Ten students. Seven days. Five nights of music performances. One trip abroad.
Iceland is a truly special place that has created a week full of unbelievable memories. From covering shows at Iceland Airwaves to exploring Reykjavík and venturing out to the countryside, our late nights and busy days resulted in an everlasting list of moments that we can remember forever. We worked as hard as ever, produced content like never before and experienced a culture that ventures outside of our midwestern Chicago home.
One of the most magical moments was our trip to Laugarvatn Fontana, the geothermal baths and spa. We arrived in the late morning on Friday after an unbelievably beautiful drive out of Reykjavík through the rolling Icelandic hills. The sunlight was shining through the steam of the baths as we made our way from pool to pool, each increasing in heat intensity. Many of us completed an Icelandic plunge in the surrounding lake before dipping back into the spa’s hottest pool, followed by a trip through each of the naturally heated saunas. The landscape felt like a dream, and after a week of running from venue to venue and interview to interview, the soothing waters was the perfect place to spend an afternoon.
The Golden Circle tour was another significant highlight, where we had the opportunity to explore three of Iceland’s most popular natural wonders on Saturday afternoon. The Gullfoss and Geysir bus tour took us to the Geysir geothermal area, the Icelandic waterfall Gullfoss and Thingvellir National Park. In Thingvellir, we saw a breathtaking view of Lake Thingvallavatn and witnessed the birthplace of the Icelandic Parliament. At Geysir, we climbed a small mountain to witness a panoramic view of the surrounding country landscapes. A river was down below surrounded by farmhouses and fields of horses, sunlit mountains could be seen off in the distance, and we could see for miles beyond. We ended the tour at Gullfoss, where we took a freezing, misty walk along the side of the falls. The coldest evening of the trip, we arrived at the falls at sunset. The ground was covered in ice and frost, and the sky faded with Gullfoss roaring in front of us.
Even with these two unbelievable excursions, the trip was filled with countless other moments in between. We had the opportunity to see the Björk Digital exhibition, which featured multiple virtual reality experiences of Björk’s music and visuals. We were able to work in a real, fast-paced environment and produce audio pieces, stories, scripts, outlines, blogs and reviews outside of our Chicago classroom. We saw over 100 performers from throughout the world, made multiple hot dog runs, had some of the best vegan lasagna around, experienced the opening of the Icelandic Punk Museum, and visited the Kolaportid Flea Market while we chatted with store owners.
As my first time abroad, this trip was a truly special and irreplaceable experience. A huge shoutout goes to Iceland Airwaves for hosting such an incredible week of performances and events, and for generously hosting us. Thank you to our professor Althea Legaspi for planning a week full of excursions and outings to introduce us to the city, Icelandic culture and a host of professionals in the field. To all of our interviewees who volunteered their time and expertise to help us form our stories and learn more about Iceland’s cultural topics, we thank you for your helpfulness and willingness to share your knowledge. Each of the people whom we came across who offered their kindness, hospitality and openness–thank you for making our time in Iceland feel welcomed and irreplaceable. Thank you to my classmates who helped to create the memories, adventures and moments that made this past week a truly special experience and for forming friendships that will last beyond our return to Chicago. Or, as they say in Iceland: takk!