Sustainability and Professional Development: A Solar Consultant’s View on Studying Abroad in Iceland


Mar 20, 2023

icl daa

Thanks to The GREEN Program, through its thoughtful, hands-on curriculum, and the implementation of the Capstone Project, I got to see firsthand that I am not the only one interested in making the world better for future generations, and I got to experience how the world is the best classroom.

Daniel Alberto Ardila Anzola, Iceland 2023

Internal Realizations: Joining a sustainability study abroad program to gain professional development with The GREEN Program

Instead of spending holidays at home, in a quiet Christmas environment with family, I guess one of the other options is always the less traveled road, right?  Well, with 180% support from my partner in crime, I was on my way to Iceland first thing on New Years Eve 2023 for a sustainability study abroad with The GREEN Program. This is when the whole portal opened, 5 hours after flying from NYC to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge located country of Iceland. The whole professional development journey unfolded naturally, with no incidents and with no expectations beyond catching the Aurora Borealis.

The simple act of sharing personal spaces 24/7 for 8 days, or being part of a 20 person team, going through almost half of the day without seeing the sun, walking through ancient Viking lands and glaciers under intense snow-covered winter wonderland weather, enjoying 10 km sunset hikes, jumping into an ancient natural hot spring river, trekking through ice covered caves, refilling water from glacier water springs, without being conscious that everything was connecting myself and our energies and vibrations with likeminded souls, all of them certainly amazing, smart, grounded humans. While all those events were happening, I heard that internal CLICK! I identified the click as “this is how I want to engage, make my next moves, boost my professional scope…how I want to surround myself and how I want to spend my time in the future.”

Lectures & Classes: Re-Energized with knowledge around renewable energy innovation and policy

The Iceland School of Energy at Reykjavik University was a major statement, my soul got re-energized and infused with knowledge, the renewable energy and innovation lectures were given by highly qualified, kind, professionals and professors, with useful, astonishing facts, sharing history of the roots, sacrifices, technologies, and efforts that humanity had faced to overcome the challenge of generating and harnessing nature’s power, especially the impressive learning curve of Geothermal and Hydropower that today supplies 100% of Iceland’s electricity demand.

“Living and studying abroad can change our lives. Surrounding yourself with the right people, thinking outside the box, making that scary jump, and always doing things with relentless passion will open doors and give us wings to get where our minds and dreams go, let alone the exponential non-monetary returns of fulfilling our soul.”

Daniel Alberto Ardila Anzola

The Energy Entrepreneurship module by Professor Morgan Greene gave us a 30,000 ft. perspective and approach to Environmental Policy, my head went back to my experience as an advisor for a Master Plan for the Orinoco Basin, back when I lived in Colombia. I was able to unlock and understand the key importance and strategic role of environmental policy-making, its transversality, and how this becomes the backbone for sustainability efforts and flow of resources if we really want to settle foundations for a better future around the sustainable development of our communities, cities, environment, and societies. Thanks to The GREEN Program, through its thoughtful, hands-on curriculum, and the implementation of the Capstone Project, I got to see firsthand that I am not the only one interested in making the world better for future generations, and I got to experience how the world is the best classroom.

8 Professional Development & Sustainability Skills Gained Through My TGP Study Abroad Experience

  1. Communication:

Learning new words, and technical terminology, building presentations and speaking in public definitely activated many parts of my brain that enabled me to speak with more confidence, especially through the constant input of technical language, data, facts, and meanings, not to mention the complex Icelandic language, this experience definitely got my head open to a younger generation concerned with today’s environmental challenges.

2. Independence.

As much as I have always been a super independent person, being exposed to a 24/7 group experience, and experiencing a harsh cold environment while hiking in the evening time, taught me how underrated and forgotten the concept of caring for one another has become,  and how important it is having a collaborative mindset, instead of a super competitive individual goal-driven mindset.

3. Problem-Solving:

The pressure of having a Capstone Project to deliver under a limited amount of time between tours, expeditions, lectures, and transportation was haunting me for a while, however, once we were focused on getting it done, each one contributed their expertise and field of knowledge, I consider that humans have the great capability of making things happen when there is passion, the need and hunger for change or just to help others, no matter the stakes.

4. Adaptability:

I’m probably one of the oldest students of The Green Program, and I did not think about that when I applied to it, I just thought of the great experience and structure that it would bring for me as a professional, and as a person, so, this whole Expedition definitely reminded me of my nature, my capacity to adjust, to blend in, and that we are all the same no matter age, as long as we are likeminded and aiming to the same north – it is like an orchestra where all that matters is the instruments adding up to the song, not the person behind it.

5. Curiosity:

Some of my favorite books and characters are The Little Prince and The Journeys of Marco Polo, both are curious and free characters in nature, relentless, seeking, learning, investigating, and understanding. I think we were given the most amazing super-mega computer packed on a perfect body, however, day-to-day modern life, school, society, and many other external factors little by little tend to limit and diminish our light. I believe in knowledge as the key to wisdom and the key to staying active, happy, and making life the most out of it. Now, after the TGP Capstone Project, I want to pursue this idea we worked on. I want to learn more about Environmental Policy, and similar technologies and want to travel to more places that can give me first-hand experience. Curiosity is everything, as babies and kids that’s what gets us inspired, and that’s how many treasures are found.

6. Foreign Languages:

Languages are keys to accessing cultures, places, people, relationships, and businesses and are the best way to immerse into the magic of the world, the same way animals have theirs, and the more we know the better people we become. My personal experience told me first hand that Icelandic is definitely one complicated language, as much as I wanted to learn some it wouldn’t go further than Flott and a few numbers. My native language is Spanish, and I hope to be able to learn many more languages and pass that into my kids in the future, that’s a talent and a gift.

7. Collaboration:

There’s an African proverb; If you want to go fast Go alone, if you want to go far go together. In the corporate world and in many sports, competitiveness, being the first and the best, the only, etc, is a rule, however, collaboration is what really brings humans together, helping each other, contributing, supporting, adding, and pulling on the same direction is what I believe can really make the difference. The Capstone project is, again, another great example of different universes and perspectives and backgrounds gathered for a common purpose, that’s The GREEN Program and Reykjavik University and Midgard Expeditions and Passionate people that care for a better planet.

8. Other Skills:

Walking on glaciers, wearing crampons, controlling breathing while hiking on snow-covered paths,  regulating body energy, staying alert while walking in caves or in the dark, watching out for your partners, being open to unknown schedules, listening to engineers, financial people, and multiple disciplines is something I call life experience when lots of those add up they can become a skill, the social skills, human skills, critical thinking, systemic thinking are automatically activated and triggered by leaving our comfort zones.

Daniel’s Main Takeaways

A few years ago I decided to reinvent myself and pivot from my Marketing and International Business background, towards my passion which is the environment and sustainability. But, how can I help the world while making a living from it? After moving from Colombia to the US almost 3 years ago, I did lots of research, reading, taking courses, and working as a Solar Consultant for over a year…then The GREEN Program crossed in front of me like a shooting star. Even though I signed up initially for the Nepal program, I had to readjust, made a decision and embrace the radical change. Then, once in Iceland, in a little less than 200 hours, I met over 25 amazing souls, from different backgrounds, ended up being part of a great group with 4 new friends and was able to put together a Capstone Project with a potential solution that could bring potable water to millions of people, by desalinating ocean water, with a sustainable business model and creating energy storage systems with the by-product of the desalination process. I firmly believe that living and studying abroad can change our lives, surrounding yourself with the right people, thinking outside the box, making that scary jump, and always doing things with relentless passion will open doors and give us wings to get where our minds and dreams go, let alone the exponential non-monetary returns of fulfilling our soul.

Learn more abut the Iceland: Renewable Energy Innovation & Sustainability program that Daniel participated in HERE.

*Our team here at TGP loves to stay connected with our alumni and share their post-program stories! Do you want to be featured in our Alumni Spotlight series? Email Andrea at [email protected] to find out how!

Read Another Article

Honoring Kate Slattery & Highlighting the Shine On Scholarship for Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, The GREEN Program is happy to highlight Kate Slattery – a mechanical engineer and photovoltaic designer for SolarCity who challenged herself and others to work toward a global mission of renewable energy and sustainability. We are honored to work with Kate’s family and GivePower to share Kate’s story and provide the Shine On Scholarship to TGP students in memory of Kate. 

read more

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

Subscribe to The GREEN Program newsletter & updates

Skip to content