Iceland and Greenland: a Great Learning and Growing Experience Past Review

By (Bowdoin College) - abroad from 02/15/2019 to 05/24/2019 with

SIT Study Abroad: Iceland - Climate Change and the Arctic

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned even more about how to live on my own/with friends and come up with routines to keep myself learning and happy. I feel way more prepared for life after college as a result. On top of that, I learned a ton about the politics and cultures of the areas we visited, and how climate change will impact those areas.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Not the most rigorous program if you only do the bare minimum. The leaders give you a lot of wiggle-room to follow your personal passion rather than overloading you with busywork. This means that you need to be an agent of your own learning. If you're naturally curious and will follow up on the things you learn in lectures, you'll learn a ton and have a really fulfilling academic experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The leaders I had were phenomenal. They're both brilliant in their fields and so relatable. Beyond their knowledge of the environment and the climate, they're also very knowledgeable of pop culture (movies, tv, books, podcasts, etc.) and are tons of fun to talk to if you're interested in that sorts of stuff. They're also both hilarious!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Most housing was great. Very cool hostels in Reykjavik, Akureyri, and Nuuk, all for different reasons. Nuuk was beautiful, right up on the water. Reykjavik and Akureyri felt like social hubs of the cities, with attached bars and such. Homestay was also a fantastic experience to immerse yourself in the culture. During ISP, if you put in the work to find a great place, you'll also be really happy.

* Food:

You're often in charge of your own food, which is difficult given that things are so expensive in Iceland. You're not going to get to eat out often, since the least expensive meal you can get is street food for about 15 dollars. The food experience is really based on how much you like your own cooking, since that's most of what you're eating to keep a reasonable budget. I will say, you get to try tons of weird foods that you can brag to your friends about. I had narwhal, seal, fermented shark, reindeer, and whale!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I often felt like I was only interacting with my classmates. The most immersion was during the homestay, since you really get to know the family there and connect with the town through them. Outside that experience, there's very little we did to immerse ourselves in Icelandic culture, and it sometimes felt like we were just tourists.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any personal health issues, but I had a friend who needed medicine from a hospital, and she seemed to have an easy experience with it.

* Safety:

Iceland is UNBELIEVABLY safe. Never felt like anything bad was going to happen.

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

I feel like I learned a lot in a cool place that I've always wanted to go. It wasn't the most immersive experience, but I feel like I still explored and grew a lot as a result.


* 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)

Things in Iceland are EXPENSIVE. So much is imported that the price of everything is pretty much through the roof. Even cooking for yourself and budgeting pretty rigorously, you're going to have expenses that push you over $100 per week. The stipend is enough to cover all of this though, which is great.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buy and cook your own food, make a bank account, split food with friends, and set some aside for extra expenses on top of living.


* 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 had two days of language and pretty much never used it. There was basically no foreign language component, and we only did it as a brief curiosity.

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? None

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Apartment
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
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?
  • Friends
  • Independence
  • Learning
* What could be improved?
  • Immersion
  • Language
  • Hands-on Labwork
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The program isn't the most immersive. It's a great experience to meet and bond with other Americans, but maybe not so much for Icelanders except during the homestay period. Also prepare yourself for high prices!

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.