[Today’s story is the beginning of a four-part guest author series by English senior Amber Deter, in which she reports on her experience researching and writing in Iceland in Summer 2019.]

I placed one foot precariously in front of the other, hesitant to put my full weight on the rock until I knew it would hold my weight. Trying to avoid looking down, I grabbed hold of the side of the rock I was slinking along to pull myself forward. Before I could move, the rock broke. It fell out of my hand and down the side of the mountain, the sound of it bouncing down echoing in the valley behind me. That’s great…

“You okay?” I heard someone yell through the wind.

“Peachy,” was my breathless response, but I yelled back, “Yeah, just a falling rock!”

After taking a deep breath, I grabbed onto a different rock. This time I checked its solidity before continuing on the side of the mountain until I could climb up next to my colleague. We stood there for a bit, squinting through the billowing wind to look out over the cliff. A field of green stretched out before us until it got lost in the clouds on the horizon. In front of us, sections were outlined for farming fields. A lone car was driving on the road in the distance and on the other side bare stone jutted out from the grass. A long, winding river flowed by.

This was Iceland.

I was given this amazing opportunity by Global Treks and Adventures. Founded in 2009, this adventurous travel company aims to provide families and individuals alike with opportunities to explore the world. It wasn’t until 2012 the founders wanted to include their passion for teaching with their love of travel, and Global Treks Internship Program was launched to give students experiential education opportunities. For 3 ½ months, interns experience action research, in-field research and data collection, and write professionally, contributing to a cultural or field guide. Currently, Global Treks has seven publications covering places such as Rarotonga to the Spanish Islands. They offer opportunities to students of all academic backgrounds, and all you need is a willingness to travel and see the world!

My expedition took place over the summer of 2019 with the preliminary research starting towards the end of May and the final draft being due September 1, two months after I returned to the States. Our goal was to contribute to an Iceland field guide publication that will be coming out in 2020. My topic of research was mythology, and since we were to hike the vast number of trails Iceland has, it was specifically mythology of the hiking trails. There were ten interns and two guides, one of them being Global Trek’s Research Director, Kyle Herdina. The guides met us at the Reykjavik airport and took us to a house they had rented. From our base in Reykjavik, we could easily drive the hour or two to trails around West Iceland, the area of focus for our research. We were there for the last week of June when Iceland has 20 hours of sunlight.

From climbing mountains and relaxing in geothermal rivers to wandering cities and meeting new people, I embarked on a journey full of experiences I won’t soon forget.

If you want to hear more about my internship experience in Iceland, look out for part two of “An Academic Adventure” next week.