International Travel Awards – Iceland 2018

On 22 January this year I joined 39 fellow students and 4 members of staff on a journey to Iceland. The trip was hosted by the University for us to experience the culture of the country while studying it closely.

This trip aimed to help us to appreciate a new culture and environment, while improving our employment and personal prospects and experiencing one of the world’s most prolific geological hot-spots. We vlogged our experiences along the way so read and watch on to see what we got up to.

Iceland Field trip itinerary

Across the 8 days we were away, we engaged in several exciting activities to help improve our social and cultural skills. Additionally, helping to improve local relations with the residents and students of Iceland.

Our first day began with a rendezvous at London Luton airport, travelling to and arriving in Iceland. Giving us plenty of time to prepare for what the trip had to offer us.

Day 2

The second day of our trip started with a lengthy journey to the southern part of the island, stopping westward of Sólheimajökull. Here we undertook a short hike toward the glacier and spent over 2 hours learning about, and walking on, the glacier itself. This was followed by a short journey to Reynisfjara and ended the day with a detour to Skógafoss. Here we took a short amount of time to see and learn about the different landscapes and environments.

Day 3

The third day was devoted to a tour of the Golden Circle; beginning with a short stop near Gullfoss and Geysir to learn about the natural history of Iceland. We learnt about Iceland’s recent volcanic and glacial periods and the types of landscapes that formed resulting from their processes. Following this, we then visited Ϸingvellir, near the Almannagjá rift, where the group could appreciate the rifted landscape present in the lower lying valley.

Day 4

At the half-way point of the trip, the group took a day to explore Reykjavik and to visit the University of Iceland. The day began with a walking tour of Reykjavik, beginning outside Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland, and ending outside Reykjavik city hall. After exploring the city, we then visited the University of Iceland. We were given a tour of some of the key facilities and buildings of the university and then explored it, ourselves. Not only did this tour give us a better understanding of Icelandic culture and academia.

Day 5

The fifth day was one of the two ‘social’ days on the trip, where we were free to explore Reykjavik and the surrounding area. We viewed Perlan Museum to enjoy some of the displays and exhibits from Iceland. Our group undoubtedly gained a much greater knowledge of Icelandic culture and lifestyle.

Day 6

The sixth day was almost entirely devoted to a single location; the Blue Lagoon, in Reykjanes Peninsula. The Blue Lagoon is a large body of water heated from below by geothermal processes. The water is rich in minerals like silica and sulphur, which can help improve complexion and can help to alleviate skin diseases such as psoriasis. Our group spent approximately 5 hours at this lagoon, further supplementing our knowledge of Icelandic culture and society. We’re able to demonstrate the link between the Icelandic landscape and how their society has evolved around their environment.

Day 7

On the final full day of the trip, the group had its last ‘social’ day. With the scheduled itinerary describing a trip to Kolaportið Flea Market. We had a walk around the old harbour. Us students had a range of activities to partake in during this day; being free to explore the city of Reykjavik and the surrounding area. We engaged in a range of activities which would help to bring a close to the trip, exploring any areas we were interested in, and to help cover any of the curiosities we had built up over the course of the trip.

With the trip concluding, our group took the bus back to the airport, with a whole range of experiences under our belt and returned to the UK to continue with university life here. Having experienced a range of activities, cultures and environments, both us students and the staff alike have carved an exciting new part of our lives and have potentially improved future prospects, in academia, industry and more personal aspirations. I’m sure the other students and staff would be as eager to engage in these sorts of activities again in the future, as the University would be to offer their students and staff opportunities like this.

Round up

The experience was very positive; being able to engage with the University and another culture was an enlightening experience, and being able to meet with fellow prospective students on this trip has been very enjoyable.

It is vital that the University continues to engage with its students in ever more unique ways, like this excursion, to help both existing and future students to engage with their studies and discover new prospects which could ultimately shape their futures. The University should continue to offer the International Travel Awards as to further incentivise students to truly consider what sorts of places their futures could lead them and to help improve and establish relations between the University, its students, and other academic institutions across the globe.

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