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.

Abby’s Fair Well Iceland

Embarking on a study abroad trip to Iceland was a dream come true. The purpose of the journey was not only academic but also to immerse myself in the unique culture, landscapes, and way of life of this captivating country. For 10 days, I had the opportunity to explore Iceland’s stunning natural wonders, engage with its people, and deepen my understanding of its history and traditions.

This was my first time out of the country, and it was an experience I will never forget. Every day, my expectations were blown out of the water. I will be forever grateful for the new friends, old friends, and good times Iceland had to offer.

Trip Overview:

Our trip was a total of 10 days.

March 1: We have begun our journey to Iceland! We started off with some yummy Chick-fil-A and a flight full of sleeping and giggles.

March 2: Drove to Georuber Cliffs, but not before dropping some alcohol! Then, I headed over to Snaefellsjokull National Park for some outside time.

March 3: The hike of a lifetime! Glymur waterfall!

The beautiful waterfall Glymur is fed by the river Botnsa, which has sources in Iceland’s glaciers and runs from a lake above. Nestled in a narrow canyon, visiting Glymur is a popular hike with locals and visitors alike. Visit this beautiful spot while on a self-drive tour of the island.

The story behind the name of the waterfall comes from an old Icelandic legend about a man who was turned into a whale by an elf woman after betraying her. In a fit of rage, the man-turned-whale sank a boat in the nearby Hvalfjordur fjord, and two sons of an old priest from a town by the shore drowned.

When the old priest learned of this, he decided to lure the whale from the bay and up the river until he crashed into the canyon where Glymur waterfall is located. The crash created a loud boom and caused an earthquake in the region. That’s how it got its name, Glymur, which means a “loud, echoing rumble.

March 4: Beautiful drive and whale watching!

March 5: We visited the beautiful town of Myvatn and visited Dimmuborgir. The afternoon was filled with the Myvatn Nature Bath.

March 6: Driving to Hofn.

March 7: Glacier Hiking & Ice Caving!

March 8: Katla Ice Cave Beneath the Volcano and Sky Lagoon to relax at night!

March 9: We went Snowmobiling and explored Reykjavik!

March 10: Breakfast at the hotel and flight back to the States 🙁

During my study abroad adventure in Iceland, there were several exhilarating highlights that left an indelible mark on my memory. Hiking on glaciers was an awe-inspiring experience, as I traversed the icy terrain and marveled at the pristine beauty of these ancient giants. Snowmobiling across the vast expanse of snow-covered landscapes was a thrilling escapade that made me feel like I was racing through a winter wonderland. Scaling the majestic Glymur waterfall provided breathtaking views and a sense of accomplishment as I conquered the challenging trail. And who could forget the unforgettable encounter with majestic whales during our whale-watching excursion, where we witnessed these magnificent creatures gracefully gliding through the ocean waters? These adventures not only filled me with adrenaline but also deepened my appreciation for the raw power and natural beauty of Iceland’s landscapes.

My study abroad experience in Iceland had a profound impact on both my personal and academic growth. Living and studying in a foreign country challenged me to step out of my comfort zone, adapt to new environments, and embrace unfamiliar experiences. Academically, I gained a deeper understanding of topics such as environmental sustainability, geology, and cultural anthropology, which have enriched my academic pursuits and broadened my perspective on global issues.

Immersing myself in Icelandic culture allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation for the country’s rich heritage and traditions. From learning about the significance of Icelandic sagas to participating in local festivals and rituals, I gained insights into the values, beliefs, and customs that shape Icelandic society. Moreover, interacting with locals helped me understand the importance of community, resilience, and environmental stewardship in Icelandic culture.

For future students considering a study abroad trip to Iceland, I highly recommend taking full advantage of every photo opportunity. The Trip goes by so quickly, so make sure you have a good camera and warm clothes. Iceland is not as cold as you think in early March. Going with my friends made the experice that much sweeter.

To experience the full Iceland experience, I would say a minimum of 10 days. Our trip lasted for 10 days, and we got a taste of each piece. One experience that really stands out to me is the magical night at Sky Lagoon. After relaxing and embracing the spa experience, the sky lit up with the Northern Lights. I am still in shock that we saw it. I am still reminiscing about that night.

If hiking is your thing, Glymur Falls is a highlight of the trip. This uphill hike led to many adventures and spectacular views! The hike is uphill, so be prepared for some cardio.

My study abroad journey to Iceland was an unforgettable experience that left a lasting impression on me. From the awe-inspiring landscapes to the warmth and hospitality of its people, Iceland captured my heart in ways I never imagined. As I reflect on my time there, I am grateful for the memories, friendships, and lessons learned, and I look forward to carrying the spirit of Iceland with me wherever life takes me.

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