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.

Food of Iceland

The food in Iceland was, needless to say, incredible. However, there were a few surprises! I have heard many stories of people with celiac disease traveling to various European countries, eating gluten, and being completely fine. At first, I was not ready to test this anecdotal evidence, so I began the trip looking for gluten free options wherever we ate. In many cases, this meant simply foregoing the bread on a sandwich. This wasn’t too bad, as the insides were delicious enough on their own, especially on this lamb steak sandwich!

The first five days of the trip, I continued to play it safe and steer clear of glutenous items. I even dedicated a Bonus trip to finding several gluten free treats to last me the rest of the trip! A very exciting taste test video of those can be seen below.

However, as the trip went on, I began feeling more adventurous. Each day I would find myself taking just a nibble of someone else’s gluten-laden food, and I continued to have no reaction from the small bites. It was on the fifth evening that I risked it all. We were at dinner, and Abby had ordered a cheese pizza that she couldn’t finish, so she offered it to Sarah, Chenin and I. It smelled so scrumptious that I couldn’t resist it any longer. I started off with a small bite but knew I must finish the slice…it was so good!

The next morning I was preparing myself for the worst, but when I felt completely normal, I was shocked. I waited a full 24 hours to be safe and…nothing! I COULD EAT GLUTEN HERE!!! I was ecstatic. This was the best possible outcome of risking the safety of my small intestine.

The following day, I indulged in the traditional Icelandic lamb soup, with some of the best (glutenous) bread I had ever had the immense pleasure of tasting. I felt on top of the world. Heavenly soup and bread are pictured below.

My indulgence in this special European gluten continued with the most delicious macaron. Dubbed a “Lava Macaron,” this was a dark chocolate and Espelette pepper macaron. Truthfully, I don’t know if this had gluten in it or not, as it is common for macarons to be made with almond flour. All I know is…well, I believe the way my eyes lit up when I took a bite speaks for itself.

Throughout the rest of the trip, I went back and forth between staying safe with a gluten free option and full-sending the risk of chowing down on the luxurious gluten-filled foods. In fact, as a farewell to the lovely country of Iceland and its lovely, magical gluten, I treated myself to five pastries the morning we departed.

But wait, there’s more! Now, this story isn’t just about my gluten journey, I’d also like to focus on one standout drink. This drink I must mention is, of course, Somersby Cider. This. Was. Perfect. Never had I tasted a cider like it, and I’m sure I will never find one like it back in the states. I loved it so much, in fact, that I would advertise it for free, to anyone who will listen to me. So, now that I have your attention, please bless your ears with this lovely Somersby ad.

Overall, I have never had better food than when I was in Iceland, and I think about it every single day. Was it pricey? Yes. Was it so worth it? Hell yes. Would I move to Iceland just for the food? Abso-freakin-lutely.

**Honorable mentions: Koko Mjolk, European Dr. Pepper, Arctic Char, various volcano/lava themed teas, and every single dessert.

**DIS-honorable mentions: any and all black licorice flavored items.

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