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COPING: HOW TO SURVIVE WHEN YOU’RE MISSING ICELAND

Mary Kujawski
missing iceland

Hey, you.

Yes you, there.

You, with the horrendous bedhead cradling a tub of cookie dough ice cream and wearing your dingy sweatpants for the sixth day in a row.

I have a feeling I know what ails you.

You’ve just returned from a mind-blowing, life-affirming, world-altering trip. Your entire existence has been turned on its head, because you?

You’ve just been to Iceland.

You’ve just had your heart and soul irrevocably altered by what you perceive to be the most astounding of places you have ever been.

(Your perception is not wrong, dear one, for I too find Iceland utterly and breathlessly perfect.)

But now you are back to reality.

And dude.

Reality soooo sucks.

Now you’re left nursing the most broken of hearts, managing little beyond binge-watching rom-coms on Netflix and weeping into your popcorn, for you do not, contrary to your deepest of wishes, live in Iceland.

Sigh.

I so get it.

I have been right where you are, and in spades.

Spades, I say!

But it’s time to pick yourself up and dust yourself off, friend!

Look, it’s true that you have unwittingly entered into a long-distance relationship with Iceland and it’s going to be challenging and filled with trials. This is, I’m afraid, your unfortunate cross to bear as someone hopelessly in love.

But there is something that I, as someone who shares your lovesick affliction, can tell you and it is this:

There is hope on the horizon!

Someday, and hopefully soon, you shall be reunited with your beloved. Until then, however, there’s endless ways you can stay connected, even if there’s a vast and literal ocean between you at the moment.

So put down that tub of ice cream.

Get off that couch.

And for the love of all that is holy, change your underwear and brush your teeth.

Today is a new day filled with your first hot shower in a week and a plan of action!

Onward!

First: Saturate Your Social Media with All Things Iceland

after iceland
Follow the Blue Lagoon on Facebook and Instagram to enjoy its beauty long after you’ve bathed in its waters!

If you were to take one look at my Facebook wall, you might be astonished to discover that probably 80% (or more!) of the content on it is related to Iceland in some form or fashion.

Eighty percent!

And this is no accident!

Oh no.

I said saturate, people, and I mean it!

Missing Iceland hurts like a mother, but filling my world with anything and everything Icelandic is a little salve to my tortured soul.

By “following” various Icelandic companies, tour groups, tourist pages and more through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, I can escape to Iceland anytime I want!

Yes, Iceland has taken the Numero Uno spot in my newsfeed, which is just how I like it! It makes me feel like Iceland is but a stone’s throw away, whether I’m reading about the latest festival happening there, viewing pictures from a parade in Reykjavík, or watching a Facebook live shot of Skógafoss.

So allow Iceland to reign supreme on your social media!

Place her on the highest of pedestals where she belongs!

This is just a small sampling of some of my favorites that I “like” and “follow” on Facebook and Instagram. Go down a little rabbit hole online, and see what you come up with! There’s all kinds of good stuff out there!

Blue Lagoon, Icelandair, KEX Brewing, Nordic Green Travel, Icelandic Tourist Board, Adventure Vikings, Icelandic Mountain Guides, Alda Sigmundsdottir (an Icelandic author)

Follow Icelandic News

Art work in Iceland
Beautiful glass artwork at Keflavik airport.

I’m a news junkie at heart and always like to know what’s happening locally and nationally. I’m just the type who seeks to stay informed of what’s going on out there in the world.

And I especially want to know what’s movin’ and shakin’ in my favorite country!

Obvs.

As such I follow a myriad of Icelandic news groups on social media and other platforms in order to stay up-to-date on all the goings-on in Iceland, from the light-hearted and fun to the serious and (sometimes) scandalous.

I have learned so much keeping up on a daily basis with the latest news, and the habit of doing so continues to flesh out my knowledge and understanding of all things Iceland!

My ultimate goal! To become an Iceland expert in my own right!

I’m on my way! And you can be on your way too!

My Picks for Keeping Up on Icelandic News:

In Icelandic: Visir, RUV, Fréttablaðið

In English: Reykjavik Grapevine, Iceland Monitor, Iceland Review

Up-To-Date Safety/Travel Information for Iceland: SafeTravel

Watch Movies & Television Shows Made/Set in Iceland

Skogafoss waterfall in iceland
Skógafoss makes an appearance in ‘Game of Thrones’! Can you name the scene?

Nothing can cheer up my Iceland-missing-woes more than sitting down to something that just screams ICELAND. This means watching a movie or TV show that is set in Iceland, has Icelandic actors in it, or, you guessed it: is in Icelandic!

Trapped is a hugely popular ongoing series in Iceland right now and is sooooo good. Deliciously creepy with fantastic Icelandic scenery to boot.

(Season 2, I eagerly await your release in America! Put me out of my misery already!)

I’ve also watched The Lava Field and Case, both of which will give you a steady drip of Icelandic saline in your proverbial IV.

I even went so far as to watch the hugely popular Icelandic staple Áramótaskaupið. Áramótaskaupið is an end-of-year satirical sketch comedy show that airs every New Year’s Eve that spoofs the national news and political stories from the year. I tracked down a version of it with English subtitles online and voilà!

My advice? Do a little digging on Netflix or Amazon and see what treasures you come up with! I ended up finding a little documentary one night called Under an Artic Sky about a group of guys who go to Iceland and surf in the North Atlantic!

Talk about gold!

Listen to Icelandic Music and Artists

listen to icelandic music

I never really listened to any Icelandic music until I fell in love with Iceland, and then I couldn’t devour Iceland-anything fast enough!

Enter Icelandic music!

It’s been fun to explore Icelandic music and find some groups that have really resonated with me! Of Monsters and Men has become a fast favorite, as has Sigur Rós.

Björk is of course one of the most famous of musical artists to originate from Iceland.

Try it all on for size and see what fits you and your musical taste.

Find the right stuff and it will give you the best Iceland vibes and feels EVER.

Play that stuff on repeat!

Make it the soundtrack of your life!

Cheer for Iceland!

cheering for iceland
Becoming Iceland’s biggest fans has become a family affair!

Prior to my first trip to Iceland, I never watched football.

Like, ever.

And I certainly knew very little about the sport.

(That’s still the case, but I digress. I’m working on it, okay?!)

But then I went to Iceland, found out that the Iceland men’s national team was going to be competing in the World Cup, and everything changed.

The World Cup fever abuzz in the Icelandic air during my trip was palpable and downright electric. The pride Icelanders felt knowing their “little” country was about to be represented on the grand world scale was contagious!

As a result, we caught the bug, and we caught it good!

The World Cup unfolded shortly after we returned home, and you know what we were?

We were all in.

And by all in, I mean showing up to a British pub in downtown Minneapolis on a Saturday morning at 8am with our brood in tow and wielding makeshift Iceland flags because we had a team to root for, and a country, that had stolen our hearts just a month prior, to embrace!

The spoiler here is that Iceland did not end up advancing in the World Cup, despite a very respectable showing and our very best cheering efforts.

But the rousing spirit of Icelanders is as strong as ever and lives on, as does our fandom!

It makes me feel connected (and proud!) to cheer for Iceland, and I love sharing in the excitement of the games with my Icelandic friends.

So find a game that Iceland is competing in and say it with me:

Áfram Ísland!

See?!

You sound legit already!

And don’t you immediately feel a tad better?

I just knew you would!

To follow Iceland football, check out KSI. Iceland is currently attempting to qualify for the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament. Watch Iceland take on Moldova on 9.17.19.

Get. In. My. Belly: Consume Icelandic Foods and Drink

reyka vodka iceland
A little Icelandic vodka to warm me up on a cold winter’s night! Skál!

It’s funny the things that can make one’s day.

I was in Target a few months back scanning the yogurt section for my usual go-to brand, when I saw them. I saw the words printed upon a container I had just laid my eyes on and they called out to me.

The words on the container said… (drumroll please, for this was intensely exciting for a Target run)…

Icelandic Skyr!

Now, I am not the most observational person on the planet. My best guess is that Icelandic skyr has likely been offered at my local Target for quite some time, but having always searched for my favorite brand, I was never paying close enough attention to notice.

Well, let me tell you.

I snatched up every last flavor and had the best little skyr party in my kitchen later that day, relishingeach spoonful and remembering fondly with each bite the crisp, cool mornings I would spend in Iceland enjoying my morgunmatur and gearing up for another full day of exploring the Land of Fire and Ice.

My Icelandic skyr discovery was a reminder of how powerfully and intricately intertwined our memories and food can be!

So enjoy those treats you brought back from Iceland, be it the delicious mustard that goes on Icelandic pylsurs, the bag of dried fish best enjoyed with smjör, or the shot from the bottle of Brennivín you snagged in the airport’s duty-free shop.

And if you’re feeling extra adventurous?

Take a stab at cooking an Icelandic recipe!

Why not?!

Keep Iceland alive and well not only in your heart, but in your stomach!

Make Your Home a Shrine to Iceland

icelandic flag
Look at this beauty! I can’t wait to fly her high with pride!

Okay, I confess this sounds a little creepy.

But what I’m suggesting here does not amount to boiling cauldrons, voodoo dolls, and sacrificial gifts to the Gods, I promise!

(Unless this is how you roll, in which case, you do you.)

No, I just mean you can surround yourself with things that remind you of Iceland right in the comfort of your own home!

When I travel, I like to pick up a little something special from wherever I was to remind me of that time. As such, my home is filled with meaningful treasures brought back from all over, from Costa Rica to Germany.

But Iceland takes up an even bigger presence in my home.

I have Iceland t-shirts to don and Icelandic flags to fly, Iceland books to read and Icelandic perfume to spritz. I even have an Iceland calendar on my office wall as well as prints from a local Icelandic artist just waiting for the perfect frames.

Iceland definitely rules the roost in my home, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I am surrounded by things from and about Iceland, I am blissfully content.

After all, what does Marie Kondo say?

Surround yourself with things that spark joy?

I feel you, Marie Kondo.

You are a wise one indeed.

If you forgot to buy something that you fell in love with while in Iceland, fret not! Nammi.Is is your one-stop (online) shop for all things Icelandic. Go on and treat yourself! Spark that joy, Marie Kondo-style!

Make Icelandic Connections at Home

icelandic thorrablot menu
The menu at the local Thorrablot we attended. The harkarl (rotten shark) is no longer allowed at the venue because the smell is so pungent!

Your luck with this will of course be a bit dependent on where you live.

Does your country or state have Nordic roots or ties? If so, you’ll probably have a host of options for connecting with other Iceland-lovers and those with Icelandic ancestry.

And if not, do not despair. There are others like you out there! You just have to shine your bat signal up in the sky to summon your fellow kindred spirits!

I’ve personally joined a couple local groups in the Twin Cities that have provided me with some delightful opportunities!

For example, Icelanders celebrate Thorrablot, a midwinter’s feast. The month of Þorri is a cozy and festive time in Iceland where Icelanders gather for a celebratory meal of traditional Icelandic foods (Sheep’s head! Ram’s testicles! Fermented Shark!) and an evening of entertainment that often includes singing, recited poetry, or sketch comedy.

My local Icelandic club put on their own Thorrablot here to correspond and my husband and I showed up, claiming no Nordic ancestry but proudly wearing our love for Iceland on our sleeve for all to see.

Do you know how incredibly fun it was to share stories and camaraderie with other fellow Iceland lovers?!

I was in a room full of my peeps!

It was beyond!

Check out the Icelandic National League of North America to see what Icelandic groups or clubs might be near you! Go on! Find your tribe!

Stalk Iceland Webcams

Tjörnin pond in Reykjavík
Oh Tjörnin pond. I love checking in on you!

No really.

Stalk those webcams like it’s your job!

I’m not kidding when I say that I probably “stalk” Reykjavík nearly every day.

Every single day!

Hey, don’t look at me like that!

I told you, I’m obsessed!

I’m owning my crazy!

I love to see how much wind is gusting about, what the skies look like, and is there snow on the ground?

I love to watch the people milling about and take a gander at the air temperature depending on how they’re dressed.

(These are hardy folk, so it’s easy to get tripped up! Don’t let the shorts fool you! Tis’ an amateur mistake!)

I love to see how dark it starts getting in the afternoons as winter sets in and how bright the evenings are at 11pm in the summer.

I even watched on New Year’s Eve as the horizon exploded with celebratory fireworks.

It just makes me feel, for a split second, like I’m right there.

Right where I feel I belong.

Check them out for yourself and live a little vicariously! My favorites are Extreme Iceland, Live from Iceland, Iceland Road Webcams, and Live Cams in Iceland

Make Friends from Iceland

travel agent in iceland
Meeting our fantastic travel agent (and now friend) on our first day in Iceland.

I hope you were fortunate enough to make some Icelandic friends on your travels.

I did, and it has brought me endless joy and fun!

Icelandic friends are the bridge to your favorite place in the whole wide world and a window into the Icelandic way of life!

Not to mention that I have found Icelanders to be the absolute coolest in general: sharp as a tack, hella smart, incredibly hardworking, and beyond friendly.

These are my kind of people!

I’ve been able to ask my Icelandic friends questions about their culture and customs as they have come up and they have gladly helped me as I have tried to learn their language.

(Bless their hearts and unending patience, for I have much to work on.)

Do you know how neat it is to learn about my beloved Iceland straight from my favorite Icelanders? Discuss similarities and differences between our countries? And simply discover that we all, despite growing up in different places on the globe, find Will Ferrell hilarious?!

It has been the brightest light on my darkest of missing-Iceland-dreadfully days.

Tip: It’s never been easier to connect with others from around the globe. Even if you didn’t make any Icelandic friends on your travels, it doesn’t mean you have to wait until your next visit to do so!

Check out mutual-interest groups on Facebook and say hello! Virtual friends are the friends of the digital age! And perhaps you’ll have an Icelandic local or two to meet up with when you next return!

Lærðu íslensku/Learn Icelandic

travel in iceland
It’s so satisfying to look at this menu now and be able to read it!

I confess that this is quite a lofty goal to set, but if you are missing Iceland as you say you do and imagine yourself returning many times over, then learning the language is just the next logical step, wouldn’t you agree?!

My desire to learn Icelandic grew organically.

First, the language fascinated me while I was in Iceland.

Those words!

They were so very long!

And they looked so very hard to pronounce!

My curiosity and interest were supremely piqued!

Second, I wished to be able to communicate with my Icelandic friends in their own language given their ability to speak effortless English with me. Make a reciprocal effort.

I had to at least try!

So down the rabbit-hole of learning Icelandic I have gone, and I have to tell you:

It has been such a delightful journey and fun-filled challenge!

So.

Take a gander at it! It will take consistency and dedication, but you can do it!

I recommend getting your hands on as many resources as possible which, admittedly, can be a little hard to come by.

But just keep digging, friend!

Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

My picks:

Pimsleur Audio Course

Facebook Group: Practice and Learn Icelandic (there is a file full of resources at your disposal here!)

Subreddit: learnIcelandic

Apps/Websites: Memrise, Forvo, Drops

YouTube: Videos by Dr. Jackson Crawford

Help Others Plan Their Trip to Iceland

icelandair jet landing in iceland
Sometimes it’s not going to be you getting off that plane in Iceland, and that’s okay! Your time will come again, I just know it!

I really believe that if I can’t be in Iceland, the next best thing is to help someone else be there. It just does my heart proud to help others experience the magic of this country, and I know it can do the same for you!

Okay, it admittedly stings a little that it’s them going back to Iceland and not us, but we can overcome, right?!

Be the one in your friend circle, at your gym, or in your neighborhood who people come to seeking advice and guidance when they are considering going to Iceland. There are also many online groups you can join to assist travelers who have questions about their upcoming travels.

Hop on and offer some words of wisdom based on your experience.

It will be so satisfying to recount your incredible time in Iceland and will provide you an opportunity to help others have the same!

You might even make a new friend or Iceland connection in these groups, and there’s usually an abundance of Iceland pics and videos to devour as a side dish on these sites too.

What’s not to love?!

This is #winning all over the place!

My Facebook picks:

Travel Iceland, Iceland Q & A, and Hiking in Iceland – Q & A

Leave No (Icelandic) Stone Unturned

rock beach in iceland
Beautiful stone cairns by the harbor in Reykjavik. As a rule: do not create your own, and do not disturb those that already exist.

I’ve searched high and low for my Iceland fix.

I’ve found subreddits to read and local Nordic stores to shop at. I stalk webcams and follow local authors. I’m learning Icelandic and blog about my Iceland travels.

Quite simply, my quest for staying connected to Iceland has brought new opportunities, friends, and challenges I would have otherwise missed.

For example, I’m headed to Gimli, Canada (also known as New Iceland) for their Icelandic Festival in August and submitted a poem about Iceland in the festival’s writing contest.

Think I foresaw that in my life two years ago?

Think again!

So you don’t have to suffer needlessly!

You can fill that gigantic Iceland hole in your heart little by little, by finding the Iceland all around you, right where you are.

Wear your Icelandophile badge with pride, and seek out that which you love.

You won’t know what’s out there if you don’t go looking!

And finally

The Antidote to End All Antidotes: Return to Iceland!

flights to iceland
One day (hopefully) soon you’ll be boarding your next flight to Iceland!

This is obviously the most perfect solution when you’re missing Iceland, and I hope you will be able to do this sooner rather than later, for nothing heals heartbreak like a reunion with the one you love.

We are planning a trip back to Iceland to celebrate New Year’s Eve in epic fashion and some days I just have to pinch myself.

I’m really going back!

Really, really!

And while it’s true that there’s nothing quite as thrilling as looking forward to going a fantastic trip, you know what beats that?

Looking forward to coming home.

Ready to return to Iceland? Nordic Green Travel can help you with every aspect of your trip planning! They have a variety of self-drive tours from which to choose or they can create a custom itinerary just for you. Check out your options here.

About the author

Mary Kujawski