Just South of the Arctic Circle

Greetings from the northernmost region of Iceland! After a couple of landing attempts in thick fog, I have finally made it to Ísafjordur – the town that houses the University Center of the Westfjords, where I will be learning all about renewable resources and sustainability and picking up Icelandic along the way. By the time our group of 23 makes it around to Reykjavík, I would have also had the chance to research and interview Icelanders for my project investigating Icelandic energy companies’ expansion into emerging markets in Africa.

After a couple months of serious yearning, it is hard to believe that I am actually here. The mountains that line the fjord never fail to stop me in my tracks and leave me gasping at their serenity. It amazes me how Yale made this experience accessible for me through the International Summer Award, a grant offered to students for study, research, and work abroad.

Jinchen with her Host Family in Iceland, with the fjord and mountains behind them.

Looking back, my study abroad adviser knew exactly what kind of experience I wanted even when I didn’t know it myself. I was considering similar programs in Nepal and the Balkans that all sounded equally exciting, and I questioned my interest in the energy technology that constituted a major component of the courses here. Now that I’ve had a week of classes however, I can connect the dots between topics like heat pumps with a guest lecture I attended on climate change in April and fishing quotas with my microeconomics class this past semester. 

Every single day is filled with completely new experiences, from the smallest exchange with my host mom to climbing up and scampering down on all fours to the Troll’s Seat, where legend has it that a passing troll needed a rest and sat on the mountains. I am so excited for the next five weeks.