This fall, Iceland as a nation has caused quite a bit of turmoil in the Kingdom of Denmark. Not only did Baugar Group buy several large malls and an airline, but Icelandic Dagsbrun also started the Danish version of the free newspaper Fretiirbladid. They thereby initiated the so-called newspaper-war in Denmark, and if you live in Copenhagen these days, then you have daily access to no less than five free newspapers – all of them just hunting ad-revenue, making news a side story. There goes the rainforest. So from a Danish view, Iceland seems to bee a nation of initiative, wealth and beautiful nature. Why did Denmark let go of the country in 1944?

I have recently moved to this bit of paradise, and now when all the wow has faded a bit, there are certain things about Icelanders that make me go hm.

I seem to me that the evolution of Homo Sapiens here on Iceland has found it necessary to show his might and strength to Mother nature, by buying big-ass cars that can conquer any mountain. With a truck as big as a one room apartment, you may accidentally come to think of yourself as indestructible. And superheroes brakes for nobody. Icelanders drive almost as bad as the French, but with bigger cars. The good side of this of course, is that you come to appreciate your life a lot more. Suddenly you live from moment to moment, savoring each day you actually survived in the fast paced track of Icelandic driving.

I don’t know why they do it. Maybe I look fat, and they think that I could use some exercise. But every time I go shopping, the Icelanders have fun putting obstacles in the way. They don’t just cue up at the register, then pay and go home. No, they have time enough to leave their baskets and trolleys at the most annoying places in the store. And what do you do if you change your mind about some groceries? You just put that stupid 2kg pack of cornflakes in the fridge with the milk. But then again, it makes it more interesting to go shopping – free exercise and treasure hunting, what more can a man ask for…

Women talking
Married to a feminist and having a little sister as well, I promise that I’m not a macho sexist. But really, women in Iceland talk a lot. I know the normal female stereotype has always been tagged with a “geez, she talks a lot” side of her personality, but that stereotype must have derived from the women in Iceland. It must be the darkness in winter and the matriarchal tendencies that have made talking a national sport. Along with all the coffee, cakes and sweaters that follow. I guess that I’m sometimes happy that I don’t actually understand too much of the language here. It makes it plausible for me to make interesting assumptions about the subject at hand. I can sit there, with blood gushing out of my ears, with a silent smile on my lips and think “Yeah, they talk a lot, but at least they’re talking about rock music, movies and computers”. Aren’t you?

To learn to speak a language only shared by 300.000 people is actually a form of social gold digging. In the world of globalization, the more rare an object you posses, the more rich you are. So, being an Icelander makes you unique. Being a foreigner that speaks Icelandic makes you even more so. And learning just a little Icelandic can definitely pay off. During my travels around the globe, the tourist phrases like “Where is the hotel?”, “Where can I play petanque?” and “Is your cats name really dog?” spoken in the native language always gave me points. But Icelanders are not just impressed if you speak Icelandic. They are suddenly behaving like intimate family, giving you big hugs, buying you beer and offering rides in their jeeps. It seems they know how silly words they have for microwave-oven (örbylgjuofn) and basketball-coach (körfuboltaþjálfari) – and that you have chosen to spend your life learning something that might be seen as a personal assessment when you go looking for that executive job.

There are definitely more little quirks to be learned up here. Eating sheep heads, surviving during the long winter-night, understanding women, driving in snow and to drink beer like a man from Sahara are some of the forthcoming goals. But I’m adjusting and I’m happy. So so far, thank you Icelanders for welcoming me, you are an interesting bunch…

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