Alumni Spotlight: Amanda Berta


Amanda Berta is an Energy Engineering grad from Penn State who now works for General Electric's Renewable Energy Sector. Currently, she holds a field position at a wind farm in Oregon.

Why did you choose this program?

My major and interests were pulling me in many different directions for specialization. One week it was solar, the next geothermal and the next biofuel. With my junior year approaching, I needed to know what I wanted my electives to be so I could start to specialize in something. The GREEN Program looked to have all the aspects of outside the classroom learning I was looking for with hands-on experience in specific energy types to help me narrow my decisions. Also, I liked the idea of hands-on experience and learning without the pressure of a grade. Just the idea that you take in whats around you, come up with a new idea and share it.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The program website gives a really nice description of what you might possibly get to do (weather depending) and my university gave out scholarships to help with about half the cost of the program. The program then gives you recommended flight times and you purchase your own flight (not included in program price). They coordinate everything for you once you land. From food to housing to hiking equipment (not coats and boots... things like crampons). The program providers do a really nice job of making sure everything runs smoothly.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Don't be afraid to fly alone to a new country! Iceland is very safe and the people you meet there are more than willing to become your new life, long friends, :D. They are accommodating to all dietary restrictions, all religions and all types of athleticism hahaha (for those of you that think a hike is terrifying) .

Clothing wise layers are better than bulky clothing. Wool is better than cotton for socks and dry fit is better than cotton for clothes. I'd say bring one bigger jacket on the plane and some good hiking boots than have about two outfits per day you are on the program. One for the daytime activities and one for night time comfy clothes. This doesn't mean pack double just pack something you know you can wear twice or more than twice (aka comfy clothes) . Sheets and towels are all provided at housing locations.

Do not under any circumstance sit in the van because you are cold. I regretted sitting in the van one day instead of going out to our last glacier cave. Bring extra socks and extra shirts if you think you are going to get wet and go on every adventure they guides take you on. Lucky as a mentor I made up for it, but if I could go back I would have made myself go.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Each day expects a new activity. Over arching your daily activities you will have plenty of time to work on our projects both at the housing location and university. Each day you will have breakfast lunch and dinner with anywhere from one to two activities the website talks about.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I had a fear that I would not enjoy doing the project and that it would consume most of my time/thought on the program. This was completely wrong. The project is not meant to be an incredibly in-depth research project with samples and thesis statements. Just an idea with some background data and supporting facts and possible projected numbers and/or sources supporting whatever it was we were researching.

Turned out to be fairly rewarding and insightful without being very time consuming or incredibly challenging. Don't take this as the effort was not put into the project because very much effort was, but rather the effort I put into the project fit into the time allotted to it rather than consuming my daily thinking or activity.