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.

Mariel’s Study Abroad Experience

Over spring break this year, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Iceland! I was persuaded to go because of a radio ad I heard one day.

The trip was from March 1st to March 10th, including travel days. The purpose of this trip was to learn more about Iceland and be able to create digital stories from the photos we took, videos we recorded, and sounds we recorded while we were abroad.

Over the ten days we were abroad, we drove around the whole island and visited many amazing places. We saw a lot of waterfalls, went on many hikes, and saw so much beautiful nature. Some of my favorite places we went were: the Gerðuberg cliffs, Snæfellsjökull National Park, Akureyri, Goðafoss, Sky Lagoon, and Reykjavik.

There were many highlights during this trip. However, I think one of my favorite things we did on this trip was spending a day in Reykjavik. We were able to do so many fun things and had so many unique experiences that day!

I also really enjoyed spending time in Akureyri (even though it was for such a short amount of time). It was such a cute city, the scenery was gorgeous, and there was a lot of fun stuff to do there!

Akureyri at sunset

Another highlight for me was going to Sky Lagoon and the Myvatn Nature Baths. Both were really fun and super relaxing (especially after all the hiking we had been doing).

I also really enjoyed seeing so many cool waterfalls (even though there was a bit of a waterfall disaster at one of them).

Even though I am not a big hiker (and this trip definitely did not turn me into one), the two glacier hikes that we did were amazing, and I would 100% do them again.

Seeing the Northern Lights was also a really big highlight for me from this trip. It is honestly the main reason that I became interested in going on this trip, and it was so cool to see them in person.

Even though it was a relatively short trip, it did impact me personally and led to some personal growth. I think the main thing that it helped me do was get out of my comfort zone. There are so many things on this trip that I did that surprised me and are things that I never thought I would be brave (or in some cases stupid) enough to do. Like laying on the edge of cliff!

I was also super scared of studying abroad because of going to a whole new country with people that I didn’t know very well, but it was really fun! I also made friends with people that I never would have met otherwise.

I think one of the biggest cultural insights that I gained from this trip was that people are very friendly in America! Maybe it was because we were in a big group for most of the time, but I felt like the locals were a lot less friendly and chatty than Americans are which is definitely not what I expected.

Another thing that surprised me was how good the food was. I was kind of expecting a lot of it to not be great because they have to import a lot of their food, but it was all really good. I think that they just care more about the quality of their food than we do in the US.

My recommendations for future students considering a study abroad trip to Iceland are:

  • Go on the trip; it’s worth it!
  • Don’t not go just because you don’t know anyone else going!
  • Be prepared for everything being very expensive.
  • Know that even if you have a bit of bad luck, the trip can still be super fun and worth it overall!
  • If you’re going in the winter/early spring, make sure you have good, heavy duty crampons.
  • Make sure to pack a lot of layers!
  • Make sure you have waterproof everything so you don’t have a repeat of Katie’s bad day!

Overall, this was a really, really fun trip, and I would definitely go to Iceland again. I think it was a super cool experience, and I completely understand why it is becoming such a popular tourist destination.

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