Blog

A Penn State Undergrad Experiences Icelandic Culture by Studying Abroad through TGP Scholarship

}

Dec 27, 2022

Screen Shot 2022 12 15 at 2.32.00 PM

Meet Elizabeth Tofte

Iceland 2022
TGP Scholarship Recipient

Penn State University
Major: Earth Sciences
Graduation Year: 2024


“My expectations were far exceeded as my trip to Iceland, studying and exploring, was definitely a highlight of my life.”


I am a junior at Penn State University where I major in Earth Sciences. When I first heard about The GREEN Program, I was instantly drawn to the company’s mission of giving students the opportunity to learn about sustainable development through education abroad. As an Earth Sciences major and a passionate advocate for sustainability, I knew that this program was exactly what I was looking for. When I initially applied for the TGP Scholarship, I didn’t have any expectations. I simply thought that it wouldn’t hurt to just give it a shot. But once I learned that I had been awarded the scholarship, I was honored that the TGP team saw potential in me and believed that I would be a good addition to the Iceland program. To this day, I am is still so grateful for the opportunities that this scholarship gave me.

Going into the trip, I was super excited to explore a new country but I also wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I didn’t know anyone who had ever gone on a TGP trip before so I knew little about what would actually happen on the trip. But, the TGP team did an amazing job at answering any questions I had and keeping me updated on everything I needed to know. Upon arrival, I met my cohort and we instantly meshed! All of the students that were on my trip (as well as our incredible guides) made this experience spectacular. My expectations were far exceeded as my trip to Iceland, studying and exploring, was definitely a highlight of my life.

“I believe that the life experiences and perspectives of underrepresented students are essential for building a better, stronger, more sustainable future as they bring something new to the table.”

The opportunities TGP gives students are so unique and unlike anything I have ever experienced. These unique learning experiences require new, unique perspectives to interpret and apply them. I believe that the life experiences and perspectives of underrepresented students are essential for building a better, stronger, more sustainable future as they bring something new to the table. As a woman in STEM, I was greatly inspired by my trip to Iceland because I was surrounded by an extraordinary group of women who came from various backgrounds and educations. I learned so much from each of them through discussions and collaborations that allowed us to share our unique perspectives.

Screen Shot 2022 12 15 at 2.57.04 PM


One of my biggest takeaways from my trip to Iceland was the importance and relevance of renewable energy. Getting to explore hydro and geothermal power plants really opened my eyes to the renewables industry. It was fascinating to see how the country runs on this energy supply and how the entire population recognizes the importance of clean energy.

The entire trip was an educational experience, but the actual classroom learning was incredibly interesting. The lecturers and professors that came to talk to us each had a distinct and in depth topic that they were passionate about. We discussed Icelandic geological history, hydropower, geothermal power, energy economics, and more. My favorite moment about the educational aspect was getting to actually go and visit the power plants to see what we had been discussing first hand.


“I came home from my trip with a new sense of motivation and inspiration for my career.”


My capstone project proposed an idea for a sustainability-focused line of hotels, which we titled GreenHus Hotels (an ode to Iceland as “hus” means “house”). My group recognized that the travel accommodation industry was incredibly wasteful and that there has to be some way to decrease the carbon footprint of hotels. Our capstone included a proposed design for a hotel room and the amenities that would be included. Some examples of how our hotels make sustainable, eco-conscious choices include composting any food waste, using low-impact appliances, utilizing solar energy, and growing food in a local garden.The biggest challenge we had was keeping our hotel within a reasonable budget. All the ideas that we had ended up costing way more money than was feasible. Our end result was that GreenHus hotels was a great idea but it would require large investments and huge sums of money to even be created. Despite the fact that our project wasn’t currently feasible, we had an amazing time working on our capstone together.

I want to thank everyone at The GREEN Program for giving me the opportunity to study abroad in beautiful Iceland. Everyone who works behind the scenes to help students through the entire process, from applications to alumni opportunities, deserves so much recognition for all that they do to make the dreams of our world’s future sustainability leaders come true.

Elizabeth’s advice for new GREENies:

Enrolling on a TGP trip is quite simple and I found it to be a smooth process. Once you apply and are accepted into the program, you then go on to select your specific trip. I knew I wanted to see Iceland in the summer, so I chose to travel in May. All of the pre-departure work is very straight forward and easy to complete. The biggest challenge that I faced was figuring out how I was going to pay for my trip. The financial aspect is definitely the most stressful part but this scholarship took a huge load off my shoulders.

Studying abroad is definitely a big commitment, especially a big financial commitment, and it can be difficult to decide what is best for you individually. However, the experiences that you get studying abroad with programs like TGP are priceless and will stay with you for your entire life. They are an investment in your future. I came home from my trip with a new sense of motivation and inspiration for my career.

Read Another Article

How an Online Sustainability Program Helped Jaedyn Medrano Become an Intersectional Sustainability Advocate

This blog features the virtual Nepal Ethics of Sustainable Development Alum, Jaedyn Medrano who says, “this program taught me how to think about a project holistically, and it has guided me along the path to being a better cultured and inclusive young professional.” She is set to graduate with a double major in Renewable Natural Resources & Ecological Restorations in December of 2022.

read more

Defending Reproductive Rights in the Battle for Climate Justice

Reproductive Justice is Climate Justice. The GREEN Program stands to defend the reproductive rights of all women and people who give birth to access safe reproductive health care. We must do more to educate others and understand the interconnection between Reproductive Justice and the Climate Crisis. It’s important to draw the connections between climate change, pollution, and reproductive rights.

read more

An International Graduate Student Embraces Nepali Culture by Studying Abroad through Shine On Scholarship

On one hand, I believe that every student should be given a chance to study abroad at least once in their life, because it teaches us things that textbooks cannot: adaptability, resilience, curiosity, empathy, just to name a few. Whether good or bad, bursting our bubble and learning about our world will inspire us and open our minds. On the other hand, the people we interact with benefit from the diversity, because all of us bring unique perspectives to the table. Perhaps we share an idea that no one has thought of but could be key to solving a problem; we fuel the aspirations of someone who is facing similar difficulties; or help take down stereotypes.  

read more

Remembering Juneteenth and the Fight for Environmental Justice

n June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX, and announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery. It is on this day every year since that we celebrate “Juneteenth” as the end of slavery in the United States. It is a day that we celebrate ancestors and leaders who fought to be liberated. We celebrate their power, resiliency, and tenacity. 

read more

LGBTQ+ Leaders and Organizations in Sustainability to Know About this Pride Month

The GREEN Program loves to celebrate love, and there is no better way to do that this month than by recognizing a few LGBTQ+ leaders and organizations that are making a difference not just in their own communities but for our planet altogether. Read below to learn more about some people and spaces that are working together to promote a better world that focuses on inclusion and equality.

read more

Meet 8 AAPI Leaders in Sustainability: Across the Globe and At Home

The month of May is known to many as the end of classes and the start of Summer, but May is also known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Our team at TGP wanted to take a moment to recognize the contributions and influence of AAPI Americans throughout history, culture, and achievements both on a global scale, and from those who are a bit close to home. We also encourage you to learn more about AAPI Heritage Month and get involved through additional resources.

read more

From a Start Up to a Sustainability Study Abroad Program: How Patrick Applied his Passion for Renewable Energy in Iceland

When Fall 2021 rolled around and I saw the TGP scholarship opportunity, I thought I’d apply not expecting much. When I found out that I actually got it, I was like “I guess I’m actually doing this!”. I was a little nervous and anxious but also so excited for the opportunity! I was also grateful that the enrollment process was very smooth for me with no significant challenges along the way.

read more

Boston University Student Gains a Unique Perspective for Renewable Energy & Sustainability by Studying Abroad in Iceland

Global experiences have definitely shaped me into the person I am today through increased cultural awareness and sensitivity. Getting to really know a great group of diverse individuals from all over the world has not only shaped my perspective on current world issues, but has also allowed me to take a glance at certain topics from another angle and point of view.

read more

A Construction Science Major Turns Lessons into Opportunity after a Sustainability Study Abroad Program 

AJ Ewing spent his past Winter Break a little bit differently than most students, by studying abroad on our GREEN Nepal program. As a Construction Science major, AJ notes that he was nervous coming into the study abroad program having no prior experience in sustainability or electrical/solar grids, but he was excited and eager to learn. As soon as he arrived, all his nerves were gone as he was welcomed by our team and ready to dive in. Now, he can honestly say that when he thinks of The GREEN Program, he thinks of “family away from home.”

read more

How a Geologist Made His Sustainability Dream in Iceland a Reality through a Study Abroad Scholarship

As someone who is in a field with a limited representation of ethnic minorities, TGP created a neutral ground where there was a range of diversity on different levels. My GREEN Program experience in Iceland wasn’t just about the adventures and cultural immersion, but about the education too. I thoroughly enjoyed the lectures because I saw how passionate the different lecturers were about their work and research which is truly inspiring. As a geologist, learning more about the wonder that is Iceland in Iceland was definitely a dream come true.

read more

Get to Know GREENie: Maryam Aida Tidjani

Maryam Aida Tidjani got to experience a brand new kind of GREEN Program during the hard times the world was facing, a 100% Virtual and Online experience. Initially planning on traveling to Peru in 2021, the global pandemic continued to shift things around and we had to pivot all travel programs to Online experiences.

read more

5 Essential Sustainable Travel Tips: Reduce Your Carbon Footprint and Support Local Communities for an Authentic Experience

There is no question that sustainability and travel are interconnected, and more people are becoming conscious of their environmental impacts. As a result, travelers are seeking ways to reduce their carbon footprints while on vacation, on their study abroad programs, work travels, and more. Sustainable travel is not just about reducing your environmental impact, but also about supporting local communities and preserving cultural heritage. Here are five practical tips to travel sustainably.

read more

Subscribe to The GREEN Program newsletter & updates

Loading...
Skip to content