Abington Global Education: Iceland

Amazing Icelandic Treasures: 2017

In April, the Global Education Program traveled to Iceland for five days, providing participants with the opportunity to see landscapes unlike anywhere else on earth. Global travelers, including myself, stayed in the village of Vik, in the city of Reykjavik while driving to different national parks each day. Chris Mulhern, our tour guide, showed us the major landmarks of Reykjavik. We walked along the waterfront with an incredible view of Mount Esja, went shopping and visited Hallgrímskirkja, a very tall Lutheran church that can be seen throughout the city. Our first day was laid back, but that was not true for the rest of our trip. From then on, every minute was packed full with activities.

Day Two – We visited Thingvellir National Park, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. The separation of the plates forms a rift valley that tourists can walk through. It was here that we experienced our first real taste of the cold Icelandic wind and rain. But, everyone was dressed accordingly, so it did not ruin our time.

It was an unforgettable experience, which allowed me to push my personal fear boundaries and see natural formations that were incredibly beautiful.

— Sophie Gendreau

The day continued with a trip to Fridheimar Farm, a greenhouse and restaurant in Iceland that specializes in tomatoes. We all had tomato soup for lunch, and some students even tried tomato ice cream. We also visited the stables at the farm where Icelandic horses were raised, the same breed of horse we would mount later in the trip.

One of the most memorable features of Iceland are its geothermal springs and geysers. We visited Stokkur, which erupts once every six minutes. The way the water level rises and falls before finally erupting is mesmerizing. We then visited Gullfoss, one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls. Unfortunately, an intense hail storm with whipping wind came out of nowhere and cut our visit short.  Iceland’s weather is very unpredictable. Later, our bus driver showed us Faxi Waterfall, a smaller and not as well-known waterfall that was more accessible. The weather was nicer and we had more time to enjoy the view.

Day Three – We hiked over a glacier. Some groups even traversed over a large crevasse suspended from ropes, while others explored ice caves. “It was an unforgettable experience, which allowed me to push my personal fear boundaries and see natural formations that were incredibly beautiful,” said Sophie Gendreau ’18, my classmate and fellow traveler. Perhaps the best part of the hike was drinking fresh water that had melted from the glacier.

Everyone was exhausted after the five-mile hike, but we had more to do. Our next stop was Reynisfjara Beach, famous for its black sand and basalt columns. These hexagonal columns don’t seem natural, but they are the result of lava cooling as it flows over already cooled lava. Our tour guide told us that locals always say not to stand with your back to the sea because the infamous waves have taken the lives of people that stood too close to the water’s edge.

Our next stop was Skógafoss waterfall which is 200 feet tall. Many students, still tired from our glacier hike, passed on the opportunity to walk to the top, but I decided to go for it. The view was breathtaking. The sky was blue and sunny, which was hard to find in rainy Iceland and we could see the Skógá River go off in the distance. We also visited Seljalansfoss Waterfall, which you can walk behind, but you will get wet if you do. “It gave me an entirely different perspective of something so simple as a waterfall. It was worth getting drenched for,” said Laurel Blanchard ’18,”

The day ended on a high note as we spent over an hour trying to see the Northern Lights. We couldn’t see anything through the clouds, but searching for the Northern Lights is not possible back home.

Day Four – We returned to Reykjavik and divided into two groups to go horseback riding. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip because I had never liked horses as a child and this was my first experience riding.

Day Five – For our final day in Iceland, we traveled to the Blue Lagoon. The water was a beautiful light blue and was very warm. Most travelers took advantage of the lagoon’s free silica mud mask. The mask left everyone’s skin feeling very soft. This was a most amazing end to an incredible trip, a trip that pushed us to be more adventurous than ever before.

Chaperones: Mrs. Daisy, Mr. Donohue, Mrs. Flaherty, Mr. Holzman

Seniors: Juvianna Dossantos, Emily Liebke, Tyler Merrick, Kevin O’Neil, Josh Rix

Juniors: Emily Akers, Jessica Barry, Laurel Blanchard, Brian Cashman, Julie Clark, Becca Curran, Allison Dennehy, Sophie Gendreau, Julia Hamel, Alicia Hammill, Katelyn LaRosa, Sarah Long, Hannah Luckman, Mike Manning, Lillie Morgan, John Quinn, Kyle Rogers, Bethany Salah, Ally Snow, Autumn Strickland, Chloe Tardanico