Spotlight on Our Students: A Ringroad Adventure

Safari Richardson stands in front of a glacier

In this edition of Spotlight on our Students, we caught up with Safari Richardson about her adventure along the Ringroad of Iceland.

Safari is a rising fourth-year University Scholar from Greensboro, North Carolina, double-majoring in Animal Science, and Science, Technology, and Society. Read on to learn more about her expedition to the far north.

USP: Safari – thank you so much for taking time out of your packed summer to tell us about this adventure. So first of all, tell us about where you went and what you did. 

SR: For about one and a half weeks in May, I traveled to Iceland. The purpose of this trip was to experience all that Iceland has to offer nature-wise; we participated in a multitude of hikes and nature-related tours, all of which were highly enjoyable and educational.

USP: Iceland seems like such an exotic destination. I am sure it was still super cold even in May. What sparked your interest in traveling to Iceland in particular? 

SR: Every year, the Thomas Jefferson Scholars Program takes its rising seniors on an international trip. Me and my fellow members made a list of five places we would want to visit, and Iceland was chosen as the final destination out of those five. This experience was very special because it was my first time traveling internationally.

Safari Richardson stands near a waterfall in Iceland

USP: That’s a really neat way to pick a destination. What were you hoping to learn from your time there?

SR: My main goal was to learn as much as I could about Iceland and thoroughly enjoy its beautiful landscape. I really appreciated learning about Iceland from the locals’ perspectives, especially fun and interesting facts that I wasn’t aware of before.

USP: Yes, Iceland isn’t a place we hear too much about here in the US. What was the most interesting or challenging thing you did or experienced while you were there?

SR: The most interesting activity was taking a tour of the Agricultural University of Iceland and observing the similarities that university shares with NC State in regards to academics. The most challenging (but most fulfilling) part about Iceland was hiking up the Skaftafell Vatnajokull National Park Glacier.

USP: Oh, I have a feeling there is a larger story behind this epic hike up a glacier… What was the most valuable thing you learned in Iceland?

SR: The most valuable thing I’ve learned so far is just being in the moment. Instead of spending time on my phone and focusing on posting about my experience, I decided to go with the flow and take in everything around me. Nothing felt better than fully investing myself in the experience.

USP: Oh man it is such a powerful lesson to learn and travel really helps bring that front and center, right? You can either spend your entire time photographing and posting, but somehow not being present to the experiences, or you can step away from the phone and find yourself fully immersed in your surroundings. Would you say your time in the University Scholars Program helped prepare you for your first trip abroad?

SR: My time in the USP taught me the value of traveling and engaging in the world around me. Going outside of my comfort zone and experiencing other cultures is something USP really promotes, so through implementing those core values I was able to prepare for the Iceland trip.

USP: For sure, it is important to step out of the comfort zone from time to time, otherwise we grow stagnant. Do you have any advice for students who are also interested in having an experience abroad?

SR: Make sure to stay flexible and open-minded; you never know when plans might change. Always do your research about the place your visiting. And as always, make the most out of your experience!

USP: Anytime we travel with students, “flexibility” becomes a core motto. I’m so glad you picked up on that yourself. And finally, in closing, what is the best advice you’ve ever received?

SR: The best bit of advice I’ve ever received was to live my life for me; to do things that I found the most rewarding personally. Traveling is definitely one of those passions!

USP: Following that advice is bound to take you exactly where you need to be. Safari, thanks so much for sharing this experience with us. We look forward to catching up with you this fall when you get back to campus. Take care.