Category Archives: ISL-21-15-2013-R2

We host this project, Change and be the change, from August 2013-June 2014.

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 :)

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 :)

 

 

Winter wonderland and dressing up

Let’s start some actual blogging about what is happening recently.

First: WINTER! Yeah, I would say, that winter finally really arrived. Although the first snow already came in the middle of September (only a few flakes) till now there were always “warm” winds to melt the snow away again. But since the beginning of November the snow has stayed and will probably stay till April. That means slippery (like really slippery) roads and that means Maria falling over again and again and again on the way to school 😉  And of course it is cold (last week even -15°) but I realised that “There’s no bad weather, only false clothes” is pretty accurate, I’m not cold most of the time. With the winter I got my first real flue here in Iceland but thanks to Dr. Petra Glathe I am perfectly equipped and with my medical education (haha :D) I practice self-diagnosis, so I am mostly well again.

Of course there are nice things about the winter: snowmen, happy children, hot chocolate and candles. And the world can be so quiet and peaceful when it is covered in snow and darkness.

Christmas is coming too and in Iceland you realize that when you are in the supermarket (BONUS!!) and the milk looks different. They have a special Christmas design with the wordplay “mjólk” (mjólk means milk and jól Christmas), dwarves, Grýla (part troll, part animal and mother of the 13 Yule Lads/Santa Clauses) and the Christmas cat (who eats bad children). As you already see from these few characters, the Icelandic Christmas traditions are very complicated and some of them are pretty cruel. I’ll surely tell you more about it at some point but if you want to read about it, here you can find some nice explanations.

 

The second thing I want to cover in this post is the Árshátið of the High school in Laugar. It’s definitely one of the highlights during the school year and is a big ball with all the students and teachers and staff people. I finally had the chance to really dress up again and i didn’t even had to make the difficult choice what to wear, because I only have one dress here 😀 Luckily Rakel has the same shoe size as I have and I found some shoes fitting my outfit, but I  still missed my beloved prom high heels so much! :( Walking with high shoes on ice is another one of my new experiences here, it’s definitely not easy girls! Ok, back to the ball: Everyone put a lot of effort in this event: The location was beautifully decorated, there were professional presenters and some really cool short movies made by the students. The programme started at 7 and lasted until half past 11, of course with some breaks to enjoy the delicious!!! food 😉 We had a really crazy performance with all the teachers, featuring the headmaster topless, with a peace sign on his stomach, wearing a long hair wig and going totally crazy much to the amusement of everyone. It was hilarious! Goethe-Gymnasiums-people: Can you imagine Bodo Lehnig doing this? 😉 After the programme everyone helped to put the dishes, tables and chairs away to make room for dancing. A band from Husavik played all the music you need for such an evening and everyone enjoyed themselves. It was cool to look at this whole school/prom/ball stuff from another perspective and I even enjoyed sitting at the teachers table. But of course it made me think of my own prom and I missed all you people a lot!

Now enjoy the rest of the weekend guys, a lot of hugs and kisses,

Maria :)

Finally the second post ;)

Hi again!

After 3 weeks full of work and travelling and new experiences, I have finally found the time to write an update for that blog.

As announced I will now try to find (not too many) words for everything that has happened in the past 3 months, that I spent in Iceland doing my EVS.

I left Germany on the 18/08, taking a plane from Berlin Schönefeld to Keflavík. My mum and grandma were there to say goodbye to me and my dad went with me to Iceland for one week. Before this last goodbye I already had completed a whole marathon of saying goodbye to all the people that I love, so the prospect of it being finally over, was kind of a good one.

We arrived in Keflavík in the late afternoon and it felt a little bit like coming home, because we recognized a lot of things. Iceland even greeted us with a rainbow to make up for the cold wind. My dad got the car we were going to rent for the next few days and luckily it was big enough for two people and 2 huge suitcases. Packed like that we drove the 50 km to Reykjavík and checked in our hotel.

The first thing we noticed there, was the open window and the heating running on full power – welcome to Iceland! 😉 The evening was spent in the city, eating burgers and ice cream and realizing how well we still know downtown. In spite of all the different emotions we slept tight and so we could start the next day with a lot of energy. Which was good, because we needed it for the 600 km to Laugar. The drive was just amazing, that`s something you can’t really describe, you have to experience it.

With every hour we came closer to my new home and the tumult in me got bigger and bigger: In retrospective I can say, I never have been this excited and scared and nervous before. At some point we really reached Hjalli and I knew after one second that I will be happy here, I just felt it. Cornelia and Alli welcomed us, we brought my suitcases into “my” house and then had dinner together to get to know each other better.

And after that arrival everything started. I visited Litlulaugaskóli, the place I work at the most, for the first time, met my new colleagues and Christina, one of the volunteers who was here for the last project (Chance to change). A huge thank you dear Christina for telling me so much and giving me the feeling, that I could do it! At the end of the first week I finally got to know the children, who I now call “my children”. Especially Valdi greeted me really friendly and told me, that he will teach me Icelandic, what he really does every day. :)

Of course I had a lot of first times here: The first day at the primary school, my first Icelandic lesson with Cornelia, my first movie in the cinema in Akureyri (Monster University in Icelandic :D), my first normal school days, my first day in the kindergarten and at the high school library, the first time at the swimming pool and the gym, my first real guitar lesson and so many more things. And about each one of these moments I could write 10,000 words at least. 😉

Some of my working hours I spent working outside at the farm with really nice weather, cutting sorrel to keep it from spreading its seeds even more and raking hay.

With a lot of work and so many new experiences and challenges the time was running and is still running. Soon one and a half months were over and the EVS On-Arrival-Training (short OA) took place in Úlflótsvatn. During the OA I got the chance to meet 20 wonderful people, who are also volunteering in Iceland right now. In 5 days we learned a lot about EVS, non-formal learning, other EU projects, Iceland, the other volunteers and about ourselves. But beside all the learning, we had enough time to play table tennis, talk, sit in the hot tubs and visit some beautiful places like the Blue Lagoon. I had a great and special time at this training and am already looking forward to the mid-term training in January.

As I came back to Hjalli afterwards, I had the feeling to come home, which felt sooooo good! :)

By now I have something like an everyday-live here, but still every day is special and different and I get a lot of new experiences on each of these days.

The adventure continues!

 

 

Hello world, welcome to the website of EVS at Lífsmotun!

I’m Maria Bischof from Germany and I’m the volunteer of 2013/2014 here at Lífsmotun. My project is called “Change and be the change” and one part of it is to create and run this website. You can already or will soon be able to find information about all the projects in the past and in the future of Lífstmotun, either as a hosting organization or as a sending organization.

On this first page you will find my blog, where you can get a closer look on the things I am doing here in Iceland every day. Most of the time it will be in English, maybe sometimes in German and later on even in Icelandic (a big maybe at this point :D).

I’m already here for 2 and a half month, so I will try to work on a short summary of the things that have happened during this time.

Greetings from Laugar,

Maria!