11 cool reasons to take GNED 3391 next semester

1. This three-credit class explores the history, politics, economic system and geology of arguably the most naturally beautiful country in the world””Iceland. Every Wednesday from 6-7:45 p.m., students have the chance to learn about this amazing country and what it would be like to live there. The best part about this course, though? Once school lets out next semester, there will be a field trip in early May. This is no ordinary field trip””this is an excursion to a country filled with exotic allure and rich history.  That’s right, the economics and geoscience departments have teamed up to make your frosty Icelandic dreams a reality.

2. It is a land of mystery. A land of legend and lore. A land of breathtaking natural beauty. From the snowy caps of 16 million-year-old mountains in the west fjords to the picture-perfect waterfalls of Gullfoss, Iceland is a lesser-known gem of a country waiting to be explored by students with an adventurous intuition and a passion for vibrant culture. Plus, “Game of Thrones” has been filmed there so automatic props.

3. Weather: while your friends in Texas watch the temperature gauge start to sweat bullets this summer, you will beat that notorious Lone Star heat in a magical place called Iceland. With summer temperatures ranging anywhere from 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, this place truly is heaven on earth.

4. It is a land of beautiful people. The women (albeit this is a stereotypical perpetuation) are tall, thin, blond and blue-eyed with gorgeous translucent white skin. The men are also tall and somewhat resemble bodybuilders (Viking heritage, duh!). In other words, everyone in this country looks like a model. Not to mention, Iceland has an almost 100 percent literacy rate. Smart AND beautiful? I’ll take a one-way ticket to Iceland ASAP, please!

5. Besides being among the cleanest and safest places in the world, Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, is filled with stunning modern architecture and great shops. Most importantly, though, the city is famous””or infamous””for its nightlife, and there are hundreds of clubs, pubs and dance halls to traverse when the sun sets. These spots are legendary for their stylish patrons and ambiances. The drinking age in Iceland is 20.

6. While there is flexibility fitted into the program, Diane Smith, Maria Paganelli and Leslie Bleamaster (the three professors running the show) have some incredible outings planned. Included is a commitment from the Central Bank of Iceland to meet with students, an introduction and meeting with the president of Iceland (provided that he is in town), as well as a meeting with the mayor of Reykjavik. Students will also have the opportunity to get together with professors from the University of Iceland””including the one who wrote one of the textbooks used in the class. Of course, there will be a trip to the southern region where the best volcanoes and glaciers are. As if that weren’t “cool” enough, the only way to get to these glaciers is by passing through the geyser area. Iceland also happens to be home to the oldest Parliament in the world””Vingvellir. Vingvellir is located on a continental rift, that is, where the American and European continent meet. The group will also travel to a fishing farm and a geothermal power station.

7. The Blue Lagoon: the color of this pool is often compared to the Gatorade flavor Glacier Freeze and is easily one of the biggest tourist attractions in Iceland (and, not to mention, the most photographed place in the country). The crisp blue paradise-water is rich in silica and sulfur, and is said to heal those with skin diseases such as psoriasis.

8. When asked, “Why Iceland?” Paganelli’s response was simple: “It is an incredibly beautiful country from all different points of view. For geologists, it is the dream place because it is a volcano covered with glaciers. From an economic standpoint, it is an interesting case study because the banking system collapsed in 2008. They somehow managed to come back basically without any problems. Going to Iceland with students was brought about by the nature of Iceland itself. Everything is connected in a sense. Iceland makes an extremely interesting example of bringing in different aspects. Everything comes back to nature. Iceland covers all disciplines very easily.”

9. Vikings. Enough said.

10. Highlight of the trip?  “Just seeing the country. It is something where you see it in pictures, but it does not compare to physically being there. You can physically see what it means to have global warming here. You can see the contraction of the glaciers. These are things that, as much as you can talk about them, you cannot see until you are there,” Paganelli said.

11. It is a land of myth. The group will travel to Snà¦fellsnes, which is a peninsula north of Reykjavik, to see volcanoes and learn about the traditional Icelandic sagas. These sagas are an important cultural touchstone for Icelanders. Taking place in the 10th and 11th centuries, these legends recall different family genealogies and history. They reflect familial conflict present in the societies of the second and third generations of Icelandic settlers.