Adventuring behind a waterfall. Whale watching. Exploring the Black Sand Beach in Reynisfjara.
For one week in May, 18 SJC Long Island honors students — and SJC mascot Hot Wyngz (in plush toy form) — explored Iceland’s natural landscapes and historical elements.
“I found out about the trip to Iceland in the summer of 2016, and I was thrilled. It was definitely one of the most unexpected places to travel, but it turned out to be the perfect place,” said Barbara Feng, a junior in SJC Long Island’s honors program.
“I most enjoyed having the experiences I had with my friends there with me, and horseback riding in an area where I could see different landscapes of Iceland,” said Tyler LaCarrubba, who also traveled to Europe with SJC’s global studies for a study abroad program in Oxford last summer.
Titled “The Land of Fire and Ice,” SJC’s study abroad program to Iceland allowed SJC students to learn a lot about the culture, as well as themselves.
“What I really enjoyed was gaining a deep understanding of the country through our intimate contact with nature, the Icelandic Sagas and conversations with locals” Feng said. “The best part was traveling with my friends and experiencing unforgettable moments with them. We developed deeper bonds with each other and shared some lifelong memories. It was something I would not be able to have if I was visiting Iceland on my own.”
It was definitely one of the most unexpected places to travel, but it turned out to be the perfect place.”
LaCarrubba, who spent time researching and observing social behaviors during a previous visit to Oxford, drew some connections to the Iceland trip.
“Academically, I was able to see more of the group dynamics I had noticed from my previous study abroad trip, but this time from inside of a group rather than outside of it,” the SJC junior said. “Personally, I was able to understand more about myself in a way I would not have been able to at home because of the cultural differences, environmental differences,and the distance.”
Whether it was Iceland’s natural beauty, rich history or welcoming culture, the SJC students started to feel right at home.
“I think what surprised me most was how comfortable I was there,” Lacarrubba said. “Normally I have this nervousness about everything, but I wasn’t as nervous as usual while there, especially given it was an unfamiliar place where there were, at times, language barriers.”
Feng is already anxiously awaiting her return to Iceland.
“At the end of the trip, I was surprised to find how emotionally attached I was to Iceland,” she said. “I always felt joy and I was very relaxed during my trip. I found I had developed a sense of belonging in Iceland. I told myself, ‘I have to come back and visit again,’ and next time, I will stay longer.”