The land of fire and ice has a lot going for it: interesting people, phenomenal nature, a language all its own. Here’s the skinny on Iceland, what to expect, and what to look forward too.
Location and Weather
Iceland is a small island in the North Atlantic Ocean, set right on the border of the Arctic Circle. It’s cold, wet, and windy. That being said, temperatures here are milder than in most other Arctic countries.
Be prepared for weather that changes on a whim. One minute it will be warm and sunny, and the next minute you’ll be pelted by freezing rain.
The country has cool summers and cool winters. The temperatures don’t vary too much over the year thanks to the Gulf Stream.
Daylight hours shift drastically throughout the year and the weather is always changing. Basically, you’re going to have to layer a lot. Layers are your friends!
Luckily, almost all natives speak near-perfect English and some speak a few other languages on top of that.
The national language is, of course, Icelandic. Icelandic is famously difficult for foreigners to pick up quickly, but can be done if you throw yourself into it.
Expect to sound pretty silly at first! The language has changed very little since the island was first inhabited. Be ready to see old letters and accents on street signs and billboards.
If you really want to fit in and get to know the local culture more personally, many schools offer classes in Icelandic to take your language skills to the next level.
Stuck between the new and old world, Icelandic culture is a mish-mash of Western Europe and Scandinavian mixed with a few North American influences.
Think hot dogs and burgers across the street from cafes and creperies.
The nation's tiny population spends a lot of their time doing outdoor activities, reading, attending cultural events and museums, and soaking in geothermal pools. The pace of life is pretty slow and tends to follow an even rhythm.
Icelanders are welcoming of foreigners and often curious about what brings you to their frigid home. Almost everyone is well-educated and keeps up to date with trends. Icelanders are very aware of global events but also work hard to keep their old traditions alive.
The Reykjavik Expat Community
Reykjavik has a thriving expatriate community. More and more international visitors are visiting each year and many of them are deciding to stay or come back to build a life for themselves. Visiting local shops and bars in Reykjavik, you’re sure to find some expats here and there. Conversations come easy in Reykjavik and you’ll find yourself a group in no time.
The expat community is very social and you can find scheduled events on expat facebook groups, like Foreigners in Iceland, The Expats’ Lounge Iceland, or Away From Home - Living in Iceland.