Friday, 29 May 2009

Final Entry

The first thing I noticed when I arrived at Gate 32 of the airport was an overabundance of a weirdly-accented English. The 'r's were more pronounced and no other sounds were clipped off. Some sounded American, but not quite as with as much of a twang. I knew I'd entered Canadian English territory. And it sounded awful. I wanted to go back, back to the world of French-German-British-Icelandic accented English. But it was too late.

The plane was landing and for the longest time we were descending into gray clouds. It was rainy here, and it will be for many more days to come. I flew from a beautiful sunny day into rain.

The miracle, though, is my luggage. Both suitcases weighed almost 23 kg and I had a backpacking bag that was way over the hand luggage weight limit. I also had hiking shoes tied onto the back of it. I was also carrying one winter coat and one spring coat, one laptop, and one other small backpack that was heavier than the laptop (full of chocolates and a book and my purse). It was a miracle that all these things, probably weighing 60 kg in total, I was allowed to bring with me without any extra luggage fees.

And now that I'm here, that I'm back in home territory, nothing much has changed. Or maybe I've just skipped everything. My dog has become older and more ill. The thing is, I keep on hearing Icelandic everywhere. My niece in her 3-year-old English says, "Come sit here," and I mistake it for Hvað segir þu? I say "Takk" automatically, even when I'm supposed to say Thanks or Merci or Dou She or Ng Goi. I go into the grocery store, look down the huge dairy aisle and I see a row of Skyr, but when I look closer it turns out to be plain yogurt. I'm listening to Icelandic music over and over again.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Baby, You Are Gonna Miss that Plane

Here I am the night before my flight the next day (not until the afternoon). I am not fully packed yet, though I am mostly packed. I have just spent a lovely evening eating at Cafe Paris, then driving around the harbour, then going to get ice cream in Vesturbær, then heading back into downtown to hear some songs at Cafe Rosenberg, then going to Hemmi and Valdi to get a drink where I met lots of people for the last time, then ending up at Q-Bar, then trying to catch Pizza Pronto before it closed. Tomorrow I will have one last pylsur and skyr. All I have left to do is pack. And ponder.

I remmeber quite clearly this time last year when I was filling out documents and looking very forward to coming to Iceland, and all of a sudden now it's over. I do want to leave just because I want to go back, yet at the same time I really want more time here. I don't know when, if ever, I will be back. I'm sorry, but that's the reality. I have so many more places to go, so many more travels to experience...why go somewhere I've already been, even if it's to a place I love, if I have the opportunity to see elsewhere?

For some this was the year of ERASMUS. For others, learning Icelandic. For others still, it was the weekend trips and hiking. For others still it was the long weekends. For me it was all of that and, as a cliché, more. Thanks to everyone I met, it's been a blast, and hopefully, even if I'm realistic and I don't get to see everybody again someday, I've learned a lot from everyone and have made memorable memories. Until we meet again, good night whether it be dark or light.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

I Drift Towards the Wall of Soothing Sound

This past week has been like a dream for me, not because it has been extraordinary, but because I no longer know if I'm awake or dreaming. When at most times I should be in bed I find myself wandering around the town now, especially during 2 in the morning it seems I wander. The light in the sky never really seems to go away, and neither does the chirping of the birds, and neither does my inability to sleep or my tiredness. I see beautiful sky scenery - and I mean really really beautiful, like no other - but I can no longer pinpoint whether it's a sunset or a sunrise. Every day the weather is forecasted for pouring rain but the most that appears is a drizzle. It's been a really beautiful week. And yet it's a mere 10 degrees. I wonder what it's going to be like when I get back - I'll get the sunshine, but I'll miss the light.

I had a really good birthday with beautiful weather and people of all nationalities said happy birthday in their own language - I was never expecting that. 75% of the people I knew here have left. Us exchange students have increasingly been replaced by tourists. And now it is my turn to go.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Rocks in My Boot and Stones in My Heart

On May 17, I wrote:
I am on my glacial geology field trip in Southern Iceland for 6 days. This will probably be my last excursion out of Reykjavik. It has been a few days of beautiful beautiful weather where people are getting tans and/or sunburns. We have been driving around in the bus and stopping at bus stations to get ice cream for the last few days, but tomorrow we will be working trying to identify glacial landforms in front of Sóheimajökull. Never in my life would I have been imagining I would be doing this. It is weird how life leads you in really unexpected places...

Now I am back in RVK. I celebrated my birthday, I'm finishing my report and I'm packing up, and saying goodbyes also.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Coffee, Anyone?

A few months ago I thought that after my exams were done I would be travelling around but instead, do to lack of willpower and money and any real motivation (it was snowing up north last week and people keep on telling me it's not that nice - except for the Eastfjords), I'm once again spending time in Reykjavik coffeeshops.

I find I'm just spending most of my days making last appointments with people who are leaving. We meet and then we talk about deep/shallow topics and then they sort of say, "Have a nice life." in more or less words and then we part. I feel like I might see them again, but I guess it won't really hit me until I get back home.

I miss muffins. They don't have them in cafés here at all.

100th Post! and Culture Note of a Different Kind

When I first moved to Reykjavik, I lived in an all-English speaking dormitory and I thought that it wasn't 'challenging' enough for me and I did not go on exchange to do the whole dorm thing again.

So I moved out to a floor of a house (in the middle of nowhere!) with one other Canadian and two Germans. The Germans then spoke and laughed a lot in German and though sometimes I thought it was cool, I must admit that for the most part it was just annoying.
So then for other reasons for this month I moved downtown to another townhouse-type flat with people who all speak French! It's a great way, I guess, to practice my poor French but when they have guests over I mostly just zone out. I love being placed in awkward situations, but they laugh and then I just smile to be nice and feel really lost.

So to get my humour fix I have to go to Canadians, I have to even be surrounded mostly by Canadians. I find myself laughing so much, so naturally when I am with people. It's not just a language, it's the culture - it's in the way we see things and describe things and even in what exactly we find humourous. Oh, Canada.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


I'd heard of Eurovision, but I'd never imagined I would ever sit down to watch it. Apparently here it is an excuse to hold a crazy party. More and more people in Iceland started talking about it so I decided I'd give it a try one windy summer's day. Unfortunately I missed Iceland's great semi-final performance because I had difficulty finding AL's house since I don't have a TV. We all had good fun making fun of all the countries and their stupid voting decisions. Iceland made it to the finals, but I won't be there to see it because I'll be on a glacier!

AL's interpretation of the Bosnian singer.


Another cultural note: movies here just stop right in the middle of screening for intermission. It's so startling.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Bright Moments that Pass By Like a Meteorite

In the winter, sleep is really deep because of the darkness. The problem is that all you can do IS sleep. In the summer, surprisingly I'm still sleeping so much, but the problem becomes the quality of sleep. It never really gets dark out so there is no period where, if you close your eyes, you're really covered in darkness (unless you wear a face mask).

I will stop talking about Icelandic weather now and say something more solemn:
It really is too bad that I'm meeting so many new people at this time because I have much less than a month here now. I really wish I met all these people before. But this happens in life all the time, I guess. There is no end; people are continuously being meeted. I'm glad to say that Iceland has been a unique meeting place.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

It is Summer (Not!)

The days now stretch for a long time here, but they always go so quickly. It is already May 5! I look at the clock and it is already 7 when it feels like 4 in the afternoon. Then after what feels like 30 minutes later I look up and it's 10 o'clock - outside the sun is dusky, what the light would be like at 8 o'clock in the middle of summer in Canada.

And yet it is still cold and it has been raining for almost two weeks straight. But today it was truly like spring/summer time with all the sunlight and I couldn't help but just wander around town even though I had much to study.

People are holding barbecues and the kids here are already on their bikes and skateboards which really clashes with what I am used to. Kids on bikes and skateboards always mean to me that school is out and that it is July or August, while here I still have exams and the kids are meanwhile wearing warm sweaters, but acting as if it is all summery. Now I get why Iceland only has two seasons.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Study Break

Guess what?! Out of all people, David Lynch came to the university auditorium today to advocate, out of all things, Transcendental Meditation (TM). I was supposed to meet someone there but then by the time I phoned they were still sleeping so I was waiting very awkwardly alone until I met a film-loving friend and we waited in true Icelandic style for one and a half hours before the thing actually started. As DL started speaking I faintly recalled having done a grade 12 Exercise Science presentation about (out of all things) TM.

In true Japanese fashion we rushed to the front and sat in the front row. When DL was introduced and came out, he said, "Okay, first we will start with questions." and in true fashion again, there was complete silence. It was 30 seconds before the first question was asked.

Personally, I think people who are there to advertise some things always have hidden agendas and I was very sceptical. And I fell asleep in some parts because I was very tired. But I have pictures! Of David Lynch! There must've been at least 1,500 there - 1% of the population at least.

Later on, my friend commented that DL kept on saying that TM created happiness, and she said that Icelanders, in her view, were already always happy and optimistic even with the kreppa, so he was 'preaching' to the wrong crowd (she also said that he should go to Japan to give a talk instead). I agreed very much so. But I pointed out that maybe to us they are very happy folks while to them they are just being normal.


Needless to say, I've moved again because I'm running out of $$$ or rather krkrkr. It's okay though because now I'm almost right in downtown and I'm close to the sea and I'm close to so many other things and my shared room looks out to this very European-like courtyard thing.

So yesterday, I went to sleep at around 3:30 (because I was studying so hard) and then because of the stupid sun I woke up at 6:30. Grrr!

One more thing before I hit the books again:
I miss congee, Cheeto's, creamsicles and Reese's Pieces. Most of that list is junk food, yes, but good junk food. Here is a little story to finish off:
Today I woke up and wanted congee. I wanted the pickled vegetables and the salty, oily, fried dough. I wanted all the gunk mixed at the bottom water when there’s no more rice and I wanted it to drip into my mouth as I held the bowl up.