Útlendingur (Outlander : Top 10 Signs You Might Be One, First Edition)

Gammeldags Lakrids

Gammeldags Lakrids (Old-Days Licorice)

10. Not absolutely loving licorice.
If you want something in the candy department here in Iceland, be prepared to have it contain licorice. It’s a situation very much like the peanut phenomenon in the US. Just try finding candy that does not contain peanuts in one form or another in the good old US of A. I have trained myself by eating Gammeldags Lakrids (Old-days licorice). It worked.

I like licorice now, whereas before, I simply tolerated it. I even wanted to try licorice flavored Grom (gelato) when we took a trip to Milan, Italy. I loved it. There appears to be a bunch of health benefits from eating licorice, which figures. Icelanders know a thing or two about living healthy. Rest assured, I am taking notes.

9. Expecting to find things open on a Saturday.
So you have an important package coming from your daughter in the US. And you happen to work, so weekdays you tend to be busy with that. And you figure, hey, I can just stop by on a Saturday morning at the Post Office and quickly pick that package up. Guess again. The Post Office is only open on weekdays. So you are going to have to ask your boss for a bit of time out at lunch to get that package, because things are only open when you are working!

8. Expecting to find things open after 6:00pm on a weekday.
Look. You work. Your hours might tend to have you working a fair amount. If you expect to be able to swing by the grocery store, … well … actually you can do that. Kronan stays open until 8:00pm. So if you don’t have language class you are sorted. Failing that you can always pay more and go to Hagkaup or Nóatún. Forget about Bonus, though, they close at 6:30pm. Fancy picking up a few tinnies on the way home, better be on the road by 5:30pm buddy.

7. Going to the Blue Lagoon instead of the local sundlaug.
It’s the thing to do if you are a tourist, after all. However, a trip to the local sundlaug (swimming pool) is going to be a lot cheaper and an over all better experience. Expect to shower naked before entering, or the shower police will accost you. So I am told. There’s no chlorine taking care of germs and such. So there has to be a reliance on proper showering to keep things clean and hygienic. The bottom of the Blue Lagoon is said to contain large amounts of human hair … ugh. I am glad I know that after the fact.

6. Not being dressed entirely in black.
If you want to blend in here, just convert your entire wardrobe to items which contain no more colour than black. It works. It makes laundry simpler too. Darks … you got it. They are all darks now!  You’ll feel warmer in black. You will blend in more too. It worked like a charm for me. I even went so far as to make my wardrobe back in the US all black. It’s slimming. It’s fashionable. It absorbs all light. What’s not to like?

5. Paying with cash … anywhere. Where’s your debit card?
It took me a while to catch on to this. I was happily paying cash all over the place. Forget that. Get some plastic! You really do not want a pile of Icelandic change to have to deal with, it has fish on it, but that is where the coolness begins and ends. I have a small plastic bag full of it in my car. It is useful for parking meters, that’s about it. Your debit card will cost a small amount to use each time, but you save all that hassle of having loose change to dispose of. It’s worth it, trust me.

4. Parking too precisely in a parking space.
I don’t parallel park. In fact, I moved to the countryside specifically to avoid having to. However, when I do park, I try to align my vehicle in such a way as to indicate that I am in full control of it. It is amusing to see some of the parking ‘attempts’ that occur in Iceland. People often post photos of the more amusing ‘attempts’. I have to tell myself not to take extra time backing out and re-aligning the car so that it is perfectly positioned in the parking space, like some sort of vehicular feng shui . It’s just not worth it, honestly. Close enough is good enough. Go with the flow. Jaunty is the order of the day.

3. Staying in lane on a roundabout.
Woah. This one is something I only just found out about. In Gettysburg, we have one, single, solitary roundabout. And no one really knows what to do when they encounter it. A lot of people stop and yield (perhaps because they are startled at happening upon it), when they should continue, that is what the whole point of a roundabout is, keeping vehicles moving. Here I recently started noticing that drivers simply ignore the fact that there are two lanes on a roundabout. The inner one, and the outer one.

It is routine for drivers to enter on the outer lane and cut right across immediately to the inner lane as they pass through. Rush-hour is a little better, but still, be aware that you need to yield to any vehicle that is adjacent to you. I have narrowly missed several close encounters because I saw it coming ahead of time. It’s fine so long as you know what to expect. So expect drivers to cut from lane to lane with no regard to you being in the lane they just chose to be in all of a sudden.

2. Use of indicator in a vehicle… at all.
I have heard that Iceland is small enough that everyone knows each other, and, as a result, they know where everyone else is going. So indicator use is superfluous. I cheerfully indicate as I have been conditioned to, both in the UK and the US, knowing full well that I am making it a dead giveaway that I am not from Iceland. The rear wiper on my Jeep does not work any more, probably because it needed to be operated extensively, due to the weather. Contrastingly, the indicators work as if they were new.

1. Being afraid of volcanoes.
Come on. Seriously? You are concerned about these things? There are two types of volcano here. Your regular common or garden variety that just lets off a bunch of ash that you have to clean up afterwards. And your ‘tourist volcano’ that you can fly helicopters over so foreigners can ooh and ahh, and drop a lot of foreign currency your way. You are not afraid of the tornadoes? People die with those things. Like actually die. Their houses get destroyed. Their lives get ruined. Here, you might have to sweep up a bit. At worst you lose a sheep or three.

Don’t be afraid of volcanoes. Embrace them. They are your friends, and a potential source of income. Get in your super Jeep and drive out on the glacier to enjoy the hot spewing lava up close and personal. Volcanoes aren’t a new invention either, though you would be forgiven for thinking so based on media coverage. They are as old as the hills… actually, they most likely made the hills. It’s worth remembering that America sits atop a super volcano, situated in Yellowstone. When that puppy goes off again, well … we are all pretty much going to know about it, aren’t we. So let’s just all put the whole volcano thing in proper perspective, eh? Yes, let’s.

Bless Bless og Sjáumst!

2 responses to “Útlendingur (Outlander : Top 10 Signs You Might Be One, First Edition)

  1. Speaking as a serial visitor, may I suggest an addition or two on the lines of:

    You treat water and power as if they were not almost infinite resources. Coming from a country with expensive electricity, and water shortages, I mentally flinch at seeing how profligate people are with water and electricity.

    You find curiousities in the supermarket. Some Icelandic food is facinating to foriegners. I still remember the first time I picked up a BBQed half sheeps head in supermarket.

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