfall, where the rugged beauty of Iceland’s wilderness unfolded before me in all its splendor. The cascading waters plunging into the canyon below left me in awe of nature’s grandeur. Another standout experience was the adrenaline-pumping thrill of snowmobiling across vast glaciers, feeling the crisp Arctic air against my face as I traversed the icy expanse. The sense of freedom and exhilaration was unmatched as I raced across the pristine white landscape. Lastly, the adventure of glacier hiking and ice cave experience is something I will never forget. Strapping on crampons and navigating the icy terrain, we got to explore the glacier and ice caves. These moments of adventure and exploration will forever hold a special place in my heart, reminding me the trip of a lifetime!

Glymur waterfall hike
Glacier hiking

One of the most enriching aspects of my journey through Iceland was trying the different Icelandic foods. One cultural insight that stood out to me was the significance of food as a reflection of Iceland’s heritage and natural environment. One of my favorite culinary experiences was trying Icelandic hotdogs, a beloved local delicacy enjoyed by both residents and visitors alike. The combination of flavorful lamb and crispy onions nestled in a soft bun was simply irresistible. Another culinary highlight was Icelandic yogurt, known as skyr, which captivated me with its creamy texture and tangy taste. Overall, my culinary adventures in Iceland provided a delicious window into the country’s rich cultural heritage and left me with a newfound appreciation for the role of food in shaping Icelandic identity.

For future Iceland study abroad students, I wholeheartedly encourage immersing yourselves in the local culinary delights and making the most of your time by exploring as many sights as possible. Icelandic cuisine offers a delightful fusion of traditional Nordic flavors with modern twists, presenting an opportunity to tantalize your taste buds with dishes like hearty lamb stew, succulent seafood, and creamy Skyr. Sampling these culinary treasures not only satisfies hunger but also provides a window into Icelandic culture and history. Additionally, prioritize sightseeing to uncover the country’s mesmerizing natural wonders, from majestic waterfalls and geothermal hot springs to dramatic volcanic landscapes and sparkling glaciers. Each sight offers a unique glimpse into Iceland’s geological and cultural heritage, enriching your study abroad experience and leaving you with cherished memories that will last a lifetime.

Without a doubt, I wholeheartedly recommend the study abroad experience to anyone seeking to broaden their horizons and embark on a journey of personal growth and discovery. Immersing oneself in a new culture, language, and environment is not only a chance to expand academic knowledge but also an opportunity to cultivate lifelong memories and friendships. The study abroad experience challenges you to step outside of your comfort zone, confront new perspectives, and adapt to unfamiliar situations, fostering resilience and adaptability in the process. For me, studying abroad in Iceland was more than just an educational endeavor—it was an adventure that I will never forget. The memories and lessons I gained from my time abroad are treasures that I will cherish for a lifetime, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to embark on such an enriching and unforgettable journey.

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