Friday, December 30, 2011

Reykjavík Adventure

Yesterday mornig I had an adventure finding a breakfast shop called Grái Kötturinn (Gr-ow-ih (not like grow by ggggrrrrr and "ow!") Cu(h)tter-in, The Grey Cat) on a street called Hverfisgata. More on that later. I went because I couldn't sleep the night before because of a rash, and wanted a breakfast that wasn't bread and cheese/milk and cereal.

So I got there walking in knee deep snow and half falling over, ordered bacon and eggs with toast and potatoes (true American breakfast!). I ordered in English because there were some English speaking people there and I decided if I was going to start a conversation it would be a good segway (I never did, but I thought about it). I got a book from the many book shelves lining the dimly lit basement restaurant and started reading about an Icelandic artist living in New York (Louisa Matthiasdóttir), and one of the paintings was titles "View from Hverfisgata." Heh, cool. I was on Hverfisgata looking at a painting of the view on Hverfisgata.

So, ordering in English was also a good idea because the Icelanders sitting next to me didn't know I knew what they were saying. It's fun to listen to Icelanders make fun of Americans putting soy in coffee. Then I paid in Icelandic, and I'd like to think they got a little bit quieter.
Here's some info on Grái Kötturinn.

I went home, most of my upper body covered in a rash now and quickly went to the doctor, then once the medicine kicked in, the rash keeping me awake went away

Earlier this morning (since I forgot a few things in Reykjavík) I was talking with my sister saying I forgot a few things, she answered in Icelandic, then I answered in Icelandic, then we kept talking in Icelandic and I didn't realize it until halfway through the conversation. Woah.

That's all I've got so far. Christmas was me sick in bed for 2 days lamenting the smell of skata (rotting slate fish) and puking. Lots of fun.

Mmkay, takk fyrir að lesa og eitthvað.
Gleðileg hátíðar!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Long time no post!

This is true!

My english has slowly ben degrading. I don't know whether that's a side effect of the amount of sleep I've been getting, or the amount of Icelandic I've been speaking. I'm gonna go with sleep, because I haven't been speaking all that much Icelandic.

I spent all of tonight sitting amount some friends talking with people on facebook chat only in Icelandic, constantly asking questions like "How do I say, "I should"?"

I don't know if they find this annoying, but I'm gonna keep doing it anyways.

In recent world news, Christmas is coming. You may have heard of it, and it comes at almost at a surprise that Icelanders celebrate Christmas much moreso than Americans do. Let's go into some examples:
My town (Borgarnes) decided not to fun the Christmas decorations around the town, much to the dismay of many many people. So, all the businesses of Borgarnes pitched in and paid for the decorations.
I went to IKEA (aka House of Crying Children) last Sunday and bought a bookshelf and other things, and while we were there, there was a full on choir singing in the store decked out in traditional Icelandic lopapeysa and Satna hats. And it was loud too.
Christmas decorations in Reykjavík went up at the end of October.

I've done most of my Christmas shopping, but have yet to send anything. I don't really know what I'm waiting for. I need to do that soon! I'm pretty sure everyone will like their presents :)

Last weekend my school had a 24-hour knitting marathon (maraþon haha) to help raise money for their Spain trip. I stayed for that and messed around on my computer the whole time, drinking energy drinks and talking too much English. By 9 AM it felt like a cat had crawled in my throat and died while I wasn't looking. I slept until 11 PM that night, and had to stay up another 24 hours to get my sleeping schedule back on track.

It started snowing last week, and it was as if the snow was saying "Sorry I came to the party so late, but I'm gonna make up for it! Promise!"
Consequently... too much snow. Some piles are 6 or 7 feet tall! Every once in a while you can see kids sliding down them. Hmm.. that reminds me, I need to go sledding sometime soon.

Other than the annual Christmas business, nothing much has transpired in the meantime. Skyrim came out, if that counts as a major event. Oh what am I saying, of course it is. That's kind of where my social life went for a week.

I haven't taken any pictures in the last few weeks because the sun rises at 11am and sets at 3pm. Lots of fun waking up in the morning.

Well.. I'm sure there's lots more I could talk about, but I feel like this post will get dry without pictures, so I'm ending it here.

Takk fyrir að lesa!
Sjáumst á meðan!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Crazy Icelandic phrases!

Icelandic is a little bit like dividing by zero, in that... well, no, nevermind.

But really, Icelandic is made up of hundreds of phrases that make no sense by them self literally translated, but in Icelandic apparently they make perfect sense.

I may go back and edit some more in later, but for right now, SHORT POST!

Lýst vel á það - (Leesht vel ow tha(h)th)
Lit.: Described well on it.
Means: Sounds like a plan (Good idea).

Til á það (Till ow tha(h)th)
Lit.: To on it.
Means: I'm up for anything.

Þetta reddast (th-eh-tah red-ahst)
Lit: That fixed.
Means: It'll work out (eventually).
More: This is the mindset of the Icelandic people, really. They're very laidback and things will work out eventually, so don't worry. Right?

edit: litterally: it fixes itself.
My bad!

Til hamingju með daginn/afmæli (til hah-mi(n)g-you meth dah-yinn/af-mile-ee)
Lit: To happiness with the day
Means: Happy birthday!

Also, it's Winter now (well, the daylight is, it's been 46 degrees all day today! Hasn't frozen in over a week).The sun comes up around 11ish and goes down around 5ish. The time is quickly moving closer to 0 hours of daylight a day, and it's increasingly hard to go to bed (because the sun has been down for 6 hours before you actually try and sleep) and increasingly hard to get up (because the sun isn't going to come up for another 4 hours).

Þakka þér fyrir að lesa

Friday, November 4, 2011


I just realized my title has been misspelled for quite some time, but nonetheless it is appropriately changed!

I go swimming a lot here. Íþrottamiðstöðin Borgarnesi (Sport center place Borgarnes)

I'm having a wonderful time, although I now appreciate my alone time (recharge time?) much more than before. I also cannot stress the importance of vitamin D enough. I thought I was getting really homesick and introverted or whatever a few weeks back, and I forced myself to walk down to the drug store (the name of it is literally "drugs") and picked up a bottle of vitamin D tablets. After figuring out the appropriate dosage in units I understand, I took twice the recommended amount and felt exponentially better the next day. My mood improved over the next few days, and I returned, mostly, back to normal and sociable Aaron.

Incoming cowboy hat

Last night was the halloween ball with my school. I did not know I was going. I had an Icelandic class in a neighboring town (Akranes) and got back home at 10:10 PM to find a car of people dressed like zombies, butchers, and Paulie D (Jersey Shore) about to drag me to the ball. I ran inside, borrowed a pair of overalls, put on a plaid shirt, and went as an Icelandic hillbilly. I had a pretty good time there, the ball ending at 1 am (yes, on Thursday, and yes, I was incredibly tired the next morning).

I have no idea who the person is on the right or why she won something. Bárður, on the left, is dressed as Minecraft Steve. He won most original costume.

So, life in Iceland... huh. Well, first of all, life is life is life is life anywhere, to be completely honest. I still have trouble waking up in the morning (haven't been late to any classes!), I still go to bed too late, I still don't understand a thing in biology which can probably be attributed to my language improficiency – and speaking of language abilities, I'm understanding the majority of what is said (ideas, mind you, grammar escapes me). I pick up on all the words I know, and kind of guess what the rest means, which can lead to some pretty wacky sentences when I try and repeat them in English.

"... , að ég finn til í rassinum í dag."
Translate it yourself. This is my Icelandic class in Akranes.

I was sick from about Thursday until Wednesday, and this story happened while I was at the pinacle of throat pain:
Last weekend I learned how to use the bus in Reykjavík. The exchange students all went to Klifurhúsið (The climbing house, clibb-err-hoos-ihth) and I decided to go a day early and stay at my host-sister's house. Well, I missed the morning bus by about 2 minutes, so I had to stay in Borgarnes for about 4 or 5 more hours than I'd planned, and speaking of plans, I had to cancel all of mine. I finally got to Reykjavík and was dropped off at Kringlan, one of the biggest malls in Iceland (don't get any grand ideas, it's pretty small), and thought my first order of business should be to find my bus stop I would be taking at 5:30 PM. So I walked around Kringlan, studying my maps, wondering where this street I marked could be. After 30 minutes of walking around the mall, I couldn't find it, so I went and asked the mall information center where this bus stop is. The told me to go over the main road and then right and then left and down this road and then left and past the first bus stop then the second one and sfasdfasdf. So 20 minutes of walking from the mall I see a sign that says I'm in Miðbær (mi(h)th bye-r), a part of Reykjavík that is on a completely different postal code than where I wanted to be. I stopped at an ice cream shop and asked where I was, and where I was supposed to be. The man I asked's eyes got really big and said "You're really far away from there, they gave you really bad directions." He drew me a little map on a napkin of where I needed to go, and about 25 minutes of walking later my bus stop came into view.

Needless to say, I was cold, coughing, sick, and angry. I went back into Kringlan, bought an Icelandic-English and English-Icelandic dictionary and an Icelandic comic book, then sat in the book store reading "My first word" books. I got a few looks.

The rest of the journey was no problem getting to my host-sister's house that night, but my bus driver was pretty grumpy and I had no idea what to do, so he kept chastising me for trying to pay for the bus with a 500 bill.
The next day I went and toured CCP Headquarters (makers of EVE Online) where my host-sisters husband works :DDD
Sadly I didn't have my camera with me that weekend. Every desk had a Nerf gun on it, and they were really eager to show me their Nerf gun modifications. I met the CEO and he showed me his tiny little Nerf gun that fit in the palm of his hand ("I'm thinking about getting a bigger one, this one doesn't really do much for my self-esteem").
I boarded the bus not far from there, and everything was going fine until I got off at the wrong bus stop, had to walk about 1km back to the previous one, got drenched by a passing car, and spent about 20 minutes trying to find the entrance to Klifurhúsið.

Me, exhausted, after finally arriving at Klifurhúsið

Klifurhúsið! Nothing but exchange students in this picture

My parents drove into Reykjavík that night and picked me up, we went and had Subway, and went home. Then I spent the next 4 days in bed. Couuuggggghhhhh.

This page is now littered with various facebook pictures because I didn't take any myself.

This picture is now diamonds. Or on the school community facebook page

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Sauðamessa (Soy-thah-mess-ah) (literally: Sheep mass) is a festival in my town that started about 7 or 8 years ago for no apparent reason. The most I could find out was that maybe it was to celebrate all of the sheep finally being into their respective farms from the réttir and léttir (sorting of sheep and gathering of sheep, respectively). Why is it in my town? Many years ago, Borgarnes used to be the slaughterhouse capital of the Borgarbyggð area, but now all the old slaughterhouses are being used as storage (although they look abandoned).

"Lokað Hjáleið - Closed Detour"

The festival starts off at 2 in the afternoon (if you notice the sky changing dramatically, it's because of the weather, not my camera exposure. It takes 4 minutes to walk to my house to the park, and in the time it started raining and hailing sufficiently enough to soak me and stop before I got there). Everyone gathers near the old folks home where sheep are penned in, then let loose to be chased down the street, hopefully staying on the street, and into the park, a 5 or 6 minute walk.

Everyone walks down the street after the sheep, then of course the sheep don't follow the road, so now everyone runs. It's quite hilarious, as you can see by this man's expression.

As you can see here (this is my host father, by the way) much waving of arms and shouting is involved in getting the sheep off of the hills and back onto the road – only to be chased back into the road because they just ran across it into someone else's yard.

The road pictured here is not even the right road they are supposed to be on.

Then there's a hill, and almost everyone sets at a dead sprint to keep the sheep from going anywhere else and into the pens at the bottom of the hill.


Here I have a picture of lots of people. It's kind of ridiculous to see anywhere near this amount of people anywhere in Iceland at one time and place.

And here's me in my just-finished Icelandic wool sweater (lopapeysa). I swear I was much happier than my face shows (my butt was not, I just ripped a huge hole in my pants and the wall I'm sitting on was terribly wet).

Also, here are some socks in a tree. I don't know.

Sauðamessa is basically the best thing ever, because once the sheep are all in the pen, free kjötsúpa (kyuht- soup-ah, meat soup, very traditional) is served, and a sort of talent show starts in the park right on the other side of the wall I'm pictured sitting on. Traditional Icelandic wool products are sold like sweaters, gloves, and hats, all hand made. Then they sell waffles and homemade hot chocolate which are amazing, even if you do spill your hot chocolate ALL over the table. Somewhere, someone is getting that joke.
My school did a sort of fashion show where they put on accessories and walked around the stage. There was an eating contest (I heard my host father won 3 years in a row, but for some reason didn't enter this year), it rained some more, and there was some traditional Icelandic singing. After this there was some sort of event at the high school back down the road. I'm not really sure what was going on there, but I know there was a bucket of blood, tractors, forklifts, and more sheep.

Afterwards my parents had a gathering and there were way too many little screaming kids, and I met one of my host-cousins, Védís, who incidentally is the coolest nerd ever. She is fantastic, seriously, go look at her artwork here. We got along really well.

Thhheeeeeeennnn there's the Sauðamessaball. It starts about 10 PM, I got there at 11:30, and by then almost all of the 200+ people there were drunk beyond belief. It must have been a logistical nightmare, because the barn it was held in is about a 10 minutes drive from Borgarnes. There's lots of hugging, apparently I made an "Icelandic Oath" as soon as I got there, then I never saw the guy again. No more details, because if I say more it will make Icelanders look like gross drunks that like to party in barns and roll on the ground. Which is partly true, but shh, forget it, I didn't say anything.

The next day is spent sleeping and eating left over kjötsúpa.

Last week I went to Reykholt, the home of one of the famous saga men, Snorri. We spent most of the time just driving around. There isn't much of a story there, so I'll just put some pictures.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Of Monsters and Men

Remember that video I posted called Little Talks?
Yeah, well good.
Remember how I wasn't sure if Icelanders were into it yet, or something like that?
No? Well I'm sure now.

I went over to my AFS contact family's house and the mother was humming Little Talks. She was kind of surprised when I said "hey!" really loudly while she was humming.

Anyways, go check them out for real this time. They're starting to play all over the radio here, and bound to jump across a sea or two in the bear future.

Just sitting at school now, typing, browsing the internet. I am sorry to admit I am not going to continue with my dance class (shortening my schedule even more, lol). I don't need to take it, and, honestly, I'm a horrible dancer. It also didn't help that the teacher would walk to the other side of the room when I ask for help (and when she does she speaks Icelandic).

I would go to the grocery store (Netto) and get a little something to eat but the rain is a little too horizontal for my tastes. I think I would fly away. Maybe I should have packed those bricks in my backpack...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Iceland Culture Review #1

There's quite a lot to say here. Quite a lot. I'll say a lot here, then make another later with everything I forgot in a few weeks or when I learn more. Probably both.

Let's talk a little bit about the habits and behavior of Icelanders (stereotype time!)

Icelanders take off their shoes when they go almost everywhere. I know this is commonplace in many, many cultures, but I thought I'd mention it. you take off your shoes before you change to go into the pool, when you go into a house, and when you enter your school (if it's not too reasonably big, and elementary schools (grunnskólar) always take off shoes). This can lead to shoe-related complications if one does not have easily put-onable shoes.

Icelanders say "yeah" a lot, but right before there do it they inhale very loudly and try and say "yeah" as they inhale. I can't find a video, but if you want to look it up, go for it. Send me a video if you find it.

There is lots of nose and mouth tobacco. While this is considered "redneck" in some parts of the States, it is quite common here.

It is completely normal for a ~25 year old man to date a ~15 year old girl. This happens quite a lot, and puts my dating range down to the 10 year olds, sadly. No, I will NOT be dating any ten year olds. Ever.

Now, onto food.

Icelanders eat skyr a lot, which is a sort of jogurt, only thicker, usually mixed with sugar and fruit, as I've heard the original, plain, skyr is pretty bad, even for Icelandic tastebuds. I like this a lot.

Hot dogs. Oh my God. Hot dogs. They are everywhere, served at every gas station (bacon wrapped hot dogs as well), and almost everywhere else. Almost everyone eats them almost all the time. The preparation are as follows: battered and fried onions (think french friend onions, y'all) on the bottom of the bun, if ketchup and remolaði (remoulade) are to be added, these go on top of the onions. Then comes the actual hot dog, which is a lot like any other hot dog except it's not quite as disgusting when you think about it, and the skin is a little bit thicker, giving you a little "snap" feedback when you bite down. Mustard is then to be added, if desired, on top of the Íslensk pylsur. There are many different types of synnepsósa to be put on top of your hot dog, namely hot dog mustard (pylsur synnepsósa), a sort of brown thing. I don't like mustard in any circumstance, so I can't give you any insight.

Speaking of sauces, there are rediculous amounts of sauces for everything, and many are not to be used on certain objects. People look at you funny if you put vegetable sauce on a hot dog or hot dog remolaði on a hamburger. Usually one would put kokteilsósa on a hamburger, possibly with hamborgarasósa. Garlic sauce (which is pretty much mayonaise, a little mustard, and garlic) is a usual combination with hot and cold sandwiches - it is one of my favorite sauces so far.

On to candy. This is something that fascinates, as well as excites me. The Icelandic culture is obsessed with candy and icecream, MUCH moreso than in the States. It is completely normal to see 40+ year old men sitting around a sjoppa (hot dogs, candy, food, sometimes movies) eating hot dogs, licking ice cream cones, possibly eating bragðarefur (icecream and various candies mixed in, literally means tasty fox. wat), and buying mixed bag candy. It is completely normal to see 40+ women walking their dogs at night eating icecream. On Saturday at almost EVERY store that sells mixed bag candy, the candy is half price off. So that means you can stuff a pillow sized sack full of gummy worms, licorice, and chocolate for about the price of a nice coffee. This candy fetish the Icelanders have has not been doing wonders for my skin, but it's oh so good.

Also on candy, there's licorice in everything, and it annoys me. A typical candy tasting experience goes along the lines of:
"What's this?"
*takes a bite*
*is licorice*
I bought a huge bag of candy last Saturday, getting about 3 of everything Hyrnan (a gas station/food store thing) had, and, I kid you not, at least 80% of the bad must have been licorice. And the remainder was chocolate that had licorice inside of it, cleverly hidden.

Then there's this stuff.



No really, the food is really good, just not that stuff.

Most Icelanders don't like Sigur Rós (or say they're "okay"), and even less Icelanders like Björk. They think she's crazy.

And on the topic of music, go watch this video:
It's kind of like the Icelandic Lonely Island, except more crass, often singing about transvestites and priests that do cocaine.

Yes, there are swear words in there. No, I don't know what they are. If you get bored after 2 minutes feel free to stop it (if you don't want to see the singer get his arm chopped off, that is).

Also, there is this new Icelandic band popping up on the global music radar that I find is too good to share. It's very upbeat, catchy, and in English.

All the exchange students are pretty fond of it (I think), but I really don't know about the natives. It's bound that I'll hear it in the next few weeks somewhere around my school at least once.

And of course: Icelanders love to drink. There is no "it's 5 o'clock somewhere" funny business here, it's "go hard or leave our country." Totally normal for people to be wobbly at 11 am, drinking from little aluminum flasks most likely filled with the famous Icelandic brennevín, commonly known as black death, but literally translates to something like burning (or furnace) wine. I don't know why it's called black death, but I am curious. For more information, see the wiki.

Bless bless, takk fyrir að lesa!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

About School

Well, I know I haven't posted much about school, because honestly it's not a big part of my life here. Yes, I go almost every day of the week, yes I meet people through there, but it doesn't feel like a big part of my life like it did in the states.

I don't have much homework, which will probably change. Maybe. I'm only taking 7 classes, two of which are Dance and Gym, only once a week and only 40 minutes long. That makes about 5 real classes.

Oh whatever, I guess I'll give you a picture of my schedule. When there are two classes at the same time, that means I can go to one or the other, or half and half.
Needless to say, I hate Wednesdays and love Fridays.

Most of my time is not spent even thinking about school. I keep forgetting I need to write a paper on the settlement of Iceland. 2 weeks ago. 

But about school: there are 7 classrooms, one auditorium, a dance hall, cafeteria, and a huge lounge for students (which I think is open on weekends? Never really wanted to go on weekends, to be honest). The entire school is covered in copper, so in about 2 years it'll be green.
If you're feeling daring you can go to the website



So I've been here one day past a month, and I must say, I'm having an excellent time. Of course I have my downs, but I've had significantly less downs than when I was in Texas, to say the least. The scenery is beautiful, I go out on the rocks almost every day and go watch the sea as the sun is setting or in the middle of the day.

I've met some really cool people, people who like actually like me. I have a place to hang out when I just want to hangout somewhere that isn't home, and of course I can just walk home afterwards at 2 in the morning or at 5 in the afternoon if I feel like. I'm given so much freedom, and I'm using it to enjoy Iceland to the fullest. I find myself going out in the cold and the rain and taking the longer routes because I'll never be in Iceland like this again. I'll always have more time to sit inside, get on the computer, check facebook, play a game, read a book, but I won't ever have the same opportunity to stare out at the tide coming in, to talk to the girl sitting next to you, or walk on the black sand. Every opportunity is made up of fleeting moments brought mysteriously together to create something truly magnificent that can never be gained back again. Take advantage of the conglomeration and coming together of the universe that gathered to create wherever and whatever you are right now.

Enough of that. It's time for pictures.

Today I went to a rétt, which is a coming together of sheep and people. It usually ends in singing and teetering, but we didn't stay that long. I only heard a few people singing when we left. Anyways, Réttir is when a bunch of people go into the mountains, gather the sheep that have wandered the mountains all Summer (which I learned is Icelandic law -- it is required to let your sheep wander during the Summer), and bring them back to be sorted into their individual farms.
Essentially, hundreds of sheep are herded into a single pen with however many people who grab them by the horns and throw them into pens to be taken away to their farms. This isn't an arbitrary "throw 12 sheep in a pen and take them away" thing, every single sheep is tagged.

These réttir take place all around the country, usually for 4 or 5 days. Beep boop.

4 Horns

Intereting fact: the Icelandic sheep gene pool has been undisturbed for over 1000 years, so weird anomalies show up and you get mutant sheep every once in a while with 2 heads or 4 horns, sometimes both. I saw two sheep with 4 horns.

Rounding Up

Fly My Pretty
Icelandic sheep like to jump. I don't know.

Lots of sheep.


My host sister, Eyrún! And on the left, slightly visisble, my host newphew Baldur.

And of course, more pictures are available on my Flickr!

More observations! 

Me and a few other exchange students have noticed a very peculiar thing about Icelandic buildings: they're largely very modern and have the latest X and Y, but only half of it is finished. Most, and I mean almost all, houses are in some kind of renovation that doesn't seem to be progressing in any direction at all. Take our house for instance, our bathroom is being redone, meaning the concrete floor was ripped up, new piping and everything, and thus we do not have a shower/bath in my house. In downtown Borgarnes there are a bunch of modern apartments that still have the window tags on them, uninhabited for, most likely, years. How long? Probably since 2007, the economic crash.

When the economic crash happened, Icelanders as a whole were undertaking huge building projects -- people were building museums, houses, and moving out of apartments. Then the crash. Most houses remained unfinished or finished without anyone to move into them because suddenly their dollar went from 66 kr to 1 USD to cerca 300 kr to 1 USD. Therefore, half finished houses, expensive walls juxtaposed against cheap counters. Tile floors and leather couches with stairs made out of 2x4s to the second story. It's a little strange to say the least, but albeit with a reasonable and understandable explanation.

No, I have not had hákarl (rotting shark), skata (rotting skate), or svið (also known as Satan's face on a plate). I have had the dried fish. I was not too fond of it. It was more smell than substance.

I could keep writing forever, but no one would read it ;D
If you have any questions leave a comment or email me! AaronDOTwillisDOTtalleyATgmailDOTcom

That's all for now!

Monday, September 5, 2011


Because I don't know what's going on here and I can't think of anything to write.

My Flickr (Photos)

Select photos (larger versions are on the flickr page):

Hope you enjoyed them! More are to come, for sure!

Bless bless.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Realities (Full)

Things, of course, did not go according to plan.

August 14th
I got to the San Antonio airport at 6:30, went through security, and my flight was cancelled once everyone was on board. There goes my connecting flight. I left at 4:45 PM and flew to another city entirely for my connection, where I was supposed to have an hour and twenty minute layover, but instead had a 20 minute layover because we couldn't take off from San Antonio for an hour because it was too hot. I'm completely serious. I arrived in Hartford, Connecticut at around 12:30 AM, and met my old friends. They got big, they got buff, their voices got deep. We caught up, we had icecream, we saw a movie, and I bought some clothes.

August 17th
I was woken up at something like 4:00 AM and my friends' father drove me to New York because he works there and likes to leave early in the morning to avoid the traffic. I left Connecticut around 5:00 AM, and did not get to the orientation site around 8:00-9:00 AM. I sat in his office for quite a while and waited for him to get out of a meeting, and we finally got to the double tree hotel (which is in a residential neighborhood, it's really out of place), and I sat around meeting people and messing around until 5. I met the other exchange student going to Iceland, and I nearly choked her when I first saw her. Epic hug. That night, I was getting out my key to go to my room, and my key fell from my hand and under the door. Sigh. As I was calling the elevator, my roommate came up and (at the time I didn't know who he was) and asked him if he was in room 1222. Then we went to sleep, and...

August 18th
Orientation stuff happened. I don't really remember much, but I didn't really care since I was going to Iceland in a matter of hours, right? WELL. During me and Margot's country call to Iceland I got called into what is equivalent to the principal's office, except it's for AFS and there's a bunch of girls in there. I had a skype call with the visa coordinator and she said I couldn't leave that day. I was very frustrated, so was the staff, and especially Margot. It was a sad day, and I was infinitely sad to not leave that day, but right before I left I wrote on Margot's hand "Þetta reddast," which is an Icelandic phrase that DOES NOT translate literally at all that means "It will work out." Apparently when she got there all of the AFS volunteers were just overjoyed that she had something like that written on her hand. I spent that night in a suite next to the only AFS in the building, because ALL of the exchange students left by 5 PM. We ordered Chinese takeout in Queens (which incidentally isn't that great), watched the travel channel, and talked about how we both ended up with AFS.

August 19th

Wake up at 2 in the morning wondering why there is a very confused New Yorker in my room with his luggage. He apologized then left. So I went to the airport around 10, and was on my flight at 2. Then we left at 3 after doing circles on the tarmac for an hour. I got there very tired and excited around 12:30, got to the orientation around 2, and in bed by 3, asleep by 4, and..

August 20th
Awake at 6. I greeted one of the volunteers, Eydis, in Icelandic and she didn't know if I was another volunteer or the new exchange student. :D
I didn't miss any of the orientation, so we started that morning. We made lots of circles, did lots of talking, and did lots of games. Same goes for the next day.
Buuuuuutttt, on Saturday, it was culture weekend in Reykjavík, so the volunteers drove us to the fireworks, unbeknownst to us. It was a spectacular way to spend my first 24 hours in Iceland.

August 21st
AI met my host parents, my mother doesn't speak much english, and my father speaks even less. I ordered in Icelandic at a kaffihús, and I fell asleep on the way home.

So far, a Texan doesn't feel so out of place in Iceland.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


There will be a big post about what actually happened.

Basically, bureaucracy and air travel. More will come, but sfdaasfasdfasfadsf
I'm fairly angry at immigration offices and FBI background checks and AFS and fsdfas.


But to quell your curiosity, I'm staying in New York an extra day, and leaving on the 19th, possibly.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Here are my expectations and plans for the next couple weeks, and what will happen. I'm sure everything will not go according to plan, which is pretty usual.


August 14th: - Leave Texas
August 17th: - Pre-departure orientation in NYC
August 18th: - Leave for Iceland
August 19th: - Arrive in Iceland, 2 day orientation
August 21st: - Everyone meets host family

And now let's explore each date:

August 14th
I'm going to leave San Antonio, say goodbye to my parents and family (fjölskylda), make two connecting flights and arrive in Connecticut around 3 or 4 in the afternoon where some of the oldest childhood friends I have will come pick me up, and we will catch up merry for 2 and a half days. I have not seen them for over 8 years, probably, so that is exciting.

August 17th
I will be woken up at something like 4:00 AM and my friends' father will drive me to New York because he works there and likes to leave early in the morning to avoid the traffic. I'll leave Connecticut around 5:00 AM, and get to the orientation site around 8:00-9:00 AM. There I will meet the other exchange student going to Iceland, hopefully (:DDDD), if she can find me. Just look for the disgruntled kid sleeping in the hotel lobby of the Double Tree. Orientation will occur, which I imagine will be educational and yet boring, lots of stuff we've heard/read before. Expectations here.

August 18th
This day I'm kind of unsure what's happening, because my plane leaves at 8:35 at night. I've read about AFS exchange students going shopping in NYC because their planes leave late, but I don't know if we will be allowed to do that. Hopefully, yes. If not, I get to talk with other exchange students! Then I leave and I sleepily slide into August 19th.

August 19th
There will be an orientation specific to Iceland and all that stuff, and that will last for 2 days. I don't know what will happen there, or where it will, or fdshfjkadfiasdfhs
I just know I will be in Iceland!

August 21st
I will probably get picked up by my fjöskylda at the orientation and we will cruise along the Icelandic countryside until we slide into Borgarnes, my host-town, and I make myself heima and then...

The adventure begins.

The next post will probably be after the 21st, and you will get to learn about the realities.

Excited face.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sæll fjölskylda og Internet

Sæll, because the internet is a male.

I got my host family about a week or less ago, and at first, to be COMPLETELY honest, I was kinda bummed. I would be living in Borgarnes which is in Borgarbyggð, a municipality of about 3000 people. I wasn't excited because:
1) It wasn't Reykjavik
2) The town was tiny (smaller than my town of Fredericksburg)

But I got over it. What helped me?

When I visited Canada one year with my family (my mother is from Alberta), we were visiting my mother's sister in Legal (Alberta), which happens to have about 500 people, unbeknownst to me until about half a week ago. I stayed there with my aunt and uncle for 2 weeks while my parents drove around (I was absolutely sick of driving). I had a great time, and I didn't even know how small it was.

So anyways, Borgarnes is about 6 times bigger than Legal, so I should be content.

My host family is a little bit older than my bio family, and they have 3 fully grown daughters (possibly with grandchildren?). My host father is a milktruck driver. Which is kind of awesome.

Here's a picture of Borgranes. It's on a peninsula, so that means I get to see the sea every day! Score!
Iceland is looking better, and Ég er að læra Íslensku smátt og smátt (I am learning Icelandic gradually). And I promise, mun Ég læra Íslensku (I will learn Icelandic)!

Thanks for reading! Keep in touch.

Takk fyrir, bless bless.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Tuition

Is paid in full!

A big thanks to all the people that helped me out by donating! There's too many to list.
Also, a big thanks to all the people that left me big tips while I was waiting on your table! All the money I make while waiting is going towards Iceland.

Takk fyrir!

Saturday, May 21, 2011



Grimsvotn erupted today.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ég er að læra Íslensku!

I am learning Icelandic!
I'm going to start taking lessons, or whatever you'd like to call them, tomorrow with Johann Eyfells, an internationally renowned sculptor living in my town! It's going to be so great learning Icelandic from an actual Icelander, rather than listening to youtube videos of it and trying to read it from my Icelandic books.

More on this later?

Bless bless.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A friend!

I was really tired of seeing my shirt designs when I opened my blog.

Anyways, I found the other person going with me to Iceland!
I was told there was another person, but not who, and they barely hinted that this person was female. The only thing I heard about her was that "she didn't near live you."

I emailed some coordinators at AFS and they couldn't tell me who it was, obviously, without her consent. They said they would give her my email, but I don't think that happened... unfortunately.
So I was looking at the Sponsor an AFSer and I was looking through the blogs to see how much other students have raised (honestly, I was looking for her, but don't tell anyone!), and came across her blog (well, it was the only one that mentioned Iceland). I got her email from her blogger profile, then added her on facebook like a total creeper. But hopefully not too much.

Anyways, I got really excited when I found her. That is all.
Her name is Margot (and honestly I still don't know how to pronounce it).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Buy a Shirt! Send me to Iceland for Good!

Want to buy a shirt? Yes, of course you do! It helps send me to Iceland!

They come in three unique designs (made by me!)
They are professionally screen printed, and the quality is great. The payment process goes through paypal and is COMPLETELY secure. Note: There is a $5 flat rate for shipping.

Jereme - Side Flip


Becca - Vault


Sunday, March 20, 2011


To help me fundraiser for my trip to Iceland I am having shirts screen printed and am selling them to anyone who is interested.

The costs are as follows:
I have two designs,
Each are $25 shipped

[picture removed--wrong design, see post above]

I am also offering to do custom shirts to your liking (one color, stencil style) for $40 shipped on a plain cotton white t-shirt. The quality is similar to those pictured, and it goes toward a great cause. Your picture can be of anything, and if you want more than one shirt with your design on it, the price will be significantly cheaper for each individual shirt.

Hope this works out! I know it's a little pricey for shirts, but all the money goes toward my tuition! Please help me out, or tell your friends if you think they would be interested!

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Now that I've been accepted, things could/should be moving faster, and updates getting more constant. I've decided to make a facebok page for this so I can update on all my fundraising business. Also, people check Facebook more than this blog :3

I'm going to start doing a little fundraising, so all the information will be out on this blog once everything is finalized, but the first thing to be updated will be the Facebook page.

Take care everyone! The link is in the sidebar!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


I got a call a few days ago saying the Iceland partners had guaranteed me a host family in Iceland and I was accepted!
I got the e-mail just yesterday, and I got another call today explaining some more things from the application advisor. Also, something you guys might like to hear: at first, I was the only person in the US that was accepted by AFS-Iceland. Holy crap.

I heard later that AFS-Iceland had expanded and said they could accommodate two students from the US, so the other person is somewhere out there. Somewhere.

Also, holy crap.

Monday, January 31, 2011


I got accepted to AFS-USA today!


To be honest (and not to seem self-conceited), I wasn't that surprised, but you never know, y'know? Oh well, anyways...

Now the process to people unfamiliar with it goes as thus: AFS-USA sends my application to AFS-Iceland (or whatever country you're going to) and gets reviewed there. If they need some more information or something is wrong with the application they tell AFS-USA and they contact me. It's already been reviewed about 4 or 5 times (so much as I can tell) by AFS-USA, so I can imagine it should be pretty immaculate by now, haha.

The only things I can think of would be my blood type not showing up on my medical statement or my allergies, which aren't even bad. At all. AFS-USA made me write up quite the essay on what drugs I take regarding my mild cat allergies. Here's a tip to anyone applying while reading this: if you have mild allergies to anything, and the only thing you do to relieve the allergin is to flush your eyes out with water, don't put it as an allergy. Just don't. It's not worth it, because you'll have to write at least 3 statements on it, possibly have your doctor confirm that you won't die if you come in contact with cat hair, and have your parents write another statement that says you just flush your eyes out.

There's your tip, lol.

Talk to you soon!