Day 1: Welcome to Iceland!

Hi and thanks for checking out my blog! I know I should have a better introduction than this and maybe a separate post, but I promise I won’t take too long. In the summer of 2015, I traveled to Iceland to participate in the GREEN program for ten days from May 25th to June 3rd. The GREEN Program provided me an awesome opportunity to learn about renewable energy from courses at Reykjavik University, tour power plants, and participate in many adventure excursions! I want to give special thanks to Carnegie Mellon for helping to fund my trip through the Tartans Abroad Scholarship and CIT Travel Grant. The only stipulation for these awards was that I share my experiences with the broader community, hence the travel blog. So without further ado…the first day!

My welcome to Iceland was not what I expected. I expected greenery and mountains. Not going to lie, I envisioned some scenery from Lord of the Rings. But instead it was pretty barren, brown, and treeless. The landscape around the airport ranged from rocky to rocky with moss on top. Don’t worry, I also saw green pastures, but the initial look of the landscape was pretty shocking.

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At the airport, I bumped into a bunch of students from Bucknell University who were also part of the GREEN Program. I never heard of Bucknell before, but apparently it’s only 4 hours away from Pittsburgh. The Bucknell students were led by Professor Toole, whom they also lovingly referred to as Tooleman. Tooleman is a civil engineering professor (my major!). We chatted for a bit before meeting up with the larger group of GREEN students at the airport. There were 45 other students, so it was a pretty daunting task trying to get to know them all. We had about 3 hours to chill while we wait for other students to arrive, which meant there was plenty of time to chat and pass around names, major, and hometown information. I also met the three group leaders of the trip:  Tinni, Helga, and Josh.

When we finally gathered up the whole crew, we immediately jumped into our first excursions. This was before we even had a chance to drop off our bags, so that kinda gives you an idea of how hectic the GREEN schedule was. Our first stop was to the continental divide between the Eurasian plate and the North American plate. Iceland lies on a major rift, resulting in a lot of volcanic and geothermal activity. Iceland actually increases in size about 2 cm every year.

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IMG_2475 Just posing on some rocks, nbd
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Looks like solidified lava flow, which is pretty cool

The next stop was to the cliffs to see the ocean. There were a ton of birds around but no puffins. Where were the puffins?! For the rest of the week, that was basically the big question on everybody’s mind.

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Lastly, we stopped at the hot spring areas. There were plenty of danger signs all around, which meant we had to stay on the path or else…well you can find that out for yourself. The sulfuric smell was pretty bad, and since Icelanders use geothermal activity to heat their showers, the smell of rotten eggs stays with you even while you shower! How nice?

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Poor bridge. It never had a chance!

Our hostel was called Hjardarból. We dropped off our bags, mingled, and played ice breakers for the rest of the night. By the end, I was so ready to pass out. Eleven hours of flying, six hours in layover, and a restless night of packing can do that to a person. Sleep all you can folks!

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