Tag Archives: Iceland

Vor í Reykjavík

I’m now half way into my studies at Listaháskóli Íslands (Iceland Academy of the Arts).
This has not been an easy two and a half months but I am glad that I came here.

Reykjavík

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View of the city from Laugarnes

I feel that Reykjavík is the city of opposites.
As a city it’s very young. In the 19th century the whole town of Reykjavík was still only one street (Aðalstræti), as most people lived and worked on farms.
Living and building in Iceland is not easy, so the development of a capital area in Iceland was happening much later than in other Nordic countries.

Now there is construction everywhere in the city and no house looks very much alike. There was an urban design plan in the early 20th century by Iceland’s first architect Guðjón Samúelson to transform whole Reykjavík so all houses would be made of concrete and they would all look alike. They started the project, but it came to an end when younger people started to protest against tearing down the older wooden buildings.
So now the center of Reykjavík looks very strange.

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Construction in downtown Hverfisgata
Surprise winter
Surprise winter in Thórsgata
Graffiti art near the old harbour
Graffiti art near the old harbor 

There are a lot of graffiti in Reykjavík. And surprisingly most of it is really beautiful artistic work.

My favourite
My favourite

There are a lot of tourists in Reykjavík compared to the number of locals living here. I sometimes think (exaggerating) that I’ve seen more Spanish and Chinese people than Icelanders on my stay here.
But there is still enough room to find the quiet roads and calm spots. Even if you sometimes have to share them.

Harbor and Esja
Harbor and Esja
Sólfarið
Sólfarið
A raven giving a morning concert
A raven giving a morning concert

Esjan

The view of Reykjavík is usually dominated by the beautiful mountain Esja. There are a lot of mountains in Iceland, but Esja is the one you see most often.

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Esja, seen from the shore, downtown Reykjavík

I went for a hike on the most popular route of Esja in January (not the smartest of ideas), on a day that was supposed to be cold, but bright. How wrong was I.
When we got there it was dawn and everything was fine. Half way up the weather changed drastically and we found ourselves in the middle of a windy blizzard.
I had been walking ahead of one group of exchange students and could see another group of adult climbers before me. I kept going in the storm and at some point I lost the people before me, I lost the path and when I looked back I saw that the others had turned back.

Somehow I didn’t even get scared, because I could still sort of see footprints here and there, and I knew that the climbers had to come down the same way and that I would see them if they would decide to turn back. I just kept going and at some point I caught up with the climbers.
It wasn’t easy and the whole trip up and down to Steinn at 600m took hours. The conditions made it impossible to go any higher and we couldn’t see anything from the top anyway.
And later I learned that on the same day there had been an avalanche on the harder route through the mountain pass and one Icelandic man had died. This was a week after we had heard of many tourists being swept away by waves and killed because they went too close to the shore in the south.
Hiking or exploring in Iceland is not to be taken lightly. Ever.

Starting the hike
Starting the hike
When the sun started to rise the weather was still good
When the sun started to rise the weather was still good
...until it wasn't. This is the same landscape
…until it wasn’t. This is the same landscape
There were amazing moments of golden sunlight in the storm
There were amazing moments of golden sunlight in the storm
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That’s the lowest peak. No view, just snow
But I made it. Even though my face hurt so bad. Eyeglasses were useless
But I made it. Even though my face hurt so bad. Eyeglasses were useless

Listaháskóli

Music and performing arts department in Sölvhólsgötu
Music and performing arts department in Sölvhólsgötu

I really love the teachers here. And the students are a nice bunch of people.
The mold I absolutely hate.
The school is the only higher education art school in Iceland and it’s still really small. The departments have been divided into three different locations and lucky us, the musicians and actors are all in the one building that has mold.
It’s not just a guess or something that needs to be investigated. You can go into certain rooms and look at it. Yep, black mold.
Here’s a video:

https://www.facebook.com/615027198/videos/10154503033552199/

Here’s a link to an article:

http://stundin.is/frett/nemendur-og-kennarar-listahaskolans-finna-fyrir-einkennum-myglusvepps/

Our singing lessons have been moved away from the building but everything else is still there.
I get headache and on some days symptoms of a hay fever.

They are apparently trying to find new housing for the departments, but it doesn’t help the students currently there.
I can’t wait for summer leave.

The studies and courses are similar to those in Finland. The level of the music department is not as high as that of TAMK’s, but I’m happy that I’ve got to work with these amazing teachers and get a new perspective to my studies.

We have a lot of masterclasses here, which is really good for singers and we are doing scenes from Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte and Le nozze di Figaro.
We get to work with all the singing teachers in the school, which is also a benefit on university level.

But you do need to learn to at least understand some Icelandic here. Not all the teachers like to speak to the whole class in English and even though you can return all your homework in English, you will want to understand the lessons as well.
I would recommend coming here in the Autumn and going to the intensive language course in the Westfjords.
I have been relying on my own studies and it has left me only with the ability to compliment things and ask for my latte with oat milk.
Also the word for an exchange student (skiptinemi) is funny.

Iceland is a great place to visit, but living and studying here takes determination.

My hoodie from Mjölnir. Go train there. Mjölnir is great
My hoodie from Mjölnir. Go train there. Mjölnir is great

Takk fyrir og sjáumst á sumar!

Kær kveðja
Roosa Kemppilä

 

Greetings from Iceland

Hello

I´ve just started my last month in Reykjavik. Studying in Reykjavik University has been great experience, school is small but good. I have courses from Engineering school, about electrical engineering, and Business school. Reykjavik University has about 50 exchange students right now.

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I´m living in a guesthouse, which is located almost in Downtown. To university it´s about 30 minutes walking. I´m living with seven other exchange students.

We have done lot of trips around the island, and i´ve seen many cool waterfalls and geothermal areas with hot spots.

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Greetings from Akureyri!

I have been staying in Akureyri, North Iceland now three and a half months and there is still little bit less than one month to go. Akureyri is a sweet little city with a population of about 18 500 people and still it is a second largest city in Iceland. Time has been flying here and at the same time that I am waiting to go back home it also feels already like second home here so it is going to be weird to leave this place behind soon.

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Downtown Akureyri.

My studies here have been very variable and I have had courses from Icelandic history and culture, Icelandic language, Circumpolar World and only one course from my own field of studies. When the school is as small as University of Akureyri, there is not that much to choose from. Still I have been pretty happy with my courses because I have been able to learn lot from Iceland.

In the Icelandic language course I have noticed that the language is really hard! First it seemed pretty okay because there is some similar words than in Swedish but after I got familiar with grammar I noticed that it is not going to be easy to learn. People in Iceland speak also so good English that it is usually easier just use that than try to speak Icelandic and that is why I have not felt big necessity to learn the language.

I have been living here in a guesthouse with eight other students. Besides me here is living Swedish, Latvian, German, Finnish, Polish, English and two Slovakian girls so we are quite nice mixture of nationalities. We get along really well and the house is also really nice, close to downtown and not too far from university.

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Lake Mývatn.

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Reynisfjara black beach.

Nature is definitely the best thing in Iceland and we have been doing lot of trips all over the island. For example Mývatn area which is pretty close to Akureyri has become familiar such as Reykjavík. Most amazing trips have been trips to Snæfellsnes peninsula and the trip to southern parts of Iceland. There is also still going to be one trip to Vatnajökull glacier in the end of April which I am looking forward to. Of course we have also been spotting northern lights many times and visited in a ranch where we rode Icelandic horses.

I am happy that I decided to spent my exchange semester in Iceland. It has been one of my best decisions to come here and I would not change anything! Hopefully I can come and visit here soon again.

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Snæfellsnes peninsula.

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Skógafoss waterfall.

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Riding with Icelandic horses was amazing experience. 

Allt í lagí á Íslandi!

As the title addresses, It’s all good here in Iceland!

IMG_7645I live in the second largest city of Iceland called Akureyri, which actually has no more than 18 000 inhabitants. It is located in the North Iceland in a fjord surrounded by mountains. I live in a private owned flat in the harbour and the whales swimming just behind my window remind me every day that I really am in Iceland!

Pic. 1  The view to the fjord from Akureyri

 

One of the greatest attractions here are the colourful Northern lights that are visible almost every night starting already in the Autumn, something which really surprised me. Besides my studies, I have been able to get familiar with the amazing nature of the country, its hot springs, waterfalls and other attractions that draw the typical Icelandic landscape.

IMG_7662Pic. 2  Student Union arranges competitions among different faculties every semester.

 

 

 

The studies in Háskólinn á Akureyri, the University of Akureyri, has started well and the courses have met my expectations. There are almost forty Erasmus exchange students here in the University and since the most of the Icelandic students complete their courses as distance students, due to the lack of Universities and long distances in Iceland, most of the students I come across at the Uni daily are students from other nationalities. During my exchange, I have also learned to speak Icelandic, of which usefulness, to be honest, I am not really sure yet.

The exchange period has provided me a great opportunity to extend my experience in International Marketing. During my studies I was responsible for taking care of improving a marketing plan of a company called Fine Focus, An International Microbiology Journal for Undergraduate Research, and got selected to represent the company in British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) in Manchester in March 2016.

 

IMG_8478The experience here has exceeded my expectations and regardless of my previous experience of 12 months in Australia, the one semester in Iceland has been great, if not even more significant for me in terms of my career in the field of International Business!

Pic. 3  Vetur á Íslandi, winter in Iceland

Ég tala ekki íslensku!

I have now spent little over five wonderful months in Iceland and lucky for me, I have another month and a half left! My job as a placement officer in an internationally well-known and active non-profit organization has been extremely tiring, yet rewarding experience. I happily welcomed a new group of volunteers every single week, coming from different parts of the world.

mountains

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Summer season started few weeks ago which means more people, not only in our hostel but in Reykjavík. This small capital is completely packed with tourists and adventure seekers! The weather is as unpredictable as it was during the wintertime, one minute you are enjoying sunshine, short moment later it’s raining. This doesn’t bother me at all since I am used to bad weather in Finland but for some short-term volunteers the ever-changing weather can be quite frustrating.

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I mostly spent my free time in Reykjavík but every once in a while I took part in weekend excursions. My absolute favorite thing in Iceland has to be all these gorgeous mountains!

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Bless bless (bye bye) !

Land of Fire and Ice

I am currently doing last weeks of my exchange here in Reykjavik University in Iceland! Only two weeks and I will be back in Finland!

This far I have climbed on top of mount Esja, visited at Geysers and enjoyed warm waters of blue lagoon. I have of course done other things too, but those were things I decided to mention. Unfortunately I lost most of pictures I took when I was climbing on Esja, but fortunately pictures that I took on top of it are still intact.

After arriving Iceland’s volcanoes started to be more active again, but they haven’t affected Reykjavik at all. It seems that those volcanoes are still active, or at least one of them and lava field has already become as large as 75 km²! For those who are interested about Iceland’s current volcano activity, take a look at following link: http://www.jonfr.com/volcano/

In school it has been rather busy from time to time. There wasn’t much choice with courses and I did chose courses taught in English that seemed like best choices. At first I had time, but then there started to be multiple deadlines for same week for bigger assignments. That was when I started to think that it was much easier in Finland. I had four courses that started in august and ended in November and fifth course is three week long course full days from Monday to Friday.

When I arrived here, I was surprised about lack of trees. There weren’t any forests in sight in Keflavik. Only after arriving to Reykjavik I was able to see some trees, there is small forest beside Reykjavik University, but still, there aren’t many forests in Iceland.

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Left, picture from bus when leaving from Keflavik airport. Right, picture from top of mount Esja, it’s possible to see Reykjavik over there.

Language resembles Swedish, but even if I did bought textbook about Icelandic language, I still haven’t found time to learn it. It is possible to understand some words of Icelandic with Swedish language knowledge, but it’s easiest to use English since most of Icelandic people can speak English rather well.

Prices depend much on which store you choose. Cheapest place to buy food is Bonus, but even there meat is expensive. If you don’t want to use many times more money for food buying of meat isn’t a good idea. I once found some cheap bacon that still cost much more than bacon in Finland and I found out that it was far from good bacon I was used to.

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Church in Reykjavik. One of the biggest sight-seeings just few hundred meters away from where I had rented room.

Hot water comes straight from the ground and there fore it might smell annoying to some people. I myself think that it smells like boiled eggs.

It took while for snow come down here in Reykjavik. It already snowed once, but it melted on next day. When I visited at Geysers and other things in Golden circle tour I did chose a bad day for tour. On that day weather looked nice in Reykjavik, but when bus drove away from sea it started snowing, there was snow at Geysers and it was freezing at waterfalls. At waterfalls path to waterfalls was snowy and stomped what made it extremely slippery. At least I will remember it well when all people were slowly advancing down for better view.

Now after long wait snow has come and it stays. It’s rather chilly out there at the moment.

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Left, geyser and me. That geyser was active and let out boiling water every few minutes. Right, waterfalls, it was freezing out there!