Post-Travel Reflection: Back at Notre Dame

My Overall Experience: I have now been back at Notre Dame for a few weeks and have returned to the routine of reading, dissertation writing, and translating that characterizes my usual life.  I was surprised to return to South Bend and feel a little bit of reverse culture shock.  As I was not in Iceland for a particularly long stretch of time, I did not think that South Bend would feel different when I got back- but it did.  There are some things about Iceland I do not miss, like the high prices and the mild food (I like my dishes super spicy!).  But there are many things I do miss: the gorgeous nature, the delicious coffee, the omnipresence of bookstores, and the distinct music.  I miss the striking, volcanic hills and the adorable horses and the grazing sheep. I miss living on the coast, in a town with such crisp, fresh air.  I miss some of the amazing and unique individuals I met in my program.  I miss seeing Viking paraphernalia everywhere I go.  Last week I ran into an acquaintance of mine from Iceland and got to talk to him about my trip to his home country.  It felt really special to share my thoughts with someone who had lived there much of his life.  It also made me eager to go back.

My advice for those considering learning abroad: don’t be afraid to go to a place you’ve never been before!!! My time in Iceland reminded me that there are so many places I haven’t been to which I really should venture! I definitely encourage other students to apply for an SLA grant- it’s a rare change to get truly immersed in language learning, and intensity will definitely pay off.

My Language Learning: Most of all, I miss that feeling of learning a new language, when all of your neurons feel activated and teeming and scintillated. It’s that sense of constant discovery, when you can feel your brain working and learning and striving and growing, that I miss the most.  I had not been in this kind of immersive language experience for a few years, and it was really stimulating (but also exhausting).

Since my return I have watched some videos and movies in Icelandic, read a few things in Old Icelandic, and spent a few hours reviewing notes from the program.  My hope is that with a little effort here and there I will not forget what I learned.  Overall, I think that I met my learning goals for my time in Iceland; Icelandic is an extremely difficult language to pronounce (and definitely not the easiest to speak), and I will need more time in Iceland in the future to become truly competent. However, by the end of my time in Iceland I could hold conversations in Icelandic (albeit fairly simple ones).  I was also reminded of how frustrating it can be to attempt to speak a foreign language and not be understood.  I haven’t read a novel in Modern Icelandic yet, but I also haven’t given up on that (ambitious) goal.  I’ve have been reading fairy tales in Modern Icelandic, though.

The Future: My dream is to return to Iceland for conferences, manuscript workshops, and other events over the coming years. Because of my SLA experience, I have enough confidence speaking Icelandic to greet Icelanders and hold conversations in their native tongue. My Icelandic pronunciation improved immensely, giving me more confidence when I have to read Old Icelandic aloud at scholarly events. Now that I’m back in the States, I’m eager for my next Icelandic adventure and another opportunity to continue my study of Modern Icelandic. Someday, I would love to drive all around Iceland on Route 66 (“the ring road”).  I hope (and plan) that this SLA Grant will just be the beginning of my adventures and learning in Iceland. I sincerely thank all those who made this adventure possible!

Last Days in Reykjavík

As my time in Iceland is coming to a close, I am both reluctant to leave and ready for my time of living out of a suitcase to be over. I have really grown comfortable in Reykjavík over the past several weeks, and my Icelandic has definitely improved greatly.  I only with I had more time here!

View from the tower of Hallgrímskirkja (Hallgrim’s Church) in Reykjavík.

My favorite assignment for the Icelandic course was the “Interview with an Icelander” assignment, in which we had to ask an Icelander questions (in Icelandic), record the answers, and present our findings to the class (in Icelandic).  I had been dreading this assignment the entire course because I am not the sort of person who feels comfortable accosting strangers in any tongue, let alone one in which I am only beginning to attain a tenuous competence.  After completing the assignment, I was completely stunned to discover that this was my favorite part of my entire stay.  I had to get over my fears of speaking to random strangers and manage to small talk with them for an extended period of time (again, something I hate doing in English anyway).  They understood my Icelandic and clearly enjoyed talking with me (and correcting me, ha).

After one of our interviews with Icelanders, my friend and I treated ourselves to delicious waffles at a café!

In fact, my friend and I interviewed a total of five Icelanders for the assignment: three who the traditional wool sweaters, one who owns a bookshop, and one who works at Iceland’s Blue Lagoon skin product line.  Three of these people worked at Kolaportið (the downtown flea market), four were born and raised in Reykjavík, and 5/5 say they like tourists (well, at least tourists bring in a lot of business).  They all find Reykjavík expensive (this is definitely true). One dreams of moving to Italy where summers actually get really warm (she jokes that her ideal weather is 40 degree centigrade). Another has sung in a church choir ever since she was a little girl.  The bookshop owner houses his bookshop in the same space where his grandfather had owned a printing press, and they want to open a museum about the history of book publishing in Reykjavík someday. Most of these Icelanders do not eat traditional Icelandic food very often (this includes delicacies like fermented shark and sheep’s head), except maybe skyr (which is kind of like Greek yogurt, and totally delicious) and pastries [rúgbruað (a sweet ryebread) and kleina (like a dough nut)].  I gained great insight into the great variety of interests and priorities of Icelanders in these conversations.

One of Reykjavík’s quirks: an American-style eatery with a laundromat in the basement.

While Reykjavík is quite a small city (about 220,000 in its greater metropolitan area), it didn’t feel like a small city to me.  As I was busy in class for hours five days a week AND going on field trips during the weekends, I felt like I never ran out of anything to do.  There are still many things in Reykjavík I have not done, but I really hope to come back in the future to continue my exploration of Iceland and its fascinating (and difficult) language!

Bless Bless!  (Bye bye!)

I was lucky enough to catch a rainbow in this photo of Gullfoss, one of the most beautiful and gigantic waterfalls in Iceland. It is part of the Golden Circle Tour, an easy day-trip from Reykjavík.

Literary Echoes

 Remember the doomed man thrown by his horse and crying:                       ‘Beautiful is the hillside, I will not go.’;                                                                                                   The old woman confessing: ‘He that I loved the                                                           Best, to him I was worst.’

Islands are places apart where Europe is absent.                                                        Are they? The world still is, the present, the lie,                                                                          And the arrow bridge over a torrent                                                                              Or the small farm under a crag.

– W.H. Auden (1937)

These verses by W.H. Auden reflect the reverberation of Iceland’s medieval literature into modern literary consciousness.  The “doomed man” is Gunnar, a character in Njáls Saga, who is sentenced to outlawry and told to leave Iceland or else risk being killed. He is on his way fro his homestead when his horse trips and he looks back on his land, deciding that he cannot leave after all.  This decision to stay inevitably results in his death.  The “old woman” from the verses is Gudrun, heroine of Laxdæla Saga, who marries four times over the course of her life.  Near the end of her life her son asks her which man she loved most, and she gives no name but answers with the cryptic lines quoted above.  Students of Old Norse literature have been debating whom she loved most ever since!  In fact, at a Old Norse dinner series at Notre Dame last semester, colleagues and I debated this very question!

In the years 1871-1873, the 19th century artist and writer Willam Morris visited Iceland and kept a journal of his travels. He had read Njáls Saga, and described some of the places he saw with references to the saga.  He remarks on the entry for July 13, 1871: “we cannot see now for the mist, but the rain leaves off now and the clouds life, and there is a wonderful fiery and green sunset, so stormy-looking! over Eyjafell, the great ice-topped mountain which is at the eastern end of the Njala country.”  This “Eyjafell” is none other than the infamous Eyjafjallajökull which erupted in 2010.

Eyjafjallajökull, in Njala Country

I fell in love with Old Icelandic literature because of the sagas; I am drawn to literature that is both beautiful and melancholy (perhaps all truly good literature is both), and I found in the Íslendingasögur much beauty, but of a distinctly dark character. Our discussions in the Icelandic summer course about the works of Halldór Laxness (a Nobel Prize in Literature recipient) so intrigued me that I purchased Sjálfstætt Folk (Independent People) first in Icelandic, and when that proved too ambitious, in English. I have just finished reading it, and I am excited to read more of the works of Laxness and other modern Icelandic writers in the future. I found in Sjálfstætt Folk an echo of the cold resolve and submission to fate which so resounds in the medieval sagas. If there is an essential spirit of Icelandic literature, it has perhaps persisted from the medieval period to the present. It is clear why many have viewed the saga tradition as an influence on Laxness’s work.

As I am beginning to wrap up my time in Iceland, I’m thinking about how I will continue to study Modern Icelandic when I return to the States.  I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made whilst here, and I don’t want to lose momentum. I hope to come back in the not-too-distant future to continue my language study.  In the meantime, I’m developing a strategy to keep me from forgetting what I have learned. While it would be quite challenging to find speakers of Icelandic nearby, I am planning on continue my language study by:

  1. Corresponding in Icelandic with friends I made in the program
  2. Slowly but surely reading Sjálfstætt Folk in Modern Icelandic
  3. Watching a Modern Icelandic film (in Icelandic) every other week.
  4. Reading Modern Icelandic aloud to practice making some of the more difficult sounds

Iceland’s Medieval Heritage

Iceland is a country more aware of its medieval past than many- if not most- modern nations.  One cannot walk down any of the main thoroughfares in downtown Reykjavík without spotting Viking paraphernalia for sale: keychains, T-shirts, drinking horns, helmets- you name it.  But this sense of the past extends far more deeply than a desire to part willing tourists from their cash; rather, many modern Icelanders still know the stories of the settlement of Iceland starting in the 9th century, to the conversion to Christianity in 1000, to the end of the Icelandic Commonwealth in 1262.  When I told one bookseller that I was studying the Icelandic sagas as part of my PhD, he was so pleased he gave me an edition for free!  Many Icelanders are very proud of these early settlers who came to cultivate what was often an unwelcoming terrain. One of my summer course instructors told me that in the early 2000s when Iceland was enjoying what appeared to be vast economic success, the bankers and businessmen involved with Iceland’s finances were proudly hailed as the “new Vikings.” Enthusiasm for these vikings soon waned with the economic crash.

Me with an awesome gigantic print of a medieval Icelandic manuscript page at the Háskoli Íslands (University of Iceland) in Reykjavík

Almost the entire first floor (of two exhibit floors) of the Pjóðminjasafn Íslands (National Museum of Iceland) contains medieval artifacts from the Viking Age and post-conversion period.  Below on the left is pictured a very famous statue of (most likely) Thor, believed to be carrying his famous hammer Mjolnir before him.  While Odin was the chief of the Norse gods (known as the All Father), Thor was immensely popular and has given his name to numerous places and people.  Many Icelanders contain names with “Thor” in them today (Thorstein, Thorvald, Thord, to name a few examples).  In more recent decades, this statue of Thor has been reused in modern advertisements.  Below (on the right) it is included in an illustration with the seated figure eating licorice instead of holding the hammer.

Then and Now:

Medieval Icelanders also produced exquisitely carved decorations which often adorned churches.  These interlace patterns usually included flora and fauna, sometimes depicting human beings as well. 

This door from a medieval Icelandic church contains a scene from the French romance, Le Chevalier au Lion. This is a very exciting artifact for me because I work on the transmission of romances in medieval England and Scandinavia. This door is dated to around 1200 and was likely made in Iceland, making it an early example of romance in the Norse world.

With the exception of Leif Erikson, the most famous medieval Icelander is probably Snorri Sturluson, known for writing down the Norse mythological works in a collection of texts which has come to be known as the Prose Edda or Snorra Edda (The Edda of Snorri).   Below is a statue of Snorri at one of the places he lived (and was murdered in 1241): Reykholt. You can also see me pictured with a pool of water on Snorri’s property.  As it has been dated to the medieval period, Snorri may have used the pool himself.   

The Church at Bessastaðir, a place very near Reykjavík, contains a series of stained glass windows depicting the history of Christianity in Iceland. Though built in modern times, a few of these artworks depict medieval subjects. According to Landnámabók (“The Book of Settlements,” dated to around 1200) and  Íslendingabók (“The Book of the Icelanders,” dated to the early 12th century), Irish Christians (likely monks) were in Iceland before the Norsemen arrived, leaving some of their property behind.

The Irish come to Iceland.

Depicted in the stained glass window below is Thorgeir Thorkelsson, the Law-Speaker of the Althing (Iceland’s governing body) at the time of the conversion around the year 1000.  Though a pagan himself, he decided that the country should become nominally Christian in order to avid conflict; however, he said that pagans could continue their practices in private.

In addition to depictions of medieval people in modern art, there are numerous saga museums in Iceland where visitors can see the sites of saga narratives and learn more about Iceland’s history.  Many places in Iceland bear the same names they did in the medieval period, and so the events of the sagas can be carefully traced.  You can even go on a saga tour!

Iceland’s Nature: The Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Last weekend I rented a car and explored the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, to the northwest of Reykjavík.  You may remember from my first post that Snæfellsjökull (“Snow-mountain-glacier”) features as the point of entry deep into the earth in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.  Here’s a photographic summary of my trip! I didn’t journey to the center of the earth or anything, but I definitely saw some magnificent natural wonders!

Not far out of Reykjavík, on my way to Borgarnes, I came across this beautiful stream which apparently is also a great fishing spot.  Don’t try fishing here without a permit, though! This stream is on private land.  Borgarnes can boast of the outstanding Settlement Center Museum, which houses wood sculptures of the great Icelandic saga Egils saga Skallagrímssonar. As a medievalist, it was so exciting to see the medieval stories brought alive through art!

Scene from Egils saga: Egil’s father Skallagrim meets King Harold of Norway to seek compensation for his brother’s death.

Below are some lava fields on the way to Grundarfjörður, a town where I stayed the night.

Here I am climbing Kirkjufellsfoss (“Waterfall of Church Mountain”), which overlooks Grundarfjörður.

Morning view of Grundarfjörður.

One of my favorite aspects of driving around Iceland is seeing Icelandic horses almost everywhere I go! Though they are smaller than many breeds of horses, whatever you do, don’t call them ponies.  These horses were brought to Iceland by the Norse settlers who came beginning in the late 9th century, and Icelanders are very proud of them.  These horses are conveniently near a picturesque ruin, making for a great pic!

Pictured below is one of the many lava fields of Snæfellsjökull National Park.  In the back of the picture you can see two enormous cliff-like rock formations jutting out of the shore into the water.

Here’s Snæfellsjökull itself (below)! One of my favorite medieval Icelandic stories is Bárðar saga Snæfellsáss (Saga of Bard the Snow-Mountain god), and yes, he is supposed to have lived here.  There’s a statue of him in Arnarstapi which was made in the 20th century by the sculptor Ragnar Kjartansson. You can read the story in English in Icelandic Histories and Romances, translated by Ralph O’Connor (Stroud: Tempus, 2002).

The Cliffs of Arnarstapi (below) are astonishing beautiful, and the area echoes with the cries of the many seagulls which make their home here.  Restaurants in Arnarstapi are known for their incredible fish & chips, and their reputation is not understated!  This was probably the best fish & chips I’ve ever had.

As I’m writing this I’m sitting in a café in Reykjavík sipping a latte which I ordered in Icelandic!  I’m proud that I managed to have a conversation with the barista in Icelandic and pretty much understood all of what she said (not to mention, she could understand me). Icelandic is definitely difficult to pronounce and speak, but I’m making some great progress while here.

Stay tuned!  Next post I will talk about Iceland’s medieval heritage and its continuing role in Modern Icelandic culture!


I like to think that there are two main groups of people who are bolstering the Icelandic Tourist industry: medievalists (like myself) and the “ecotourist” (well, I may be one of those as well). At least a third- and probably more- of the 45 students in the Modern Icelandic Summer School are medievalists here to improve their Old Norse-Icelandic language skills through the study of Modern Icelandic.  I haven’t asked the tourists on the street why exactly they chose to come to Iceland,  but I have the sinking feeling that it might not have much to do with medieval literature- though their hiking backpacks could very well be filled with books. As much as the History Channel’s Vikings may inspire some travelers, the reality is that Iceland’s incredible (ótrúlegt) landscape (landslag) is really what has sky-rocketed the Icelandic economy after its devastating crash in 2008.

View in Reykjavík

As I mentioned in my last post, the views of nature from Reykjavík itself can be jaw-droppingly exquisite.  But in order to get a more complete sense of what the Icelandic landscape is all about, you really have to get out of the city and either rent a car or take one of the organized tours which leave from Reykjavík (some of these are day trips, others for multiple days). As I’m here primarily to improve my Modern Icelandic (no small task!) I will not be able to see all of Iceland while I’m here, but I have made some small trips on the western and southern coasts. You barely have to drive 200 meters in any direction before you want to stop for a photo!

Last week I went on the “South Coast Tour,” which takes travelers to see some outstanding waterfalls (Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss), as well as one of the famous so-called “black sand” beaches (Reynisfjara).  My tour guide, an Icelandic woman named Ragna, explained that that 2010 volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull (say that five times fast) really put Iceland’s otherworldly nature on the map.  The positive long-term consequences for the Icelandic economy have far out-weighed the immediate negative consequences of precluding air-traffic across Europe for six days (at least, for the Icelanders). Not only did Icelanders enjoy the many (unsuccessful) attempts of foreign media to pronounce the name of the volcano, but the country launched a tourism advertisement campaign that some Icelanders now deem too successful. The world was suddenly very aware of Iceland’s natural wonders.  As one of my instructors succinctly stated: “Iceland is currently ‘In’.”Some Icelanders are concerned that the busloads of tourists increase pollution and could potentially disrupt or even destroy the essence of the natural sites.  But Icelanders are also well aware that international interest in their sites could be a passing fad, and some are worried that another financial crisis will come when the tourists find another place to go.

Anyway, here are some of the favorite haunts of “ecotourists” on which I, too, have now left my carbon footprint.  Take a look and judge for yourself- do you think people will lose interest in Iceland anytime soon?

The “South Coast Tour”

First Stop:  Sólheimajökull (means something like “sun of the worlds glacier”).  You really get a sense of how big it is when you make out the tiny people along the side of the glacier!  This glacier is receding at an alarming rate due to climate change.              

Skógafoss (“Waterfall of forests”):  It’s hard to get an idea of just how enormous this waterfall is based on the pics, but try to see the tiny people climbing up the side of the waterfall along the path in the picture below.  And yes- lots of people camp and even hitchhike as they explore Iceland’s natural wonders!

Reynisfjara (“Beach of the Mountain Ash”): An exquisite black beach  It was very rainy and windy the day I was there, and the waves are known to be dangerous.

The beach is covered in small, black stones rather than sand.

Reynisdrangar (“Pillars of the Mountain Ash”): These basalt sea stacks are strikingly beautiful and otherworldly.  Our tour guide told us that they might be trolls, caught by the rays of the rising sun and turned to stone :). It’s hard to tell from the picture, but they are enormous.

Seljalandsfoss (“Waterfall of Seljaland”): You can actually walk behind this waterfall, but I couldn’t get a decent picture from behind it because the wind was blowing water in my face the whole time.  It was an awesome experience, though!                                                            

I got a little wet after passing through behind the waterfall!

Well, that’s plenty for now, but stay tuned for more about Iceland’s incredible nature and culture coming up soon!





Góðan Daginn!

During my time in Iceland, I am living in the country’s capital, Reykjavík, and attending class during the week at the Háskóli Íslands (University of Iceland). As mentioned in last week’s blog, Reykjavík is often translated as “Bay of Smoke,” though some Icelanders prefer the translation “Bay of Steam” because the city was named long ago for the steamy vapor which spread from nearby hot springs (fun fact: the verb reykja means “to smoke” in modern Icelandic).  About two thirds of Iceland’s population of around 340,000 live in the city’s greater metropolitan area.  However, a steady influx of tourists (over 2 million a year!) makes the city and its environs a hustling and bustling place.  New construction projects seem to be cropping up everywhere!  The Icelanders tell me these are mostly going to be new hotels.  However, other kinds of new businesses are also coming into the area; Iceland’s first Costco just opened in May and has been immensely popular.

The city has an artistic flair, with intricate paintings decorating several of the buildings downtown.  Many of these buildings house tourist shops which sell traditional Icelandic wool sweaters, puffin stuffed animals, and viking- themed paraphernalia.

The architecture in the city alternates between the quaint, traditional Scandinavian brightly-painted houses and the structures of modern minimalism.  In the picture below, you can see how a ultra-modern building has incorporated the more organic-looking Viking interlace pattern into its wood door.  The top scene depicts Ingólfr Arnarson (the first settler of the city) retrieving his high-seat pillars on the shore; around 874 he had cast his high-seat pillars (objects of great symbolic significance) from his boat and determined that he would settle wherever they landed on the shore.

One of the most important recent construction projects in Reykjavík was the completion of Harpa in 2011.  Harpa is a concert hall designed to evoke Iceland’s landscape visually and to be energy efficient. Construction began in 2007, but the project became delayed with the financial crisis of 2008.  The government decided to finance the completion of the building.  Icelanders are extremely proud of this unique and beautiful structure.  Its largest hall, Eldborg, seats 1,800 people and is named for one of Iceland’s volcanic craters.

Harpa, to the right of the photo

Near Harpa one can find “Grandi” and the traditional fishing district, a waterfront area with lots of food options (as well as whale-watching tour boats nearby, of course).

Though it is Iceland’s largest urban center, Reykjavík enjoys its own spectacular views-not only of its bay and the North Atlantic- but also of the mountains close by.

View of Mount Esja from city harbor

If you are not such an enthusiastic fish eater, there are pylsa (hot dog) stands all over the city.  I think they are best with onions (fried or raw) and an Icelandic mayonnaise-based sauce.  Yum!

One of Reykjavík’s most striking structures is Hallgrímskirkja (Hallgrim’s Church), and many tourists ascend the tower to look down on the city and see the surrounding nature.  For reasons unclear to me, there is a statue of Leif Erikson (considered the first European to discover North America) right in front of the Church.  This statue was a gift from the United States to Iceland in 1930, commemorating the 1000 year anniversary of Iceland’s governing body, the Alþingi. 

Me at Hallgrímskirkja with the statue of Leif

After a hard day’s work, who wouldn’t want to grab a bite at Drekinn (“The Dragon”)?

Land of Fire and Ice

Yesterday evening I arrived in Iceland.

I’d landed on Iceland a few times before over the years, stopping only for several hours at the Keflavík airport on my way to visit family in Sweden. I’d seen the landscape from my tiny airplane window, and I remember thinking of the place as dry, flat, and rocky– an ever-so-slightly greener kind of moonscape.

View on bus ride from the airport to Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital city whose name means “Bay of Smoke.”

I’ve also read a lot about Iceland. As a student of Medieval Literature, and of Northern European Medieval Literature more particularly, I’ve read many of what are known as the “Sagas of Icelanders.” These texts are largely concerned with the settlement period of Iceland until its conversion to Christianity, telling much about the lives, deaths, and culture of the early settlers. From these old stories I’ve gained a sense of how many places in Iceland received their names many centuries ago, and I’ve imagined what the places must have looked like when the great saga heroes like Grettir the Strong and Egill Skallagrímsson inhabited them.

Unfortunately, I have not yet read a contemporary novel in Icelandic (hopefully this language program will enable me to do so!). However, I still wanted to get a sense of Iceland through modern literature before departure. The week before I embarked, I took some time to read Jules Verne’s 19th century novel A Journey to the Center of the Earth. Verne’s narrator (Harry) describes a bleak and uninviting landscape which can be traversed only with some discomfort. The novel casts Iceland’s grand Snæfellsjökul-  a volcano I plan to visit later this month-  as the point of entry to the earth’s core.  [Fun fact: Another Icelandic volcano, named Hekla, was referred to as the “Gateway to Hell” by some medieval authors and early modern mapmakers.]  I wonder- what will my experience of Iceland’s volcanoes entail?

All this is simply to say that my literary experiences of Iceland, as well as my very limited actual experience of the place, did not prepare me for what I found upon arrival, especially the greenery and trees. My bus ride from Keflavík to Reykjavík revealed a landscape which, though generously sprinkled with rocks, also yielded fields of beautiful purple flowers. When I arrived in Reykjavík itself, I found that the joke I’d first heard a few years ago (Q: “How do you find your way when lost in an Icelandic forest?” A: “Stand up”) was simply not true of the city. Admittedly, to call Reykjavík a highly forested place would be misleading, but it is a charming place not only blessed with gorgeous views of grand mountains and broad expanses of water but with lovely green trees.  I knew Iceland would be a strikingly beautiful place, but I did not expect this particular kind of beauty.

Hólavallagarður Cemetery in Reykjavík, a short walk from my lodging.
Little Mermaid statue in Hljómskálagarður park, near City Hall.
Spectacular view from Skúlagata in Reykjavík.

As I’ve only today had the first Modern Icelandic class, I can’t say that my Icelandic is so far something worth writing home about.  But Iceland certainly is worth writing home about, and I’m not surprised that it is becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. I am looking forward to spending the next month or so in this fascinating place and to learning its beautiful language.

View from the lovely house where I am staying with other students from the program.