The Northern Lights in Iceland that I saw on my first night there.

Amidst my traveling and schoolwork during my recent semester at Harlaxton, my friends and I had decided to take a trip to Iceland. We had all heard tales and seen photos of the Northern Lights, so we wanted to check it out for ourselves. We all pitched in and rented a car for the weekend, and drove around to find the Northern Lights. The first night we were there, we found them in all their majestic glory. There was something fascinating about standing outside in the bitter, frigid air as you envelop yourself in one of the prettiest sights the world has to offer.

We stayed outside for 30 minutes, then turned in for the night.

The rest of the trip was filled with dazzling sights- we found the Black Sand beaches, saw countless waterfalls, and got to overlook the mountains as we watched the sunset. We even got to explore downtown Reykjavík, trying the famous hot dogs from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur.

On Sunday, my friends left Iceland to head back to England. I decided to save money and book a later flight on Monday morning, so I had the day to myself. I originally intended to return the rental car, find a nice coffee shop and complete some homework, but the day had other plans for me. As I was scrolling through Instagram that morning, I came across a location recommendation called The Golden Circle. The Golden Circle has three major points of interest- Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and ends at the Gullfoss Waterfall.

Standing on top of Kerid Crater after a 20-minute hike.

I stopped at Thingvellir first, walking through the beautiful stone paths. Then, I visited the Geysir and saw five different geysers all clustered together, and watched a couple get engaged with a geyser erupting in the background! I finished the tour of the Golden Gate at the Gullfoss Waterfall, which was a massive frozen waterfall. I decided to just drive south and see what I encountered.

After an hour of driving, I found Kerid Crater. Kerid is a once-active volcano that had erupted thousands of years ago, and upon erupting lost all of its magma. From there it became a barren crater, which slowly filled with water throughout the years and now remains a lake. When I visited Kerid Crater, it was fully covered in ice. I, along with a random group of German strangers, managed to climb to the base of the crater where we basked in all of the glory that Kerid Crater had to offer. Then, we climbed to the top and had the chance to look at the beautiful landscape of snowy mountains, wooded forests, and some far-off town in the distance.

At this point it was getting later in the evening, and I wanted to see the sunset. I drove to the furthest-most point, pulled out a book, and played some background jazz music as the sun set on the sea. That, combined with some deep introspection, was probably the most memorable moment of my study abroad.

On one of the first days we saw this amazing sight so we pulled over and took photos overlooking the beautiful Iceland expanse.

As someone who holds a deep love for nature and its beauty, Iceland’s natural topography was spiritually healing for me. Being able to experience this in solitude allowed me to engage in some deep introspection, reflecting on my college experience at both Harlaxton and at Wabash. I became truly thankful for the support system Wabash has provided me–the scholarship the Givens have blessed me with to help fund my travel, the amazing professors who have fostered an environment that encourages independence and a thirst for knowledge, and the generous friends I have made along the way that have guided me to becoming the Wabash Man I am now.