Introduction

The idea for this website/blog is for us to have a place to contribute and work togeather on a project, a blog, with a focus on something we all have in common: How it is moving and setting in a new country as a foreign woman.

We are such an amazing and diverse group! We have so much in common yet so much to share.

I hope we can create something beautiful here, I encourage everyone to write in whatever language suits them best. We are multicultural and multilingual.

If you want to contribute please let me know on Facebook or send me an email at koster8@gmail.com

Laundry issues

I am from Canada and in Canada, we have huge washer and dryers. You can stuff a good 10 kilos of laundry in the washer, it takes about half an hour to wash, then throw those 10 kilos of laundry in the dryer and everything is dry in an hour.

This was laundry as I knew it until I moved to Iceland.

Our first apartment had a little washing machine that could only handle half of the laundry I expected it to. About 5 kilos. Then it took 3 hours to wash. I don’t know what it was doing for there for 3 hours but I didn’t think my clothing was that dirty.  Little did I know.

Then the drying. I guess it is better to hang everything up. I hear that is better. In theory. The only problems are that my apartment was tiny so there was no room to set up a drying rack and outside it was always raining.

The combination of long washing times and no dryer made laundry a 24-hour nightmare for me, once a week because our building shared the washing machine and I only had access to it one day a week.

I was setting my alarm to go off every three and a half hours so I could start the washer again. This started at midnight the day before my laundry day and didn’t stop until midnight on my laundry day.

Wet clothing was hung on everything from chairs to kitchen counters and needed to be rotated onto the radiator as space permitted.

This routine made me question the move. It also made me much more accepting of clothing that was not 100% clean.

After 11 years I have a house and have insisted on a North American size washer and dryer, so life is a little more manageable for me now but I still have an intense admiration for anyone that is in this situation.

The joys of mopping 

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I moved to Iceland almost 11 years ago. It took me 8 of those years to find a mop I knew how to use.

In Canada I had a mop and bucket like the one pictures. When I moved here I learned that they don’t use those here.

But the mop and pail isn’t really the main point here. The main point is more along the lines of how something you took for granted in your home country can be a real joy in your new country.

Even mopping.

Now mopping is a happy time that reminds me of the simpler times. When I understood everything going on around me. When I didn’t have such a hard time expressing myself (in a second language) and when i didn’t have to touch the mop while mopping the floor.

I am now happy in Iceland with my Canadian mop.

As evidence to the joy this purchase have me (and others in the same position), you should check out the facebook post from the day I bought it. In away from home group.

The joys of learning past tense

When I was preparing for my exam in Icelandic 3, with a “Focus is on the spoken language use in the daily life” in evening at MSS I spent a lot of time practicing the past tense for strong verbs.

At this moment I was trying to memorize the vowel changes in the first group of strong verbs.

Strong verbs in the first group include words like:

bíða - wait;            bíta - bite;            drífa - drive;
gína - gape;            grípa - grasp;          hníga - fall gently;
hrífa - catch hold;     hrína - squeal;         hvína - whistle, whine;
klífa - climb;          klípa - pinch;          kvíða - dread;
líða - elapse;          líta - look;            ríða - ride;
rífa - tear;            rísa - rise;            síga - sink;
skína - shine;          skríða - creep;         slíta - break;
sníða - cut;            stíga - step;           svíða - singe, smart;
svífa - soar;           svíkja - deceive;       víkja - yield;
þrífa - grasp, snatch; clean.

Since the vowel changes are the same all you really need to learn if a few of the words and apply the same changes to the others.

So there I am sitting in the living room, chanting out words in Icelandic. These words:

Þrífa  – Þreif – ríða – reið – þrífa – þreif – ríða – reið

Then I look over and see an absolutely horrified look on my children’s faces. I asked them if they were OK and they asked me to never, never, say that again. I didn’t really get it. I am not so cleaver in that way. I asked why, but they would not answer me.

I asked my husband, who laughed. It is such a good feeling to know I provide so much amusement to the who family.

So I know þrífa means clean and ríða means ride – but not like a bicycle or a horse…

So now I know that I must never say that work again, at least not chanting my way through the different forms of the verb in each person.

A small fail

When I first moved to Iceland we lived in downtown Reykjavik making it convenient for me to attend the the Technical College to learn Icelandic. I can not find any information on the Icelandic classes there now, so maybe they don’t offer them anymore. This is probably for the best since I didn’t learn a lot of Icelandic there.

Anyways, I was 25 years old and back in high school to learn Icelandic. Being nearly 10 years older then everyone else in the school was bad enough but when combined with the cultural differences, this was basically a nightmare.

I couldn’t understand why everyone had yellow hair and very dark eyebrows. I was confused by how leggings were considered pants and I wondered what time these girls were waking up every morning to manage to have so much make up on before 8.

But I tried to fit in. So when everyone was standing outside between classes smoking cigarettes, I went with them (granted this was 11 years ago and these days they are probably all vaping).

One day there was a little wind, shocking I know, and when I went to light my cigarette the wind blew at the exact perfect moment that I ended up setting my hair on fire.

No joke.

I saw the fire in the corner of my eye, then I saw everyone pointing. it started to get a little hot and the smell was terrible. Luckily this only lasted a second until I felt someone slapping the side of my head to get the fire out. Turned out to be some nice guy from my class.

But the damage was done. Everyone saw my flaming hair and the smell just wouldn’t go away.

I tried to play it cool, pulled my hood up and tried to pretend nothing happened when we went back into class but the smell gave it away.

I sat at my desk and everyone around me started whispering. The smell was nearly suffocating me. I thought I would die.

I am sure your not surprised to hear I left class early that day and went home to try to fix what I could of my hair. I ended up needing a haircut since all the hair on one side was destroyed. Just my luck.

11 years later I ma still working on my fitting in skills, but at least I haven’t set my hair on fire recently. Things are starting to look up.

 

Var það eitthvað fleira?

When I first moved to Iceland I lived in a little apartement on Rauðarástig in Reykjavík. Across the street was a little shop that sold milk, candy and apparently ritalin which got them raided and shut down by the police a few years later, but this detail doesnt matter for this story.

My purchases from this store were all completly legal.  When ever I went to the counter the guy working as a casheir always asked: Eitthvað fleira?

He might have said the whole sentance “Var það eitthvað fleira?” and was mumbling the first half of the sentance, but who knows.

Being a new comer to Iceland I had some interest in learning the language so I asked, what “Eitthvað fleira” meant. He replied “Is that all?”.

This turned out to be my worst Icelandic lesson ever .

Years went by and everytime I went to the store and the casheir asked: “Eitthvað fleira?” I said “Já” or “Yes” and they stood there staring at me. Waiting for me to say something else.

Turned out “Var það eitthvað fleira?” actually means “Anything else?”. “Anything else” is not the same as “Is that all”.

So everytime I was in a store and the casheir asked: “Anything else?” I said “Yes” and they waited for me to add to my order or say something else.

This generally resulted in a staredown for a few secounds, then they would shake their head and finish the transaction.

Good times, good times.