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.

Chloe’s Trip Summary

Hey guys, did you know that I studied abroad?! Although this trip only lasted 10 days, it felt like I lived an alternate lifetime in Iceland. We were there to experience the culture and nature of the country and document it in photos, sounds, and videos to make our digital story of the trip.

We did so many fun things while we were there! We drove around the perimeter of the island, so there were many different experiences to be had. We visited several stunning waterfalls and two different nature baths, went on countless hikes, and explored two of the most well-known cities!

It is incredibly hard to pick favorites on a trip that was so incredible, but if I must pick a few things, they would be as follows:

  • Akureyri. This city was stunning. Although it is not the largest city in Iceland, it is a notable experience. After all, it is known as the Capital of North Iceland!
  • Hike to Glymur waterfall. This hike was my favorite of the many we did while there. Everywhere I looked, I saw the most beautiful scene I had ever seen; it was truly otherworldly. Maybe it also just has a special place in my heart, given that this was our first full day of the trip.
  • Katla. Oh my, did I enjoy this! Combining a supervolcano with a massive glacier AND ice caves? Yes, please! I find it hard to express in words how exciting and gorgeous this was.
  • Reykjavik—of course, the capital city—is a highlight of the trip! Friends and I stayed behind on our last full day to truly soak in the city and see everything we could before we left. I went to a flea market, got a tattoo, saw the Icelandic Phallological Museum, and went to my first-ever club! Every second of that day was something new and more exciting than the last.

This trip was truly life-changing for me. I have known for a few years now that if there was anywhere in the world I could travel to, I would want it to be Iceland. And wow, did it live up to and exceed my expectations? The trip was scheduled for a time that happened to coincide with several big, stressful, intimidating moments in both my personal and academic life – I was worried that it would be a bad time to step away from it all. But boy was I wrong. It could not have come at a better time for me. Despite all the confusion and unsureness I was leaving at home, this trip truly felt like wiping the slate clean and helped me reset myself in a very important way. Not only did I gain momentous amounts of clarity for the things going on in my personal life, but it cemented my academic dreams of becoming a volcanologist.

Something that really struck me on this trip was how incredibly environmentally aware and sustainable Iceland is as a country. I very rarely saw any single-use plastics, which is essentially unheard of here in the States. Several people I spoke to told me about the lack of plastic in Iceland, or about another way they are sustainable, such as the amount of hunting people do for their individual families or households. It gave me the overall feeling of a close-knit community, even for how vastly spread out the majority of the country is.

Many of my top recommendations are for food, who’s surprised? Traditional Icelandic lamb soup is to die for, Koko Mjolk is the best chocolate milk the world has ever seen, and every piece of fish at every place we went was beyond phenomenal. However, I  must also recommend visiting as many natural parks and areas as possible, especially all the volcanoes that Iceland has to offer!

Overall, I can confidently say that this trip was the best experience of my life thus far and will be very hard to top. I am eternally grateful to have had this opportunity and to have met the people I met on this trip and in the class. My primary takeaway is if there is ever a chance to study abroad, especially in your dream location, TAKE IT!! It will be so, so worth it.

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