Student profiles

A few of ISE's students answer some questions about their study experience and living in Iceland.

Current Students

Emilie Desjardins, Canada

Sustainable Energy Engineering, Class of 2021

Name & Major: Emilie Desjardins, Sustainable Energy Engineering
Age: 25
Hometown: Shediac, New Brunswick, Canada
Academic Background: Mechanical Engineering, University of Moncton

Why did you choose Iceland School of Energy for your graduate studies?

Working in the Sustainability field has always been an interest of mine. I had visited Iceland before, where I took place in the Summer Field School that ISE holds to their current students, as well as some lucky undergraduates. During the summer school, I made connections to the professors and staff at RU, which ultimately opened many doors for my application in the future.

Choosing ISE was a very easy choice for me given that I had already attended one of the classes, and fell in love with the small city vibes that reminded me home. Another great addition to Iceland, is that it is at the forefront of sustainable energy. Specifically in the renewable energy field.

So far, how has your ISE experience been?

It has been great! There is a lot of one-on-one learning, which allows the students to get hands-on academic experience and form a connection with the professors and fellow students. Being able to make friends from all over the world, who also share a similar interest as me and been an amazing and life changing experience.

As for my thesis, which I am currently working on, I had the honour of getting a job at RU over this summer and worked closely with several professors who helped me take the information I learned in the job and form a thesis project that was both interesting and desirable to me.

How does the ISE program allow you to combine your interest with your work here?

I think everyone that goes to school here, in this program has a large interest in making the world sustainable. All the things I was interested in about sustainable energy were ultimately taught in my classes. Personally, I loved my Optimisation class, the teaching style of this class and the professor was amazing at keeping everyone engaged in the lectures and made sure all of our questions were answered. Since I am a maths based person, I loved being able to use the things I learned previously in real-life situations and companies.

How have you coped with the culture shock of moving to Iceland?

I personally did not find it that difficult! The language barrier can be difficult, however most people can speak English here so it did not create too much of an issue. Since I am from Canada, the cold and darkness did not affect me as much as I anticipated. In my first semester, I got a job at a coffee shop here in Reykjavik really helped with the baseline knowledge of the language, and interacted with many Icelanders and shared their culture.

One of my biggest cultural shocks was the beauty of Iceland. You end up falling in love with the country itself and that's a main reason why I think people come here, the picture does not do Iceland justice.

So far, what has been your strangest experience in Iceland?

The 24 hours of daylight is much different than the darkness, more me. It being 3 am and still being sunny outside was something I was not familiar with and it really threw me off. However, over time, and some sleep masks, I was able to overcome these weird experience.

One thing that is SHOCKING is that everything is connected to your kennitala (Icelandic social identification number), it is so easy to set things up once you have a bank account and social security. You are able to change your address, get a gym membership, a job, payments, phone account is all connected through your kennitala and makes being a foreigner easier.

What do you enjoy about living in Iceland?

I love the easy going lifestyle that people have here, it goes with the flow, everyone is understanding and goes at their own pace mentality. Since it is a very small country it makes it very easy to travel around and find friends that are able to do road trips around the country. This has allowed me to see things I never thought I would be able to see, such as: volcanoes, glaciers, and rock columns, with the ease of just getting in a car and driving a few hours.

How would you describe life in Reykjavik?

There are small town vibes here, everyone seems to know each other here and has a more community based city. It is very safe here as well. There is a hipster vibe to things here also, through the coffee shops and the way people dress it is one of a kind. You get the joys of living in Europe without the stress of the big city and crowds.

What is the most useless thing you brought to Iceland

Oh my gosh, so many things. The most useless thing I brought was a hair dryer that did not convert properly and caught fire the first time I tried to use it. Whoops!

What is something you wouldn't recommend to anyone coming to Iceland

Don't bring an umbrella! Yes, it rains here a lot but the wind is so strong every umbrella I tried to use has broken and I ended up getting more wet than I would've without one.

What is something you have done here that everyone should do?

You must visit Kerlingarfjoll! It was the nicest place terrain I have ever seen, it is like an adult playground. There is both a glacier and geothermal hot spot all in one place making it perfect to see both wonders in one go.

What has been the most rewarding part of this entire experience?

I think having experienced two of the best years of your life while coming out with a masters is a truly amazing thing. You get to live on your own in another country and meet people who share the same interest as you. This has been my favourite part.

The most rewarding so far was being selected for my summer job working with plastic recycling and being able to be published with three of my classmates, with the help of a professor. This paper helped put your name out there and was also discussed at a geothermal conference. All these experiences have helped my future and narrow down what field I want to go into in the future. 

About Iceland School of Energy

By bringing together the best from industry and academia, Iceland School of Energy provides a unique, and comprehensive training for its students. A wide range of courses taught by the very best in their field open a broad spectrum of possibilities for students and allow for individual study designs. Focus is put on close collaboration with industry experts while maintaining high academic quality of the work.

Iceland School of Energy is part of and accredited by the School of Science and Engineering at Reykjavik University in Iceland.

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