Inspirational first trip abroad full of education, exploration and new friends September 11, 2019

By (Santa Clara University) - abroad from 08/05/2019 to 08/13/2019 with

The GREEN Program: Iceland - Sustainability and Renewable Energy Abroad

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I was quite impressed with how thoroughly such a short program was able to impact my schema of the world, and the experience was well-rounded. I gained insider expertise from professionals working to build a more sustainable planet, saw the humbling effects of climate change at work on the landscape, and made unexpectedly deep friendships with fellow students and locals. This program is incredibly worthwhile, both as a professional crash course on sustainable energy and as an opportunity to explore yourself and the world.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The combination of minimal classroom work, multiple renewable energy facility site-visits, and a culminating capstone project succeeded in packing a lot of information into a short trip. There's also something for everyone -- all of the education was focused on sustainability, but each lecture we saw seemed to take a different perspective (politics, entrepreneurship, engineering, and geology, to name a few).

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Both of our guides for the trip as well as everyone we heard lectures from lived and worked in Iceland, so we were exposed to local language and customs as well as "insider" spots away from the well-beaten tourist paths. The combination of activities was also well planned, with a good balance of physical and intellectual exploration.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We stayed in multiple guest houses as well as a campground in the highlands. The guest houses were impeccable (good showers, good pillows, very clean), and the campground had running water and outdoor grills to cook on.

* Food:

Pros: With the exception of snacks and beverages, all of the meals on this trip are included in the cost of the program package. The guides took us to a selection of local haunts (including a geothermal brewery/pizza shop!) and worked with the guesthouses to arrange meals, and they did not dissapoint. Cons: grocery stores and bars seem quite expensive if you're used to living in the U.S. (and I live in the Bay Area, which is expensive enough!)

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The guides did an excellent job of steering us away from touristy joints, and we met a lot of incredibly welcoming people. English is spoken frequently in Iceland, and although it will peg you as a foreigner that makes it easier to find your way around and ask questions.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't need any additional vaccines, but The GREEN Program requires you to obtain travel insurance (it's relatively inexpensive).

* Safety:

We didn't encounter any incidents at all, and from what the guides told us it seems that Iceland is an incredibly safe place.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

The GREEN Program has several different locations with similar sustainability-oriented trips, and I would love to explore some of those places as well! However, I think Iceland was a good choice for my first trip abroad -- it's stunning and friendly.

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)

Because meals were included in the program package, hypothetically you could attend this program without spending any additional money. However, there were plentiful opportunities to visit stores for food, drinks, or whatever else you might fancy, and Iceland is an expensive country relative to the United States.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? 1. Budget before you go! 2. Get physical currency (krona), and stash it in several locations in your bags, but also make sure to have a full checking account - they accept cards 3. Keep track of your spending

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • 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?
  • sharing life wisdom with locals and fellow students
  • seeing first-hand the impacts of climate change and discussing solutions with like-minded people
  • excellent work/play balance
* What could be improved?
  • it could be a few days longer
  • having individual group advisors for the capstone project would have been helpful
  • the group was a little bit too large to be hiking together (in my opinion)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I think it's quite difficult to put into words what a perspective-altering experience travel can be, and attending this program really shows you what it's all about. It's really not possible to know until you get up and go.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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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.