One of the perks of being in a cohort-based program is that you're able to make close friendships with other students, work hard together, motivate each other, and dream with each other. Through the clinical mental health program, I became close another counseling student named with Rachel. Over one of our many Chick-Fil-A dinners last semester, Rachel brought up the idea of going to Iceland after graduation. I thought she was kidding at first, but when we kept talking about it, we realized that we both really wanted to go independently and just hadn't discussed it before. What we initially thought was just a daydream became a reality over spring break!
After spending our first day at the Blue Lagoon, we spent two days exploring Reykjavik. We spent the last three days driving around southeastern Iceland, exploring the Golden Circle, and checking out the southwestern peninsula. We loved just about every second of it and are so, so glad we went (although our bank accounts might be hurting a little bit!). Here are a few tips if you have any interest in visiting Iceland someday:
1) Try the Icelandic hotdog (pylsur). It's topped with three different sauces, raw onions, and crispy onions. Not only is it super tasty, but it's also one of the cheapest things you'll buy all trip.
2) …which brings me to this important tip: Iceland is expensive! We thought we were getting a steal because flights to Iceland are fairly cheap right now, but once you get to Iceland, things are pricy. A basic sandwich, for example, will cost you around $12 - $15. Those hotdogs I mentioned usually ran $5 a pop. Your typical soda is $3 or more. We ended up buying pb&j ingredients and eating those for lunch most days.
3) Bring a resuable water bottle! Iceland's water is some of the best in the world: totally pure, taken from the glaciers, and completely safe to drink. (The showers you take might smell a little like rotten eggs – thanks, sulfur! -- but stick to faucet water and you'll be good to go.)
4) We booked Airbnbs instead of hotels, and we were so glad we did. We were able to spend time getting to know our hosts and hostesses, and although that can't necessarily be guaranteed when you book an Airbnb, it really allowed us to get to know the culture on a deeper level.
5) Embrace the different! We did so many new things, from hiking inside of a glacier (!), to joining a cave tour that was leaving right when we arrived, to parking our car on the side of the road to catch a glimpse of the northern lights, to seeing pregnant sheep get sonograms (for real!), to learning how to pronounce coffee in Icelandic (it's "kaffi," for those interested), to making friends with Icelandic horses (look them up – they're super cute!), to trying to convince our Airbnb host to let me marry his son so I could stay, to taking pictures with a giant wooden troll, to asking our bartender about Tinder in Iceland... we have so many memories that we're grateful to have as we wrap up our time at William and Mary.Thanks ("takk") for reading, and happy travels!