All good things must come to an end

28th of November

Time flies, it’s the end of November and my project will be over soon. Since Thanksgiving was yesterday (although it’s not a German nor Icelandic tradition), I want to notice all the things I have, how blessed I am and be thankful for the things I have been given.

The last months have gone by so fast, I barely noticed. In August I worked in the garden and for 2 weeks in the kitchen. I found it very interesting, the differences between Icelandic and German kitchen work. I was allowed to work on my own, the noticed my experience, and it was nice to be appreciated in that way. I am so lucky with my colleges, the take their time talking to me, explaining things I don’t understand and they are always there for me when I need them!

In September my workdays contained mostly of garden and house work. The last week I got a visit from my girlfriends in Iceland, and Maria (EVS Volunteer with Lífsmótun). We looked ad Munich, went to Ulm, but first and foremost we enjoyed having each other! We had so much fun, I am so grateful for having such lovely friends I can trust.

My beautiful friends

October came very fast and so did the end of it. I took 2 weeks vacation in October, the first week, because of birthdays in my German family, and the last week, because my grandparents from Iceland came to visit. We spent time together and had lots of fun, it was great!! I am so thankful for my family, they mean everything to me, I’m the richest person in the world. I miss them every day, but Skype makes it a lot easier to be apart.

My grandparents and I

In November I had my last Natur Erlebnis Tage with a school class. We had the Theme Autumn and how the animals survive the winter. Every time it has been very interesting, because many of the things, we teach the children, I didn’t know before. One day, as we were walking to the woods with the class, we stumbled upon a Hedgehog, the cutest little thing. For me it was amazing, because in Iceland, there are no Hedgehogs. I have a new favorite wild animal. I am sure I learned more here about all sorts of things in the nature than in my years in the school in Iceland, so many things we don’t learn, because they don’t exist in the cold north. Like this little cutie:

The cutest little thing.

Now November has gone so quickly and I am seeing the end of my project. My work now involves around all the things a EVS volunteer needs to do when the projects coming to end. I spend the days in my office, writing my Youthpass and my final report, thinking about the future.

During my work here, I have always wondered if this picture is of the Icelandic musician Björk. It is.. I was very amused, to find a photo of an Icelandic singer in a Youth center in the middle of nowhere in Schwaben, Germany.

Björk

In December I have 3 weeks of work, and then Christmas holiday. I come back for work in January and have 6 days of work, then my project is over. I am sort of looking forward to the end, but also dreading giving up the luxurious life of a EVS voulunteer, and having to say goodbye to everyone. For all the things this year has brought to me, I am glad, moved and very thankful (Yes I say thankful a lot).

But enough for now, I have to get back to my Youthpass!

Thank you for taking your time to read my blog.

Rakel Ösp Aðalsteinsdóttir

 

Of different abilities

7th of August

It’s August already? Time is flying. I have finished the half of my projekt here in Babenhausen, but it stil feels like I just arrived. Summer still is in control, although there are some rainy days, I love them.

As I told you in my last update my mother and brother visited me in June. I took a whole week vacation so that I could spend time with them and my grandparents. It was helpful to get out of Babenhausen and see something else. Don’t get me wrong, I love this place, but staying here alone all the time can be hard.

My brother, me and my mum

In end of July I moved out of my appartment into the bigger one, so that the volunteers will all be living together. There are only two of us left now, and the other one is leaving next week. Then it will be just me, until the beginning of September.

After they left my life went back to the normal routine. In July I helped out with a German-Chinese exchange workshop and it was really interesting. The youngsters were in the age of 14/15. One class from Babenhausen, the other from China. There were big cultural differences, as to be expected, but it was nice seeing them working together as a group.

Later in July I took part in an German coach projekt called: ,,Schule ohne Rassismus-Schule mit Courage” (or in a rough translation; School without racism-school with courage) wich I think should be started in Iceland as well.

More information: http://www.schule-ohne-rassismus.org/startseite/ (in German)

Last weekend, my sister and her friend came to visit me in Babenhausen. We had a lot of fun, I laughed more than I have in months. It was so nice to speak Icelandic again, not having to think how you could get the words out, just doing it.

For the last weeks, we have not had any groups of children in the house, so I have been working along with the house staff in some smaller projects. I took over the night shifts this week and have learned a lot of new, technical stuff.

Yesterday, I went with one of my coworkers to Ulm, to bring the work car to be repaired. We got a rental car to drive back, and I drove, imagine that. I was so sure I would never drive the freeway in Germany, it was just to scary, but I did it. Proud moment for Rakel. I did the same thing today, got the car back from Ulm and drove the freeway again. Nothing is impossible.

The next two weeks I will be working in the kitchen, testing my skills and using the once I already had after my Chef work in Iceland. It will be interesting to see what differences are in Icelandic and German cooking and kitchen work in general.

So as you can see, my work is getting more challenging, I love it. While working in all those different fields I notice where I am strong, and where I have to do better.

Tomorrow is my birthday (yay) and I will go to Würzburg for the weekend and spend it with Max. I took a vacation day on Monday, because I have been spending the entire last month here, I have to get away for just a weekend.

Love from Babenhausen

Until next time

Rakel Ösp Aðalsteinsdóttir.

Ekki bless, bless heldur sjáumst…

Dear friends,

today was my last day as an EVS-volunteer and I guess it’s time to write a last post. I signed my Final Report and my Youth Pass, I had my very last work day and I only have 4 more days left in Iceland. I took part in the closing ceremonies at high school and primary school, said goodbye to the kingarden kids and to a lot of other people. With every day my suitcases get fuller and Vadshólar emptier and it all feels very weird. I’m going to miss everything here, the swimming pool, the schools, the kids, my work, the food and all the wonderful people I got to know during the last 10 months. But at the same time I am excited about going back home to Germany! And somehow I feel ready to go home, because of the old friends and new challenges that await me there. And because of all the good memories and changes I experienced here. I know that the things I learned and did here in Iceland will never leave me and that I will always be welcome to come back here. And oh, I will come back! 😀

I’m going back home, but I also leave home here, which makes me feel sad but even more, it makes me grateful and confident.

Thanks for all the support, love and friendship in the last 10 months – Takk fyrir mig!

Sjáumst,

Maria :)

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Summer is coming!

8th of June (Achter Juni; Áttundi Júní)

Wow it has been a while!

The last months in Babenhausen have been full of activities and surprises. The weather has been really nice, but at times it is just too warm for me!

Appletree in the "Jubi" gardenIn the "Jubi" garden
In March I went on my On-Arrival-Training in Bornheim (Near Cologne (Köln) and Bonn) along with 20 other EVS volunteers in Germany. The seminar was 10 days long and took place in a Youth Center a bit outside of the town, so it was quet and really comfortable (except for my allergies).
On this seminar we learned about all sorts of stuff connecting our EVS projekts and our rights as volunteers, also about German history and culture.

The half-done plan for my seminar.
One day during the seminar, we went to Köln (Cologne), were we visited the “NS-Dokumentationszentrum”, located in the EL-DE building, site of the Gestapo (secret police). The museum deals with political and social life in Köln during the Nazi period. In the basement is a memorial site, showing the cells prisoners were helt in and you can still see their drawing and writings on the walls.

We also visited Bonn, the former capital city of Germany (I did not know that, thank you Icelandic school system). There we went to the “Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland”, so basicly a museum about german history.

The handwriting of J. F. Kennedy, Ich bin ein Berliner.

Afterwards we had some time for us in Bonn, so I met up with a good friend of my mothers, and her husband, and we went for dinner in a lovely Italian restaurant.

20140314_192602

After that seminar I went back to Babenhausen and continued my regular workingdays in the “Jubi” in Babenhausen. Most days I work along with house staff on a regular basis job (like preparing grouprooms, going to the postoffice, assist guests and more) and some days I am lucky enough to assist with the seminars for children and youngsters.

In preparation for the “Europe moves” projekt, me, along with the other volunteers, made a Europemap:

The outlines have been drawn. Starting to paint the ocean around the countries. Starting to see the picture here. Done with the ocean. Starting to paint the countries in different colours. More painting. Starting to look really nice ... And done, all countries not in the EU are white.

In April we had a week long “Europe moves” seminar for youngsters (14-17) from Babenhausen, München, Croatia and Spain (hope I didn’t forget anything) and I got to assist in some topics, along with the trip to Strasbourg were we went to the European Parlament and also looked at the city (Although we did not have much time, to bad).

European parlament seen from the outside. European parlament, inside. Reykjavík; 3300 km. Inside the Notre Dame Strasbourg

In May I went home for a short vacation, to see my family and friends, but also to accept my diploma and be there for graduation. I actually surprised my family, I had told them that I would land very late on the 22nd of Mai in Iceland and come home on 23rd, so when I showed up late at night on the 21st, it’s safe to say they were surprised!
I had lovely days with my friends and with my family and I miss them already.

On the way home, to my beautiful Iceland.                                                       Got my diploma!

Next week my mother and little brother come to Germany and I will spend a whole week with them, showing them around Babenhausen but also going to my visit my grandparents and some other relatives.

Now I have a long weekend and I am staying at home. Yesterday I went with Barbara (The woman in Babenhausen who owns the Icelandic horses), and her husband, to Ravensburg. Today I went horsebackriding with Barbara in the sun, it is so warm so the poor horses did not have much energy, but nontheless, it was great!

Now I should go outside again in the sun, around 30° today, so I am red as a tomato and sweating like a pig.

Now I’ll go to the “Strawberryfield” and get my some strawberries.

I’ll keep you guys updated; hopefully it wont take as long as till now to update my blog…

Love from the sun in Babenhausen

Rakel Ösp Aðalsteinsdóttir

Happy Bolludagur!

The people who know me well, know that I dislike carnival. I successfully avoided every party in these days of the year since primary school and the only thing I liked about it was the “Pfannkuchen”. So my first reaction to the fact that we will be celebrating carnival in Iceland too, was really not motivated, but like everything else in Iceland it turned out to be totally different and a lot of fun. The first good thing: The whole craziness only started on Monday (not on Friday as in Germany), so I would only have to survive it for 3 days. And it started delicously, with the Bolludagur, where there are – surprise – “bollur”. So, no costumes, no carnival parties, just a lot of calories, I don’t have to say that I liked it 😉 Bollur are huge, puffed dough rolls filled with jam and whipped cream and topped with chocolate and when you see those things you think you can’t eat more than one…

Mmmmmmmhhhhh.....

Mmmmmmmhhhhh…..

… but this turns out to be wrong you can easily eat more, you just have to live with the bad feeling in your stomach afterwards. I only ate 2 at a time, but I had them on Sunday and two times on Monday, so I got quite some 😉 The craziest part of my Bolludagur was the coffee break at high school where I was lucky enough to experience the longest queue of the whole year and talented boys who were able to get 6 bollur each on their disks and who ate them in not more than 10 minutes. I still am totally in awe of them and of the people working in the kitchen baking and filling what seemed like thousand of bollur.

When you now think, that this is enough of food for the next month, then you are SO wrong, because the day after Bolludagur is Sprengidagur, sprengi refering to some kind of explosion. Explosions are connected to this day in two different ways both concerning the special food on this day: salted meat and yellow peas. 1. This stuff is really delicous and you just eat until you burst. This is the common explanation. And then there is my way of thinking, 2. You know what kind of explosions happen when you eat peas… But out of obvious reasons, people only tell you about the first one.

When the carnival ends on Tuesday in Germany, the Icelanders start the whole dressing up and carnival parties thing, making Öskudagur (Ash Wednesday) the only day of real carnival, this is so unchristian :D. We had an Öskudags ball on Tuesday evening in the primary school, where I had the pleasure to sell sweets and soft drinks and play shop in Icelandic, which I was told I did really well. Plus I was looking really Icelandic and great, wearing my viking costume!!

Even though the kids love Bolludagur (one of them wished everyone a Happy Bolludaur :) ) the best of these three days is Öskudagur, where you walk through the village in your costumes, visiting all the workplaces and singing songs there to get sweets. We were really busy, especially, if you consider the size of this place, singing 3 songs at 13 different places, we really earned these kilos of sweets!

Superman and Batman - Cutest version :)

Superman and Batman – Cutest version :)

Ready to start...

Ready to start…

Indian, magician and Mario

Indian, magician and Mario

Joker and ghost

Joker and ghost

The teachers were looking great too.

The teachers were looking great too.

French fries at Framhaldsskólinn

French fries at Framhaldsskólinn

Abraham Lincoln ;)

Abraham Lincoln ;)

Albert Einstein or...

Albert Einstein or…

Luigi :)

Luigi :)

I can’t say, that I now love carnival in general, but I had a lot of fun this year!

Lots of love from Iceland :)

Arrival in Babenhausen Schwaben

"Jubi"

3. March 2014

Well it’s about time that i write my first blog for my year in Babenhausen. I’ve been here for a month now and so far, it has been good. On my arrival I was shown around the “Jubi” and the town and got the keys to my very own appartment. Since I had already been in Babenhausen, last year in September, I had already seen the “Jubi”, but still it was great to be back. My appartment is in a house next to the “Jubi”, like 3 minutes walking distance. I have a large bedroom, a great big kitchen, livingroom and a bath, with a large bathtub all for myself, the other volunteers live in an appartment below me.

The windows in the roof are from my apparment. My doorbell.

My projekt didn’t kick off to the best start, i got sick and had to lie in bed for 1 1/2 days, but after I got better I started working. The first week here was a class of young girls that did a course with us about the trees and the forrests. I got to help out and could use my skills that I had learned myself when I was their age. In this last month there were no other groups of children who had a course with us, only groups with their own programms, so I worked in other fields. Most of the material that is used for groups here, is made by hand, so I have been prepairing alot of it. I have also been in the garden, greenhouse and with the other staff.

The "Jubi" greenhouseThe "Jubi" green house

At first, it was a bit lonely, I didn’t really know what to do with my spare time. But that is a part of being a volunteer I think, learning to take care of yourself, finding what your passions are and doing what you want with your time. I am beginning to appriciate things i didn’t before, learning to keep myself company.

In my first two weeks here, I went to city hall to be registered as a citizen of Babenhausen and the woman in the reception just could not understand my name, nationality and the Icelandic letters “ð” and “ó”. I wound up writing my name in to the computerfiles for her… Same thing in the bank when I opened an account. Last weekend I went to have my eyes checked out and it turns out I need glasses. The staff there also didn’t understand my name, couldn’t write it down and certainly not speak it out so I had to spell it out. They didn’t understand my spelling, so I showed them ID.. Man I have got to get myself a easier name.. Turns out; Icelandic is too complicated for most germans.

Many of the people I have met are excited about my nationality. Most of them have mentioned that their cousin, sibling, friend etc. have been to Iceland, like they are thinking; “well maybe she knows them”.. Well the country is not that small my friend.

The "Jubi"

My coworkers are mostly excited and curious about Iceland, some of them have tried to learn my last name, Aðalsteinsdóttir, but nobody can really speak it out correctly (usually comes out Adalschtænsdödirr, yes try and say that outloud, its almost more complicated than the real thing).

One of my coworkers who works with the children has been to Iceland, worked there for almost a year, and speaks a little bit Icelandic, like “Góðan daginn” (Good day) and “Hvað segir þú gott?” (How are you doing). It really freaked me out, the first time we met that she adressed me in Icelandic. I thought she was speaking german (being used to it I guess), but then I was like, wait what.. Thats Icelandic. I was so surprised I couldn’t answer and just stood there like an idiot for about 30 seconds until I was able to mumble out; “What, was that Icelandic?”

The "Jubi" garden

In Babenhausen, many people have horses and there are two big farms with great . I got in contact with a woman who has Icelandic horses and got to go horsebackriding with her. It was such a great feeling to smell the horses, work around them and cuddle with them, oh how I miss my horse! The horses have Icelandic names, Depill and Dagfari and they were just great. I got to ride Depill and he “tölt’ed” so beautifully.

The "Jubi"

On friday I am off to Bornheim for my on arrival training. I will stay there for 2 weeks along with other volunteers in Germany. At first I was a bit nervous going there, but now I am so excited. Its pretty far away from here, so i will be going there by train/bus.

I think that would be it for now, thank you for reading, I really appreciate it. Leave comments if you want to.

Rakel Ösp Aðalsteinsdóttir (Adalschtænsdödirr)

Ertu búin að smakka hákarl?

Since my last post was last year, I should apparently write something and what could be a better topic than one of my most Icelandic experiences: Þorrablót. This word was used in the for sacrificial feasts of the old religion, which of course included blood and now all the linguistic specialists can make the connection from “-blót” to blood oder “Blut”). And even though there are no longer sacrifices on this occasion, it is still pretty brutal, especially for foreigners. Because these days, the holiday is about eating the food that you get to hear about in lists like “The top 10 most disgusting dishes”… The Icelanders are having a huge lot of fun making you eat all the highlights of the Icelandic cuisine, featuring rotten shark (hákarl), sour testicles of sheep (súrsaðir hrútspungar) , sour whale (hvalur) and the heads of sheep (svið), to mention the most popular and disgusting ones. Still, the real problem is not to eat these things (or to at least try a tiny bite) but to be watched by Icelanders who, in the majority, have never even tasted what they make you eat. 😉 But no, I don’t want to complain at all, cause we had a lot of delicious food (smoked lamb, dried fish, laufabrauð, jafningur, potatoes) and I had Steinni with me, who actually likes to eat the eye of a sheep or the rotten shark, so I was totally okay with him telling me to try. Plus, my adventurous self made me eat these “delicacies”, no one needed to force me (I know, I don’t recognize myself either). After all, I finished the dinner with a weird feeling in my stomach and I’m still wondering if alcohol would have been helpful or not to “endure” this procedure 😀 Anyways, Þorrablót isn’t only about the food (thank god for that) but also about having fun. This having fun already began during the dinner, thanks to 6 wonderful people, who were responsible for the preparation of the evening and most of all, for the amusement of the audience. I experienced all the effort they put into it at the example of Alli, who was part of the committee and didn’t really get any sleep the week before Þorrablót. The same could be found at school, because of half of the committee being teachers there, the only topic during the coffee breaks was “the big evening”, the copy machine went hot with flyers that were printed and with every day Saturday night got closer and the faces of the people involved got more tired. But to come back to the actual event, all this effort was worth it, because, even though I didn’t understand a lot of the jokes I had a really good time and it was obvious, that everybody was really happy about the evening.

The other part of the night (from 11 pm to 3 am) was dedicated to dancing and something happened there, that would have never happened in Germany, EVERYONE danced! Not just a few people who are really professional dancers (even though it seemed as if most of the Icelanders are pretty professional) being watched by all the others but just everyone having fun with each other. I realized quite some things while dancing:

  1. My Icelandic is so much better on these occasions than in everyday life.
  2. I need to go to some dancing lessons again, I forgot nearly everything from when I was 14 and I enjoy it so much.
  3. I really am part of the community here (as far, as this is possible for someone, who is not born here and who doesn’t even come from the same country), I knew most of the people and could have a nice small talk with them and the people I didn’t know, I could at least put into the families of people I know.
  4. And I will miss this attitude of just having fun and getting drunk together, no matter how old you are, or if the person you are dancing with right now is your teacher or your  boss or your grandfather.

Thanks to all the people of Reykjadalur, who made this evening as unforgetable as it was! And now I’m looking forward to my second Þorrablót at the primary school tomorrow 😉

Can't get enough of the beauty of this place...

Can’t get enough of the beauty of this place…

The committee :)

The committee :)

Let's call it interesting :D

Let’s call it interesting :D

Still interesting...

Me and the famous shark

Me and the famous shark

And ths is what is left when I have some sheep head

And ths is what is left when I have some sheep head

More amusement

More amusement

And the end of the programme - Thank You!

And the end of the programme – Thank You!

Thank you!

Here we are, standing at the edge between 2 years and you automatically get the feeling that something special is happening. When you have a realistic look on it, the beginning of a new year is of course not different from any other day of the year. You have the possibility to change things about your life every day and only because there will be standing 2014 behind the date tomorrow, nothing has to be different.

Still “Gamlárdagskvöld” (old year’s eve) makes us think about all the things that have happended to us in the last year. We remember the goals that we had set ourselves and the difficulties we feared.

When I think back I wonder how so many experiences can fit in only 8.760 hours. 2013 was the first year that changed my life completely, I finally finished school, got an assurance for my medical studies and I came to Iceland. I started learning a new language, working and living on my own. I said goodbye to my family and friends and got to know so many wonderful new people. I realized what it means to be alone with yourself and learned to appreciate the person I am and the things I am able to do through that.

I’m grateful for every single moment in 2013 and I want to thank every one of you, for being with me, for making me smile and for believing in me!

I wish you all the best for the new year and the hope, that everything will turn out the right way somehow!

I’m already excited about all the things we will do together in 2014 :)

:)

 

My big fat Icelandic Christmas

Yeah, I’m still out there somewhere in the middle of the snow storm and no, I didn’t forget about you people or this blog. I was actually thinking a lot about it, because I had a lot of moments worth blogging about in the last weeks. But as the number of these moments grew bigger and bigger, it somehow got even harder to start writing. Anyway, here I am on the second day of Christmas, finally.

I already wrote a lot about Icelandic Christmas things in the last entry but I have so many thing to add. In contrast to my normal weekends here in Hjalli, I have been pretty busy during December, especially on the weekend of the third Advent. On Friday night we had a Christmas party with the staff of the high school, which was a lot of fun and included (as always) a lot of delicious food and the best thing about it: I got a “Blockflöte” in the presents game. So be prepared for me being a pro when I come back to Germany! On Saturday I had to get up at 12 am, which is far too early for my Icelandic-winter self 😉 but it was totally worth it. I got to enjoy the Christmas concert of the music school in Laugar and it was so amazing to see all of “my” kids doing so well and being so brave.

Of course just listening doesn’t make a day busy, so I accepted the very kind invitation of Búi and Gummi to join them and their sons to the lagoon at Mývatn for the bath of the Santa Clauses. Too crazy, too cool, too much fun to discribe it, I will try to find some pictures on the internet, I didn’t risk my phone by taking it with me to the pool, some of you know, that my phones are always magically drawn to water. 😉 Basically you could talk to the Santa Clauses, brush there backs or get yours brushed by one of them and most beautifully enjoy the moon light and the northern lights, when the crazy guys had gone back to there mummy. AMAZING!!!!

But still the weekend wasn’t over, some very important preparations had to be made and what’s the most important thing you need for Christmas? Yeah, of course, food! So on Sunday I went over to Júlía’s and Búi’s place again and joined them making “laufabrauð”. Before I fail to discribe it porperly, just have a look at the pictures:

My first laufabrauð (really nice, thanks to Júlía helping me)

My first laufabrauð (really nice, thanks to Júlía helping me)

It's hard work!

It’s hard work!

How it looks after you fry it...

How it looks after you fried it…

We made around 70 and I had the feeling this was a huge lot, but after talking to other families I recognized: You only do it right, if you make 300 and more- challenge accepted for the future! 😉

School was on until 20.12 but there was not much of “real” school during December: Dancing lessons, handicrafts, christmas card making, games, sledging, movies, singing… It was absolutely chaotic but we all had a lot of fun. For me it was really nice to get the chance to spend time with all the kids, just playing games and chatting and singing and watching movies with them, I got to know them a lot better and enjoyed it so much! All the Christmas craziness at school ended with “Litlujól” on the last day of school, with presents, some cosy time and the Christmas meal at school, where all the kids and teachers sat together at wonderfully decorated tables and enjoyed the super-delicious food. Definitely one of the moments I will always remember. I was even a little bit sad after all the kids went, the end of the first semester means that nearly half of my stay is over after all, but the happiness about the holidays outweighed everything else soon 😉

The best class ever (sadly Brimir is missing)

The best class ever (sadly Brimir is missing)

Lunchtime :)

Lunchtime :)

Tania and her Christmas dress

Tania and her Christmas dress

This photo is more about the photographer than the me ;)

This photo is more about the photographer than me ;)

Valdi :)

Valdi :)

And now we finally reach Christmas, the real Christmas eve and all that, I will try to make it short, which will probably not work 😉 My Icelandic Christmas couldn’t have been any better: I had a snow storm, seriously good food, a power cut, a lot of candles, presents and most of all, I had my wonderful host family to celebrate the birth of Jesus with – thank you so much for everything! I had all the greetings and presents and wishes from my loved ones all around the world and the feeling that I am right where I belong, even though I would have loved to be at home for Christmas. You might wonder what else I did on the Christmas holidays and the answer is very easy: nothing beside sleeping and eating and it was the best thing to do :)

 

I want to wish everyone of you a merry Christmas, even though the holidays are nearly over. Enjoy whatever you are doing and have a great time!

I will do the same,

Maria!

Er jólaljósin ljóma…

“Things never turn out the way you planned!”, we all know that this is true. When I decided to go to Iceland, I of course thought about snow, a lot of snow, even though I wouldn’t describe myself as a winter person, it’s just part of the things you expect from being in Iceland. And when I then came here and heard about the last winter (snow from the beginning of September until April) I was pretty grateful for not having serious snow until October/November. But now on the first of December, I long for the expected snow. Hello?! I AM IN ICELAND AFTER ALL! Where else should there be snow, if not here? But thanks to self-made cookies (I’m still proud of me for not burning them/ mistaking salt for sugar or things like that which I usually do :D) candles, tea, the sweet little things from my loved ones and Christmas songs (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-XV23twsO4 :D) I get into Christmas mood. And with this mood comes the urge to finally make plans for presents, which is even more complicated when you have to think about package sizes and the time it will take for the post to get them to Germany. But with a little help from Santa (I don’t trust these 13 Icelandic trolls to help me) everything will be fine, it’s going to be Christmas after all.

When you are away from home It feels good to realize that some things stay the same, no matter where you are. That’s why I love to be in the church choir here, everything there reminds me of the many years spent in the choir at home. The alto is still the best voice type and we three women rarely stop laughing, there are constantly not enough singers, we are even singing “Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen” one of my favourite Christmas songs. But the most amazing thing is that singing Icelandic is not hard at all, it doesn’t matter how much trouble I might have pronouncing a word in a normal conversation, when it comes to singing the Icelandic “rn” and “ll” just fly out of my mouth without any second thought. I am really looking forward to our Advent evening next weekend, we will be doing great! and I would love to have you all there :)

As this entry seems to be only about Christmasy stuff already, I can as well go into another super cool Icelandic Christmas thing: Malt og appelsín. I had already heard about it before but I just came into the luxury of trying it last weekend with the wonderful Barbara, thanks for that and for the whole weekend ;), and it’s just the best drink you can have. It’s a blend of orange soda and malt extract that you can buy pre-mixed (but it’s much better when you mix it yourself!). I don’t know if you will get a good result if you try it with comparable products in Germany, but it definitely is worth a try, guys! 😉 Tell me about the results.

And now, last but not least, something for your education: Exactly 95 years ago, on 1.12.1918, the Act of Union took place. This is the agreement in which Denmark recognized Iceland as a fully sovereign state (the Kingdom of Iceland) after over 500 years of Danish rule. Iceland established its own flag, declared its neutrality and asked Denmark to represent its foreign affairs and defense interests. So don’t forget that today is not only the first Advent sunday but also a very important day for all Icelanders.

Have a wonderful time, enjoy the moments of love and peace and be sure that I think of you all a lot!

Maria :)