1) Really young children are often unattended and that is normal, acceptable, and safe. Icelanders are notorious for leaving their sleeping babies in carriages outside of coffee shops. Their parents can watch them through the window and the babies get better quality sleep outside in the cold. For people from other countries this can seem shocking. I heard about it in advance so I wasn't too surprised by this, but what I was surprised by was the number of times I saw young children completely unattended. I ran into a couple of young skaters at the store and asked "Where are your parents?" They said they walked there by themselves and their parents said it was alright. Americans, can you imagine a couple of 8-year-olds walking to a Wal Mart alone after dark? That's what happens when you live in the world's safest country. Sometimes, small children are accompanying even smaller children. On the bus, I saw two girls not any older than 10 holding hands with their toddler-age younger sister. Another time, I saw a little boy carrying around his infant sibling without a parent in site. The independence of children seems to come earlier here, since there is less worry of "stranger danger."
2) Workout clothes are everywhere, when I had just started coaching in Iceland and saw girls in workout clothes, I always did a double-take to see if they were my skaters. Now I realize that during the day people wear workout clothes pretty much everywhere, similar to the sporty culture in Colorado.
3) Braids are one of the most popular hairstyles for girls of all ages. They are also worn a variety of ways. Some popular styles include: a ponytail with a long braid, two matching braids, small braids on the crown of the head, or a single braid to the side.
4) The whole darkness and daylight ratio is still such a struggle. When I first got to Iceland, I was practically nocturnal due to the limited daylight hours. Now I'm practically nocturnal due to the constant sunlight. Around midnight, it is just getting to be twilight, which it stays for a couple of hours before the sun begins to rise again. It's really a struggle!
5) The animals are trained in Icelandic. Okay, this might seem obvious, but I literally never thought of the implications of animal training in different languages. Dogs here are told, "nei!" and "koma!" I still find it a bit amusing.
6) The predominance of hummus with bread. Icelanders are very proud of their butter, but virtually anytime you get bread, you are offered the choice of butter or hummus. For pseudo-vegans like me (I order soya milk but eat at ice cream at ísbúðin) this is a lovely surprise.
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: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
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