Iceland is an amazing place and all of the perks of living here far outweigh the negatives, but that does not mean that life in Iceland is without its struggles!
Here are the top five minor annoyances I've discovered:
1) The super icy sidewalks
I've often wondered if it would be more efficient to just wear my skates to work rather than brave the ice. Last night, I walked through freezing rain over an already frozen sidewalk and road to get home. There was a narrow river flowing down the road, which seemed less dangerous than the ice so I followed that the whole way home.
There are ways to deal with the ice, though that brings me to my next two points:
2) The black grit that gets EVERYWHERE
Sidewalks in Reykjavik are constantly coated with black grit to increase traction. Sounds great, right? Except for the fact that the grit gets EVERYWHERE. Each day, I sweep my floors at least three times, but the grit never goes away. It gets stuck in the rugs. It somehow ends up on the other side of my flat and every time I get in bed I am greeted by a million remnants of the stupid black grit. I have a theory that the grit can fly and also likes to play hide and seek in my room.
3) Wearing crampons inside and destroying them
Other ways to combat ice are to buy ice picks, technically called crampons, to strap onto your boots. While these are massively helpful when actually walking on ice, they are terrible on most other surfaces. On carpet, they catch, tripping you and destroying themselves in the process. They are ironically slippery on hard surfaces. Why don't I just take them off before going inside? I do sometimes, but they are snow-covered and also covered in black grit. Even when I put them in their carrying case before throwing them in my bag, remnants of ice and black grit still find their way out.
4) The darkness
The days are already getting much, much longer. However, when I first moved here, the sun didn't rise until 11:42 AM and it would begin to get dark around 3:30 PM. That, combined with running back and forth between Pennsylvania and Colorado, driving cross-country, flying into GMT with a stop in London prior to my move, and the need to watch all of US Nationals live regardless of whether or not the events ended at 5:30 AM, resulted in a nocturnal sleep schedule. I was going to bed around 5-6 AM most days and waking up around noon or 1 PM. There were days when I went to my 6:45 AM session without sleeping at all. Luckily, I've gotten my schedule more regulated since I have Icelandic language classes on weekday mornings.
5) Have I mentioned the sideways rain?
Oh, yes I have. But it is worth mentioning again. No matter how many times my landlord attempts to fix my door, it still leaks profusely anytime it rains. This, he claims, is due to its Danish manufacturer who isn't used to sideways rain. However, Iceland was once part of Denmark so Danish door manufacturers, I suggest you remember this!
What other minor annoyances did I miss?
My iphone is more than just a communication device. It is also my alarm clock, camera, and personal travel assistant. These six apps are my go-to's when travelling.
1) City Maps 2 Go >> Travel Guide and Offline Map
This app is incredibly handy when travelling to a city where you won't have data. The city maps are incredibly detailed and, once downloaded, work without Wi Fi. There is also a GPS tracker on the map to show exactly where you are. You can also customize them in advance with what you would like to show up.
I booked all of my flights in Europe last year through this app. It researches all the cheapest flights from any city and you can change the currency to what you're most familiar with. You can also set a budget when you search, for example I often searched "flights under $25" and found plenty! There is also the option of adding your destination as "anywhere." On more than one occasion, I did this and ended up in great locations, like last year when I went to Basel, Switzerland for my 22nd birthday.
Ever since I moved abroad, I've used this app to communicate with friends and family back home. It's just like texting and calling!
This app is a great way to back up all your travel photos and you can also download it to your computer.
5) XE Currency Converter
I still use this when making purchases above a certain number in Icelandic Krona. Plus, do you have any idea how Czech Koruna, Hungarian Forint, Turkish Lira Croatian Kuna, or Swedish Krona work? I had no idea either and this app came in handy! All you do is type in your currency (When I lived in England I used £, now I use $) and it will convert into another currency.
6) Dgrees- Fahrenheit to Celsius Converter
No, "Dgrees" isn't a typo. Okay, this is only relevant if you are an American and no matter how hard you try, you can never remember how to properly convert Fahrenheit to Celsius! When I first visited Iceland last year, there were signs saying the temperature of the geysers in Celsius. My European, Australian, and Canadian travelling companions were wowing about the temperature. Seeing 80-100 degrees, I said, "Yes, that's hot." Then, I got back on the bus, punched the numbers into my phone, and converted it to Fahrenheit, saw that it was 212 degrees, and shouted, "Whoa, that geyser temperature is insane!" Everyone politely nodded because they had figured that out a half hour earlier, without needing to convert it!
Which apps are your travel must-haves?
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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