Sunday, May 16, 2010

131

131. That is how many days I have been in Iceland. There were many tears, laughs, heartaches, weirdness, and lots and lots of confusion and now the journey is over.

But all good things must come to end and now I must say goodbye to Iceland until June 27th when I will return for a few days to catch my flight back home to the States. So for now it is "see ya" not "goodbye."

Side Note: I do have to thank Iceland for providing me such awesome material to write about. Because of it, my blog is now just mildly amusing. (Another disclaimer: sorry for all the boring entrees in the past. There were quite a few of them but hey... what are you going to do).

Iceland 50,000ft in the Air


In the meantime I am going to do a course in Pontlevoy, France through my home school, U of M. There I will mixed with other U of M majors to do collaborations dealing with art and what not. So the shit storm continues and my adventure gets to live another day. It feels wrong to me to talk about my new adventures in my Icelandic blog so if you are curious about what's up with Melkorka then check out Frenchgander.





Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hot Mess

After almost 5 months here in Reykjavik, and what I have learned about the great 101 is that the Cats rule the city. Now Cats isn't a name of a gang here in the city. I am talking about legit cats. I'm super cereal. Every corner you turn you see a cat, scampering away to hide behind a parked car. Sometimes at night I am a little of afraid to walk around the city by myself because I know that I will see the cats lurking around in the dark alleys.... Joke.



Anyways, since it is my last day and I am talking about cats, let's end on this note.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Last Day of Class

Holy Schnike! Today is the last day of classes. Holy balls, time flew.

Before I went to school the other American and I thought that it would be a good idea to see the top of Hallgrímskirkju to get a lasting image of Reykjavik. It wasn't the clearest of days but it was still a very beautiful site to see.




There I made my final good byes with my fellow American expecting not to see her for a very long time. That is until this...


Explosion again = All flights from Keflavik cancelled. Because of this, the other American's flight was cancelled, forcing her to stay longer.

Side Note: I happened to stumble upon this video of the volcano. It's pretty sweet. Check it out.


Just when you were starting to forget about Eyjafjallajökull, it comes back full force to make sure you not say its name correctly.

Anyways, since it was my last Friday night in Iceland, I had a jammed pack evening. First I crashed a theater party, then end of year design party at Skipholt, and then finally a cat party. It was a fun night but also a very sad one. It was great hanging out with people that I have come close to these past couple months but really sad when I had to say my good-byes to them. It really sucks.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Holy Holiday

To be completely honest, I have learned more about the Christian faith here in this non- religious country than I have ever. Apparently today was the day that Christ went into Heaven so naturally this whole country was on a holiday.

Anyways, it was the other American's last night here in Iceland so I thought it was my personal responsibility to make sure it would be a good one. We decided to hit a couple of favorite local bars, (Kramaba and Hemmi og Valdi). We had a night of just reminiscing our experience here in Iceland and the crazy shit we have done/witnessed in this crazy little Island.






Then for some reason or another we thought it would be a good idea to take "humorous" photos of ourself at different landmarks around the city.





Wednesday, May 12, 2010

HEIMÞRÁ (SAKNA)

Today was one of my friend's opening for a solo show. It was really cool. She knitted a bunch of patches and had people donate articles of clothing to her and she sewed together into this giant blanket/tent like piece. You get to go inside the piece and it's like a cozy knitted cave. It was nice.



The place where she was having the opening was some building (not really sure what it was used for) but it had a really great view of the city.




After the show, a couple of us decided to go out for a casual beer. While walking to the main street we bumped into two of our fellow foreigners. We decided to follow them into Kaffi Zimsen where they were meeting a couple of their classmates.

As the night progressed, one of the classmates got extremely wasted and did some kind of embarrassing things. I am pretty sure she will not remember what happened and probably for the best but it was kind of awkward. Crazy Icelanders.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Happy Tuesday

So today was one of the international kid's birthday and it was up to him how we should celebrate his day. Rather than going out to the bars and get "shit faced" he decided to go hiking in Mosfellsbær (it's a town over from Reykjavik) and celebrate his birthday in the beautiful nothing which is Iceland's landscape. There was 6 of us who were brave enough to partake in this adventure which turned out to be very rainy weather. We caught the bus from Reykjavik and about a half hour later we arrived in Mosfellsbær.


Now I am not really a outdoorsy person nor have I really gone hiking so this was quite an adventure for me. Not a really difficult hike. Probably took us about an hour to climb to the top.





Once we were at the top we stopped and relaxed and admired the scenery in the rain and celebrated the birthday with a beer.






For some reason or another we decided to spell Thanks. Look at that awkward "K"...


It was nice to hang out with a couple of the foreign kids one last time before we all depart and go our separate ways.

Embarrassing Side Note: I mooned Mosfellsbær. I had to pee really bad and being in Iceland there are no trees or really any else so I had to find a ditch and yelled at everyone to go away. Luckily Mosfellsbær isn't that populated... This is twice now that I have done this in Iceland...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Crazy Random



Okay. Let's play a game. Can you guess what time it is based on this photo?

...



Give up? The correct time that I took this photo is 10:00...p.m. CRAZY. The sun officially doesn't

set until like 10:30 now so that means that it is dark for maybe 5-6 hours. This new occurrence is really throwing off my since of time because well the sun rises and sets at such weird times. I freaked out when I found out that the sun was setting like this at 10:00 and freaked out even more when the sun officially went down at 10:30 and was still twilight until like 12:00. Iceland is crazy.

Okay so lets get down to business. There are a couple big things in the news about Iceland currently so I will do my best to tackle them all.


1. Eyjafjallajökull is acting up again. Again, I cannot see/feel/affected by this. I am way too far away from the volcano to really be directly affected by this. However, it has been an issue for planes... again. They closed Keflavik had people redirected to Akureyri then to Glasgow than to where ever. The only thing that makes me a little nervous is that I HAVE to leave by Sunday in order to make it in time for my class on Monday in Pontlevoy, France. I am not going to really worry about. If I get “stuck” here in Iceland then I will take it as a sign that I am supposed to stay in Iceland longer for whatever reason.



2. Financially crisis. Everyone heard about it and to be completely honest I was kind unsympathetic about it. I was completely uneducated in this matter so I really shouldn’t have made any harsh feelings towards it but the way saw it is that Iceland was once a VERY rich nation.

Pre 2007 you could do ridiculous things because they “had” money. Then the crash that made Iceland like everyone else. The main reason why I was so insensitive towards this whole situation is the fact they are not really that poor.

Compare to back home, Michigan was facing 14% unemployment, one of the poorest states in the worst finical crisis since the Great Depression.

But recently I learned that the crisis here in Iceland is a little worst than I originally thought. If I have been told correctly, each person on average owes about $20,000 a year in taxes because of this crisis… That is a crap ton of money. Now I fathom why people are moving out this island. And the thing that really is terrible is that the people who are responsible for this are sitting the shade with a glass of lemonade. That is until now…

Last Friday, The Supreme Court of Iceland confirmed yesterday the custody ruling over

former CEO of Kaupthing Hreidar Már Sigurdsson and former director of Kaupthing in Luxembourg Magnús Gudmundsson. These men are now in solitary confinement in Iceland’s maximum-security prison Litla-Hraun. About time! It has only been like 3 years, many people are broke while you guys are rich as ever.

I am still not completely educated in this matter but now I feel like I can sympathize better with these Icelanders on what they are going through.


3. Babies. Yes little Icelandic babies. They are everywhere. I have never seen so many children around town. It is like rabbits, they are multiplying everywhere. Most of my classmates have children or are pregnant. There was a girl in rhino class who looked 9 months pregnant and now I don’t see here around anymore so I am guessing that she popped out that kid inside her. (Classy way to describe the miracle of birth). I guess that’s why they leave their children in their strollers outside while the parents get a cup of coffee; everyone has their own kid so why steal someone’s?

But really, there are a lot of kids here in Iceland. Wonder why? Because the State is good to parents with children and it is completely socially acceptable to be unmarried and have children. Seriously, if I pop out a kid un-expectingly I am totally moving to Iceland. It is so nice here to be a mother and still do schooling or working or whatever.

I was reading an article on the interweb and it rated Iceland 3rd best place for mothers (It trailed right behind Norway and Australia).


P.S. Sorry for the crazy layout for this. I don't know why it is acting like this.


Side Note: I ran today. For a long time, like 8 miles worth. I didn't really time myself because I took a pretty long break on the shore but 8 miles baby (or should I say about 13 km). I think I will say it in kilometers because it sounds more impressive at least to me.

I marked on the map where I went. Be Impressed. Be Very Impressed

Completely different side note: I being here made me realize what a terrible procrastinator I am and even bigger wuss. I am trying to fix both but I wish they were already fixed... Oh well. Sorry for the randomness.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sunny Sunday

The hibernation is over. Today was a sunny "warm" day and all the Icelanders emerged from their winter caves and came out to greet the "summer" sun. It was quite a strange site to see. All the cafes pull out their outdoor seating and all the Icelanders flock to them, soaking up the sun. For the first time in like ever these streets were filled with people. The city had so much life and movement. Needless to say, I did my best to enjoy this rare weather. I went to the beach and hung out the Square and even had some ice cream... in 45° weather. I did my best to get my tan on so I am not so ghostly white when I come back but for some reason or another, I was not successful.




Side Note: I saw these sunglasses in the window for a store... Apparently Elton John inspired sunglasses have a market with the common people or maybe just in Iceland.


Although this day was beautiful and rather enjoyable, the day still kind of saddened me because it is my last Sunday in Iceland. The days are counting down and I am freaking out. I feel a great pressure to really leave no stone unturned with the remaining days.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Englar Alheimsins

For some reason or another, no matter what time I go to bed I will always wake up between 10-10:30. My body is crazy. Sorry for the boring random fact.

With that said, this afternoon was kind of quiet, recovering fromFriday. So I spent most of the day helping a friend out with her knitting. It's funny how this hobby that I only do during winter break has actually been useful. Anyways while I was helping my friend out with her sweater we decided to watch an Icelandic film Englar Alheimsins (translates to Angels of the Universe). I thought that it was an interesting film. It was actually quite depressing and sad but I guess that's what I get with drama. But the cinematography was very beautiful and visually wonderful.

Here is a link to watch the video online. (You may or may not need to download the veoh web player in order to watch this)




Anyways, this is the other American's last weekend here in Iceland so I decided that we were going to out again and to make this a rememberable night.

Side Note: In my freezer drawer (I actually share the drawer with the other American) we have two bottles of alcohol and a couple bags of frozen vegetables. I thought that this was mildly entertaining.


We decided to go to Hemmi og Valdi again since mainly it was close and it is fairly cheap. We decided to try something new called Fisky Whiskey which is basically ½ whiskey and ½ Fisk (which is this Danish liquor). It tasted like cough syrup. Later on we meet some Germans who were just terrible boring and so not interesting to talk to. I finally just said I had to leave ( I was also not feeling a 100%)

It was still a fun night, just wished that I could have stayed out longer but whatever.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fascist

This was the last weekend here in Iceland for the other American so she invited a bunch of the foreigners and other people who we have met out for some beers and to enjoy each other's company. We met at Hemmi og Valdi and quite a few people showed up. Mainly just us foreigners but it was great to have all of us together again, it reminded me of the first night we went out.

Anyways, as the night went on an extremely drunk old guy started to hit on one of the girls at the table who was obviously not interested. He went away to buy some drinks and when he came back, one of the German girls at our table (who is very very very good at speaking Icelandic) told the guy to go away that she isn't interested. Well, I don't think took the news so well because he started yelling at us in Icelandic, Russian and German. He was calling us East Germans and that we were Fascist and a bunch of other unholy things. (I have been called a lot of thing but never a Fascist) I had to do my best not to laugh because this guy is clearly way too drunk and unstable (when I am in awkward/uncomfortable situations I tend to have the church giggles (laughter at inappropriate times). We eventually got the bartender to bounce this guy out. Not going to lie, this guy was kind of scary and drunk and old, though his presence did not hinder our good time.

After being called out as a Fascist, we decided to go to our go-to bar... Bakkus. I lost a couple games of fussball and danced away my pain of losing...

I saw Clark Kent at Bakkus... yeah


Side Note: I got carded. I wouldn't get so upset but the fact that I walked with a big group and I was signaled out to present my ID kind of bothered me. Thing that also kills me is that I never get asked for my ID when I buy liquor at the store. Only when I go to bars. Whatever. I'm just happy that I leave my Michigan drivers license in my wallet or otherwise I would SOL.

Around 5-5:30 we decided to call it night and go home. When we opened the door to go out of the bar we greeted with the rising sun. Weird... It is such a strange feeling. You see a bunch of drunken people around on the streets but the sun is up. It really confuses you or at least it did for me.

I took a photo of the sky when I returned back home. This was at 5:30ish... somewhere around there.


Being outed as a Fascist, playing some fussball, dancing my little heart out, getting carded, hanging out with my fellow foreigners = very good night.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Surprise

So one of my housemates here invited the other American and I to go over her boyfriend's place for dinner and a movie since he was out of town. I can't tell you how happy this made me. I was so excited by this.

Just a brief history of my housemate. She is actually an American as well. She grew up in West Virginia, got her degree in Anthropology and got her masters for studying the Faro Islands. She has been living out of the states for probably like 8 or so years. Now she writing a book about her studies in the Faro Island and living in Iceland because her boyfriend lives here.

Anyways, her boyfriend's place is really sweet. Defiantly pre 2007 (this is an expression to
describe when things are very rich and luxurious.) It was a swanky pad, with the best of the best of everything. It was crazy. Apparently he is a big producer for plays. He gets the rights of plays on Broadway to be shown in the Nordic countries. Right now he was in NYC to get the rights for American Idiot (the Green Day musical thing). He also owns an Icelandic beer brewery named Gullfoss which is actually pretty good.



Now to the most exciting part... Chocolate soup. I am so upset that I wasn't informed about this wonderful thing earlier but apparently it is this is a very icelandic thing. It is basically like a hot chocolate/chocolate pudding thing. It is so delicious. I actually was told about this from one of my classmates earlier that day. She told me that her kids love it (who wouldn't) and you sprinkle this biscotti like cookie into it. After hearing about it I told the other Americans about it and the girl who was hosting us actually had some instant mix of it. So naturally we had to try and it is wonderful.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

As American As...


I have been getting this a lot lately, I guess since my time here is coming to an end, but these Icelanders have been asking me two things.
  1. What I think is strange here in Iceland?
  2. What is a typical Michigan dish? (and what is a typical American dish?)
These are pretty hard questions to answer especially the second question. Okay so let me break down each question individually.

What is strange here in Iceland? Where to begin
  1. You leave your babies outside in their strollers when you sit inside a cafe for a cup of coffee
  2. On Ash Wednesday, kids dress up in Halloween costumes go to stores, sing to the clerks for candy
  3. Doors require two hands to open (one hand on the lock to unlock it and the other on the handle to open)
  4. Parking. (There are quite a few for this one) Parking on the curb in front of a store, making own parking space on corners of streets, crooked parallel parking, cars not all in the same direction on side of street...
  5. Almost everything closes at 6pm
  6. You talk while inhaling
  7. Cats rule the streets (I see probably at least 5 different cats on the way to school out on the streets)
  8. Windows only open a crack
  9. People don't go out on the weekends until midnights and end their partying at 5am
  10. People always are dressed up like they are about to hit a runway
  11. The weather changes quite literally every 5 minutes
  12. None of you are really have this natural "icelandic" bleach blond hair... it is all fake
  13. Chocolate cake is always served in every cafe and restaurant in town.
  14. People always seem to be chewing gum
  15. Though the city isn't really that big, people always seem to drive everywhere
  16. Cars are as big as they are in America
  17. The newest accessory to have is a little baby not little dogs
  18. Buildings and places around town date as far back as 1950. From 900AD-1950 I am not exactly sure what happened.
  19. Coffee is your life line and keeps you moving
  20. Produce look like it has seen better days
  21. Alcohol is SO expensive here
  22. You can drive just 10 minutes outside the city of Reykjavik and be surrounded by a surreal landscape
  23. Women import men to live here. They go abroad, get knocked up and make the baby's daddy move to Iceland
There are defiantly more but this is all I could think of on top of my head. I hope it doesn't sound like a I am complaining or bitching. It is just things I have notice to be different from what I am used to.



Now for question 2. How am I suppose to answer this one. What kind of food is typical Michigan? They best I could do was, "We grow a lot of corn so I guess corn dishes..." Yup. But thanks to Wikipedia, I can better answer this question. Detroit is known for:
  1. Coney Island Hot Dogs (I had no idea)
  2. Lebanese Food
  3. Greek Food
  4. Polish Food
So you can Detroit has a very distinct taste... I was thinking more on the lines of fresh water fish, corn, fudge... but yes

As for typical American dish I guess corn dogs. Corn dogs are a crazy concoction that was made in the States and waffle cones (granted the waffles were actually belgium but whatever)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

White Trash

So recently I have been informed that Selfoss is basically the white trash of Iceland. What's even weirder about this is that I actually learned this little fun fact from a Slovene guy a week or so ago and not by an Icelander.


Side Note Before I Begin White Trash Talk: I was reading about Selfoss on Wikipedia and well there was this really big earthquake back in 2008 that was a 6.3. It did quite a bit of damage; no one was hurt but they lost a lot of sheep... yes this is stated in Wikipedia. Direct quote: "A number of sheep in the Selfoss area were killed." Thought that I would share that little tid-bit.

Anyways back to the heart of the story, Selfoss = white trash. I was curious about this so I went to my Icelandic classmates to pick their brain a bit about this. Well they unanimously agreed that Selfoss = white trash. They said that it is a really small town (it has a population of about 6000 (which I think is kind of big for Iceland)) and a lot of the guys in this town ride pick-up trucks, blare trashy music and pimp out their cars so that they have more power.

Yeah...

Later today I decided to go on a run. I know pretty shocking. But I ran around the city then went to the sea and sat by a cliff that looks towards Esja and Viðey near the shore and sat there for I don't know how long listening to Sigur Rós ( I thought that I should at least one time while I am here, sit and watch nature in Iceland and listen to Icelandic music). It was really nice and very relaxing.


After my Icelandic run I went to Bar 46 to play some pool with some other exchange students. On our way home some guy stopped us on the street and asked my friend and I if we would be extras in this movie that he is shooting in the bar right next to us. I wasn't really sure but then he said that there was free drinks so then I was game. I am not exactly sure what the movie is about but I know it was a for a final project for a film student at the university (not sure which one). I was talking to one of the guys who was contributing to this movie and he didn't know much about the project as well. Apparently the girl who's project it is for is not revealing all the details about the movie to people, which makes so much sense.

Side Note: The music video that was created for this years Eurovision entree for Iceland, Hera Björk, was made by film students in Iceland. Pretty sure that these weren't the same people but who know, Iceland is a pretty small place.


Anyways, my big contribution to the movie was dancing in the background quietly. In a movie, free drinks, silent rave and I didn't need to take my top off = pretty good random night.