Nursing Student Makes Iceland Expedition

(LEFT) Student Daniel Klingman stands on a cliff at Eldfell, an active volcano in Iceland that last erupted in 1973.  (ABOVE) The Iceland trip included 9 students and BGSU Firelands Associate Professor of Geology Dan Kelley.

Bowling Green State University Firelands College student Daniel Klingman had never traveled outside of North America.  His furthest trip was to Canada on a family vacation.  As a nursing student, he never imagined his first international travel would be a geological expedition to Iceland, but he could not pass up the opportunity.

“Experiencing any new culture is a good opportunity regardless of your career choice,” said Klingman who has already earned an associate of science degree from BGSU Firelands in route to a bachelor’s degree in nursing. 

“As a nurse, I will be dealing with people from different backgrounds and countries, being able to relate to them improves the patient trust level,” he said.

Klingman traveled to Iceland this summer as part of the Geology 1500 Field Experience class led by BGSU Firelands Associate Professor Dan Kelley.  Four BGSU Firelands students, four BGSU students, and one student from Otterbein University participated in the experience this year.

“Travel abroad experiences widen the social, cultural, and geographic perspective of our students.  The insights gained through any study abroad experience will benefit students in their studies in all disciplines,” said Kelley.

The 9-day excursion included several stops at locations of geological interest throughout Iceland including mountain ranges, volcanoes, and glaciers.

“Iceland is geologically unique and significant globally.  It is the only place on Earth where a portion of a mid-ocean ridge is above sea level and available for direct study,” said Kelley.

Klingman admits that Iceland was not necessary on his all-time bucket list of places to visit, but he was taken aback by the beauty of the country. 

“The scenery was straight out of a calendar. It was amazing.  It’s not commercialized so you can really enjoy nature as it was intended,” said Klingman who is described as thoughtful and inquisitive by his instructor.

Klingman was surprised, however, by the marked lack of trees and vegetation.  With a cold, harsh climate and volcanic rock covering much of the terrain, Iceland has limited potential for growing vegetation.  Only about a quarter of the island is capable of supporting vegetation and these areas are primarily along the coastlines. 

Another major change for Klingman was the extended daylight hours.  From dusk to dawn, there were approximately 21 hours of light.  With the students camping in tents each night, this could have posed problems.

“There was lots of climbing and hiking each day, something I learned I am not that great at,” joked Klingman.  “We were exhausted by the end of the day, so sleeping was never an issue,” he added.

Klingman said one of the highlights of the trip was the day they traveled to Eldfell, an active volcano on a small island off the cost of Iceland.  The 600 foot high volcanic cone erupted without warning in 1973 and threatened to permanently evacuate the residents of the fishing village on the island.  Although total disaster was averted and the fishing village has since reestablished itself, one life was lost and nearly 400 homes were destroyed.

“It was surreal hiking through the hardened lava field where the city once stood, but the views from the volcano were equally amazing,” said Klingman.

The entire Iceland trip is one that Klingman would not trade.  Although he was a bit nervous about going at the onset, he knows it was a once in a lifetime experience and he will cherish the memories.

“There are lots of kids my age that never have the opportunity to take this kind of trip,” said Klingman.

Kelley said he is already planning on giving more students the opportunity to travel abroad through the Geology 1500 course.  Next summer he will offer a geology excursion to the Galapagos Islands.  

Klingman said he is definitely interested.