Iceland glacier hikers

Whale watching, glacier hiking, horseback riding and kilometers upon kilometers of biking—students experienced all this and more on a 20-day trip to Iceland and Amsterdam. The summer global program also gave students an up close look at the impact of climate change and communities using creative solutions to combat its effects. 

Arriving first in Iceland—on one of the country’s longest, brightest days of the year—the students visited the Whales of Iceland Museum in Reykjavik where they learned about sound pollution and how it’s affecting whales. In Thingvellir National Park, one of the only places in the world where you can walk between two of the earth's tectonic plates, the group hiked in the valley created as the plates slowly pull apart (almost an inch every year). And at Orka náttúrunnar, the world’s largest geothermal power plant, students learned how Iceland’s unique geography contributes to the plant’s function. 

The group took in the natural beauty of Iceland during a glacier hike (“Sadly we also learned how significantly the glacier has receded due to climate change,” says trip leader and Global Programs Director Dion Crushshon); a visit to Geysir, the site of many natural geysers and natural hot springs; a whale-watching excursion and a horseback riding tour. On their final day in Iceland, the students took a dip in the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal pool in the middle of a natural lava landscape.

Shifting gears, literally, the group immersed itself in the culture of Amsterdam, one of the world’s greenest cities, where biking is the predominant mode of transportation. Here students explored the sustainable towns and creative spaces where cutting edge technological initiatives and innovative responses are developed and applied in everyday life.

Students peddled an hour outside of Amsterdam to visit the historical castle Muiderslot in Muiden,one of the oldest towns in the Netherlands. And in Rotterdam they took in Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and village known for its iconic 18th-century windmills, to see how the millers of the town lived centuries ago and to learn how the mills operate to prevent flooding in the farmland.

Before departing for home, the students reflected on all they had learned and developed 41 goals for educating others and supporting local sustainability efforts on their return.

To read more about the summer global immersion experience, visit the trip blog, which includes daily updates and reflections from the students.

Watch student-produced video summaries of Iceland and Amsterdam

Check out photos by trip participants on Flickr.