Psychology major studies abroad in Iceland

By Hannah Mason, Assistant Editor

A group of nine West Liberty students spent seven days this past summer in Iceland with WLU Instructor of Geography Dr. Aron Massey and his wife, Cassandra Massey. The trip took place from July 17 to July 26.

One of the nine, WLU junior psychology major Laken Lambert, came across the opportunity for the trip while taking one of Dr. Masseyʼs geography classes. “It was a spontaneous decision that I was debating up until I made the final payment,” Laken admitted, “but it was definitely worthwhile!”

During their week in Iceland, the group, according to Laken, “traveled all over Iceland by travel bus, with an amazing tour guide who seemed to take interest in each of us and show each group member a part of his culture in the way they would be most interested.”

They stayed in hostels and bed and breakfasts, spent much of their time hiking, and saw many breathtaking sights while abroad. “We saw so many waterfalls, puffins and seals. We walked on a glacier—which was rather scary, actually. We went hiking all over, even places we werenʼt necessarily supposed to,” Laken recalled.

“My favorite memories of the trip are from when we were hiking as a group. There were times when it was absolutely exhilarating,” she added. Laken also learned a lot about the culture and customs of Icelanders while overseas. “Socially speaking,” she said, “Americans would think their behavior is completely strange at times.” One thing Laken said that she noticed was that the nativesʼ privacy boundaries for changing clothes in public were different than Americansʼ. Though uncomfortable at times, she said that it was important to think about the reasons behind certain cultural practices.

“Also,” Laken added, “I thought that it was interesting that, when I asked our tour guide if they ever ask how a person is, he thought that was strange, because they only say that to their close friends.” Apparently, asking, “How are you?” to an Icelander is a more personal question than it is in America, and implies a deeper response about how the personʼs life is going.

Laken advises other Hilltoppers who may be thinking about studying abroad “to go for it.” She recommends going on even longer trips than the one she went on. “Seven days is really nice,” she said, “but spending a longer period of time would be so much better if you truly want to get the feel of what a country and its culture is like.” West Liberty sent students all over the world during the summer of 2014, to the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Iceland, and more. Now, itʼs time to start planning trips for the summer of 2015!

Interested students can contact Beverly Burke, visit or attend WLUʼs Study Abroad Fair in the Union Ballroom on October 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.