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- From: small earth
- Registered: 2008-06-01
- Posts: 5411
Do and don't in Iceland
Are you living in Iceland? We need you to share your experience of the local customs
Is it difficult to adjust to the local customs in Iceland?
Could you please share with us a list of the do's and don't's in Iceland?
The expat blog team
Share your expat experience!
- From: Reykavik
- Registered: 2008-11-12
- Posts: 21
Re: Do and don't in Iceland
DO attempt to learn the language. It's very difficult and takes years to master, but knowing a little will get you a warmer response from the locals.
DO buy a proper English-Icelandic (or whatever your native language is) dictionary when you get here.
DO keep your money in USD (or Euros or Pounds~) for the moment due to the volatile flux of the Krona. But still, make an attempt to open a bank account so you can feel like a real resident! (PS you'll need a passport sized photo to submit with your debit card application...at least at Glitnir)
DO try to find a part-time job, take some classes, or join a book club or something. It can seem very isolating here for foreigners at first -- especially if you are a spouse of an Icelander. Icelanders can seem very reserved so it's likely that you'll make friends with other foreigners first through your extracurricular activities. It can be hard to crack the Icelandic social circles. Like learning the language, this also takes time.
DO be assertive and direct if you need something. Customer service can be very poor here and there are times when you'll have to talk to several different people at the same organization to get an answer. It's frustrating. And a note to people that enroll in the University of Iceland: the info on their website isn't always up-to-date or helpful so you'll need to be very proactive and make several trips or calls to the university for info about enrollment, classes, payment, etc. BUT If you need information about immigrant-related issues, healthcare, or jobs for example you can talk to the Intercultural Center: http://www.ahus.is/. They are advocates of foreigners and they also have inexpensive basic courses in basic Icelandic.
DO learn how to drive a stick shift! (I think the driver's test is conducted in manual trans cars only...) However, automatic transmission cars are widely available here.
DO invest in a "úlpapeysa" (Icelandic wool sweater). They're so cozy and warm and NO they're not just for tourists! Even better, learn how to knit one for yourself. Many Icelanders still know how to knit. And it will be cheaper:)
DO invest in a good, practical wind-resistant, waterproof jacket. And it's not a bad idea to have some waterproof shoes as well. As a bonus, try to find waterproof items that are actually stylish!
DO attempt to hike all the way to the top of Esja. (best in the summer of course!) You will earn the respect of the locals for accomplishing this feat, and the view from the top over Reykjavik is great!