MENU

To Stay In Iceland, Or To Go?

Iceland’s midnight sunsets

How does anyone bring themselves to leave this beautiful country?  How was I driving away from Hermann’s farm at 1am to make the four hour journey to a plane that was going to take me away?  It could be due to not having slept more than seven hours in the past two days, but this was a very challenging moment.  Iceland had been filled with so much adventure and I was very aware of the mere fraction I had seen.

Of my favorite experiences, I had made a friend. Marta, from Poland, was working for my airbnb host for the summer.  On top of Hermann’s home constantly being booked through airbnb, he guides tours on his Icelandic ponies, and is a butter and cheese maker in town.  Being the only one manning his home, he found it was very hard to keep up with his frequent guests.  So, he found Marta, and I’m so glad he did!  She’s on her way to becoming the very best tour guide, and this summer job in Iceland was a great way to get some experience under her belt (as well as a fabulous excuse to live in Iceland for a summer).  When I arrived my first evening, she immediately took me under her wing.  I could not have asked for a better spontaneous travel partner.

 

Melting in a pot of Germans, Icelanders, Americans, and Polish.
It was the crazy Americans who convinced us to hop in the neighboring waterfall.

 

Night One:

Over the dirt roads and through the pastures, to hot pools and waterfalls we went!

 

 

 

 

Castle of Elves in Dimmuborgir!
Caught in awe at Godafoss

Day Two:

I discovered that Icelandic people do, in fact, believe in elves!  We refer to them as gnomes back in the states.  Many construction catastrophes or setbacks in Iceland can be due to building on land elves inhabit.  It’s best to respect their territory and build somewhere else 😉

 

 

Eyes on the prize at Hverir.

It seemed like Marta and I shared a similar passion for beauty and adventure.  So much, in fact, that when we saw an opportunity to climb the mountain at the geothermal site, we went went for it!  Half way up this lone mountain, we realized rain had eroded the path up. Usually, this wouldn’t be a big deal.  A little rough terrain ain’t no thang… but the sediment that made up this mountain was like soggy chalk.  To make matters worse, I chose to wear my rain boots for the day’s adventures.  I wanted to make it to the views at the top so bad, but I quickly realized there was no hope in gaining a foothold.  This made sliding all the way down the slope a very real possibility.

 

 

The smart decision would have been to go down, but we could see a couple who had made it to the top.  This provided enough evidence to convince Marta, (the more sensible of the two of us) that we could do it too! We happened to be a mere 5 feet away from the only boulder in sight, if we could get to it, we figured there may be clearer path up.  After a lot of strategizing and teamwork, we both made it to the boulder. Sadly, the way up only became more daunting.  By the time we gathered ourselves, we saw the lovebirds making their way back down.  This was perfect! Now, we could trace their steps to the top.  This, too, was a bust.  Their way down was the way we agreed not to go up.  They quickly passed us at the boulder, and descended safely down the mountain.

Deciding we wanted to leave the geothermal site intact and in time to see more of Iceland, we decided to let dreams of the summit go.  Getting down was even harder, but working together, I’m proud to say we made it!

After one last stop, we ended our eventful day listening to the beautiful sounds of a choir. We wandered up to the Akureyri Church just as a women’s choir was performing “Hallelujah”.  And oh, did this day deserve a hallelujah. I was leaving Iceland, but I was leaving with a full heart. I had been humbled by beauty, blessed with a new friend, and encouraged having survived my first solo adventure abroad.  Next stop, Scotland.

Cheers to adventure and new friends.

See you soon, Iceland.

Serena


Serena Baker is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Chemistry with a minor in Entrepreneurship. Serena is spending the summer abroad with UMKC Honors Summer Program in Scotland. Taking full advantage of her trip abroad, Serena will make a stop-over in Iceland and visit Germany after the program to improve her language proficiency.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Unexpected Adventures

Farewell to my favorite girls.

So, here I was, sitting in the international terminal of Chicago O’Hare, hiding my tears from the two Italian men beside me.

Today was the day. The day I would leave the country for the very first time. The day I would set off on my first solo adventure before studying abroad in Scotland. In a mere six hours I was supposed to be on the Golden Circle, searching for the first breathtaking view I would paint in Iceland.

As the man at the baggage check counter handed me a torn piece of paper with a number scratched on it he simply said, “Sorry, this is all we can do for you”.  I dialed the number, explaining that I had missed my flight to Iceland due my previous plane’s delay. At the end of that phone call, I not only had 24 hours until my next flight, but the four day stopover I had been looking forward to the most had now been cut to a mere hour layover.  Instead of a window seat and nervous butterflies, I now had two Italian strangers and a broken heart.  Being that my little solo adventure was, in a way, an attempt to leave a broken heart behind, this was not a welcomed alternative.

Cutthroat games of Uno.

 

I quickly realized self-pity and tears were going to get me nowhere.  It was time to put on my big girl pants and find a solution. Though I hadn’t seen them in years, I had amazing family in Chicago.  After some searching, I found my aunt’s number and gave her a call. Within 45 minutes, a car full of family was at the curb of the international terminal embracing me.

 

Every girl needs an aunt with a background in law.

 

I did not get my four days in Iceland, but I got a day of laughter and love with people I had waited far too long to visit.  My lovely aunt, being the bold woman she is, called that number back and got me a whole two days in Iceland.  The next day, I was back en route for my adventure, full of love and without a lost day.

 

 

 


Serena Baker is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Chemistry with a minor in Entrepreneurship. Serena is spending the summer abroad with UMKC Honors Summer Program in Scotland. Taking full advantage of her trip abroad, Serena will make a stop-over in Iceland and visit Germany after the program to improve her language proficiency.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.