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.

The Various Accidents of Fire and Ice

It is needless to say that Iceland is full of opportunities for danger. With its unforgiving landscape filled with cold temperatures, slippery ice, and the occasional wildlife encounter, a lot could go wrong. Well, this is the story of what went wrong for me and my fellow accident-prone human, Sarah (but mostly me). AKA, “The Accidents of Fire (me) and Ice (Sarah).” 

This story begins shortly after we landed and made it through the airport, the duty free store and were out waiting for our vans to arrive. I had purchased a lovely bottle of Icelandic Lava Bitters, and was ecstatic to try it! However, gravity had other plans. I had left my duty free bag with the bottle sitting atop my suitcase and when I turned to grab something else… SMASH. The first incident of the trip.

Our next accident occurs later in the first day at the Gerðuberg cliffs. The group as a collective decided to climb to the tippy top of the snow bank to touch the cliffs themselves. Unsurprisingly, I scraped my fingers on the rough ice as I slid back down to the bottom, where I promptly slipped on ice and fell on my butt, getting my first bruise of the trip!

A lot happened on day four. We began the day visiting Goðafoss, which was a stunning sight to say the least. However, this beauty is not the focus of our story. Instead, it is my next mistake… Sarah had the wonderful idea to slide down some frozen over steps leading down to a viewing point at the falls. Her slide went perfectly, and she excitedly encouraged me to take a turn. Of course, I was not so lucky. A bit apprehensively, I sat myself at the top of our makeshift slide and prepared myself to go. It was going quite smoothly until I reached the bottom where the railing ended and BONK… the second, very large, bruise of the trip. RIP my left thigh.


Later on that day, we would have our funniest accidents of the trip. After a wonderful dip in the Myvatn Nature Baths, we headed over to Hverfjall, a massive volcanic crater. Here, an issue we had previously encountered presented itself once again: slippery ice. But this time, it was worse. This time, it was uphill. In addition to this, I had to help drag Sarah up said hill due to her crampons being little more than thumbtacks. I generally consider myself a fairly coordinated and competent person, especially when it comes to helping someone else out. But this hike was something else! Sarah and I collectively slipped and fell up this hill about 10 times. Here we are looking very normal post-fall.

Here is what some worried this trip may have resulted in had Sarah and I been climbing atop an active volcano:

Luckily, this was not the case. Fire and Ice made it back home with minor bumps and bruises, this small volcano hike mishap ending the list of notable incidents of the trip…unless you were in Lance van.

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