Now that I’m so far into my Erasmus exchange, it’s difficult to think back to which things it would have been helpful to know a year ago. If anyone who is heading off to Reykjavik later this year has any questions or general things they want to know about studying in Iceland, then email me and I can talk more about it through this blog. Until then, I thought I’d share some of my favourite places as well as some practical information…
Cafe Babalu: the whole place could be someone’s elderly aunt’s lounge, if said aunt also had a strange collection of Flinstones memorabilia, other toys and ornaments. They offer free coffee refills and a student discount, making it a nice place to hang out as well as a pretty decent study spot. However, the comfortable sofas and potential distractions (they have so many board games) can be a slight studying deterrent.
Te og Kaffi @ RU and in Eymundsson on Austurstraeti: the latter is my preferred place to get serious uni work done, but the Te og Kaffi inside the university has an automatic student discount. There’s also a number of other locations around the city and a loyalty card that I use constantly. I can’t tell whether it’s a really good deal for the money you spend or whether I just spend so much that I get the appropriate amount of free coffees and sandwiches in return for my “loyalty” (read: need for caffeine).
Reykjavik also has something Glasgow doesn’t: Dunkin’ Donuts!
BARS & CLUBS
Hresso/Bjarni Fel Sportsbar: ESN discount locations which have an adjoining outdoor area. Beer is only 490kr and you get 20% off all food and drinks with the ESN card. A lot of student events happen here; I don’t know how great these bars actually are but if you study here you will probably end up spending a fair amount of nights there. You can also watch pretty much any sports in Bjarni Fel, including the Super Bowl, which only a couple of places in Reykjavik get licenses to stay open late to show.
Glaumbar: again, there’s the same ESN discount on beer. I would say this bar’s main selling point is its quiz nights. There are general knowledge quizzes planned for the Erasmus students as well as the quizzes arranged by the bar which include Harry Potter and Marvel themes.
Boston: not so cheap (though there’s always happy hour) but they do excellent cocktails. This one’s a little biased since I’m friends with people who work there, but if you’re not budgeting too carefully then it’s a nice place to go.
Kiki’s Queer Bar: Reykjavik’s answer to Glasgow’s Polo Lounge. Awesome music and atmosphere; the prices aren’t as good as midweek Polo but it’s open until 5 on Friday nights, making it a perfect after-party location.
Lebowski’s: like Glasgow’s Big Lebowski, their specialty is obviously White Russians. They also do great burgers.
Gym memberships can be VERY expensive compared to gyms back in Glasgow. World Class is a chain of gyms in Reykjavik and their facilities are well equipped and offer a variety of classes in some of the locations. However, like I said, it’s incredibly pricey.
I finally found the way around this at the end of last year – you can purchase a membership solely for the gym in the basement of Reykjavik University. They don’t have classes or a huge facility but it’s not ever particularly busy and would meet most people’s needs. For more specialised training, there’s a mixed martial arts gym called Mjölnir, after Þor’s hammer.
Alternatively, Tiger sell the cheapest exercise mats around (from what I can tell) in addition to reasonably priced weights and other exercise equipment.
PLACES WITH A VIEW
Perlan: this building contains a restaurant and a shop and some other facilities; from what I’ve heard the restaurant is very expensive, but you can access the outside deck on the top floor for free. From there you can get the most amazing view of the whole of Reykjavik.
The lake in downtown Reykjavik isn’t too bad too look at either – in summer, or when it’s completely frozen over and people take walks across it.
There are a lot of places around Reykjavik I am yet to visit, probably because being here for such an extended period of time has made me complacent about seeing museums and galleries around the city. It is challenging to stay motivated to be a tourist in the city you live in, but for the rest of my time here, I will try to do just that.
Once again, if you have any questions about Iceland or Erasmus generally, please email me. And if you have been accepted to study here next year, congratulations! P.s. buy shoes that are good on ice – it will save you many falls and the subsequent bruises.
Contact me at 2085739M@student.gla.ac.uk