One of the main differences between my Glasgow and Reykjavik schedules is my classes – or lack thereof. I only have classes Wednesday-Friday, which leaves a lot of time to attempt to do all the reading for my classes, act like a responsible adult (read: do laundry before realising there are no clean [necessary item of clothing] left in the wardrobe), and do all the things that Iceland has to offer!
It can be hard to find a good balance of studying and doing fun things, especially in a new environment, but now that I’ve been here a while I thought I’d cover that general issue in this post.
There are a lot of fun things to do in Iceland!
But keep in mind that many of these fun things cost a lot of money. So even if you are here and, like me, have a lot of free time, you could never afford to spend all of that free time off on trips. My advice is to buy an Erasmus Student Network student card when you arrive in Iceland, it’s about £15 and not only do you get discounts in a lot of shops, bars, and restaurants, you have access to all the events and discount prices on the trips that ESN runs. They run a lot of events, including their “City Race” – comparable to a scavenger hunt except with tasks instead of items – in which my team consumed shark, Brennivin (Icelandic liquor to chase down the shark), and liquorice. (Side note: if like myself you don’t like liquorice, Icelandic candy will be pretty disappointing since they include liquorice in everything, even chocolate bars – is nothing sacred?) Other tasks included:
ESN Iceland run lots of events like this including pub quiz nights, knitting clubs, but they also organise big trips. For instance, a couple of weeks ago we went kayaking in Stokkseyri. Sadly I don’t have a waterproof camera (not that I would have trusted myself not to drop it in the ocean even if I did) so I can’t show the horses that came up to our kayaks on the river, or the seals we spotted while out on the sea, but this website has plenty of photos that can.
The ESN trips are also really valuable if you are unsure of organising a trip yourself. Obviously there will be some things that they do not plan for you but luckily there are other students out there who are motivated/experienced/knowledgeable enough to organise trips that you can join, if you’re not one of those students to begin with! I have fellow students like that to thank for the highlight of my weekend – snorkeling in Silfra, where we swam between the North American and European tectonic plates. The only downside was the 2-4 degree water… Again, I have no photos of my own, but I’ll steal (and appropriately source) some so that you can see how awesome it was!
There are also a lot of assignments to do in Iceland…
One of the major academic differences between studying law at home vs abroad is the way we are assessed here. For the vast majority of my subjects last year, the final exam/essay was worth 100% of the grade. How you did in the final exam is the only thing that matters. Here, there is more of a coursework style to my classes. So far I’ve had a class test, a written assignment, a presentation, and an essay (that I’m currently in the middle of and should really get back to…) that all contribute to my final grade.
It’s a relief to know I’m (probably) not going to be as ridiculously stressed about finals this year as previously, but it also means that I’ve needed to get my tendency to procrastinate everything under control a bit. I knew that this was the system before I came here and it factored into my decision to choose to study here; I think I made the right decision as I definitely prefer being able to space out my work across the semester.
To sum up all my activities into an actual point, plan and space out your trips and your work. The cost of trips can pile up, as can coursework, if it goes unattended. But if you find yourself lacking money/work to do, there’s usually fun, cheap (or free) things happening in Reykjavik to look out for.
Until next time, if you have any questions, my name is Jen and you can email me at 2085739M@student.gla.ac.uk