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.

Kaylie’s Tales From Reykjavik

We spent the last 2 nights of our trip in the capital city of Reykjavik, Iceland. Here we had some amazing experiences that I will never forget. This was highlighted by seeing the Northern Lights, wondering the city, and hearing from an Icelandic native.

slightly edited picture of the Northern Lights

Emerging from the warmth of the Sky Lagoon, I stepped out into the crisp Icelandic air. As I lifted my gaze skyward, a gasp escaped my lips—there, streaking across the night sky in a mesmerizing display, were the Northern Lights. The moving gray clouds streaked in the sky, hinting the Northern lights might be near.

Wrapped snugly in layers against the chill, I stood in awe, feeling the icy air bite at my cheeks as I watched nature’s own light show unfold before me. Against the backdrop of Reykjavik’s rugged terrain, the auroras cast an ethereal glow, illuminating the snow-capped mountains and icy fjords in an otherworldly brilliance. It was as if the very heavens had opened up to reveal their secrets, inviting me to bear witness to their celestial dance.

In that moment, I felt a profound sense of connection—to the earth beneath my feet, to the vast expanse of sky above, and to the untamed beauty of Iceland’s wild landscapes. As the Northern Lights continued their mesmerizing performance, I found myself lost in the magic of the moment, entranced by the sheer magnificence of nature’s grandeur. And as the auroras gradually faded into the night, I knew that was something I would remember forever!

edited picture of Icelandic hotdogs

The night after witnessing the breathtaking spectacle of the Northern Lights, my friends and I set out to explore Reykjavik, eager to soak in more of Iceland’s unique charm. Bundled up against the chilly night air, we wandered through the quaint streets, illuminated by the soft glow of streetlights and the occasional burst of colorful storefront displays. With each step, our laughter echoed off the cobblestone pavements, mingling with the faint sounds of music drifting from nearby cafes and bars.

As we strolled along, taking in the sights and sounds of the city, the tantalizing aroma of grilled meats beckoned us closer. Following our noses, we soon found ourselves at a bustling hotdog stand, its neon sign casting a warm, inviting glow against the darkness of the night. Excitedly, we queued up with the locals, eager to sample Iceland’s famed hotdogs—a culinary tradition not to be missed. With each savory bite, we savored the unique blend of flavors, from the tangy sweetness of the ketchup to the crunch of the fried onions and the kick of the special Icelandic mustard.

Under the starry Icelandic sky, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city, we shared laughter and stories, our spirits buoyed by the simple joy of good food and great company. As we lingered at the hotdog stand, savoring the last remnants of our delicious meal, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for this unforgettable night—a night filled with wonder, adventure, and the warmth of friendship. And as we made our way back to our accommodations, hearts full and bellies satisfied, I knew that this night would be etched into our memories forever, a cherished chapter in our Icelandic adventure.

edited interview from Iceland

Gathered around a cozy table in our Reykjavik hotel dining room, my friends and I embarked on a morning ritual that had quickly become a highlight of our Icelandic adventure: breakfast. Amidst the clinking of cutlery and the gentle hum of conversation, we indulged in a hearty spread of freshly pastries and creamy skyr yogurt—the perfect fuel for a day of exploration ahead. As we savored each bite, we exchanged stories and laughter, reveling in the camaraderie that comes from shared experiences in Iceland.

Curious about life in Iceland beyond the tourist attractions, I struck up a conversation with one of the servers, eager to gain insight into the daily rhythms of Icelandic life. With a warm smile, he shared snippets of his experiences, painting a vivid picture of what it was like to call this unique island nation home. From the long winter nights illuminated by the Northern Lights to the vibrant cultural scene thriving in the heart of Reykjavik, his words offered a glimpse into a way of life shaped by Iceland’s beauty.

As we lingered over our breakfast, entranced by tales of Icelandic folklore and tradition, I felt a profound sense of gratitude for the opportunity to connect with someone who called this enchanting country home. In that moment, surrounded by friends old and new, I realized that our Icelandic adventure was about more than just ticking items off a bucket list—it was about forging meaningful connections, broadening our horizons, and gaining a deeper understanding of the world and its diverse inhabitants. And as we bid farewell to our gracious server and ventured out into the crisp Icelandic morning, I carried with me not only memories of a delicious breakfast but also a newfound appreciation for the warmth and hospitality of the Icelandic people.