For Mississippi State University junior Kendra Sanders, chemistry does not conjure up memories of barren classrooms, but rather reminiscences of breathtaking waterfalls and lush landscapes. Sanders, a biological sciences major, participated in MSU’s faculty-led Alternative Energy Iceland and Scandinavia study abroad trip last summer.
In quintessential Icelandic fashion, the students toured the country by bus on the one road that goes around the whole island. They stopped to see and experience various waterfalls, hikes and local cuisine. They even stopped to do a polar plunge in the Atlantic Ocean, the coldest experience Sanders said she has had.
According to Sanders, the Icelandic landscape was as beautiful and magnificent as she had heard from others.
"I’ve always heard Greenland is icy and Iceland is green, and it was very true—so beautiful," Sanders said. "It was very cold and very rainy while we were there, but there were flowers growing, there was grass and (it was) just very colorful and vibrant."
As for the study portion of the trip, the group toured various alternative energy facilities, including a greenhouse in Iceland where they ate soup made from tomatoes grown with a local natural energy source.
Sanders said the students split into groups and compiled a blog-type report of one of the countries they experienced on the trip.
For extra credit, the students participated in karaoke competitions on the bus rides and in daily photo competitions in which winners received an Icelandic chocolate bar.
The second and third weeks of the trip were spent in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, where the group experienced windmills, fjords, beaches, museums and local shops.
Sanders said the experience was very valuable for expanding her perspective on the world.
"I think it was just very enlightening to see what else is just outside the U.S. and outside of just college in general, and I really enjoyed getting to experience a different culture and food and just different people and their perspective on life," Sanders said.