My GREEN Iceland Experience

Arriving at Keflavik International Airport on December 15, 2019, I anxiously sat in the Joe & the Juice cafe right by ticketing with a group of roughly 20 that slowly grew and grew over the next hour. By roughly 10AM, we were about 45 large and standing nervously with our luggage, wondering what we were about to get into.

As Eyrún, one of The Green Program guides, called roll to make sure we were all accounted for, I introduced myself to those around me and we all chatted about the usual: where we are from and what are we studying. Our first stop was the Blue Lagoon, a steamy geothermal pool for the classy vacationers looking for a spa experience. We walked along the pathways, admiring the water and noticing the nice lofts lining the pools. It was a roughly 30 minute trail we followed through the lagoon before we all piled back unto our bus.

Meet Arielle

Iceland: Renewable Energy Innovation and Sustainability December 2019

Colorado School of Mines Class of 2020
Major: Civil Engineering

The Happold Foundation Scholarship Recipient

ck4x5gyb700m5qai5b19sr861 a1

We went to our accommodations next, a cute guest house in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, and played icebreaker games, ate lamb stew and got introduced to our capstone projects. The capstone projects would be based around the UN sustainable goals, hopefully incorporating renewable energy methods we learn while in Iceland. My capstone group analyzed the benefits in a microgrid system for specifically the rural communities of Sindh and Balochistan in Pakistan, which are far from the national grid. The renewable energy technologies we highlighted were solar and biofuel, since the focus areas we selected had the greatest potential for these energy options. Our project consisted of developing a value proposition statement, researching the challenges, creating a cost-benefit analysis, and searching for international partnerships. 

ck4x5bhcn00l2qai5rmrmi5hw a4
Midgard Base Camp, Hvolsvöllur, Iceland

In the morning we headed to Reykjavik University bright and early to learn about the history of Iceland and geothermal energy. The school reminded me of an art studio with its colorful decor and cement walls. We all struggled being in class at what felt like nighttime, considering sunrise wasn’t until 11:30AM, but we learned a lot about how Iceland takes advantage of its geothermal energy to account for 25% of the country’s energy production. 

From that point on, the adventures were literally non-stop. Almost every day we went on a hike, totaling four hikes for the trip. The first hike was to a geothermal hot spring hidden in the mountains where we were able to soak among the sparkling water all while trying to ignore the smell of sulfur. The second hike was on a glacier which has sadly been diminishing over the years rapidly, providing us yet another example of the devastating effects of climate change. The third hike was a night time rendezvous through one of the few forests in Iceland where we created bonfires and roasted not marshmallows, but lumps of bread dough. The last hike was a frosty, snowy climb to a peak after off roading to a few Game of Thrones sites where we enjoyed a moment of silence with nature.

ck4x5hhbz00mjqai5pxxou66a img 2087
ck4x5yskt00nhqai5z862oyj0 a6

Aside from the physical activity that absolutely wore me out in the best way possible, the educational experience I got from this program was amazing. I learned so much about the ways Iceland utilizes different renewable energy available to their country, from geothermal to hydropower to biofuel. What I’d known about hydropower consisted of dams, but I learned about the run-of-the-river hydropower plant in Iceland that doesn’t have water storage but instead uses energy from flowing water hitting turbines that spin and generate electricity. We also visited a farm where rapeseeds were being grinded to create oil that could be used to power vehicles, and after tasting the oil (which reminded me a lot of drinking olive oil), the farmer poured it into our truck!

Iceland was quite an experience, and I had no idea how much was in store for us when we left that airport. From the outdoor excursions to the learning activities, even down to the food we had, this whole trip blew my mind. And the other students in this program were such a diverse and intellectual group. I was truly inspired and motivated by the other students around me who knew so much about the topics we studied and were making tremendous efforts to promote clean energy and the UN’s sustainable goals.

I couldn’t have imagined a better way to learn about renewable energy, experience Iceland, try new things and meet new people all in one week!

I thank the Happold Foundation so much for allowing me the opportunity to experience this trip, enhance my education, and spice up my resume! I’m so honored to have been given this award so that I could afford the trip! I want this trip to be the first of many more adventures that allow me to learn about renewable energy, the real world applications, and push towards a sustainable future.

Read Another Article

Inspiring Green Innovators: Architecture Student Fuels Her Passion for Sustainability Studying Abroad in Peru with The GREEN Program

In this article, we delve into the inspiring journey of a young student who embarks on a life-changing study abroad program in Peru and rediscovers her passion for sustainability. Meet Muntaha Imteyaz, an architecture and architectural engineering student at Illinois Institute of Technology who traveled to Peru with The GREEN Program.

read more

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