Local Iceland: Daily Life From an Inside Perspective

We’ve mapped out what natural wonders we want to see, and had fun with some Viking facts. But now we thought it’d be a great idea to get a view of daily life in Iceland, from someone who actually lives it. We sat down with Colleen’s sister’s mother-in-law (whoa, that’s a mouthful!), Judy, who has been living in the European country off-and-on for the last 4 years to get the inside scoop!

Wanderlisters:

How long have you been in Iceland?

Judy:

We have been living in Iceland on and off for nearly 4 years.

Wanderlisters:

Where do you live there?

Judy:

We live in an apartment supplied by Jim’s [my husband] employer in Reykjavik.  We are in the 105 district, which is less than a mile from the downtown, the 101, and less than a block from the new location of the American Embassy.

Wanderlisters:

What’s daily life in Reykjavik like?

Judy:

On a day to day basis, our lives are similar to our life in the U.S. Jim drives into work every day, and I maintain the apartment, meals, and communication with our families and friends.  The biggest difference is that most of the time I don’t have a car to drive, and so I plan most of my activities around the distance I can walk.

Wanderlisters:

What’s the food like in Iceland?

Judy:

The Icelandic people grow lots of fruits and vegetables in green houses, so most of those things are fresh and almost organic.  Meat is a different issue!  Lamb is plentiful, chicken and pork are available, and beef is rare (forgive the pun).  So the cost of each is based on how available they are.  A roasted chicken is around $10, and so is a pound of ground beef.  Turkey is unfortunately almost non-existent.  Fish is plentiful though, so it’s easy to find at the grocery stores and at local fish markets.

Wanderlisters:

What do you think is the best part about living in Iceland?

Judy:

The best part is that the Icelandic people promote the arts so vigorously.  We have gone to many concerts, galleries, and to the film festivals and enjoy them so much. Also, because Reykjavik is only 120,000 people, it is fairly easy to get around and traffic is usually not a problem.

Wanderlisters:

What’s the worst part about living in Iceland?

Judy:

The worst part is the language–it is very difficult to learn, and most will correct you very strongly if you pronounce a word wrong.  Also, the weather is crazy.  But if you wear a waterproof coat with a hood and waterproof shoes or boots, you can manage anything!

Wanderlisters:

What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen?

Judy:

The coolest things are the natural wonders–the geyser, the waterfalls, the glacial lagoon, and of course the Northern Lights!

Wanderlisters:

That’s what we’re most interested in seeing! What’s the coolest thing you’ve done?

Judy:

The coolest things we’ve done are going out on the glacial lagoon in a “duck” boat, circling around the icebergs floating in it.  And coming upon the sheep drive–1500 sheep were being guided to their ranch by 8 farm hands on horseback.  The workers were very friendly and let us take pictures.

SMLXL

Judy with her husband, Jim, and son, John, in November 2014 at the Geyser

Wanderlisters:

If someone was coming to visit you, what would be the top thing you’d recommend to them?

Judy:

The top thing for someone coming would be to do the Golden Circle tour.  It includes the Thingvellir park, the Golden Falls, and the geyser.

Wanderlister:

What are the Icelandic people like?

Judy:

The people are very fit for the most part, swimming in the geo-thermal heated pools and exercising daily. And most speak English with surprising accents, depending on who taught them English.  Generally they are quiet around us “foreigners” but if you get to know them they are very warm, generous, and helpful.

Wanderlisters:

What are the most important things you’ve learned from living abroad?

Judy:

What I have learned is to be flexible and open to suggestions!  It helps that I don’t have any physical limitations, so I have walked miles and miles, hiked hills and part way up a mountain, gone horse-back riding, etc.  I have also learned to appreciate the taste of different kinds of fresh fish!

If you have the chance to live abroad in your life, it’s something we’ve found is highly recommended. Being young, we look forward to the time when we’ll be able to do this ourselves and keep our Wanderlist going!

 

Much love and wandering…

colleen sig

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