My Newfound Icelandic Glow

I think it would be impossible to take a selfie right now because my skin is radiating after visiting the Blue Lagoon today. After scrubbing my face with the Silica Mud Mask that is found at the bottom of the lagoon and sitting in steam baths/saunas, I needed to take a nap.

The Blue Lagoon is one of the 25 Wonders of the World. Here is a picture with lava rock that can be found around the water. There is a lot of steam because the water is naturally heated to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. DSCF0226

Although the Blue Lagoon is a MAJOR tourist attraction, it is a must see while in Iceland!

Iceland lies just between the North American and European tectonic plates, which is why the country has earthquakes, volcanoes, mountains, hot springs, etc. The tectonic plates literally divide through Dagny’s town, Hveragerdi. I am standing between the plates while at the earthquake exhibition 2 minutes away from Dagny’s home.


Although I was disappointed when Dagny told me the red “lava” was not real , the rocks you see on the left and right are the tectonic plates (after the dirt was excavated). IMG_5075

Clearly a town divided by the tectonic plates has to deal with a series of natural disasters, specifically earthquakes. The country has approximately 200 earthquakes every 24 hours. However, about 99.9% of them cannot be felt. The largest earthquake in recent years occurred in 2008, 2.6 km east of Dagny’s town, with a magnitude of 6.3 on the Richter Scale. For reference, the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 was a 7.0.

Iceland’s unique geographical location also results in interesting beaches. The picture below was taken at the southern coast and the sand is black due to the volcanoes. DSCF0115

This is a very different Atlantic Ocean than I am used to swimming in at the Jersey Shore. Water temperatures are freezing…icebergs (polar bear free)  can be found flowing across the ocean almost year round.


As the snow has begun to melt, I have noticed that the land is either mountainous or has moss atop volcanic rock, like seen here.


Only two more days left in Iceland. I am hoping my Icelandic glow makes it back to PA with me!


Women on the Front Line of Icelandic Industry

Coincidence or fate placed me in Iceland just in time to attend the annual Stora Myndin Conference in Reykjavík. Stora Myndin is the largest conference for industry in Iceland.  As I sat in the crowded ballroom of the Hilton Hotel, one of the county’s finest, photographers and news crews could be found at every turn. The pictures below are of the first three speakers, see if you can spot the striking similarity between them…

Ragnheidur Elin Arnadottir-Minister of Industry, Tourism, and Innovation


Gudrun Hafsteinsdottir-Chairman of the Federation of Icelandic Industry


Katrin Dora Thorsteinsdottir- Head of Human Resource and Education


If you for some reason missed the similarity…all of the speakers are women!

That’s right, women completely dominated the conference. Women are at the front line of industry, unlike in the United States. It was a nice change of pace, to see strong independent women holding such high positions, as opposed to the typical middle aged male that I have become so accustomed to seeing.

The conference focused on Iceland’s predicted economic growth and the country’s need for approximately 2,000 skilled and unskilled foreigners every year. The discussion then swung from industry to the environment, specifically on Iceland’s strides in sustainability. After the conference finished, I was able to walk around and see some innovative businesses and start ups  (again many of the spokes people for the businesses were woman).

One of the more well known businesses there was Össur, a company that specializes in prosthetics and braces. One of their most famous clients is South African Amputee Olympic Runner, Oscar Pistorius , aka “The Blade Runner.”


One of my personal favorite start ups was BioEffect, a company making age defying cream. Of course I had to take the opportunity to see the “before and after” test that clients do when starting BioEffect. IMG_4991

The results made me realize that with the UV damage discovered on my face,  I better wear more sunscreen this summer! Maybe the free sample of BioEffect I was given will make my nineteen year old self look seventeen again…

Cheers to the major girl power happening in Iceland! Until next time!





Natural Wonders in Iceland

Hello everyone!

March is a confusing month in Iceland, just between winter and spring, resulting in storms that are a mixture of rain and snow. However, my first night in Iceland was rather cold and the skies were clear, which was a perfect opportunity to go searching for the Northern Lights. So, in a packed car with Dagny and her friends, I saw the Northern Lights atop a mountain. Any light pollution makes the lights undetectable, but in the pitch blackness of the mountain, I was able to see the faint green wisps dancing in the air. Listening to Icelandic music, I stared at the sky in awe. These phenomenal lights are so common to natives, that Dagny and her friends were caught off guard at my sheer amazement. Unfortunately, neither my Fuji-film nor my iPhone6 were able to capture the lights, but I do not need a picture to remember that night.

The next day,  I went to see an inactive volcano pictured below. DSCF0017

The water pooling at the bottom of the volcano had become frozen, a rather rare occurrence. On our dredge down to the the frozen crater, we met a couple from Harrisburg, PA. Immediately after I said “Hello,” the man responded by saying, “You must be from Philadelphia.” I was utterly confused that I had such a detectible Philly accent, I eventually realized that I was wearing a Phillies hat…

Afterwards, we were back on the road to complete part of the “Golden Circle,” a tourist route in the southern part of Iceland. The first part was to see the active geyser, Strokkur. To my surprise and Dagny’s, the area was packed with tourists. Dagny said at this time three years ago, barely anyone knew about this hidden secret. Behind fishing, tourism is the most important part of Iceland’s economy. It has become very clear to natives that more tourists visit the country every year.

The land was filled with natural hot springs and geysers. The sulfur in the air smelled of boiled egg. Some of the geysers, like the one shown below, are so hot that they are literally boiling. S0030030

Strokkur explodes about every ten minutes. The highest the water reaches is approximately 30 meters.DSCF0037

To continue the “Golden Circle,” we drove to see the most powerful waterfall in Europe,  Gullfoss. In the summer, Gullfoss can notoriously be found with a rainbow above it. However, the winter view of Gullfoss was not shy of any beauty. DSCF0072

Here is Dagny and I (in my Phillies hat) in front of Gullfoss Falls.


On the drive home, we stopped randomly to see some of the horses that can be found throughout the fields of Iceland. When we pulled up to the gate, the horses literally stared right at us. Then two of the horses proceeded to walk right up to the gate and let us pet them. I almost laughed when I saw the horses because the animals are so short, they resemble more of a donkey. Dagny is about 6’2″ and you can clearly see the height difference between the two.


Icelandic horses also have fur in the winter that is soft and fuzzy to the touch. Eventually, the horses shed this fur when the weather becomes warmer. Sometimes their undercoats are a completely different color from their fur. Quite an interesting animal…DSCF0100

Tomorrow I will be blogging about my day spent at the Stora Mynd Conference in Reykjavik!


Icelandic Adventure

How many people do you know have been to Iceland? Probably not more than you can count on one hand. With its beautiful volcanoes, glaciers, and natural springs, many deem Iceland as one of their “bucket list destinations.”

My name is Sammie and I will be traveling with my roommate, Dagny, to her native country of Iceland for my Senior Project. I will be staying with her family in the small town of Hveragerdi, just 15 miles east of Reykjavik, the country’s capital.

Besides seeing the marvelous sights of Iceland and fully immersing myself in Icelandic cultural, I will be studying gender equality. Data collected by the World Economic Forum in 2014 placed Iceland at the TOP of the list in the Global Gender Gap Index. The United States is ranked 28th on that very same list. Through multiple interviews with women ranked in the Top 100 powerful women in Iceland and other students my age, I will attempt to discover how a country the size of Kentucky and the population of Pittsburgh (roughly 320,000) can attain the equality our country has long strived for.

Feel free to check back to my blog throughout the next two weeks for pictures and updates!