Life Changing Adventure in Iceland! August 26, 2014

By (PSYCHOLOGY., Duke University) - abroad from 05/15/2013 to 06/05/2013 with

Center for Ecological Living & Learning: Solheimar - Iceland Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Aside from the academic knowledge and content, I learned a lot about my personal relationship with and understanding of the Earth. I learned first-hand what community-level change is like. This has been one of the most memorable experiences I have had the good fortune to participate in.

Review Photos

Center for Ecological Living & Learning: Solheimar - Iceland Program Photo Center for Ecological Living & Learning: Solheimar - Iceland Program Photo Center for Ecological Living & Learning: Solheimar - Iceland Program Photo Center for Ecological Living & Learning: Solheimar - Iceland Program Photo Center for Ecological Living & Learning: Solheimar - Iceland Program Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The CELL program provided me with readings from some of the most well known leaders in the field of sustainability, hands-on projects, and interactions with notable individuals like politicians, artists, farmers, etc. Also, each of us designed and implemented a Sustainability Action Plan when we returned from our trip.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Nothing to complain about.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The majority of our trip, we stayed in dorm-like settings at Solheimar eco-village. Rooms were primarily doubles, with private bathrooms. We also had access to a kitchen. Occasionally, we would have overnight trips. We stayed at in an Icelandic Turf House and a camping lodge/cabin. Overall, living arrangements were great. Very comfortable, and often would relate to what we are learning. Very immersive.

* Food:

Food was excellent! We had lots of local cuisine and cooked together as a group. Everything was delicious, even the sandwiches we had on hikes.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We lived at an eco-village, and got to interact with the residents on a nearly daily basis. We would chat with them at lunch, and they would invite us to coffee breaks. We also got to meet local politicians, artists, and farmers.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had insurance, and didn't have any healthcare needs, so this wasn't really relevant.

* Safety:

We had no safety issues, so I guess everything was very safe.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

The cost covered everything once we were abroad, including food, housing, etc. The only thing that wasn't covered was the airfare.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $10

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

We received some instruction on the Icelandic language. We were encouraged to use the basic phrases we learned, especially in our daily interactions with the residents of the eco-village.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? German 3
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Learn the basic phrases, and then go talk to people! Don't worry too much about getting all of the technical aspects correct. Just get into the habit of using the common phrases.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Other
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Active, hands-on learning style
  • Relevant, unique field trips and guest speakers
  • Hiking and exploring the natural wonders (mountains, volcanoes, waterfalls, etc) of Iceland
* What could be improved?
  • I only did the 3 week Maymester program - should have done a full semester!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Sustainability-related personal (and community-level) change is really hard. My first-hand experience trying to implement my action plan showed me just how difficult change can be. The CELL program taught me why change matters, and what we can do.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Sustainability: Secrets of Simplicity (LINTD 3699)

Course Department:
Instructor: Dave Oakes
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The course included trips to various power plants, a historic Icelandic Turf House, a volcano, a glacier, and so many other great places. The class was fairly small and intimate, so most people were very active participants. The class was more similar to a seminar than a lecture. The assessments ranged from journal prompts to presentations and projects.
Credit Transfer Issues: No issues.