So I went to Iceland and that's cool. There's no good way to introduce the fact that I up and left the country in the middle of the semester to go look at some volcanic glaciers, but damnit I did it. I also write for Odyssey which means I get to write about it, and publish that writing on a public forum for people to read- or not. So here's what Iceland is like.
For starters, it's not lost on me for a moment that this trip was something that as a 20-year-old, I had no business being on. But, thanks to the price-savvy sorority sister who found our tickets, I was able to pay for my round trip ticket on my own. Cool! Working during my undergrad paying off for personal gain? A concept!
I'd never been out of the country and my longest flight up until we left was the two-hour jaunt to Florida. The six-hour flight matched with the four hour time difference resulted in jet lag that I wouldn't wish on anyone (really, it wasn't that bad but I am a writer and therefore ~dramatic~). So we land and get our rental car and are trying to figure out just how fast 80 kilometers an hour is. We get some food and check into our hotel which is a redone army barrack from days gone by (How many days? I don't know which is why I chose this wording, get with it).
The next night and for the rest of the trip, we lived in an Airbnb with a young couple and their newborn. The room ran us $25 a night and was not intended for three people to live in for even one night let alone seven. But, you could see snow capped mountains out of our window, something I had never seen before, and that magic wasn't lost because of our cramped quarters.
A short summary of our experience would be that we saw the south coast, the north coast, the northwest peninsula, and the Golden Circle. Yeah on paper, that's what happened. But we also saw the Northern Lights, we climbed a dormant volcano, saw countless waterfalls and watched the sunrise from the world's largest geothermal pool-mud mask on face and sparkling strawberry wine in hand. I got tattooed by a man who had miraculously gone to and graduated from my high school, nineteen years before I did. We talked about God and marveled at how big and how small we could feel at the same time. I lost my aunt. My dad called me while I was halfway up the side of a waterfall and it really, really sucked. I am not going to commemorate my aunt in this article because my family deserves the privacy to mourn and remember without me sharing the magical woman we lost with the world. But I finished climbing that waterfall and the very top of that mountain was the very best place I can think of to remember who she was and think about the great, big life I had left to live.
We swam in the world's oldest public pool and drank tap water sourced straight from glaciers. We ate fresh seafood and put jam on pizza and drank Viking beer. We bar crawled with students from Sweden and the Netherlands. We played pick up sticks with forty-year-old Armenian men in a coffee bar. We drank coffee that we didn't find out was just straight espresso until the day before we left. I felt so tiny standing on top of hardened lava and watching the waves on a black sand beach. But I also felt so very powerful.
During that week, I got to do and see things at 20 years old, that some people may not experience in an entire lifetime. I left my phone behind sometimes so that I could make sure I was fully in the moment, not worrying about getting pictures. I have talked for a long time about how learning to enjoy experiences for myself, without trying to share it with someone else, has been so critical in me becoming the person I want to be. I feel this trip solidified that I am there.
I told my grandma before I left, that I just couldn't wait to see as much of the world as possible. Gram said "No, no baby. The world will be better for you having seen it". I hope so grandma.