As I reflected on our remarkably diverse Iceland trip, I naturally found myself revisiting our group Instagram account for inspiration. It is often said that you can judge a person by their first Instagram post – so of course, I applied this long-standing philosophy to our trip, as well. What I found revealed a series of deep truths about our passions, priorities, our successes and failures. Just kidding…
So, let’s start with the obvious: our group loves food. While the Minnesota airport lobster roll was not particularly memorable, we did enjoy some of the best dinners of my life in Iceland. Our food-loving trip leaders did a phenomenal job picking out the hot spots of the island. The Icelandic diet is what you would expect from remote islanders living on a cold, volcanic glacier: really fresh fish, some lamb, and no vegetables (unless you count potatoes). Highlights included whale, shark, arctic char, and puffin. Poor cute little puffin.
At the start of this piece, I introduced the trip as remarkably diverse. Not including our trip leaders, we had only four Americans on our trip of fourteen. But that isn’t where the diversity ends. We stayed in the ritzy Grand Hotel Reykjavík and we stayed in tiny tents under the northern lights. We hiked an ice-cold glacier and we relaxed in natural hot springs.
Experiencing such breadth of activities with a group of brand new friends allowed us to genuinely go deep in getting to know one another across a range of contexts. Different people find energy through different activities – as we continued to push on to new experiences, our understanding of one another evolved in new and interesting ways. At some point, I learned that one of our quietest group members from Beijing had early ambitions of being an actress, which totally explains why her Jazz hands are so on point in that first Instagram photo.
Honestly, one of the most memorable moments was watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones together. On one of our tour bus rides, we created a fort with an Icelandic blanket, used a Brazilian’s HBO account, on an Australian’s laptop with a Chinese VPN – all orchestrated by one dedicated Israeli. What an episode it was.
I think the trip also marked the beginning of our realization that the next two years would be… Different. It introduced, for me at least, a sense of urgency I hadn’t felt in a long time – this was going to be cool. Really cool. My classmates were cool. Really cool. Even in the most interesting of careers, most of us hadn’t experienced this level of true mélange. Even as self-proclaimed foodies, most of us hadn’t ever tried shark. Even as well-traveled, cultured adventurers, no one had seen the Northern Lights. This whole business school thing was going to be different. But I still wouldn’t recommend the shark.