Photo by Casey Slezak - Selzak climbs the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. She said it looks man-made, but it was sculpted by the ocean.

Abby McHenry

Over the summer, many Florida Southern students took their Junior Journey and junior Casey Slezak was no exception as she traveled to Iceland and Ireland.

Slezak said she loved experiencing the beauty of the glaciers in Iceland and said it was different from anything she had experienced in the states. She said that this is a very active trip in that you do a lot of walking and hiking. 

“It was really kind of humbling,” Slezak said. “They had markers for over the years where the glacier had been so you could see how much it melted.”

Slezak said that many people talk about global warming, but getting to see its effects in person made her see it as a greater issue than before. Slezak said she got the chance to drink water from a stream at the top of a glacier the group hiked and said it was the most crisp and pure water she had ever tasted. 

Slezak loved swimming in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, where water is taken up from naturally heated aquifers under the ground and brought up into a pool area among the rocky landscape. The minerals from the water made her skin soft, and she got the chance to put on a face mask with minerals.

She said the water was warm but your face would be chilly outside of the water. Slezak found out that temperatures in Iceland fluctuate between 30 and 50 degrees, making 50 a warmer day in Iceland. 

Slezak took an introductory photography course while on her junior journey with Dr. Sam Romero from the art department. She said she learned about photo composition, using the camera’s manual mode, adjusting the IOS, F-Stop, etc. 

Slezak loved taking the Game of Thrones tour during her Ireland portion of the trip. She is a fan of the show and got the chance to see spots in Belfast where the eighth season of the show was filmed.

“We got to take the tour as the last couple episodes of season eight were coming out,” Slezak said. “We literally were visiting places that we then saw on screen. I geeked out so hard.”

Slezak said she also enjoyed seeing the Giant’s Causeway, which is a group of steps of rocks put together by nature. She said it looked man-made, but it was completely created by the ocean carving away at the rocks. 

She learned that Northern Ireland and Ireland are two separate countries: Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom and Ireland is its own country. She said there was a lot of civil unrest between the two countries. 

She said she witnessed this while in Northern Ireland. People spat on the bus because it had an Ireland license plate.

Slezak said it is important to be respectful when in a new country. She said it is “not all fun and games” and how important it is to realize there are real issues going on.

Slezak said her junior journey was a very “enlightening and humbling experience” because she got to experience the cultural differences of Iceland and Ireland compared to the United States. She said she loved being able to experience beautiful places and interact with people from different walks of life and being able to capture many moments on camera.

“Sure you can go on the fun warm trips or the more boujee you stay in nicer hotels or nicer climates [trips],” Slezak said. “We did a ton of walking and a ton of hiking. It’s a really enriching experience that you don’t get anywhere in the states.”

Slezak loved witnessing the natural phenomena that can only be seen in Iceland and Ireland. Experiencing things you see in the photos in person and being blown away by how amazing it is in real life was part of what made her experience memorable. 

“I’m one of those people who is a really big believer in we are global citizens and not just American citizens,” Slezak said. “As people we should appreciate and be knowledgeable on other cultures and other places so that we can have respect for different ways of life.”



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