Dave Oakes, the co-founder of the Center for Ecological Living and Learning, came to Northland College to present on the various programs that CELL had to offer. I was intrigued by the immersive study-abroad experience that this program offered; specifically, I was curious about being able to live in an eco-village for an entire semester. Of all of the locations, Sólheimar, Iceland seemed the most appealing to me. I hoped I would learn about Iceland’s unique history and culture—and I did, plus more.
The remarkable opportunity to spend multiple months with other young people who came from around the world to live and work at Sólheimar Ecovillage—friends that I still keep in regular contact with. Piotr, a Polish friend that I made while in Iceland, even came to visit this past semester! I also must mention Caroline, my best French friend. In Iceland, I used to play badminton with her almost on a nightly basis. I plan on visiting her in France.
Living and learning with a small, dedicated group of students with a variety of ecological interests. Including myself, we were nine students altogether, but we had a wide variety of interests in ecological learning, and it made for some of the most meaningful and productive conversations that I have had in my entire life.
My third favorite experience was simply getting to experience Iceland itself. I love reading about the adventures of Sigurd Olson and other voyageurs, environmentalists, and nature writers, however, I had never dreamed of what it might feel like to have such a visceral and captivating experience myself. Our 14-mile hike of Vatnajökull elicited precisely that experience.
Do you recommend this experience to others?
Yes. It has become abundantly clear not only that humanity exerts great influence on the land, but even more so that a land shapes and to a great extent, defines its people. I firmly believe that such insight can only be fully realized through immersive experience.