Studying in Iceland.

 

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Iceland may not be the most popular destination for further studies, but the country actually offers very unique and interesting courses. Below is just a few examples of institutes that provide formal educational degrees in the country.

Famous for its abundance of geothermal resources, Iceland is considered very advanced in its development of green energy utilisation. Since an agreement was made in the last World Geothermal Congress between Indonesia and Iceland to cooperate in the fields of geothermal, there will be a significant rise in the demand of such expertise in Indonesia in the future. Reykjavík Energy Graduate School of Sustainable System offers courses and degrees specialising in renewable energy.

Háskóli Íslands is the oldest university in the country, which happened to be celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. It offers various courses and degrees from its five main schools, Social Sciences, Health Sciences, Humanities, Education, and Engineering & Natural Sciences. In my personal opinion, the best perk about going to this university, is the no tuition fee policy! I enrolled in a BA programme and an MA programme simultaneously, and I’m only required to pay registration fee every year for 45,000 ISK (around 275 EUR). Compare that price with a regular Master’s programme in other European countries that usually cost around 8,000 EUR or more. Tis’ a bargain I’d say!

Both Háskólinn í Reykjavík and Háskólinn á Bifröst are very famous for their business studies in Iceland. Though Iceland may be the last country in your mind when it comes to business field, these universities actually provide very diverse subject of studies, including law, computer science, and engineering.

Other academic institutions in Iceland would be Háskólinn á AkureyriHólaskóliLandbúnaðarháskóli, and Lístaháskóli Íslands. More information about higher education in Iceland can also be seen here.

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Icelandic weather.

It’s really sunny in Reykjavík today.

When “Iceland” is mentioned, people think of icy land, with harsh cold weather all year round (well, maybe not all people think that way, but most of my friends do!). But the truth is, I find Iceland very green, with mild winter (at least in Reykjavík, perhaps the winter is more severe around the northern area).

Still, coming from a true tropical country like Indonesia, people always question me whether I get depressed from lack of sunshine or too much cold. And I always answer with a firm and absolute NO!

To be honest, I can’t stand the heat in Indonesia, especially Jakarta. The weather is very humid there, that the hot feeling is multiplied (kind of like the effect of wind chill in Iceland, when the wind makes the temperature feels so much colder).

My perfect kind of weather would be a dry, cool temperature, no wind and not too sunny (I hate getting tanned).

So, living in Iceland is perfect for me, as I enjoy my skin getting lighter and lighter in colour each day 🙂

Another good thing for having this type of weather is, there are no insects in Iceland! Well, sometimes in the summer we experience occasional encounters with flies, but that’s pretty much it.

No mosquitoes, no bed bugs, and no ants (yay!). This is a very important perk (to me, at least) because I am allergic to most of bug bites or stings.

Though the weather has been a bit weird lately (first official day of summer is supposed to be tomorrow, but we still had hails and snow just yesterday), it only took me one glance at this news piece in Jakarta to make me feel THANKFUL again for living here.

Btw, I think I jinxed the weather by saying it was so “sunny” at the beginning of the post, as of now grey clouds have started to fill up the sky.

Learning Icelandic.

When I first arrived in Iceland, I was amazed on how everybody speaks English (seriously, EVERYBODY!). While in Indonesia, there are countless times when my husband gets so frustrated during his communicating endeavor because, well, NOT everybody can speak English there (even my mum can’t speak it, sigh).

Anyway, realising this, you’d think that I would not need to learn the local language, which is Icelandic. Well, the truth is, yes I do! Not only because I religiously adopt the saying that goes “when in Rome,…”, but also because my husband is Icelandic, and our household’s official language is simply a mix of Indonesian, Icelandic with a bit English thrown in every now and then. And I personally believe that our children need to be able to speak their parents’ native languages (I keep thinking how cool would it be when our children can be bilingual and speak fluent both Indonesian and Icelandic).

So, here is the list of places and methods on how I began to learn Icelandic:

  1. Join a course on Íslenska sem annað mál at Háskóli Íslands. In my opinion, this is the best choice if you’re serious about learning the language properly. Not only it teaches you the use of language on daily basis and its grammar, but also Icelandic literatures and cultures, which I find very interesting. The program offers a BA degree at the end of its three-year duration.
  2. Take up short informal Icelandic courses which are available at many institutions, such as Mimir, Múlti-Kúlti, Alþjóðasetur, Tækniskólinn. These courses will mostly teach the practical usage of the language, such as daily conversations.
  3. Login to Icelandic Online, a free online Icelandic course on the web. I find it really convenient and helpful during my first encounters to the “magnificence” of Icelandic language.
I’m sure there are lots more of ways and place to study the language, so by all means share your knowledge and experiences! 🙂

Kartini.

On 21st of April, Indonesia commemorates the birthday of Raden Ajeng Kartini, a national heroine who fought for women’s rights during the late 19th century.

I remember studying history in elementary school and having to memorise her birthday and her contribution to the fight for women’s right to gain a freedom to study and develop themselves.

I have always been so proud of having her as our national hero, since we are both of Javanese origins, and I see a lot of relevance between her struggle on women’s rights and what were happening surrounding me.

My mum was one of the unlucky ones in her time who didn’t get to continue her study after elementary school. At that time, her parents thought , girls didn’t need to study too much as they were expected to get married eventually and have husbands who will provide for them.

Now that my mum has children of her own, she always encourages us to learn and study as much as we can. Every school year break (we didn’t have super long summer holidays like most of western countries, instead, we got about 1 month break from school around June-July, where the academic year changes, and students get to move from their previous grade to the next one) my mum would make us take short courses, such as Intensive English courses, Quran reading courses, traditional dancing, organ lessons… I even ended up in a modelling course once! (I think my mum ran out of ideas on short courses to take at that time)

Yes, my mum is my favourite hero!

Yet, I have to admit, I have never seen any other country that is more “feminist” than Iceland. A country that holds the status of “first country with a female president“, and whose current Prime Minister is a woman too. So inspiring.

So, with Kartini’s day coming up tomorrow, I feel really proud to be a woman. Happy Kartini’s Day everyone!

A place to live.

Recent development on Indonesian immigration law enforced towards foreign spouses got me thinking, about a place to call home.

After having lived in Iceland for more than 2.5 years, undoubtedly I consider the country as my home (well, my second home after Jakarta, Indonesia). One of the many considerations on why my husband and I decided to live here was, “it makes more sense to do so.”

Immigration laws in Iceland is more lenient towards the spouses of Icelanders compared to Indonesian’s. I was granted temporary residency once I arrived in the country, which needs to be renewed every year for the first three years of my stay. Afterwards, I can apply for permanent residency which only needs to renewed every five years.

The residential permit allows me to work for full time, and entitles me to full health benefits. If I have any working experiences in Iceland, should I ever get unemployed in the future, I will be entitled to unemployment benefits.

The immigration law in Indonesia is pale beyond comparison with Iceland’s. At least, it was like that, until now. The new regulations passed by the Indonesian House of Representatives show how the immigration laws are constantly being reviewed and developed in order to cater the needs of Indonesian people and its residents. Though it’s still a long way for Indonesia to be able to come to the same point as Iceland, but at least now there is hope towards that direction.

I have never really given a good thought about where I would like to live the rest of my life. Because I always think it’s still way to early to pick a place to grow old in. But as our little family is getting another member, I can’t help but thinking where do I want to raise our child.

Despite being madly in love with Iceland, there is always a part of me that wants to share bits of my childhood and my first home to our children. I want them to know and experience the amazing place where I grew up, the beautiful people, the rich culture, the unbearable hot and humid weather, and all those lovely memories that cannot be obtained just by few holiday trips every year to Indonesia.

But on the other hand, raising a child in Iceland is so appealing, where it’s so safe that parents would normally leave their babies in their stroller outside shops or coffee-houses while they’re running their errands, where I could leave my car unlocked while parked anywhere, where I don’t fear for my life when walking or driving in the middle of the night (I mean, ever heard of Kapak Merah in Jakarta? /shudder).

There are only few weeks to go until the new little member of our family comes into our life, and I still have no idea where I want to raise our child.

Street food vendors.

Oh how I miss them! And I’m not talking about the regular hot dog stand, or hamburger stand, or even falafel stand, though we do have them as well, but I’m talking about hundreds or more types of food that are being sold in every corner of the city of Jakarta around the clock! (yes,  you read right, most of these street food vendors adopt similar business operating time as 7-Eleven)

Chicken satay, noodles, dim sums, fried rice, omelet, soups, traditional food, international food, you name it, they will have it! On top of that, some of these vendors even travel around residential areas, so if you feel a bit peckish in the middle of the night, all you need to do is listen… and wait for that distinctive sound of wood knocking that most of these vendors use to advertise their products and services.

Once you decide which food vendor you opt for your meal, you can give your order straight away to the chef/cook/cashier/cart-pusher (the business is a one-man-show, mind you), and wait while your food is being prepared and cooked. When it’s ready, be prepared to taste the flavour of home-made-like food, freshly made from the (mobile) kitchen of the street vendor.

Knitting.

As long as I can remember, I never picture myself to be a person who knits! My mum is a seamstress, and she has been sewing pretty much everything fabric-made at our parents’ house. Even at my own place now in Iceland, I still use bedsheets and bedspreads made by her. But, while growing up, no matter how hard my mum tried to convert me into sewing, it never happen. So imagine how shocked my mum was when I told her I have been knitting since I came to Iceland!

I think knitting is a very Icelandic thing. If you write “Iceland” on Google and browse through the images results, after about 50 pictures of Blue Lagoon and breathtaking natural landscapes, I’m sure you’ll come across a picture of people in Icelandic lopapeysa (wool sweater).

Knitting is so common here, that I see loads of people , be it men or women, old and young do it almost any time, anywhere. They teach knitting at schools, and knitting and sewing clubs are so popular as well.

A friend of mine had to move to Iceland due to her husband’s work, and her husband’s Icelandic company provided knitting lessons for all the expatriates’ wives once they arrive in the country.

It’s almost as if knitting is just a part of life when living in Iceland, and I think it’s rather remarkable. Icelandic people have been knitting for hundreds of years, and they’re still doing it until now. I also think that it’s just a part of being an Icelander. I may be generalising here, but I always imagine Icelandic people are very self-sufficient. For example, my husband is an Icelander, and he cooks, sews, installed the dishwasher, repaired the washing machine, put up fences around our place, and he cooks! (I had to mention this twice, because he is such a good cook!). I mean, back home in Jakarta, my mum would have other people do all those tasks for her (yes, even the cooking part).

But here, since everything is so costly, almost everybody has to be self-sufficient, and knitting is definitely one way to do it. A proper wool sweater here could easily cost from 10,000-20,000 ISK, while if you knit it yourself, the materials couldn’t cost more than 5,000 ISK. A wise person once told me, there are two things you can buy in Iceland which won’t cost you an arm or a leg, and they are lopi (Icelandic wool that itches oh, so good) and entrance to swimming pool.

And as much as I hate to admit it, knitting is actually not that bad or boring. I’m not that much of a knitter, as it usually takes me ages to finish knitting even the smallest piece. But I find the activity relaxing, and fun if you are doing it together with your friends or family members over nice cups of coffee and delicious cakes.

So, grab your needles and yarns, and start living the life, Icelandic style 🙂