I’m honestly quite shocked I’m still functioning after the past seven days in Iceland. I had my high points, low points, very little sleep and the beginning of a terrible cold. Despite everything that has gone wrong on this trip, I wouldn’t trade the experience, knowledge or friends I’ve gained for anything. I would like to start off with some much deserved “thank yous.” Thank you to my parents and professor Althea. Without their support, this trip would have never been possible. Next, I’d like to send my appreciation to every Icelander who took time out of their days to meet with me and teach me so much about the country. Thanks to Árni Finnsson, Karl Sigurdsson, Ragnhildur Finnbjörnsdóttir, Sigrún Brynja Einarsdóttir, Thor Aspelund, Aðalbjörg Kristbjörnsdóttir, Margrét Sigrun Sigurdardóttir and Heidi Einarsdóttir. Finally, I would like to thank the other nine students who were here with me through thick and thin. I honestly believe I made very true friends over the past week, which is pretty remarkable considering we didn’t really know each other going into the trip.
Next, here’s a rundown on some of my favorite moments, excursions, places and bands from Iceland Airwaves 2016. Before the festival madness began, Tapas Barinn provided one of the best meals I’ve ever had, which was definitely a highlight. Prior to that, I had my first swim in a geothermal pool. I can’t forget our northern lights excursion. Even though the lights didn’t change colors, I think I can still cross it off my bucket list. Visiting all of the cute shops like the record store 12 Tónar and record store/café Vínyl added to the overwhelming charm of Reykjavík. More amazing experiences included our day at the secluded, geothermal hot spring, Fontana, where we plunged into the four-degree Celsius lake. Additionally, our tour of the Golden Circle included stops at Þingvellir national park, geysers and the breathtaking Gullfoss waterfall. It provided amazing sights and photo opportunities. Next, the virtual visual art exhibition Björk Digital and countless other adventures made the trip one of the most culturally immersive experiences of my life. Of course, I can’t forget the whole reason we came to Iceland on during this cold week in November. The festival Iceland Airwaves didn’t disappoint either. Some of my favorite bands included Dream Wife, Reykjavíkurdætur, and Boogie Trouble who provided among the top ten live performances I’ve seen in my entire life. Trust me, that is saying a lot as someone who wants to work in the field of live performances. Overall, as someone who isn’t the biggest fan of music festivals, Iceland Airwaves blew my mind. The amount of talent and the chill atmosphere throughout the entire fest is something I hope can be preserved for years to come so every music lover can experience it how I did.
Finally, I would just like to wrap up and say I never thought a school trip could warm my heart and emotionally connect with me the way this week has. It wasn’t even the second day of the festival and I was in tears over how lucky and grateful I am to have had this opportunity. I learned so much over the last seven days and feel bittersweet about having to return home today. Thanks again to everyone who has helped me throughout this experience, and I hope to someday come back to Iceland and live this all over again.