Homeward Bound


I am moving to Iceland. I realize that might not sound like a big deal coming from an Icelandic person but trust me it is.

I have lived abroad for most of my life. I like to think I’m a Viking down to the core; a wandering nomad with no real strings.

My M.O. is up and go, embark on an adventure, discover a new place, mesh with locals, learn a new language, new customs, new smells and new weather just like my ancestors before me (without all the raping and pillaging, of course).

As well as being partly delusional the notion is romantic; picking and choosing your identity from a self-compiled catalogue of cultural references.

But as with all people who spend the majority of their life away from their native country the flip side is constantly negotiating the concept of “home.”

Where is home? Where do I belong? Does belonging to a place even matter? Is it an antiquated idea in these globalized times?

The fraction of my childhood lived in Iceland is a vague blur of experiences and any adult memories I have of the “homeland” involve Christmas or taking friends on road trips where I am as much a tourist as they are (except I can speak the language, which is obviously handy).

It’s been so tough for everyone in Iceland. People can’t pay their mortgage, the price of food is skyrocketing, people struggle to cover bills, the threat of unemployment and brain drain loom above everyone.

Iceland isn’t in good shape so why on earth would I want to move back? I live in a great city, in a sweet flat, I have a thriving social life and a good job. Why I hear you ask? Why?

I am going back to school, to do a Masters degree to be precise.

This past year I have had these pangs to move back. This chasm in my brain where my sense of identity is formed seems to grow darker and wider everyday.

Sure I realize that where you’re from isn’t everything but rather where you go and what you decide to be through your life choices.

I know those things are what really composes who you are but the least I could do is actually try living in the country about which I write so much.

I have started a whole series of To Do Lists (three months before I actually leave)… I like them a lot. I’ve been talking to Icelandic customs about whether or not they’ll charge me to death for taking my bike with me back home. I have been filling out tax return forms and organizing a yard sale to shift all the things I can’t take with me.

But that’s just leaving here. What happens when I get there and have to actually start this adventure I’m embarking on? I’ll have to make new friends, find new ways to occupy my time and buy more sweaters certainly. Maybe I’ll join a knitting group?

So far I’ve been telling myself I just have to let it happen but of course the control freak in me has been surfing the net for other people’s experiences. What was it like for them to uproot and plant themselves on the cold volcanic rock I call “home”?

Great examples of blogs documenting moving to and living in Iceland include:

My Deadly Truths

This blog is written by Guy Gutraiman, an Israeli who became soft on an Icelandic girl (classic Icelandic tale, seems to happen all the time), married her and moved to the island. He’s funny, observant and also writes for Iceland Review.

Finding My Iceland

DJ Kitty Von-Sometime moved to Iceland from London and this blog documents her life as a DJ, her hard work on the “Weird Girls” project and how she’s reached the upper echelons of the Icelandic jet set (while making it look easy). Also she just seems like a really nice person so this is a good read too.

Rhiannon and Sam Living in Iceland

I have a real soft spot for this blog and it’s useful as this couple moved fairly recently. Rhiannon and Sam came to Iceland in October last year after Sam was offered a job.

A lot of the blog is about learning to get used to Icelandic customs and traditions as well as what it is like to leave everything you know and just move while still having a really positive mindset.

None of these blogs, however, document what it’s like for an estranged Icelandic person trying to move back to a country they know but don’t know and starting their life fresh.

Maybe I’ll start one?

Nanna Árnadóttir – [email protected]

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.