Two years ago, I was celebrating my birthday by rafting on a glacial river and walking around Reykjavík in the glow of the midnight sun. This year, I am two months away from the craziest, scariest, most exciting adventure of my life.
I am moving to Iceland.
In just eight weeks / sixty days / one thousand four hundred forty hours.
And I have a whole lot of studying, packing, goodbye-saying, and Northwest-summer-living to do before then.
That’s the short version. Here’s the longer story:
After I returned from Iceland two years ago, I knew I was interested in studying the language further, and I knew I wanted to go back to Iceland, I just didn’t know how soon that would happen. While I was in Iceland, I learned that there is a grant available, jointly funded by the Icelandic Ministry of Education and the Fulbright Program, for a US student who wants to study Icelandic as a Second Language at the University of Iceland. There is only one grant available each year. I missed the deadline to apply in 2012, but last year, after a couple months of writing, rewriting, editing, and nitpicking my essays, I submitted my application in October. I figured if I was ever going to get the grant, it would take at least two or three tries. I was glad to at least say that I tried and to have learned what the application process was like.
Then, in February, I found out I had moved on to the final round of competition.
And on the morning of March 21, I found out I had been offered the grant.
It is hard to believe that nearly three months have passed since I found out I had gotten the grant, and even harder to believe that in just eight weeks (!) I will say goodbye to my Northwest life and start a new life thousands of miles away.
I told my family and close friends right away, but did not make it public knowledge because I wanted to make sure my paperwork would go through without any problems and because I didn’t want to stress out my boss and coworkers with the news until it was for certain. Last week, my residence permit application was approved and I was finally able to share the news of my impending departure with my coworkers, so it has slowly been feeling more and more real.
This also contributed to the reality:
(Read the full article here: http://www.corban.edu/news/2014/06/05/alumna-earns-fulbright-grant-study-iceland)
Anyway, I think it’s safe to say the word is out.
I have been terribly neglectful of this blog the past year, largely because I have been quite busy. These days, I am busier than ever, but I also want to make sure I take the time to step back from all the busyness and the insanity, to reflect on this time of preparation and to share the journey with whoever might want to join me. So welcome back to life, blog. I am not going to make any promises to write a certain number of posts per week or anything like that. That sort of declaration doesn’t generally motivate me and may even backfire because I am stubborn like that.
Anyway, another reason this whole moving-to-Iceland thing is starting to feel more real? Because at the end of August, I have to pass an exam to determine whether I will be allowed to begin the BA program in Icelandic as a Second Language. If I don’t pass, I will have to enter the one-year, slower-paced certificate program. My goal is to test into the BA program, because while I know it will be a challenge, I think I can do it, and I want to make use of every little tiny bit of language learning I’ve already done.
I have a number of really great resources online and in print that I’m using to study, but I really don’t know what to expect from the exam, and the thing that makes me most nervous is that book studies cannot take the place of actually interacting with native speakers, and those are in pretty short supply around here.
Over the next two months, I definitely want to and need to fit in as much studying as possible. I owe it to the grant funding sources – and to all my wonderfully supportive friends and family – to be as prepared as possible for this opportunity. But I also want to make the most of the beautiful Northwest summer, visiting with friends and soaking up as much sunshine as I can (I have a feeling I won’t be seeing quite as much of it in Iceland this winter – something about which I am trying not to dwell too much!).
I will write another post soon detailing my Northwest must-do and hope-to-do lists for the summer, but needless to say it’s going to be a busy couple of months.
And because everyone likes to look at pretty pictures along with words, here are a few shots from Þjóðhátíðardagur (June 17) in Reykjavík two years ago. I’m a day late, but Gleðilega Þjóðhátíð!