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 Wildlife of Iceland

One of the things I was the most excited about when coming to Iceland was the potential of getting some incredible wildlife photos. Before studying abroad in Iceland, my experiences with wildlife photography were very limited. Based on research that I had done, I knew that my chances of getting pictures of Icelandic horses were quite high (and man… I was not disappointed). Iceland is also known for its puffin population, but I knew that my chances of getting those shots would be a bit slim; puffins are more commonly seen in the warmer months between May-August. That being said, I was still pumped about the prospect of seeing any wildlife! 

It didn’t take long before our first wildlife sighting– Icelandic horses were very commonly seen on the sides of the road. It was funny; we all know the phenomena of americans saying “cows” under their breath when driving through rural areas of Virginia, and the parallel was evident each time we passed horses in Iceland. I found myself admiring them through the glass window of our van as we drove from destination to destination. 

After a few days of driving, we got very lucky and found a whole group of horses standing right off the side of the road by wire fencing. This would prove to be a golden window of opportunity to take pictures of these horses. Lance, our van driver and quite possibly one of the coolest UMW faculty members I’ve met, pulled off on the side of the road and let each of us stretch and take some pictures. The way I FLEW out of the van was comical. During this stop, we had the opportunity to stand very close to the horses and get some beautiful pictures of them. 

Our next encounter with wildlife was followed shortly after this one; day 6 in Iceland was a fantastic day for pictures. As we were driving along the Icelandic snowy and icy countryside, we encountered animals that I never thought I’d ever be able to see in person: Reindeer. They marched in a long straight line ahead of us, standing in such a poised and well-composed position, that one might have thought they were posing for us (I totally did not think this). 

Naturally, Lance stopped the van and let us hop out to take photos of the Reindeer. I found myself frequently getting caught up in the excitement of taking photos and getting “THE shot” that I lost track of time. I understood that there were places we needed to be and things that we needed to do, but it was so nice to be in the moment and take our time taking photos and composing the perfect image. Plus, when was I ever going to see a Reindeer in person like this again? 

My next favorite, and unexpected, encounter with wildlife was with the seals at Diamond Beach. While admiring the beautiful iceberg formations and all the stunning rocks and pebbles at this beach, we found the seals perched on top of the icebergs– some sleeping and some staring back at us. Of course, I took several pictures of them and tried my best to get shots of them arching their back as they stretched. 

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