Study Abroad in Iceland

Iceland has been tagged as “the land of ice and fire.” For those interested in witnessing firsthand both extremes, Study Abroad Iceland provides travelers with opportunities to get up close to – and by up close, I mean touching, walking, smelling, and tasting – three of the largest glaciers – Eyjafjallajokull, Solheimajokull, and Jokulsarlon – and four of the most active volcanoes – Eldfell, Katla, Hverfjall, and Krafla. For those wishing to step into a land known for its sustainable and eco-friendly practices in energy, food production, and tourism, then Iceland provides that richness, too, as you hear from the locals as they share insight into past and current trends, as well as contemplate the future. Finally, for those hoping to leave behind the stressors of life in the United States and enter into a place known for its tranquility and peacefulness, the time spent in northern Iceland provides just that.


Listen to the comments of the most recent Study Abroad Iceland students, and consider whether this is the trip for you to take in 2020:

“Today we learned about the fishing industry and the connection Icelanders feel to the area. Because of the resources, and the eventual consequences of taking advantage of those resources, they have learned how important resource management, including the tourism industry, is to the country. I learned that you cannot wait for others to lead, you have to be the change yourself.” ~SS

“There’s no other way to describe how I’m feeling besides ‘home’. I’m not scared, stressed, or worried. I feel free, calm, and joyful. I’ve always struggled with depression but on this trip, I haven’t had a bad day. Some say Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth. Well, I say Iceland is!” ~HR

“Standing in front of that glacier was surreal. I felt small and a little overwhelmed but I also felt connected with it. I felt alive and a part of something more. Truly incredible day in nature.” ~MM

“I enjoyed listening to the sounds of the boiling hot mud bubbling up out of the earth while the birds happily chirped in the background. The rock formations were stunning. I was in quiet amazement standing between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. I’ve thought of this day for months and I was not disappointed!” ~CM


Kick-off party for International Education Week – Today Monday the 12th 5:30pm

Come to the library and sample a variety of international food, from German treats to Indian snacks, and celebrate the start of international education week. Then, grab your favorite international book/internationally themed book, strike a pose, and take a classic READ poster photo. International  students are particularly invited to bring copies of their favorite books and to share their most-loved authors with campus.

Monday November 12 at 5:30pm
Fifth floor of the library.
All are welcome!

Make your own Read poster like this one!

Please also see the complete list of events for international education

During international education week, international programs staff, faculty, and interns will be highlighting the ten IU South Bend study abroad programs including four new trips to Iceland, Japan, Mexico, and China. You can learn more about our programs on our webpage. Scholarships of about $500 are available to students with strong academic records. Students who are eligible for financial aid can use that aid toward the cost of their travel.

Applications are available for download here.

For more information, contact international programs administrative assistant Jessica Hale

“Pura Vida!” in Costa Rica 2018

1-2.jpg“Pura Vida!” is a phrase you will hear after virtually any interaction in Costa Rica. You will hear this after ordering a coffee, after kayaking in the ocean, after waking up and seeing your host family first thing in the morning. The translation is literally “pure life,” which at first I found a bit surprising. However, after my 11 days in Costa Rica, I can truly say that my time there was exemplary of a pure life.

After exploring Monteverde for three days we traveled to Arenal where we admired the beautiful Arenal Volcano and then the Fortuna waterfalls. I have to say that Fortuna was my favorite part of the entire trip. I love being near water and this particular waterfall made me feel so small and so calm. It was so beautiful and I felt at such peace. It was here that I felt the trip really began.

After Fortuna we traveled to Nicoya to meet our homestay families. My homestay family was the best part of the Costa Rica experience. My parents, Jeanette and Elgan, are two of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. Once I met them, I really felt like I was at home and that I was a part of their family. We ate breakfast and dinner together every day and speaking with them only in Spanish allowed my speaking skills to wildly improve. I loved waking up and smelling the breakfast that Jeannette had made for me. She can cook like no other! Every morning she made gallo pinto, a meal of eggs, beans, rice, and a tortilla. Some mornings she would put hot dogs in there as well, which was oddly delicious.

In Nicoya we took Spanish classes for four hours each day. My teacher, Anky, was hilarious and so sweet. She really taught us well and would correct us nicely when our grammar was wrong. She also didn’t mind when we would ask questions. She was happy to teach us anything Spanish, so long as we were not speaking English.  After classes we always did something fun and got outside. Whether it was kayaking, surfing, hiking, we always had a good time.

Kayaking was an interesting activity because arriving at the island we found an infinite number of crabs walking around the sand. You had to tiptoe around so as not to step on one of them. This scared at me at first, but eventually I found fascinating to watch as they all wandered about, searching for nutrients in the sand.

We spent one night in Nosarita, a quiet, rural town just twenty minutes outside of Nicoya. While we were there we worked with school age children to teach them about medical sciences, but in English. This was hilarious. Most of the kids just stared at us as we showed them thermometers, measuring tape, and stethoscopes. We played games with them and I think they really started to understand towards the end of the day. After this we had a soccer game with the local kids at a much smaller school. I coach soccer in the States and was excited to play until I saw that these eight-year-old kids were on level with some college athletes.


After the game we spent the night in a cabin. It was so hot and we were covered in our own sweat and bug spray. We all decided to stay in one cabin and hang out on the porch. Our porch overlooked a horse stable and some mountains. This view was absolutely stunning. However, it was here that we had our first encounter with a Costa Rican grasshopper. Costa Rican grasshoppers are HUGE. That bug started flapping its wings and flew right at me. I, being the giant baby that I am, dove towards the ground in a full dramatic panic. Naomi, my new friend on the trip, grabbed her sandal, or chancla, and beat that grasshopper away. In the moment it was terrifying but reflecting back it was the most hilarious moment of the trip.

After Nosarita we went back to Nicoya and I was so happy to see my homestay family. The last few days we hiked on a small mountain and did a boat tour of the jungle; we enjoyed a really good workout topped with an absolutely gorgeous view of the mountains and Nicoya. The boat tour was pretty, too, and we were able to see monkeys and birds and crocodiles.

Overall this trip showed me how to appreciate the moment that I am in. I am typically someone who worries about things beyond my control, and that will not merit me a pure life. However, the Tico lifestyle showed me to enjoy each day and each minute. This will provide a Pura Vida.

Written By: Breezy McCall

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

“59% of employers said study abroad would be valuable in an individual’s career later on with their organization,” according to a report done by University of California Merced in 2011. Study abroad can change your future and broaden you career options. Guess what, there is an incredible opportunity at THIS university to study abroad all around the world. Everywhere from China to London to Belize is represented in the list of places you can visit. Studying abroad is more than just a vacation or a class. There are so many impacts on your life when you study abroad. You are able to elevate your future career as well as your current education. On a very practical level, you improve your contact base by connecting with professors and professionals from all over the world. You also have an incredible addition to your resume. On a personal level you are able to add an amazing number of skills to your lists. Problem solving, communication, and project management skills are just a few of the possibilities. There is an entire world waiting for you to discover. And maybe discovering that world will change yours!

Written By: Gina Massaro

IU South Bend Students in Arzberg by Anna Platt

One of the most memorable stops in IUSB’s 2018 visit to Germany was found in visiting Arzberg, a small village near the border between Germany and the Czech Republic. Arzberg was coming up on a celebration of 750 years of proven existence. The people of Arzberg were very proud that they could trace back to the first mention of their town. Arzberg, South Bend’s sister city is a beautiful place that does share some parallels with South Bend.

For example, Arzberg was once a prosperous mining community with a factory dedicated to producing china dinnerware and tea service items just as South Bend was once known for manufacturing Studebaker automobiles before industry changed and other producers of such items excelled where South Bend and Arzberg were left behind to pick up the pieces of their former economic powerhouse. Because of this, Arzberg did not have much in the way of hotels to host a large group like IUSB’s students so we were hosted at Pension Egerstau located in the nearby village of Hohenberg an der Eger.

The village and the hotel get their names from the Eger river on which they can be found. It was a beautiful sleepy little cottage to call home for the days we visited Arzberg and perhaps more what one pictures when they imagine Germany in a classic sense. Arzberg and Egerstau were wonderful breaks from the hustle and bustle of the city life of Berlin. The view at every angle was simply breath taking. I would definitely recommend visiting Arzberg and staying at Pension Egerstau for the views alone.

So if Hohenberg an der Eger and Pension Egerstau were named for the Eger river, then what does the name Arzberg mean? Berg means mountain and arz means ore, so the name Arzberg literally translates to Ore Mountain. This is actually very apt seeing as how aside from the china factory, mining has been a big part of Arzberg’s history. It is so much a part of the town’s history that a mining tool is part of the town’s crest, along with the lion which represents Bavaria in which Arzberg is located.

A highlight within a highlight of the visit to Arzberg was the visit to Arzberg’s mining museum. The museum stands over a former mine that was closed and abandoned. The property had become overgrown and the buildings there had fallen into dilapidation. That was until the people of Arzberg decided to preserve and rebuild the site as a tribute to the mining history of their town. So stands the museum now, with a collection of items related to the history of mining from many neighboring areas.

This particular part of the trip was a personal point of interest for me as a bit of a geologist. There were whole rooms in the museum dedicated to geological samples. The mining artifacts were a great new experience but the geological samples were an exciting visit with old friends in somewhere new and strange. For example Tremolit is a type of asbestos mineral. The mineral samples were not mined in Arzberg, they were donated from neighboring areas as examples of various minerals and ore that were mined in the region.

Berlin may have been the major part of the trip but Arzberg was the special treat that made the trip well worthwhile. If you have a chance to go on and adventure to Germany, please consider adding Arzberg to your list of places to visit. The people there are so welcoming to visitors and especially if you mention that you are from South Bend. They will want to use their English with you and will be more than glad to help you practice your German without judgment.

Pura Vida and the Art of Being in Costa Rica

My time spent studying abroad in Costa Rica is the single most exciting experience I have had while attending Indiana University South Bend thus far! I knew while applying that I would have the opportunity to see amazing landscapes, try new foods, immerse myself in the Spanish language, and meet wonderful people, but I never expected how profoundly all of these experiences would affect me. Travelling to Costa Rica gave me a new sense of excitement about the world and a new appreciation for just being.

IMG_4698 (3)

As a college student, it can be very easy to become swept up by school work and before you know it, the semester is over and you realize that you haven’t eaten a decent meal, spoken to your family, or enjoyed personal time in months. While in Costa Rica, I became hyper-aware of my environment. Everything from the way the sun peeked through the trees to how people interacted on the street seemed so new and exciting to me. I suddenly wanted to just soak up every part of my day, from the way my footsteps sounded on the tiled floors in my bedroom to the sounds of children laughing at the school behind the Academia in Nicoya. I do not usually spend very much time on my phone or on social media to begin with, but while travelling I did not see any value in them at all. Why should I care about someone’s Crockpot recipe from BuzzFeed when I can learn to make Casado from my host mother? The engagement in the communities and the connections between people are palpable. People wave on the street and enjoy the simple company of others. Now that I have returned home, I realize that some of these same sensations I had in Costa Rica occur in South Bend as well, they just don’t seem as profound because I have learned to take them for granted.


It can be difficult for someone to get rid of their sense of entitlement to small pleasures, but in doing so I feel that I am more alive. While in Costa Rica there were several excursions that allowed me to indulge in simple yet amazing experiences. Swimming in the pools of cold water at the base of the Fortuna waterfall made me relax and take time to clear my head. Kayaking in the ocean allowed me to use my physical abilities to accomplish a goal. Finally, painting and teaching children in Nosarita and Belen made me realize that I do not need to be a super hero to make a difference in people’s lives, I only need to be a human with helping hands and an open heart. I may never be able to return to that waterfall or see those kids again. Other people will swim at the waterfall and other students from IU South Bend will teach English, but I personally have been impacted by these places in ways that others may not. Everything was uncomplicated while in Costa Rica and I want to try to continue to live an uncomplicated life filled with adventure and happiness.


It may seem cliché to say that only ten days in Costa Rica can be summarized with Pura Vida. It is probably even more cliché that after this trip I want to embrace Pura Vida as much as possible, but that is the truth. There is no reason for one to live a complicated, unhappy life. I know that there will always be problems and stresses in life and that sometimes those complications and stresses are unavoidable. I have learned however, that despite the troubling parts of life there are still a lot of good parts of life. There are endless places to explore, numerous cuisines to sample, and a seemingly endless amount of people on this planet who are ready and willing to open their hearts and homes to you, if you only take the first step, preferably with a smile.


Study Abroad in Iceland

This summer, IU South Bend students have a unique, first time opportunity to study abroad in Iceland.

Iceland 1

Iceland is a very unique nation. It is a 38,610 square miles island (roughly the size of Indiana) that has about 332,000 permanent residents (roughly 3x the size of South Bend). Without a standing army, the island nation-state is protected by a small coast guard [1]. Egalitarianism is not only valued, it is practiced and Iceland has one of the lowest income gaps and is frequently ranked in the top three women-friendly nations in the world [2].

During the trip, students will reside in the Hunafloi and Skagfjordur region near Holar University College. Students not only will learn how Iceland maintains a modern economy that places an emphasis on the sustainability of the country’s natural-based resources, but also how it balances this with the fact that it is a nation that is growing as an ecotourist destination.

With the deadline looming (February 1), International Programs has asked the trip leader, Dr. Terri Hebert, the following questions:

International Programs: Why study in Iceland?

Dr. Hebert: “Iceland is such an amazing place, unlike any other place I’ve visited before. From the first time my feet touched the moss found growing on the lava rocks to seeing chunks of ice float past me from thousand-year-old glaciers to walking right up to a bubbling cauldron of some sort of sulphuric mixture, that place captured my senses. Also, Iceland being one of the friendliest and safest parts of the globe eases one’s caution about traveling in today’s world.”

International Programs: What can Iceland teach U.S. citizens about sustainability (or even the larger world)?

Dr. Hebert: “Iceland has weathered rather huge financial challenges and emerged quite strong. This speaks to the creative spirits of Icelanders. It also holds a message for us to consider – about overcoming our own challenges in life. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Keep looking for possible solutions. And in the midst of it all, remember to be kind and help one another.”

Dr. Hebert: “Right now, Iceland is facing another challenge – that of increasing numbers of tourists, all wishing to see the nature that awaits them there. To accommodate the thousands of people traveling to Iceland, more and more tourist-related buildings and roads are being constructed, but often at the expense of the very thing which draws people – the unspoiled beauty and wilderness. Eco-tourism is a hot commodity. The country is in the midst of finding balance. It is an interesting time to visit and speak with various people affiliated with the changes. Great for business majors, sustainability majors, health care providers, education students, and always art/photography majors!”

International Programs: Is there any other insights, or points that you would like to emphasis?

Dr. Hebert: “If anyone has ever wondered what it would be like to step into the Arctic Circle and see it teaming with wildlife, or visit the place where Game of Thrones is filmed – then this is that moment. Often people think, why should I want to go somewhere in the summer that is freezing? This is a misconception as the summer temps range from the mid-60s in the day to mid-40s at night. The food is very good, too – especially the cheeses and the chocolate.”

Iceland 2

For more information and applications, please click here.


[1] Insight Guides, 2017.

[2] “Best and Worst Countries for Women, from Iceland to the U.S. to Pakistan and Afghanistan.” The Daily Beast (September 18, 2011).