For Spring Break I was lucky enough to be able to participate in The Green Program, an alternative Spring Break program that focuses on addressing the United Nations 2013 Global Agenda for sustainability, particularly in the areas of Climate Action and Affordable and Clean Energy.
Iceland generates 100 percent of its energy from renewable resources, using primarily geothermal and hydroelectric energy. We attended lectures at Reykjavik University about these resources and took part in tours of power plants such as Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Station to learn about the infrastructure and processes involved in powering the country.
Early in the program we were asked to form groups, with each group completing a Capstone Project that involved creating a business model for a program or company that would address some area of the United Nation’s Sustainability Goals. We presented our ideas in front of a volunteer panel of Reykjavik University Professors.
Florida State University had four representatives climbing mountains.
The trip also included a series of once in a lifetime adventures such as glacier hiking, super jeeping through the mountains in the dead of night, and hiking through the snow in our bathing suits to reach secluded hot springs.
Iceland lies directly over the divergence between the Eurasian and North American Tectonic Plates – hence why the island is so geologically active. The Bridge Between Continents spans the gap between these two plates.
We were able to see some of the most famous sights Iceland has to offer, including Gullfoss falls, pictured above. Our program guides captured our imaginations with the story of Sigriður Tómasdóttir, who hired her own lawyer and who fought foreigners who wanted to use the falls to produce electricity in the courts.
Fridheimar is a greenhouse that seems to be in the middle of nowhere, and which exclusively grow tomatoes. Inside the greenhouse you’ll find a bar and small restaurant, which sells the best tomato soup and warm fresh bread that you will ever have. Tomato ice cream and tomato cheesecake are also featured on the menu.
The Icelandic Horses are also famous for their distinct look and fifth gait. Recently, tourists pulling over to take pictures and provide snacks have irked authorities who say that the resulting traffic jams are a threat to public safety.
Skogafoss Falls come with 430 stairs that you can climb in order to experience a breathtaking view of the farmland below and the ocean in the distance.
Climate change is evident all across the country. The lake pictured above has been exposed by the receding glacier over the course of the past twenty years alone. Our guide informed us that the same glacier hike we were embarked on would likely be obsolete within another decade, as the ice continues to melt.
Our last day was spent in the city of Reykjavik, taking pictures with Leif Ericsson’s backside in front of Iceland’s tallest cathedral, Hallgrímskirkja.