I just got home from a three-day trip to Iceland thanks to Education First, the organization I use to plan my trips abroad with students. They offered teachers a special referral bonus in the form of a free trip to Iceland, which was amazing. Just as when I took students to Germany, EF organized an itinerary full of sightseeing and learning about the history and culture of Iceland.
In only three days, I got to see waterfalls, geysers, the fissure between two tectonic plates, and the beautiful countryside of Iceland. I also got to swim in Blue Lagoon, one of the largest geothermal spas on Earth and try some delicious local delicacies. It was all incredible!
Our Icelandic guide, Helga, led us around in a tour bus and explained to us the history of Iceland. I had no idea that Iceland was a colony of Denmark until the 1940s. The population is only 315,000 and two thirds of the population lives in the capital city of Reykjavik, which translates to “smoke by the bay”. It was easy to tell why it’s called this, because during our stay the clouds and fog barely lifted from the city. It was also pretty cold and rainy the whole time. But in fall the landscape was beautiful because of all the changing foliage.
Life in Iceland is expensive because they have to import pretty much everything at a great cost. However, the county uses completely renewable energy thanks to its wind, waterfalls, and geothermal springs. The country also manages to grow produce by using greenhouses with lamps that mimic the sun’s light.
All in all, the Icelanders were a very kind and welcoming people. We were able to explore and learn about so much of their culture in such a short period of time, but it wasn’t enough. I definitely want to return again in the future!
Beyond learning about the history and culture of Iceland, I also made great connections with other teachers and learned a lot from the EF staff. Organizing student trips is hard but just like teaching it gets easier with experience. And during these teacher trips there is a lot of experience to gain by connecting with all of those on the trip. I get great ideas from other teachers for how to make a student trip more enjoyable and I can also then reach out to those connections in the future when I have questions or need help. These connections also help me with my teaching, because so many of the teachers who travel are language teachers and then I get to pick their brains on lessons and classroom teaching strategies.
I got started with EF by coincidence, but I have to say that this organization has changed my teaching career. The Iceland weekend was another unforgettable experience and now I can’t wait for my next student trip this summer!