IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE WEATHER, WAIT FIVE MINUTES By Annie Niemaszyk

A common thing for students to do before beginning their semester in Austria is to visit a country a week before classes start. A popular destination is Ireland where students are surrounded by the Cliffs of Moher, beautiful countryside, and Irish culture. Four of my friends and I decided to break this tradition and take a riskier trip: explore the beautiful country of Iceland.

When I informed my parents that I bought my plane ticket, they thought I mistook the “C” for an “R” when I booked a flight to Iceland instead of Ireland. Both my older brother and sister visited the Irish countryside before their semester’s abroad. Needless to say, they were not expecting it.

Unexpected. That’s it. The only possible word that Iceland can be summed up in. Our trip consisted of old friends and new. Bad weather and good. Sun when it was supposed to rain. The Northern lights when it was forecasted to be cloudy. In all of the unexpected nature of perpetually changing circumstances, Christ’s beckoning us to Iceland equipped us with versatility and was the root of the joy found in every change in weather and newfound discovery.

Iceland was above and beyond our expectations. The thrill of seeing the country for the first time was our motivation to explore every day and triggered our excitement. Around every bend, Iceland held a new discovery for us. Whether the roads were unpredictably covered in patches of slick black ice or if they led to hidden waterfalls behind a cliff, we glorified God for his protection and praised Him in beholding His stunning creation.

Our last night in the country was the peak of our trip. The entire week, we scavenged the countryside for the most perfect waterfalls, mountains, cliffs, beaches, and icebergs, but above all, we all held a deep hope that we would catch a glimpse of the Northern lights. After 3 consistent cloudy nights, when the clock reached 11:45 on our last night in the country, the sky lit up and we witnessed an incredible light show, surrounding us in every direction.

After experiencing Iceland, I believe that the key to traveling is to embrace the unexpected. To embrace obstacles to plans. To be open to unintended discovery. To wait five minutes for the weather forecast to change. The study abroad program provides the perfect opportunity to grow, to be surrounded by different culture and tradition, to hike up a rocky mountain face, enfolded by God’s creation, to expect beauty in every corner of our day-to-day lives.

As the semester starts, and students begin to travel from one country to the next, embracing the unexpected is the key to witnessing God in our lives as we venture amongst His creation in Europe.

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Martin Jernberg