Monday, 29 December 2008

In London the airport

This morning we were up and early to catch the Eurostar train to London St. Pancras.
I then spent the rest of my time in London trying to decide whether or not I should buy a jacket. The mad rush and the non-cheap-price-during-Boxing-Days-sales-season made me not buy it and I sort of regret it now. It was a wonderful jacket, too.

We watched a movie and then caught a train to Stansted airport, thinking the flight was as 10 o'clock. Instead, it's at 11:20 and furthermore it's delayed 35 minutes for some reason or another. And now I'm here spending my change on the Internet because I have nothing else to do and want to sleep and brush my teeth! Yay!

I don't know how some people do it--travel for months without a routine (unless travelling becomes the routine). I'm sick of stations/ports, sick of baggage screenings, want my computer and music back, and want to lie in "my" bed even though it's not the comfiest in the world.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Two Things

One: Musee D'Orsay (sorry I have no French keyboard) is amazing.

Two: Apparently Brazilians love Paris?

Friday, 26 December 2008


I want to go to Italy. I want to hop on a train right now and head to Milan or Sicily, because I'm on the European continent and I can. Also because Paris is freezing cold today.

What made me think that? We got out of the (magnificent) confines of Paris today and travelled to Chartres by train. It's only an hour outside of Paris but it's a whole different world. It has that smaller-town feel. As we passed by places on the train, I saw fields and agricultural towns.
It was S's father who suggested we go to Chartres as it houses an exemplary Gothic-style cathedral. The cathedral towers above any other building in town and of course it's beautiful. The stained-glass windows are numerous and intricately detailed. After visiting that main sight, we headed downtown, passing by so many boulangeries and patisseries and whatnot. I can't even count how many I walked into just to look around. But they really remind me of Chinese bakeries. I wonder if one copied the other or did this style of bakery display evolve parallely in two different cultures? It's a cute town with lots of shopping! and a nice breather break.

Speaking of travel, ever since my arrival in London until a couple of days ago, it didn't hit me that I was travelling at all. London could've been any other place in Iceland - just with a huge population and English-speaking, etc. Even as I was visiting Stonehenge and Nottinghill, places I could only dream of visiting a few years ago, it couldn't sink in that I was really there. "Wow," I think, "I'm taking pictures, my look through the lens could be me watching a film."
I guess this is because I didn't travel directly from Canada to London or Paris; I was already in 'travel mode' and 'out of my environment' before I got going.
So am I in Paris? Other than the parlance de francais, maybe. Only maybe. "Wherever you go, there you are." who said that?

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Grating Gravel

The gravel is ugly, is everywhere, and reminds me of Iceland. When I post pictures I'll point it out. It's where grass or water is supposed to be and it's an eyesore. Yucky!

Reflections of London

Here is what I wrote during the night of the last full day I had in London:
This has been a good day. A walk along the Thames in the Docklands and Southbank. I must say, London is expen$ive. The prices would be normal if only it were in Canadian dollars. Everything is double the price. A cuppa Joe is 2, and I think $2, not bad, but it's actually $4. That's fine, but it adds up. A shirt os 50 but really that's $100, etc. I feel like I'm paying through my nose every time.

My favourite places in London aren't in the city centre. They are Ealing and the Docklands, sort of suburbs of the city. They both still have the metropolitan feel to it without the mad rush of downtown. Or maybe that's just because it's Xmas time and I've spent way too much time walking up and down Oxford Street. Every day has either been crazy or insane.

Still, for the little time I stayed, I hope to be able to say I took part in the city's culture. I saw X-Factor's Alex Burke win, I read the free metro morning and night papers, I attended a choral concert. That's not saying much, but as J said, it's more of a city in which to live than to visit. In many ways London reminds me of Hong Kong. I love cities but I find they can be so cold, impersonal, especially if you don't know anyone. I find myself missing Reykjavik.

Notes about London

I sort of forget the order of things that I did for the rest of my time in London. I did a lot, walked a lot. I met up with two people, one who took me to Notting Hill and Southwark. In Notting Hill I tried the oddly good pork pie and had a really good cupcake topped with green tea icing (not in the same establishment).

After the WC-S-B tour I had some time on my hands so I went to Earl's Court to look around at a 24-hour Tesco's (the ubiquitous grocery shopping-but-not-really). When I got out at the Earl's Court tube station, I was facing the stadium and that's when it finally hit me that I was in London. You see, Muse, my favourite band of the last few years, played a huge concert there and all the online fan forums were talking about the Earl's Court venue. And I finally got to see it in person! What a tourist I am.
Here are some notes I wrote about the grocery trip:
10 o'clock finds me not adjusted to the "time change" (really, light change from Reykjavik to London) at a 24-hour Tesco's trying to find Jaffa cakes, Walker's shortbread, good crisps and Cadbury's. I can only find the first but there's also mint chocolate sticks I've been looking for for years. There's club-like dance music on, really weird when trying to look for fruit. Loeb (in Ottawa) does that too.

I spent Tuesday morning trying to find two record shops and a photography gallery that all had either closed up shop or moved out. Dang you, Google Maps/Yellow Pages! I was tired. But what I got out of that was wandering around Soho a bit. I feel as if it's a more shopped and walkable Queen Street West in Toronto. If I lived there, I'd like to collect all their business cards!
Lesson learned: when in a big city, give up trying to get to specific shops and just explore the neighbourhoods. I should've known this from my experiences in Toronto.

That night I checked my e-mail. I received a message from my parents to relax and not go around crazily so much or else I'll get sick! So I did. On Wednesday I went east to Brick Lane for lunch after having a late morning, then I went west to Ealing's PM Gallery and Manor House. They had an exhibition about Alan Fletcher (the grandfather of modern design and author of the best book Art of Looking Sideways). That was my day. Yay!

On Thursday night, my second last night, I had pre-ordered tickets for a Christmas concert featuring the Westminster chorus. Sweet! This is my chance to go see the choir in one of the most famous churches! Ever since leaving choir I've been missing songs at Christmastime. Anyway, I get to Westminster Abbey and no one is there. A guard there says, "Let me see your ticket. Is it Abbey or Cathedral?" It's a cathedral. I get in, there's scaffolding all over the walls. What a rip-off. At least the choir was good.

On my last full day I went to the Museum of London at Docklands. It told the history of London as a trade city. Nice. On my last day I squeezed a walk in South Kensington, which is where I had been living all along (I use the "which is" construction a lot, don't I?). I never knew that it was sort of a French quarter. The irony was a bit too much, since I was headed to France in just a couple of hours. Then I managed a tour of the V+A museum and the Natural History Museum. Before getting on the train to Paris, I went to the British Library because it's right next to the train station. I saw a copy of the Magna Carta and such.

Then Paris.

Random notes:
Other foods:
I LOVE Jaffa cakes! The McVitie's kind, it must be. Also, ever since my childhood book about the postman delivering presents, I've always wondered about mince pies. I finally tasted one and wanted immediately to throw it out. It's a concotion of weird fillings, including raisins, which I hate.

My favourites:
I am absolutely in love with St. Paul's Cathedral. The first time I went there was at night. I was (safely) almost all along. The huge magnificent building was lit up, this thing of beauty almost all to myself. Then a group of Italians gathered on the steps, singing a song. I took a picture of it, which may be my favourite picture of the trip so far.
London's monuments are best at night if one wants to look at them from the outside. They are all lit up and crazy beautiful, grand. Like St. Paul's above, Big Ben, and the Tower Bridge.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008


Since this is Christmas Eve I should not really be saying this, but I am surprised at how most great works of architecture in the world are in the name of religion or government (mostly monarchy). Why does it have to be that way?

Anyway, Merry Christmas for all those who celebrate it.

Au Paris

Okay, there are so many things I want to say about London and all its quirks, but for now....

Paris, je t'aime! J'aime tes rues, tes parcs, tous tes choses!
I could seriously see myself living here. The cloudy skies are perfect. It's always spring-like weather, not very windy.
Or maybe I'm just having a honeymoon phase with this city.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Days 2 and 3

Day 2
I keep on hearing/looking out for hearing Scandinavian languages! I heard some Danish on the tube and I was thinking, "Hey!" Maybe I've been living in a Scandinavian country for too long.

Anyway, London seems to have a complete lack of rubbish bins. I find that I am in complete disorientation when it comes to the city, or that I just have a really bad tourist map with me. It's the subway -er, tube-stations that get to me. You're underground for a long time and then you spin and spin to get up the steps and when you're above ground there is no way of knowing whether you're facing east, west, north or towards planet earth.

I went on a free walking tour and saw all the sites. I then went to the British Museum. It was amazing, just being amongst all those artefacts, although I'm not one too keen on those.

At night I went to Chinatown to eat. It's good to hear Cantonese being spoken again. In Ottawa and in Reykjavik, if you hear Chinese it's 95% going to be Mandarin, which makes me feel even more isolated because that ensures that there is no community I can mesh with. I don't know what I'm trying to point out; you'd have to experience it to feel what I'm trying to say. Anyway, I go to eat fried dumplings and since those are Northern China cuisine I am dissapointed that I finally go into a Chinatown for the first time in half a year and guess what I have to speak...English! Because the waitress speaks Mandarin. The dumplings are okay; they're good for now but I've had better. I wander around Chinatown, being surprised at how touristy and natural this place is at the same time. In Toronto there is now more than one Chinatown, the more modern one being north of the actual city. It was a natural effect of demographic immigration. But here, tourists come here. I guess they go to Pacific Mall too...

And so I go into a bakery for two reasons: a) breakfast and b) I purposely want to speak some Cantonese! I order (in Cantonese, of course) a Napolean cake and a lotus cream-filled pineapple bun. I eat the Napolean for dessert, but it tastes distgusting. That's because instead of sweet cream they put in salty whipped cream! You're not supposed to do that! Oh, London, how you amuse me. The bun I save for tomorrow's breakfast while on a tour trip...


Day 3
I get up early for an Evan Evans full day trip to Windsor Castle-Stonehenge-Bath. In retrospect, it was too early in my days in London to be taking a trip outside the city.

The bun I eat is wholly filled with that yellowy, good, not-too-sweet filling. Way better than Canadian-made versions where they put a drop of the filling in surrounded by tasteless dry bread. After I polish the bun off, I hear the announcement, "Since our driver is so kind to us, usually there is no food allowed on the bus but he will let you eat lunch in here this time." Oops. Too late.

Windsor Castle is great, Stonehenge is mysterious, and Bath is intriguing. Too bad I didn't get much time for Bath, though, because I was about to explore the town when I saw a Barratt's shoe store manufacturer closing down sale and I spent the rest of my time picking out shoes! Reminds me of outlet mall shopping.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

In London

I have arrived. I was fortunate enough for Uncle Felix to come pick me up, give me an umbrella and coughdrops, a McDonalds lunch (my first since having left Canada!) and driving me to the hostel.

It was raining when I got here. Boo!
The night before, I didn't get any sleep and the moment I checked into my hostel I went out again, got my tube pass, booked a tour to Bath at Piccadilly Circus then shopped until I was exhausted. I was on Regent Street and there were endless amounts of retail stores, one after another. I was almost nauseated by the site of them, if it was for the beautiful lights I would've barfed. As if that wasn't enough, I proceeded to get lost trying to find the late-opening Tate Modern art gallery. Luckily upon getting lost I also found really good views of the Royal Opera and other sites...I can't even identify what I saw right now. I was at the Tate for three hours before getting really tired.

The streets are safer than people make them out to be, although I've taken precautions.

The tube really reminds me of a combination of the TTC and Hong Kong's tube system.
All the food in the supermarkets are so weird.

So I'm guessing this is what my week is going to be like: always on the move, getting lost, and being exhausted. London is huge, spatially and of course population-wise. People speak so many different languages here. I guess I've gotten disused to Toronto. Tomorrow I will take a walking tour. I wish I could take those comprehensive tours, but I really don't have money to do it right now.

I'm learning how to navigate a totally foreign city on my own. It feels weird, especially in the rain, but it's all cool.

Monday, 1 December 2008

It's All A Hoax!

*If you're not interested in the intricacies of languages PLEASE don't read this ramble

I grew up thinking that English is such a hard language to learn!
People always did so poorly in spelling classes, and so many educational institutions in English-speaking countries set up ESL (English as a Second Language) programs for immigrants. I myself was put into one (using racial prejudices, I'm sure - I wasn't an immigrant, although my first language wasn't English).

At age 8 already, I thought that so many people had trouble speaking/writing/reading/listening to English.

When I started learning French in grade 4, the first couple of weeks was comprised of our teacher reassuring us that learning French couldn't be that hard.
They gave us impressionable youngsters a sheet. Here is a copy of it:

"So you think French is hard!"
I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough.
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, though, and through -
Well done!
And now you wish perhaps
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird,
And dead - it's said like bed, not bead.
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother.
And here is not a match for there
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear.
And then there's dose and rose and lose,
Just look them up - goose and choose
And cork and work and card and ward
And front and font, and word and sword
And do and go, and wart and cart -
Come! Come! I've hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive!
I mastered it - when I was five!!!

This poem no doubt had an impact on my love for the wonder of languages, but it also tricked me into thinking that only native speakers could unlock the key of speaking English properly.

Furthering my biased view of English were the numerous foreign accents that the media, especially television, placed on ethnic speakers. I watched a lot of The Simpsons when I was young and anyone who was not yellow had a foreign accent--like Apu. I thought that all foreigners studied so hard and took years and years, almost a lifetime, to learn English.

What got me into other languages was singing other languages in choir, such as trying to pronounce the Latin, German and other things properly. But this gave me a strained view of what learning an entire language consisted of. I thought I was learning a language when singing songs. No one told me that I was just mimicking some sounds in a language I did not understand at all.

My attempts at trying to learn Chinese and French "because I had to" was a very lazy way of learning a language -- I had no motivation whatsoever. There was no pull for me to learn any of those to completion. So when I came out of almost 6 years of learning those and I could not even understand anything I just became angry at the system, not realizing that learning a language took practice, initiative, and all those other things I did not do.

So I come here and everyone speaks English almost perfectly even though none of them have it as their mother tongue. They take lectures in English with ease even though they've never done it before, and they read the textbooks in English and write English essays and exams. My mind is thinking, "WHAT is going on here?" I thought English was mighty hard. Didn't that poem say so?

When I first started learning linguistics in university, I remember learning about case systems and clitics and all that. I was fascinated, but that was it. All it did to me was fascinate me, but I had no use for it. I could not apply it anywhere. Then comes Icelandic with its three genders and its four cases and all these.

People from Greece, Germany, Finland, with their crazy case systems say that English is easy. A person from French-speaking Switzerland, with its highly irregular orthography, says English is easy to learn. She's been learning German for a longer time but English has way surpassed what she knows in German.

Here are some theories as to why English is easy to learn:
1. It's highly flexible. Native English speakers are so used to hearing other accents that they accommodate for foreigners (sometimes overaccommodate as to the point of being patronising).
2. The phones are some of the most common found amongst other languages in the world (except for the 'r', I'm told)
3. There is absolutely no case system, noun gender, and I'm told that verb conjugation is easy. Genitives are easy, word order is regular, etc. It is a language with synthetic leanings.

What gets me is the phonology and the orthography. I learned that they are highly sporadic. The stress is random and can mean different things depending on context. The orthography? Just look at the poem above. I guess it comes through with practice.

Now here is a second language acquisition question: Is it because of the greater opportunities one has to practice English, or is it because of the nature of the language in relation to other languages, that English is easy to learn? Or is it both? If both, which factor has more effect?
My answer would be that at first it's because it is "inherently" easy, but as the learner progresses it would be because of the huge access to people, books, films, materials in English.

And does this have anything to do with English as a lingua franca? The sociolinguist would say it's because of the opportunities, but wouldn't people in the past have just given up on learning English if it was too hard, no matter what opportunities it provided? They could've switched to Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Chinese, Russian, whatever as their second language.

Okay I should be studying now so I will stop here!
Please send comments about this.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Westman Islands Pictures

The main island. Notice how the (very small) town covers almost half the land.

Old boat vs. tourist boat

View of the town.

A Christmas shop.

Another Christmas shop. All shop windows were decorated whether or not they actually sold Christmas things.

A hillside, looking out towards the ocean. When you're there you really can feel the majestic desolation of the place.

A street. Looks eerily like Reykjavík, except more quaint somehow.

View of the islands from the ferry.

The ferry.


Iceland is a very peaceful nation (they better be, seeing how the whole country is the size of a small city). They don't have a military. Some might even go so far as to say they were apathetic about politics, except for their fishing industry, until a few months ago when the economy all fell down.

Now, there are weekly protests in downtown Reykjavík at the parliament building. There is no violence, and the demonstrators are very orderly and quiet, listening to the people at the front on the stage speaking into a microphone.

By now a lot of people have contacted me about Iceland being what the media calls 'bankrupt'. I don't really know what has happened, to tell you the truth, but all I know is that there might have not been as much government transparency as Íslendingar would've liked.

A lot of exchange students are saying, "It's cheap to be here now!" (especially those coming from the European Union) and others are saying, "It's interesting to be in the country while there's an economic crisis and it doesn't affect you at all."
Well, grocery prices have gone up, although just by a few Krónur. Other than that the fólk are still thronging the malls and driving SUVs almost as if nothing has happened.

Except for the protesters. I am not sorry for those who racked up credit to go on spending sprees or buy huge cars, or for the young business graduates who can no longer be financial analysts right away. I'm sure some people are genuinely angry. I feel sorry for those who have lost their jobs and especially for those depending on pension funds for their income.

There's a controversy about the Króna, the currency. Should it stay or should it go? Should Iceland adopt the Euro or the US Dollar? Should it join the European Union (my opinion-no)?

This crisis has seemingly rocked the gentle boat, but I'm sure there will be survivors. In the meantime, enjoy these pictures. Please.

To distract you from the pictures following this one, this is what appears in random clothing shops. Huge stuffed zebrelephants.

International Monetary Fund woes.

The government has been sold! I don't know what the guy was supposed to symbolize.

There were feminist protesters saying how badly the male-dominated government has been.

"A good idea from Iceland."

Yippee!...and notes on SLA

I finally went into a cafe and ordered something all in Icelandic!

First I asked what was the soup of the day in Icelandic. And then the cashier replied. Mind you, I have almost no idea what they said; I just caught the words 'cheese' and 'tomato' and 'onion', but I said I'd take it.

Later I found out that what I had said was wrong. I said, "Hvað er súpadaginn?" instead of "súpadagsins" or whatever but I love how the cashier gave me the benefit of the doubt anyway. This officially marks my upgrading from 'tourist' to 'foreigner' level!

This reminds of when I was in Ottawa and I'd walk into a store that was clearly Francophone, and then speak in French and have them answer in French. I'd beam just knowing that the people did not switch to English.

It's hard to learn a second language when English is so prolific. Native English speakers are used to hearing accents and grammar mistakes and are generally accommodating when it comes to foreigners speaking because so many different people speak it as a second language, but not the same with other languages. At times, yes, it's easier for both people to switch to English when trying to speak and the other to understand, but then at other times it's just plain rude. To switch to English is automatically saying, "No, you can't speak the language. You're not a native speaker so don't even try."

Yup yup.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Early Adieu

People are leaving the residence one by one. Some are staying. Some are never coming back. By the end of December, most people, just as they are getting homesick (because the sun here is now rising at 11 and setting at 4), will get the chance to go home. Time has flown by. I do not know why. Time always flies by.

I've met people from all over the world (yes, surprisingly, all continents except for Antartica were covered - the majority are from Europe) and I've got to see many viewpoints of the world. A lot converge with my own, but some are different. We are only all the same along one thing: we chose Iceland to go on exchange, a place where your energy is put to the test, a place with strong sense of identity but questionable culture, and a place that seems at the edge of the world.

I realize that I've been living in a sort of different world than my own in the past few years, and until I got to share my 'favourites' with others I felt kind of isolated. For the last few years I've ditched Hollywood films and American pop music and listened to mostly European music, watched a lot of foreign films. And now I come here and get to ask, "Have you seen this movie? Have you heard of this band?" I don't know why. It's fun for me.

I think my presence here has conquered a lot of stereotypes and also my own stereotypes have been called into question. People aren't as simple as they seem. All I can end is by quoting a line from American Beauty: "Look Deeper."

Monday, 24 November 2008

Erase and Rewind

I take it back. I love Sigur Rós.

I've loved post-rock ever since ever. Some of my favourite bands are post-rock or influenced by the genre: Hope of the States, Mogwai, 65 Days of Static (all from the UK by the way).

When I first heard of a band from Iceland called Sigur Ros (I first pronounced it as sugar ross), I pretentiously pronounced it as pretentious. When I finally got around to hearing some of their songs the weird, incomprehensible lyrics and the instrumental drone grated on my ears. I had just come out of my Arcade Fire/M83 phase then (no more indie! down with instrumentalists! no shoegazing allowed!)

I listened to a few more of their songs but never really got into it. It was so sad because the reason why I lot of people love Iceland was Sigur Ros and I was soon going to Iceland and had no love for Sigur Ros (look at past entries).

When I heard that they were playing in Iceland I bought a ticket for the experience, not because I was a fan or anything.

But yesterday's concert officially edged Apocalyptica out of its place as #1 of my mind's "Top Concerts".

I don't get why people are forced to go to sucky concerts. No offence to people in Ottawa, but I feel let down by almost every concert I've been to in Ottawa. Sucky venues, average-to-okay artists, bad concert-goers. In other places, sometimes the performer has an amazing voice but no matter how great that is, I can just sit at home and listen to a perfected CD instead of having to go out. Or it's the opposite. A lot of the time the entertainment is great but that's because the musician has a lot to make up for his or her lack of talent.

But yesterday, none of that was experienced. I discovered a lot of great songs. I saw a bunch of awesome musicians. There was confetti, water, smoke. GREAT lighting. Excited crowds. The background sometimes showed videos. There were also cameras INSIDE the instruments themselves. Jónsi's shadow was broadcast on a wall. The concert was long but every song was great. I really enjoyed it.
I must give credit for the light and sound crew though - they did an amazing job.

Now I am a fan, whether I like it or not.

Sorry the pictures are of poor quality but I just had to post them!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

More on the Icelandic Music Scene

Everyone here is a musician, and of course everyone is connected to everyone else. The guy who sat in front of me in the cafeteria today? I'm going to watch a concert with them performing tonight. Your next door neighbour? Björk or the next international export. You might even be able to ask her to play at your next party.

At any night of the week in almost any cafe there's bound to be some form of free live music and it's not the bad stuff that you have to wince and plug your ears to. The city is very musical in this way. There needs to be no reason for live music at a place - it's not a festival, there's no special event. Who needs a pre-packaged Starbucks rotating soundtrack when you have this?

Yes, Canada, Toronto and Montreal especially, have some great exports. The arts and crafts label especially, etc. The difference between here and there is that you wouldn't be able to do the above-mentioned things.

And now as the world is entranced by Sígur Rós, Icelanders are enraptured by one song. "Þú komst við hjartað í mér" (you touched my heart) is the club, radio, and shower-song hit of the month (or year - I haven't been here long enough to know, but ever since Airwaves they've been playing it more and more). Once the song comes on people scream and sing along as if it's an old favourite. It's a cover by the ensemble Hjaltalin that people are really obssessed with. The original was not the most well known song by the disco singer Páll Óskar. Both versions sound alike and different at the same time.

And oh, as much as I think the Icelandic language sounds ugly (sssh don't tell anyone I said that!), I think it's a beautiful language to sing in.

Here is the link for the Páll Óskar version on YouTube:

Here's a live version of the cover by Hjaltalin:

Gross Domestic Poo

The government of Canada should NOT be raising tuition fees, or even thinking about it.
Instead, they should GIVE money to its citizens to study. That's what I've found out the governments in Denmark and Cyprus do.
Oh, sure, we can say things like, "Phew! At least I'm not in the US where tuition is crazy high!"
But then we compare O the Beloved with Cyprus, NOT usually a welfare-loving country, who dishes out $3,500 to every one of its students every year. Canadians have to pay $20,000 more or less for a bachelor's. Of course, sometimes that creates a problem of perpetual students.

Okay, I'm only speaking for domestic Ontario students, of which I am one. And I'm not considering schemes like OSAP - sometimes it gives out grants, but mainly it is a loan program, which I believe just puts students into debt after they stop studying.

Sure, my university has signed an agreement with the University of Iceland letting me study here for a year 'without paying international fees'. So I pay $5,000 to remain a full-time student at UO, while foreign students have to pay just $700?

Why didn't I know this before? Of course, this would be different if Iceland was part of the EU. Then, if you are not a EU or EEA citizen, then you have to pay about the same rate (or more) as in Canada. But if you ARE a citizen, then you pay nada or almost zip.

Is it because I'm getting a higher -quality education? Or is it just because I'm a citizen of this country? All states are equal, but some are more equal than others...

Sunday, 16 November 2008


Humans adapt. I now think that the sweet, salty and bitter mixture of licorice is okay. The itchiness of the wool sweater is oblivious to the wearer who needs warmth and protection from the wind. But seasickness? Seasickness is the result of the body not being able to adapt...and is almost inevitable when going (and coming back from) Vestmannaeyjar.

I was talking to a girl who lives on the third floor on Thursday night and I asked her what her plans for the weekend were. "I'm going to the Westman Islands."
For a split second my mind weighed the pros and cons of spending yet another weekend in bed trying to sleep and then waking up and doing pitiful amounts of reading for school and have that be the weekend, or travelling to a desolate place in the middle of winter. "Can I come along?"

The people I went with are all in the same program - they're studying to become teachers, all live on the third floor, and will be leaving Iceland in about 2 weeks, all Scandinavians, one from Denmark, Sweden, Finland. I love how I'm meeting these people and breaking down stereotypes that I have of people - all Swedes are blonde, Danes love Danishes, the Finnish come from Thunder Bay. In total there were four of us.

The Westman Islands are a group of islands off the south coast of the main land. The largest one is Heimaey. In 1973 part of it got covered from a volcanic eruption. They call it 'Pompeii of the North' but personally I think it's pretty lame compared to the real Pompeii. To get there from Reykjavik, you can a) fly b) take a bus for 45 minutes and then a ferry that takes 2h45m. We did the latter.

I'm not usually seasick, and I didn't become seasick this time, but I truly felt like it. The waves of the North Atlantic are definitely not where cruise ships usually sail. I was planning to travel by Ferry from east Iceland to Norway at the end of my stay in the spring, but once the Westman Island ferry got moving all thoughts of that were obliterated. I like the sea and the thought of ship travel. But all I did was spend 2h30m lying down, because the moment I sat up the swaying would get to me immediately. But coming in was amazing. The huge mountain-rocks looked just like they were carved out of wood.

Anyway, we arrived and our resident advisor from the dorm had recommended to us a guesthouse just up the road. When we were about to go in, a woman came out and said, "Did you have any reservation?" We said no, not expecting we needed one, "Oh, then it's not you I'm expecting," and pointed to a group of four behind us. For the next 30 minutes we walked around town looking for accommodation. All the hostels were full, which really surprised us. At this time of year? We finally found an empty hostel at the 'edge' of town. Even the owner of the hostel (it was really just a house) found it weird that there were tourists now. So why were all the other hostels full?

Thankfully you can walk the whole town in any direction in 10 minutes. It's that small. I was so angry that there was no one out walking - everyone had cars, even though the town was tiny! I have no idea why they have cars there. L later observed that they have no stop lights, and J observed that the cars have no license plates. Hmm.

By the time we settled down it was almost dark but we went to explore a volcano - actually, the people explored and I just sort of gave up halfway up the mountain. I sat there staring out at the views of the sea, being blown over by the wind, thinking how really far from everything this place is. Why would 4,000 people want to live here? There are 4 restaurants, 2 grocery stores, and a bunch of little shops and gas stations where you buy hot dogs and lottery tickets. And there's the fishing and (wintertime non-existent) tourist industry. That's it. Anyway, as we headed back it was REALLY windy but with my wool sweater, it was all fine and dandy.

We walked around town for a bit. If you love Christmas shops, every shop has some kind of Christmas decoration in their windows - not just lights, but the works - little santas, angels, red felt cloth, stars, everything. It's amazing. I would've loved spending a day in the shops if only they were open! After buying candy at the grocery store, L found a flyer advertising pizza at the cashier and we finally decided to go there to eat dinner. We took a cheap take-out deal which included garlic bread and headed back to the hostel. There were three pizza boxes although we had ordered two, and I was wondering how the garlic bread was packaged even though all we could smell was just garlic during the walk back. When we opened up the boxes, it was discovered that the garlic 'bread' was actually a garlic and cheese pizza. People who tasted it said it was disgusting, but I thought it was normal-tasting. Just not used to it in pizza form.

After that, there was pretty much nothing else to do. So we slept for two hours and then woke up. It was only 7:30. We'd travelled all the way to sleep. We turned on the telly and watched the whole of Pirates of the Carribean 3, which, for those of you who've watched it, is a very long movie. And for me personally, very very boring. So I just slept on and off throughout the drone. I almost regretted travelling. Almost.

At around 11:00, the movie ended. We went out to see the Northern Lights and ended up downtown again to check out the 'night life' of the Westmann Islands. We were laughing our heads off - no one was anywhere, we were just wandering a dead 'downtown'. We went into the only place that was open and was attracted by the pool table opportunities. No one was there. The music was a CD mix, a CD that skipped. We played pool. All the pool clichés occured: I, of course, was on the losing team. We lost because of me. The coin operator almost didn't work. The person claiming to not be good at pool turned out to be the best.

After a bit, people started coming in. Then there's this guy (let's just call him C) who asked J in Icelandic, "Are you from the Westman Islands?" When J answered in English, the guy immediately screamed, "Cool! Foreignjers!" and pulled up a chair (when he learned J was from Denmark, he got even more excited and tried out his probably bad Danish). I was amused that people here are so desperate to get out of here that they are so eager to interact with anyone who is not from the island. Turns out that he was part of a handball team (Iceland won silver in handball at the Olympics this year - I guess it's one of their more beloved sports) who was 'stranded' on the island because the people operating the plane would not fly out any more that day. A team of handball players stuck on an island - sounds like the next Snakes on the Plane (by the way, check this out:
Anyway, a younger player from the team started talking to us about handball and football. K and me just spaced out. When C came back, he said, "Is this guy that boring?" and K replied, "All he would talk about is handball and football--" C interrupted "Oh, you mean the Blue Lagoon!"
Then he went to the younger guy, pointed to him and said, "This guy's a retard. He only knows how to speak English. He's left-handed and he's the mascot of the team. He's a left-handed mascot. My dog Smeeta? He has a smaller IQ than him." and then K said, "What kind of dog?" We all started laughing because that wasn't the point of the phrase at all, but I got it. K was curious because the name of the dog sounded Finnish. Of course, the younger person got really upset.
After they were all gone, L said, "They should calm down. It's just handball."

The next day, we hiked (or in my case, attempted to hike) more mountains, saw the destruction that the eruption resulted in, then got on the ferry to go home.

More observations: There are signs of polar bears and puffins all around town. And also, there is the embassy of Sweden and Norway here, out of all places.

The ferry ride back was even more nauseating than the one coming in. Even then, nice weekend. Pics on the way.

Pics of Parents Here

Follow this link to the pictures of when my parents were here. The majority are taken by my dad.
I would post some of them here but I can't save them. I especially like my mom at geysir - so cute!

Friday, 14 November 2008

Claustrophobia, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Canadians

It's such a pity that so many people come here (okay, so many people meaning me and a few others) to get away from their countrymen and end up stuck in a trap hanging out with mostly them. I have to admit, the dormitory where I live has a disproportionate amount of Canadians living there. I think I got a dorm room so easily because the housing office just crammed all the Canadians together and called it a day. If I could, I would move out to either live with Icelanders or other people. I mean, the Canadians here are all nice and everything, but I can live with Canadians in Canada. You know what I mean?

But then again, a wise roommate once told me that types of people are the same wherever in the world you go.

Europa Europa

Canada is a very young country. And I don't know much about China. But I've met so many Europeans, and compared to Canada there is so much history! Austrians and Germans were discussing about the war that made their lands separate in 1870's. I was thinking: that's just when Canada was made a Canada! Of course, there was human inhabitation much before 1867 when Canada was 'founded'. But politically...I mean, I never knew that ethnic Hungarians lived in Slovakia, which used to be Czechoslovakia etc. etc..

Loyalists defended Canada. Canada was made. Separate provinces joined. Alberta thinks it's part of America. So has Quebec, twice. We sold Alaska for $1. Newfoundland was threatening to separate not that long ago. I know it's not and will never be as simple as what I state here. But there was never really any occupation. There was no revolution. No takeovers. No monarchy. No annexation. Of course all the British and French stole the land of the First Nations who were already there but I am not talking about that right now - and I am digging myself into a political and ethical hole here so I will stop. But the main point is that civilization is almost timeless when it comes to Europe. Politically, so much has happened and still happening, for better or for worse.

Monday, 10 November 2008


I am waking up at 9 o'clock regularly now if I don't put on an alarm. Who would believe that would ever happen?

Monday, 3 November 2008

How Did it Come to This?

I came to Iceland because I thought this would be my only chance, as a student, to live in one of the most expensive places in the world.

Now that I've lived here for a few (okay, two) months and now I'm reading this book called Dreamland, which criticizes the environmental decisions the country has made.
While reading the book, I realize more and more that Iceland is not really that first-nation.
It is just beginning. It is just a little ahead of China and India in its race for industrialization.
Just one or two generations ago, there was still a lot of jobs that were in the sectors of fishing and farming (and still are). Then all of a sudden the country became industrialized and now people are pouring into the city (like they are all across the world) and driving huge SUVs. Just a few years ago, Iceland was one of the poorest nations in Europe.

Everything is so new here: They are like the suburbs of Southwestern Ontario. Everything was built in the 70's and up. Except I'm talking about the city and not the suburbs. Places like London, New York, even Toronto have had a history of at least a hundred years of merchants and trading and commerce. According to Wikipedia, about a hundred years ago, Reykjavik had a tiny population of 11,500. This is almost like Toronto in 1834.

Rome was not built in a day, although it was founded in 753 BC. China became a country in 221 BC. Iceland gained Independence in 1944. So it is almost as if this country had a sheen, a façade of being so rich and industrialized when that is not really true at all. It is geologically young, it is industrially young, it is young. It is still learning.

Home and Away

My parents came here last weekend. It was very last-minute of them; usually they plan trips a year in advance. This time I had two weeks' notice. It was a fun weekend; now I just have a lot of work to catch up on.

I hope it was fun for them because it was a really cold week, with snow already on the ground. They saw the northern lights and went on the Golden Circle while I sat in on classes and tried desperately to catch up on work.

I got a calendar of Icelandic horses and a peysa from them.

It's easy to leave people but it's not easy being left behind. I remember when I left for Ottawa I'd just leave in strangers' cars without another look behind, just like Hershey would go quickly to the kennel owner. But the first time I lived alone last summer, in this huge strange house I had never really lived in, I remember I didn't want my parents to go.
I haven't really felt homesick yet. I've been leaving 'home' constantly for the past four years. I guess I'm restless. I left HG people behind, then C, and even T, and now UO people.

Sunday, 2 November 2008


Anybody who has ever shopped with me or had seen me make a decision knows that I am INDECISIVE.

Well, I just found this new website:
The Internet is making life easier, but literally decreasing our ability to judge.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

I'm Going to London!

I've booked my flight to London over the break. And I'm almost certain I'm going to Paris.
These cities aren't on the top of my 'to go' list (surprisingly), but they're up there. It'll be a good change of pace from small little Reykjavik.

Now, the headaches start: what to do while I'm there and how to do it so that I maximize my time?

I'm really angry that I'll have to pay for all the accommodation on my own, which is the most costly expense in these two cities. I was counting on a (distant) relative and a (distant) friend to board me, but both of them are travelling. Boo.
I could've gone somewhere cheaper but I really don't know where.
I had an opportunity to pester some people and go to the north of France or Prague (for Christmas? how romantic) but it'd be another headache figuring out how to get there. Those can be for later.

Anyway, I have to tell myself: no regrets. What's decided is decided. Besides, I can list a few people who'd kill to go to London and Paris right now...

Wednesday, 29 October 2008


I didn't hear about Iceland Airwaves until about a year ago. It is a music festival. I wasn't even planning on going. But here I am, in Iceland, with a wristband, standing in line with a mix of Icelanders and foreigners and sometimes getting in to venues and sometimes not and pushing my way to a place where I can actually see and being embarrassed to get out my camera but doing it any way.

The Bands
I actually got my ticket (there's only a wristband for sale, which lets you into all the venues; there are no single ticket sales, poo poo) only because I saw For a Minor Reflection listed on the bill. WHO? You ask. They're due to play with Sigur Rós (whose music, I must admit, I'm only partially partial to) on their UK tour in November. I had heard their music while in a cafe on my third day here in Iceland, and I ended up paying more attention to the stereo than to the conversations because of FAMR. Post-rock is awesome. Anyway, I had so many chances to see FAMR but I had missed them all and I thought I would be doing my laboratory for class during their last show. I panicked, but instead I didn't and it was good because I got to see them at 12 Tónar, a great little CD shop. And because this Portuguese band called Mau didn't show up, I have another chance to see them!
Anyway, during the night, when I was trying to get into a venue called NASA, I looked behind me and the band members were right there. I thought I was just seeing things but seriously they introduced themselves to another guy standing in line as themselves.
As a "journalist" and business card collector I know I can't be shy, but when it comes to people I admire...not even celebrities or people who are famous or anything, I can be really shy.
So to introduce myself and shake their hands was a pretty big thing for me. That was cool, but they were pretty drunk I must admit. It's funny because they're playing so many gigs yet they had to stand in line with everyone else. I loved that.

Anyway, on to other bands. People really really loved this band called Miracle Fortress from Montreal. I was about to buy their CD but gawked at the price and thought, "I probably could get it for cheaper in Canada."

Who else? Biffy Clyro from the UK was good, We Made God, Æla,...most of these bands I probably will never hear again, but whatever. Therese Aune from Norway was a good solo act, and also Ólafur Arnalds with his accompanying string section.

Final Fantasy came and I was really proud of Canada because he was getting really good reviews.

The Philosophy
I don't believe in going to concerts and festivals to get drunk and make a fool of oneself. I believe in listening to the music, sometimes dancing if it's appropriate, sometimes moshing if also appropriate, mostly nodding the head. Maybe one beer is fine if you enjoy that kind of thing, but people getting wasted in crowded venues is not my kind of fun. LISTEN TO THE MUSIC!

I'm sorry that this was such a fragmented entry. It was a good experience for me, not the greatest festival ever, but still okay as a distraction.

For a Minor Reflection

Final Fantasy!

Ane Brun. She performed that evening and sold CDs at a bookstore. I was having dinner then. I searched all over town the next day looking for her CD but it was all sold out!


The ridiculously pink wristband. Yes, my camera is very bad at closeups.

A singer from Æla, meaning 'to puke'. Yes, he's wearing underwear...a diaper. Apparently he always does this every time he performs this song. Except this time he went out the door and down the street.

Therese Aune

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

I am Bored and Do Not Like My Name and Should be Doing Work

Here are some comments about the name Jennifer from a forum about names.

Here are some key guides to pronouncing names if you ever plan on going to Scandinavian Europe.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Icelandic Hospitality

Only 2 months ago I was still vegetarian (except I did eat a Tim Horton's chicken burger and others over the summer) and in first year of university I had joined the Animal Rights Group on campus. Then I came here and all my beliefs were shot to hell. I had horse within the first week of my coming here, and lamb. I still haven't had shark yet, but I've been told that's pretty disgusting. Another delicacy they have here is ram's testicles. Yum.

Well, last week I went to try sheep's head. It is offered frozen in grocery stores, but we went to the main bus terminal cafeteria where they advertise it. Reason told me that it's more of a 'waste' to throw out the head than to eat it for 1400 Kr (with a side of salad, coffee, mashed potatoes and mashed turnips, no less). I thought they would serve it to us after deep-frying it, without the eye or the teeth bones or the nasal cavity fluids. They did none of that. The only difference between the one we were served and a live one was that the brains were out and it was cooked. O, the person I shared my portion with, chose a blackened head for some odd reason which made it even more disgusting. It reminded me of the ground covered in volcanic ash that I see every day. I ate a little bit, covered it in lots of ketchup, poked at the skin a bit with my knife. The worst thing was the smell. They could've at least covered it up with some seasonings but it was just plain skin, bone, flesh, cartilage, and whatever else sheep's head is made of. O and L had an eye-eating competition (fear factor Icelandic style). Bleh. I left shortly after.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Living Life Through an Anglophone Lens

I was picking out Nordic movies with a roommate of mine the other day at the library. She is Slovakian, is ethnically Hungarian, is fluent in German, is studying Swedish and Icelandic, and understands more French and Spanish than me. So here I am finding all these great movies but having to put them down just because they have no subtitles in English. She asked, "Why aren't you taking those?" and I thought it would be an obvious answer to her, that I won't be able to watch it if the subtitles weren't English. To her, there would be no impediment. Until then I hadn't realized that I used English as a crutch to access other cultures. Knowing a language fluently is having a key to some other world.

Up until a few years ago I refrained from reading anything but English literature because I didn't want to read translated books - I thought it would skewer the whole purpose of reading a novel. Of course, I gave up and read Italo Calvino via William Weaver and got more and more into world literature.
But the fundamental question remains: is it better to have read a book and lost most of what is happening than to have never read it at all? The English language can only do so much.

I regret that I will never be able to access so many cultures because of my lack of skills in that language. It's great that so many things are translated into English, but I will always feel I'm living in a pseudo-world where everything is slightly off, or has been fitted to fit in with the limitations of English.

A Sentinel of the Morning

My room faces a grassy slope, which is surrounded by trees. Behind those trees is a walkway that everybody takes to get to classes. For people's first classes of the day, it is still dark, but the walkway is illuminated by lights. So I see groups of people coming in bus-loads and traffic light-loads. They look like robbers, thieves, with their dark shapes and bended backs (because of knapsacks and the wind). I feel like I am in a Samurai movie and I am the only one up at this time of night, watching from my window, guarding a whole city.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

I Give Up

I'm really busy these days so I think it's better if I just post some pictures with captions of under them to describe the rest of my Westfjords trip.

It's inevitable that some people will say I have put no pictures of people. But hey. To each their own.

Just imagine yourself in the car. It is all green rolling hills until you turn a bend and see these looming fjords in the distance, one after another.

Finally, made it to Ísafjörður! But we only stayed there for about 5 minutes before moving on. I'd like to spend a day or week there.


An emergency shelter. Inside there were a lot of supplies and stuff. Canada should have these; it'd be especially useful for the winter.

You must remember that all this while we are heading southwest. This is a reconstruction of the first Icelandic prime minister's house.
Pretty waterfalls!
A wrecked ship on the beach. Notice the dying light.

The westernmost part of Europe (politcally).

And finally, the northern lights. Technically, I could see them anytime I want in Canada but I'm always in the city.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008


We arrived at a Hostelling International hostel in Reykjanes (smoky peninsula). As we were driving up to the building, J exclaimed, "The place we're staying at used to be a school." and I thought, "Oh, cool." We stopped in the parking lot of an imposing building and went inside. No one was there to greet us so we wandered around the foyer until X rang the doorbell. A man came out and said rates were bla and bla and such. L, I think it was L, asked, "Who else is staying here?" and the man answered, "You." I thought, "Cool, we have the whole place to ourselves. It's such a huge building." We got shown our rooms and the kitchen downstairs. I went by myself to put away the food and as I was coming up I took an extra flight of stairs and came onto this hallway full of pictures of graduating classes of students. That was the first sign of something being odd and spooky. I quickly went back down and dismissed it from my head. I had dinner, then as I was going back upstairs again something reminded me of The Shining, but also The Simpsons where Mr. Burns said, "That's odd. The blood usually stops on the second floor," so instead of being freaked out I laughed to myself. Then I went upstairs (my room was on the first floor) into a game room/living room where Lj and O were. All the books and games were old. Then O said to Lj, pointing at a photograph or painting of a priest on the wall in the middle of the room, "Doesn't this priest look strange? His hand is missing." I swallowed my fears and went back down. We went to the swimming pool for the night and as I was walking with L to the pool he said, "This place is haunted." Oh, great. A then also informed me that this place was haunted, her having been informed by O. She said, "If I see a ghost I'm going to go to the manager and complain." The story was getting more elaborate, like how people who had stayed would commit suicide, even though the ghosts were purportedly 'friendly'. And that in Icelandic culture, ghosts are solid and that Icelanders wrestle with them. And the fact that the next day would be a full moon. I'm writing this now, on the 13 of October, but how I wish we had gone on the Friday of a year where it lands on the 13th. That would've creeped me out.

Anyway, YF started to swim (he had never swam before he came to Iceland) and A was like, "Don't drown!" someone else was like, "The first victim is usually in the pool."

There was a completely dark steam bath, sort of like a shed, and the door creaked when you opened it. I didn't go in because it looked like you would never be able to come out again. J later said that with the drops of water continuously falling on you, it seemed to be a spooky place.
And the showers were scary too...
When we got out of the pool, we met in the foyer. By this time A was getting more and more freaked out (and of course other people had fun at making her more and more creeped out) and I was also creeped out too but my rationalities kicked in, and I was making jokes to steady my mind. We lounged in the foyer and devised plans to escape. People mentioned movies like The Shining, Hostel, Saw. We looked in the guestbook. One of the entries said, "Peculiar place. Reminds me of The Shining. Unique." Umm, no. Spooky.

In my mind, I knew it was irrational. But then it was the perfect setting for a horror story. A group of tourists. The middle of nowhere. No other guests. A huge, abandoned school. A creepy caretaker. Let the games begin.

I joined the others in a walk to the beach. The goal was to see the Northern Lights but they weren't that strong that night. Semi-tripping over rocks and grass and sheep, I managed to get to the sea. There was plenty of white coral and we labelled it popcorn-rocks. We took some pictures and headed back. By this time I had forgotten almost all about the spookiness.
Then we went upstairs and turned on the TV in the living room. Then time for bed.

Here are some pictures. I almost don't want to post these. I don't even know why I took them.

The kitchen/former classroom.

The scary living room.

A view of the outside.

The hallway with all the portraits.

Just for you to get a sense of where we the middle of nowhere.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

First Day of Westfjords

Our first day, we left Reykjavík at 9:30. Of course I woke up at 7. I had lots of time to pack and clean my room, then I just sat around for an hour wondering when the car would come. By the way, as I'm writing this, I'm getting up at 7:30/8:00 now, and I think it's due to the darkness! This is sweet stuff, since in the peak of summer in Ottawa I would get up at 5:20 due to the sun.

We took the ring road west and to the 5.7 km bridge under Hvalfjörður to cross to west Iceland. We stopped at Borganes en route to stock up on groceries, then stopped again at Borgarfjörður. There was a really cool hiking place, sort of like a mini-caldera. Inside was a huge crater.

After passing many landscapes, including snow, we stopped at a waterfall.

At first I rolled my eyes and thought to myself, after going to Skaftafell, any other waterfall would just be a disappointment. Then I saw these two cute dogs come running up to the car begging for food. I had to get out. I sorely miss my dog Hershey at home and there are more cats than dogs in Reykjavík. In fact, all the dogs I've seen in the city are just those puny toy dogs. These followed us up the waterfall and one of them started drinking from it. I wanted to capture the cuteness of it with my camera but he stopped drinking before that could happen.

By this time we were almost at Drangajökull, the glacier in the northwest, but it was getting late.
We quickly headed back down south as the sky light dimmed, down to Reykjanes where our hostel waited.

Monday, 13 October 2008

The Ring Road, and Highway 61

Unlike other countries, there are not many options for which road to take. So you cannot take into consideration how much time you have or the weather conditions. Traffic conditions are easy. Once we reached the Westfjords, I think we saw a maximum of 15 cars along the whole way.
The Ring Road is the road that travels all around Iceland. But to reach the fjords, we had to go onto highway 61.

There is a song by a Canadian artist that I downloaded many years ago. It's called "The Long Road to Ísafjorður by Sabola, an electronica artist. Back then, I thought the land was some fantasy place Sabola had made up. Many years passed and I forgot all about the artist and the song. It wasn't until this summer, when I had a shuffle list playing on my computer, that I saw the name. I had been reading lots of guidebooks by then and had recalled seeing the name somewhere. I decided that I must must must go to the Westfjords. It's a long way because although it's only ~325 kilometres from Reykjavík, it takes about 5-6 hours to get there. This is where perimeter versus distance factors in. The roads, as you can see in the map I provided, zigzag all along the perimeter of the northwest coast.

By the way, Ísafjorður is by far the largest settlement in the Westfjords with a population of about 3,000.


Amazing. Amazing amazing amazing. I'm so glad I got to go to the Westfjords; I love Reykjavík but I really needed this break. It was for two days. Most of it was spent in the car.
For the next few days I will be posting events my trip. This is better than one go because I will get tired of writing and not write as much detail as I should.

Here is a teaser pic:

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Random Pictures

I've been putting off uploading these pictures because I thought they were mundane until I realized today that it actually isn't for people who are not actually in Iceland. They range in date from my first day in the country until today.

Another view of the pond. I posted a picture of the same thing in my first entry.

School grounds.

The natural and environmental sciences building to the left, the Nordic House to the right.

People eating dinner. Já. Oh, did I mention that the stoves and electrical outlets can quit working at any time?

My room.

The main building. The campus from another angle. I think it's tilted to the side a bit.

Me, downtown.

My dormitory - outside. I live on the other side, actually.