A Journey to the North of Iceland

HON195 Student Post: Jordan Fisher, Nursing Major; Honors Minor

Career Goal: Psychiatric Nurse

A Journey to the North of Iceland

Good day everyone, nursing student Jordan Fisher here with your latest update on our amazing trip to Iceland!

I rolled out of bed quickly this morning, landing face first in the pile of clothes that—let’s admit—I was never going to put away, cursing to myself as I realized I should have packed my overnight bag the night before. My classmates were running around like maniacs, picking up a raincoat here, shoving a hairbrush into a backpack there, and trying to squeeze in a proper brushing of the teeth before our overnight journey to Northern Iceland.  This morning rush has come to be our normal routine here in Iceland. If I have learned one thing on this trip so far, it’s that you have got to move fast to get a good seat on the bus.

You might wonder why getting a good seat on the bus is so important, but let me tell you, here in Iceland, window seats are where it is at. Nothing says “good morning” like staring out the bus window into the horizon and watching the sun shine down on everything the day has to offer. (That is, until you fall asleep because you are definitely not getting the right amount of sleep–thanks insomnia!)


At our first stop on the six-hour ride to the North,  I swore I was only going to get a water, (theoretically speaking I might have forgotten a water bottle due to the morning rush) however, as my eyes locked contact with the menu board my soul told me to treat myself, and that I definitely deserved to get a Swiss Mocha. Some of you may ask, what is something I should try in Iceland? Well, I’ve got an answer for you. Hear me out: a layer of espresso, a layer of hot chocolate, a little bit of coffee to mix it together and then whipped cream to top it all off. Coffee lovers, it’s a must, and if you don’t like coffee…well get out of my blog! Kidding! I’m kidding, but you should definitely give it a shot. Hands down my favorite drink.

Bus Ride Views

You’ll be glad to know that  coffee isn’t the only thing I remember from our six-hour long road trip. Einar, the best tour guide that a girl could ask for, took the driving time as an opportunity to explain the  fishing industry in Iceland in a bit more depth. You see, Iceland operates on a quota system, which basically means there is a certain amount of fish that is expected to inhabit a certain area, and of this, only a certain percentage of said fish is allowed to be caught by fishermen who own part of the quota. This system protects the fish populations in a 200-mile radius surrounding Iceland, eliminating over-fishing as a problem–an interesting (and complex) solution to a problem that is prevalent around the globe.

After a long bus ride, we finally made it to the destination that I had been waiting for since we landed: the geothermal hot springs. Nothing can describe the sensation I felt when I first stepped into the spring.  I’ve been in hot tubs before, but nothing can compare to the relaxing nature of the natural hot springs. I wouldn’t call it an adrenaline rush, but at the same time, I feel as if that is the only proper way to explain it. It’s like your body is on edge, but you, yourself, are absolutely relaxed. That is, until you jump into the freezing North Atlantic only a few feet away.

Call me crazy if you’d like, but nothing feels better than going from steaming hot water to absolutely freezing water. Honestly, it is one of the best sensations on this planet. Funnily enough, this has been a reoccurring theme throughout our trip. The several times we have gone to the pools, there has always been an ice bath for those who just finished a round in the sauna. However, for us, the ice bath was a wonderful way to conclude our time in the hot tubs, or to test who can sit in freezing water the longest (I’ll give you a hint, it’s definitely not me). An ice bath has nothing on the Atlantic.

I originally planned on jumping into the ocean, and swimming back to shore to give myself the full experience, though that plan quickly changed. As I hit the water, I instantly decided to pull myself back onto the dock, and get back to the hot springs. The problem was, Einar (tour guide and professional photographer) wanted to get a better picture of Lexi, Emma, Hailey, and I jumping into the water. Well, we did it for the  photo opportunity and took the plunge back into the depths. You know how three times is a charm? Not in this case! I scurried back onto the dock and immediately headed towards the hot spring. No one can tell me that I didn’t do it, and no one can tell me to do it again! After the hot spring, I was feeling pretty confident in myself. I plunged into the North Atlantic and lived to tell the tale, and took some weight off my shoulders by relaxing in the spring. I could conquer the world, right? Right?! Wrong.

There were two options for the after the hot spring: you could sail around a little island referred to as  Drangey Island, or you could climb it. Now, I’m not the most athletically adept. I was on the wrestling team in High School but six minutes on a mat is vastly different than an hour-long hike. Did I mention it was up a cliff?  Anyhow, I knew this going in, but I’m not sure if it was the Atlantic talking or the amazing boat ride to Drangey Island, but I had changed my mind from sailing to climbing. Looking back, I don’t know why I chose climbing because I love boats! Before this trip I had never even been on a boat, and now I can’t stop thinking about sailing! On the trip to Drangey, I sat on the front of the boat and enjoyed the fierce breeze with Katie and Emma. Maybe it was the Atlantic speaking to me because I wanted a better look at the horizon. Spoiler alert: I never did get to see the view from the top of Drangey. Why you ask? Apparently, I am terrified of that Island.

Emma, Katie, and Jordan on board the boat to Drangey

We docked at the bottom of Drangey and I quickly jumped off board and onto the shore. Our tour guide who would be escorting us up Drangey pointed to a rope and told us to follow it until it ended. No problem! I immediately started to climb as if I had been doing it my entire life. I have not. Step after step I found myself getting more and more excited and thought to myself, “This was going to be an amazing experience, I regret nothing, I should do this more often!” Until I made it to the top and realized just how high up we were, and how steep the climb was…. Cue instant panic. I now thought to myself, “This was no longer an amazing experience, I regret everything, I don’t ever want to do this again, oh please let me off this island, wait is the boat leaving? Come back! I don’t want to be here! We are climbing up even more? Count me out! I am sitting right here until the boat returns!” And so I sat, and I waited until the boat returned and I could join the rest of the group at the bottom of Drangey.

View of a sea stack, home to bird colonies, while en route to Drangey

Of course, I exaggerate, it wasn’t that horrible of an experience. My classmate Autumn had also decided to stay back, so I had someone to talk to while I waited. The view was absolutely breathtaking, and watching the puffins cuddle up with each other (nearly 500,000 live on the island in the summer) warmed my heart. I wish I had made it to the top, but I had time to reflect on just how amazing the trip has been far, and how I still have so much to look forward to, despite only having two days left in Iceland. This is so much better than waiting around my house for something exciting to happen, even if it meant learning that I am terrified of steep hikes. You know what’s more terrifying for me than climbing up a cliff island? Climbing down.

Puffins on Drangey Island
A few more puffins resting on the cliff face of Drangey

I originally decided to venture down on my own, having spotted those who decided on the boat tour sitting on the dock. That didn’t last too long.  After what felt like an eternity, Autumn and I finally made it the bottom and waited for the rest of the group to return from their hike so we could head out. As soon as the boat came, I jumped on, like the pro I am, and waved goodbye to Drangey forever.

Approaching Drangey
View from the climb up Drangey

Everyone else who made the climb had an amazing time, and I’m genuinely happy for them! My favorite part, however, had to be the boat ride back. The water rocked the boat lightly, spraying our faces with a fine mist of ocean water. I was in a much calmer mood, and joked around with Cole about playing the Pirates Of The Caribbean theme song as we sailed back to the main-island. Everyone was in a good mood, and all of us were extremely hungry. Going to a restaurant was the most appealing idea of the day! That was, until we arrived.

What’s the fastest you’ve ever eaten a meal? If any of you answered five minutes, we tied. Don’t get me wrong, my barbecue and garlic butter burger was one of the most amazing cheeseburgers I’ve had in my life, but if I had to wait any longer than we did, I might actually have started to cry. You may think I was exaggerating with the climb up Drangey, but I am not exaggerating here. It took an hour for our food to arrive (the restaurant was not ready for 15 hungry American 19 year olds). Thankfully I had another Swiss Mocha, and it held me over long enough to keep the tears in. There was a cheer all around as our food finally came out, and luckily for me, mine was one of the first to come out.  

The longest wait for the shortest meal wasn’t the end to my night, however. The hotel we stayed at had another  heated pool, and I, along with some others, spent the rest of our nights floating around. We started our day with relaxation, and for us few, we ended with it. To some, it wasn’t the perfect day in Iceland, but to me, I think it was close enough. Throughout the trip, there have been ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change any of it. I have my future to look forward to, and I hope to continue having amazing experiences with the  USM Honors Program. In the words of my favorite Captain, “Now, bring me that horizon.”