Tuesday, August 31, 2010
First Impressions of the Second Time in Iceland
I finally made it to Iceland for the start of my Fulbright. It's been since 2006 that I had been here, and that was only for three days. I had a few hyperventily moments of 'what the hell am I doing here?' when I got on the bus from the airport, but the first day was a good day so that lifted my hopes. I'm going to try to update frequently, trying for a regular weekly basis, and perhaps more if inspiration hits!
Here are a few first impressions (and pictures) of being in Iceland for more than just Touriste Purposes.
-The shopping carts at Bónus (a grocery store with a drunken pig for a logo) are brilliant, they have both carrying handles and luggage-style wheels for the ground. Why push a whole cart when you don't have to, but why have to carry a basket if you have to lug around milk? Here is a good compromise.
-This time of the year in Reykjavík has almost home-like amounts of daylight and evening. I can go to bed now when it is dark (darkness is around 9:30pm now), and get up when it's light (light around 6am)! How novel.
-There are many bike and pedestrian paths everywhere, which makes it nice for walking and taking your time to gawk at everything.
-Children's playgrounds often have this amazing swing-type thing that I've never seen before, it's like a round swing you straddle but there's a cable that it slides on so you can launch off this ramp and cast off, kind of like in the jungle movies. I want that. Also, playgrounds have mounds of earth and grass on them like ancient burial grounds. King of your own mountain.
-I spoke so much more Icelandic today than I thought I would, though I also didn't understand any of people's ordinary conversations. I was totally surprised at people's willingness to speak Icelandic back to me, though difficult questions I had to revert to English. This might not always be the case, but it's good to try. Luckily I have two Icelandic roommates who are putting up with all my questions thus far, "why does this orange juice translate to 'clean oranges? Are there dirty oranges?'", "what do you say in place of 'what's up?'", "How much money does a text message cost?" "how do I get to the Immigration office over this weird highway thingie?".
-The sea is a totally new phenomenon to me, and it's right on my doorstep. But to Icelanders, it's always all around them. I asked someone if he went with his family down to the water all the time to play, having lived so close all his life, and he said, 'why would I want to do that? It's so brutal.' I might have asked my family to play on the rocks all the time, but I guess lots of lava everywhere gets old real' fast. Luckily now there is a man-made beach in Reyjkavík so Islanders can have some sand with their surf.
I think next post: my area of town.