After a fairly lengthy process and receiving my provisional offer so many months ago, it’s official – I’ll be studying for a year at Háskólinn í Reykjavík in Iceland!
This time in two weeks I will have arrived in Reykjavik – orientation begins August 13th which is obviously a lot earlier than the Glasgow term. I was able to do some work experience this summer but now that I’ve finished that I realise how little time I have left until I have to go and it’s a little terrifying! But I’ll go back to the start of the whole process and talk about how I finally got to this point.
Applying to study abroad
This section could go on forever but I have three main pieces of advice: take notes while you’re researching different places so you can compare them before making final choices; write down course codes for classes you want to do/bookmark course catalogues on universities’ websites – some websites will be difficult to navigate and it will save you time later; finally, do not leave your application until the last minute or you will be tearing your hair out at a ridiculous hour because the application webpage crashed just as you were about to submit it. (That was me and it wasn’t fun.)
The application process can be pretty time consuming so you need to take that into account and leave yourself enough time. This is especially true if you apply for both Erasmus and International Exchange since there are so many options to research.
Where to go
If there’s one place you really want to go and you already know that, then that’s great, but you have to apply to more than one place, so it’s worth spending some time researching places and seeing all the different things on offer. So think about what your priorities are for your year abroad, e.g. developing language skills, specific classes or programmes, the local culture, etc. These are pretty much my reasons for choosing to study in Iceland:
- I’ve never been before and I’m really interested in exploring Iceland.
- It’s an opportunity to experience a different culture – but in a country where most people speak English.
- By staying in Europe I’m not too far from home, and there’s some help in the form of the Erasmus grant.
Flights: I’m flying with Icelandair from Glasgow and got a one way ticket for around £120. You can also fly with EasyJet if you are leaving from Edinburgh, or WowAir from London. One way tickets can range from £60-230 so it’s good to shop around. I have also decided to take a second piece of hold luggage which was fairly reasonable at £28.
Accommodation: There are no student halls at RU, so you’re on your own. ‘Guesthouses’ are cheap for students from September-May, but there’s limited availability so it’s good to know about them before the university sends the same list of recommended places out to everyone. I’m going to be trying out somewhere I found through Airbnb which is pretty much right next to the university.
Packing: I got a new waterproof jacket and walking boots for going away but since the Reykjavik climate is pretty similar to Glasgow’s, there’s not much that I’ve found has been recommended that I don’t already have. For instance, jumpers.
Kennitala: This is what you call your Icelandic social security number and it’s super important because you’ll need it for so many things – getting a gym membership, looking at private rental flats, etc. I was worried about getting this but the uni provide you with one at the same time as your username and email address so you don’t have to do anything. [Edit: the Kennitala provided by the university is just for using within the university, e.g. to get a library card. However, the International Office are very helpful and make it incredibly easy to get a Kennitala. You will absolutely need one if you are planning on working or want to open a bank account. There’s also some other things that you will surprisingly require this for, such as buying cinema tickets online.]
I feel like it’s difficult to try and explain everything I’ve done to prepare for going away, especially since I’m still not entirely prepared, but if anyone wants to know more or has questions my contact email will be available on each blog.
I’m of mixed emotions at the moment but for the most I am really excited to start a new adventure and see everything that Iceland has to offer. Example:
Find out more about studying in Iceland: http://www.esn.is
And about Reykjavik University: http://en.ru.is
And a quick link to their classes:
And all the great things you can see and do in Reykjavik! http://www.visitreykjavik.is
If you have any questions, my name is Jen and you can email me at 2085739M@student.gla.ac.uk