By Juliette Seymour
LA PLATA, Md.—Holmfridur Gardarsdottir's lecture on Nov. 16 at the College of Southern Maryland about her love of Hispanic culture sparked a light in many students about studying abroad.
Students and teachers listened to this International Week event speaker in her heavy Icelandic accent, as she started her lecture with her past. The visiting Fulbright Scholar spoke of how as a child she was amazed that the Gulf of Mexico is the one thing keeping her homeland of Iceland habitable.
"Happiness doesn't just happen," said Gardarsottir. "It doesn't just fall from the sky; we have to go find it."
She spoke of how unhappy and restless she was in Iceland. Then, in her final year at the University of Iceland, she moved to Argentina to study Latin American literature.
While Argentina was not in her original plan, it just happened to be the farthest away from her home. She traveled extensively in South America, exploring the lands and learning their culture.
"Hearing her speak kind of made me wish I had taken the chance to study aboard when I was younger and didn't have a child," said Angel Pitcher of Hollywood. "But I also think that my ties that I have to home kept me here."
Many of the students and faculty at CSM felt the same after hearing Gardasottir talk about her life, travels and the things she learned on her journey.
"It's always been a dream of mine to go to Asia," said Kaileigh Reese of Lusby. "The culture and the values that they hold are very similar to mine. So I've always related to that culture. When I transfer I'm going to study abroad in Korea, and then once I get my bachelor's I want to teach English there. So I can really relate to what Holmfridur was talking about."
Gardasottir encouraged the students to study abroad and embrace the curiosities they had about different cultures. As she said, "The worst thing that could happen is you learn about different people, which isn't bad at all."
Jody Simpson, a staff member at CSM, who helped organize the lecture, said, "I think this is a wonderful opportunity for the students to hear about someone's life. I'm very happy we got to hear her speak, and I hope the students will take something from it."
Juliette Seymour is a student at the College of Southern Maryland.