GREEN Program participants in Iceland, January 3rd – 10th.

GREEN Program participants in Iceland, January 3rd – 10th.
Claire with GREEN Program participants in Iceland, January 3rd – 10th, 2016.

Claire Petrie, ISE Class of 2017, participated in the GREEN Program in Iceland in winter 2016 
semester. This is her story about her experience.

Personally, I believe college is all about experiences. It’s about choosing to go out on a limb, to make a few mistakes, and to gain knowledge and perspective. My sophomore year, I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and find a new adventure. On my search, I found The GREEN Program.

The GREEN Program is a study abroad program dedicated to challenging and inspiring the world’s future leaders to think about and solve current environmental issues (more information can be found on their website: I had never really thought about studying abroad nor leaving the country, but I aspired to learn things that I couldn’t within the walls of a classroom. So a little over a year later, I embarked on a journey to Iceland.               

Throughout the week I spent in Iceland, thirty-seven other students and I were going non-stop: attending lectures, developing Capstone Projects based around solving current world issues, embarking on outdoor excursions, and being immersed in the Icelandic culture. Our guides refused to tell us what was happening until the night before. We not only followed, but embraced the philosophy of The GREEN Program – to “live in the moment”.

Fridheimar Greenhouse where 370 tons of tomatoes are harvested annually and where Claire tasted the best tomato soup she’s ever had.

Fridheimar Greenhouse
Fridheimar Greenhouse where 370 tons of tomatoes are harvested annually and where Claire tasted the best tomato soup she’s ever had.

Although I loved every second in Iceland, my favorite moments were our first and last hikes. On the first, we hiked through snow-covered mountains as the sun set. We came back down in the dark and took a moment to turn off our headlamps and gaze at the stars – by far the most I had ever seen. That moment was all about the place I traveled to and the scenery before me. During our last hike, there was enough snow on the path that we all sat and sled part of the way down. Halfway down, we stopped to take a breather and before anyone knew what had happened, a snowball fight ensued. While the first moment was about the place, the second was about the people I was with.

I have come to appreciate the value of perspective. The GREEN Program taught me about the influences that renewable energy resources have on protecting the environment, which I will use in my future careers, but there was so much more that I learned and will never forget. I can still see the lights of Reykjavik outlined by jagged edges of mountains in the distance. I can still feel the biting wind on my cheeks. And I can still hear the laughter of the friends I’ve made and will keep.  For me, this experience was about learning to live and appreciate the moment you are in, because those moments will pass by in a flash.

Traveling abroad was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. And I have The GREEN Program to thank for that. On the last night we were there, we all took turns saying our favorite parts and what we will take away from this experience. As a closing remark, one of our guides, Helga, said, “I hope you all had a good week and got out of your comfort zones because you can do more than you think.” And she was absolutely right.

Contact Claire (email) for more information on this program. She loves talking about her experience with other students!

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