Tatiana from efzin.co nominated me for a Liebster Award. This is the second time that my blog has been nominated! Be sure to check out Tatiana’s blog. She always assigns a song to each blog post and for her Liebster Award post, she used George Ezra’s “Budapest.” From that moment on, I knew I would like her blog! Thanks for all the kind words about my blog, the nomination, and your questions, Tatiana! Here are Tatiana’s questions with my answers.
1. If you were offered a free plane ticket today, what would be the destination?
That’s very hard because there are still so many places I’d like to visit! Australia and New Zealand are rapidly moving up on my list of places to visit, so I would have to say Sydney, Australia to start with and then travel around Australia and New Zealand for a while.
2. Or if you could teleport yourself anywhere, just to taste again a certain food, what would it be?
Gelato in Italy
3. If you were to choose between Scandinavian minimalism, multi-ethnic patterns or pastel sophistication, how would you re-decorate your living room?
While I really like the Scandinavian minimalism designs that most places in Iceland use, I am not tidy enough to maintain that in my own home so I would say multi-ethnic patterns.
4. 20 new fast-fashion pieces or 5 new design pieces?
I don’t follow clothing fashion that much, so probably the design pieces.
5. How often do you de-clutter and re-organize your space?
Usually just when I’m moving. I try to keep things tidy (the key word there is try).
6. Total white or total black look?
7. Do you usually cook at home or order dinner?
I go through phases. Lately I’ve been cooking at home, but I pretty much just cook oatmeal or eggs for breakfast and/or dinner.
8. Besides English, how many languages do you speak? Or which language would you like to speak?
I wouldn’t say that I’m fluent in anything besides English, but my Spanish is pretty close and I am learning Icelandic. I’ve also learned a tiny bit of Italian, Danish, and French.
9. Have you ever dreamed about writing a book? What would it be about?
Yes, my whole life! I have three manuscripts written that I’d like to get published. I don’t want to give away my pitches but all three are young adult, one is contemporary literary fiction, one high fantasy, and one magical realism.
10. Have you ever travelled by yourself? (Not counting the times you took a plane to go visit your family!)
Yes, multiple times! The first time I visited Iceland I went by myself and I also went to Italy, Switzerland, and Croatia for three weeks by myself. I also did a few other shorter trips solo.
11. Which is your favorite blogging activity? Researching, writing, photographing, editing or advertising?
I like the actual writing of my blog. I love sharing my experiences and stories and hopefully inspiring others to travel as well!
My Updated Travel Playlist
I've been pleasantly surprised at the popularity of my travel soundtrack posts, so I think I will start posting my soundtrack for each excursion. While I was in London, I discovered some new songs that I listened to over and over and over and became the soundtrack to my trip.
Updated travel playlist:
This song came out right before my trip to Copenhagen and London and I listened to it so many times while I was in London that I will forever associate with this trip. (Fun fact: during my first-ever visit to London (only three years ago!?) their song "Submarines" was one of the many songs I had for my soundtrack for that trip.) Their new album came out a few weeks ago and it is brilliant!
“Lucy”, “Subtle Changes,” and “Stop”
This EP was released on Spotify while I was in London. I confess that I skeptically listened to it only because Ethan Barnett is George Ezra's younger brother, but he's amazing in his own right. My friend and I listened to it over and over while on the tube or walking across the city. He's just as good as his more famous older brother, and if that doesn't come as a ringing endorsement, I don't know what will!
So I recently started using Spotify. I know, I'm late to the Spotify party. But, now I barely use iTunes anymore and I love the recommended playlists. This was on one of the playlists and I listened to it reluctantly because I've never loved their music, but for some reason I find this song incredibly catchy.
“Home” and “Fur Coat Blues”
I had never even heard of them until Spotify kindly suggested that I would like them. Ir was right! I'm going through a folk music phase again (this happens frequently, don't be alarmed).
"Taste It" and "Gimme the Love"
In Iceland recently, I was telling a friend about how much I liked Jake Bugg’s music when an English lady on the bus in front of me turned around and said, “He’s from my hometown! I never hear anyone talk about him outside of my hometown!” I was amused.
The Lone Bellow
“Take My Love” and “The One You Should Have Let Go”
So, as I said, I’m really into folk music right now.
Yes, I listened to every one of these songs in order as I was writing this post.
Though arguable, many people consider Icelandic to be the world's hardest language. Spoken by around 350,000 people worldwide, the language is mostly confined to the borders of Iceland, though there are Icelandic speakers in other parts of the world, including the United States. One of the hardest parts of learning Icelandic for non-native speakers is the "noun-bending," meaning that each noun can have a different ending depending on its context. It will have a different ending if it is feminine, masculine, singular, or plural.
Icelandic has not evolved much since medieval times, and linguists often classify it as a dialect of Old Norse! Reading texts written a millennium ago is very similar in language to reading something written today. For English speakers, this would be like reading something written by Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. The language is the same, we can grasp it, though a few of phrases are antiquated or some words have gained a different meaning. For example, "condescending" is now seen in a negative light, but in the 1800s it was a compliment. Going back to the year 1000, you would pass through Middle English (this is what the Canterbury Tales are written in, for example), which is often challenging for English speakers though it is clearly related to our modern dialect, but you would also have to learn a new language all together, Old English. Due to its relative isolation until the last century or so, the Icelandic language has not seen the same evolution as English.
There are actually similarities between Old English and Icelandic. Three letters that are in the Old English alphabet, but did not survive to modern English are actually present in Icelandic, the thorn "þ," the eth "ð," and the ash "æ." I took two courses in Old English or Anglo Saxon and Medieval literature while completing my degree in English literature, so I had seen these letters before and knew how to pronounce them, but to most native English-speakers, these look completely foreign. Like in Old English, I can read Icelandic fairly well, but my pronunciation is always a problem. When I first started an Icelandic course, I almost always had the right answers on paper, but my pronunciation was always wrong so my instructor always thought I didn't understand. It was frustrating at first, but my pronunciation is slowly (slowly being the key word) getting better.
The most effective way I've found to learn Icelandic is not the classroom or on any of the online Icelandic courses or on the apps on my phone, but by actually going out and trying to speak the language, as limited as it might be. It has come a long way since my first attempts at speaking the language, but I am still far from fluent. I can do basic conversations like ordering coffee and checking out at the store in Icelandic and now understand a lot of the basic yes or no (já eða nei) questions asked. The place I usually speak Icelandic is the rink, as many of the youngest skaters don't speak English. I usually have another coach or two who can act as a translator for me, but sometimes I do not and it is easier to just directly talk to them. The first time I taught a 40-minute session in Icelandic (a very limited version of Icelandic of about twenty words and lots of demonstrations) I had such a headache afterwards and felt like I had done something a lot more intellectually and physically demanding than just one session. Now I can regularly do that and am constantly learning new words to add to my vocabulary, though it is still a very small vocabulary.
The biggest obstacle to learning Icelandic isn't its difficulty, but rather that everyone speaks English and will switch to that when they realize I don't really speak Icelandic. This is often good in situations where proper communication is more important than trying to improve my Icelandic, but at other times, there is often no need to speak Icelandic and I start to get complacent about my skills.
My second language is Spanish, though I still would not say I am completely fluent, it has actually improved since I've moved to Iceland. When in Spain or other Spanish-speaking countries, I use the language a lot more since English is not as ubiquitous there as it is in Iceland. I often find myself speaking in Spanish even when I am not 100% sure that what I am saying is accurate. By the end of the trip, my Spanish always improves. Here I don't usually have to do this outside of the rink, though there are exceptions. One time I was waiting for the bus and an elderly man began speaking to me in Icelandic. I was able to use my broken Icelandic to tell him that I didn't speak the language, but that I was learning it. We were able to have a ten minute conversation, where I told him that I am from the United States, I am working here as a skating coach, that yes, I did like Iceland, and that no, my family wasn't living in Iceland.
A surprising side effect of learning Icelandic is Spanish. There aren't immediately a lot of similarities between the two, though the word for "sun" is "sol" in both. I hadn't worked on my Spanish too much since graduating high school, but once I began learning Icelandic, all these Spanish words started coming back to me. Sometimes when I don't know the word in Icelandic, I often say it in Spanish rather than English. This was particularly challenging with the word "or." In Spanish, the word is "o." The word for "and" in Icelandic is "og" (pronounced "o") and "or" is "eða." I mix this up a lot and often say "og" when I mean "eða." It confuses people when I try to mix Spanish words with Icelandic, as English is much more widely spoken than Spanish here. I've started to actively work on my Spanish again, as I now remember how much fun it is to learn a new language and how much I like Spanish in particular. Another interesting side effect is sometimes dreaming in Icelandic. Nothing complex, but sometimes I'm speaking Icelandic in my dreams. I've heard that is a sign of fluency, but I am no where near fluent yet!
It always amazes me that so much of the world can speak English fluently in addition to their native language and sometimes even a third or fourth language. While I have yet to master fluency in Icelandic, maybe that day will one day come, though it is probably a long way off!
Hi, I’m Crystal! I love to travel and am currently a graduate student in Scotland. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 27 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: email@example.comHappy Travels, Crystal
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