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.

Chennin’s Trip Summary

When I began my undergraduate journey, I knew I wanted to study abroad– and so I did.

For this study abroad trip, I spent eight adventure-packed days traveling around Iceland. Throughout the trip, we experienced a wide variety of activities– from hiking up glaciers to whale watching, there was never a dull moment. Though the main objective of the trip was to give us an opportunity to gather content to create this final “digital storytelling” blog post, we were also encouraged to immerse ourselves in Icelandic culture by talking to locals, eating traditional meals, and learning about Iceland’s rich history.


Our journey began when we flew into Keflavik Airport. I had gotten approximately 30 minutes of sleep throughout the 6-hour flight, but it didn’t matter by the time we got off the plane– I was pumped and ready to go. When I first stepped out of the airport, it felt as if I had entered a different world. I understand the realness of culture shock, but coming from a highly populated urban city to a cold, empty, and tranquil environment… I was quite disoriented. But I quickly acclimated. Once we had all piled into our rented vans, our pods for the next 9 days, our study abroad journey had commenced.

While in vans, my eyes never left the road ahead of us. With my camera in my hand at all times (at least for the first two days or so), I was constantly taking pictures of the long straight roads and the snowy mountains in the distance. The novelty never wore off, and I still find myself day-dreaming of the incredible roadside views.

Some of the most prominent and well-known places we visited included:

  • Djúpalónssandur Beach
  • Kirkjufell 
  • Glymur Waterfall
  • Akureyri
  • Skogafoss Waterfall
  • Katla Ice Caves
  • Reykjavik

Throughout the trip, there were so many memories that I will cherish forever. From nearly collapsing hiking up volcanos and glaciers, to trying traditional Icelandic meals with peers, there was never a dull moment spent in Iceland

Búðakirkja Church, Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Highlight Reel
Personal Growth

Overall, this trip challenged me mentally and physically. I was really nervous about traveling to another country with people that I wasn’t super close with, but this trip brought me new connections and friends that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I also pushed myself creatively by taking photos and videos every single day and staying on top of the storage flow. I made sure that all of my photos were organized each night before I went to bed, which is something I notoriously struggle with. I also tend to overthink my photos when it comes to what makes a “good photo”, and I often find myself comparing my work to others’, and that has kept me from picking up my camera.

This trip also introduced me to other career paths that I could pursue after graduating from UMW. As a Comm and Digital Studies major, there are a lot of opportunities and avenues that I could take, and I learned a lot about the paths that other people took during this trip.

  • Take the leap of faith. Everything will work out.
  • Eat food! Even if its bad! You won’t know its bad til you try it!
  • Cramp-ons are your friend.
  • Don’t keep carbonated drinks in the car overnight.
  • Don’t pocket the rocks. There are so many other things to collect.

This experience exposed me to new ideas and paths I would never have considered, had I not gone on this trip. My study abroad experience in Iceland was more than educational– it was transformative and I am a better person because of it.

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