Core Course Week: Icelandic Adventures

Hey all! Remember when I actually posted on my blog? Me neither! April has been absolutely insane here. Between two weeks of traveling and three weeks of being overwhelmed by class work, I haven’t had much time to post. So I’m going to jump back 5 weeks ago to when I went to Iceland. Iceland is the most magical place I’ve ever been. Everything stands in sharp contrast to one another. The white of the snow with the black of the rock. The red of the lava with the blue of the ice. It seems like this place shouldn’t exist, but luckily, it does and I got to spend a week there with my core class, Glaciers and Human Impact (aka The Ice Cubes). Throughout the semester, my class has been studying glaciology and how glaciers have responded to climate change in the past in order to understand what may happen in the future. Ping ponging between glacials, stadials, the past, and the present has been difficult to keep up with, but going to Iceland with my class really put it into perspective. There’s something about seeing in person what you’ve been talking about that just clarifies everything. DIS is a really unique study abroad program, because it provides the opportunity to contextualize your learning outside of the classroom and to see more than just Denmark. We arrived in Reykjavík on Saturday evening. After dinner at Potturin og Pannan, we had the evening free. So we all hung out at the hotel then went out to basically the only street in Reykjavík that has anything on it to check out the night life. It was a great night of dancing and slipping on the ice covered streets.

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Anchoring down in Reykjavik

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View from next to our hotel

Sunday we had breakfast at the hotel and then went to the University of Iceland for a lecture on the geology and glaciology of the country. After that we took a long walk along the water where we had a packed lunch. Then we went to the Iceland Meteorological Office to hear about how they have to predict and issue warnings for any of Iceland’s strange events. From volcanic eruptions to meltwater floods to the general weather, the IMO has a lot on its plate to keep the people of Iceland safe. Afterward, we visited the 871 +/- 2 museum, which has a house foundation dated to 871 (give or take 2 years). Then we had another night in Reykjavík to ourselves. We decided to tuck in early since we would be out hiking the next day.

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View from the walk to the Iceland Meteorological Office

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871 +/- 2 settlement

On Monday, we left Reykjavík and started heading east. We started out going to Þingvellir, which is the site of the first Icelandic parliament and also where two tectonic plates are spreading. After walking around in the frigid temperatures, we went back to the bus and headed to lunch at Frioheimer, which is a greenhouse that grows tomatoes and has the best tomato soup ever. Then we visited Seljalandfoss, which is a beautiful waterfall on the south side of the island. Everything was covered in ice so a couple of people got stuck behind the waterfall, which was comical to say the least. Then we drove for a while to the black sand beaches of Reynir, where there are massive waves and basalt columns. Then we headed to the hotel for dinner and to work on our booklet for the trip.

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Overlooking Þingvellir

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Þingvellir

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Walking between the basalt cliffs

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Looking back to the basalt cliffs

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Lots and lots of basalt

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The guide said this was one of the best scuba diving spots in the world

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Cute little greenhouse where we had lunch

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Rows and rows of tomatoes

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Best tomato soup of my life

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Seljalandfoss

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I only almost faceplanted like five times

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The rails were not much help

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Looking from behind the waterfall

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Not a cloud in the sky

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More basalt!

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Black sand beaches

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You guessed it! Basalt!

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Don’t be deceived, these waves were big enough to take out a girl in our class

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Working on our field journals

We were off for another day exploring Iceland on Tuesday. We went to Vatnajökull National Park first thing in the morning, which is home to more beautiful waterfalls including one surrounded by basalt columns where we ate lunch. After hiking around for a couple of hours we hopped back on the bus to head to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, which was frozen over but absolutely amazing. When you walked along the shore, you could see the giant pieces of ice meeting the ocean and getting battered by the waves. Then we went to the hotel for dinner and an amazing sunset.

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Vatnajökull National Park

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Vatnajökull National Park

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Seriously, so many waterfalls

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Got my jacket around my waist like a 90s mom

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We could not have asked for better weather

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The most perfect picnic spot

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The glacial lagoon was frozen over

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Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

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Washed up icebergs

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Close up of the sand

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Still amazed by the contrast

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Sunset at our hotel

On Wednesday, we got to hike on a glacier. We wore crampons and were given pick axes for the trek. Probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. Then we were on the bus for several hours as we headed back to Reykjavik. We stopped at a geothermal power plant to check out where Iceland gets its energy and then had the night in Reykjavik once we were back.

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Just hikin’ around on a glacier

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Pretty sure I dug my pick axe into that

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Posin’ and frozen

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Ice, lots and lots of ice

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Another picture of the glacier

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Panorama of one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been

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Geothermal plant

Thursday was our final day. Before heading to the airport, we went to the Blue Lagoon, which was the perfect way to end the week. It opened an hour early for us so we had it all to ourselves for a little while.

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Blue Lagoon

One of the main highlights of my time in Copenhagen has been my core class. I am really lucky to be surrounded by wonderful and hilarious people that I have had the chance to know in and out of class. DIS really makes it easy to meet your classmates outside of the classroom through field studies and study tours. I have loved every second of the Glaciers and Human Impact core class, and this trip to Iceland was the icing on top of a great semester. Shout out to the Ice Cubes for being the absolute best!

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