22 September 2005

Progress and integration

Yesterday was a banner day. I got my debit card, printed with my kennitala and photo, giving me non-stop access to the cashless society that is Iceland. Up next, the credit card, for which my HR guy has to sign, since all the work I did on my credit in the States means nothing here. Credit cards here also have to be paid off every month, so there’s none of that carrying balances of thousands of dollars.

I also started Icelandic class yesterday. It was a one-two punch of back-to-back grammar and oral classes, stacks of handouts, and a lot of intense looks from the teachers. The class is filled with strapping Norwegians, an oddly large population of Italian architects, and a smattering of South Americans and people from countries. I think I am the only American there. We started off the grammar class with a whole saga of the importance of Icelandic to the people and nation, including the standard here to always use first names and not use titles like “Mister”. One of the South Americans had a huge problem with this, and launched into a lisped tale of a mass he had gone to that had also been attended by the President of Iceland. He could not understand why everyone didn’t stand up when he arrived, and why he wasn’t called “Mr President”. I wonder if he will continue in the class... The oral class, on the other hand, was much less cluttered with superfluous conversation about the 15 different words for type of horse (again, the lisping South American) and our Liam Neeson look-alike had us reciting the alphabet and practicing greetings in the first 20 minutes (gaman að sjá þig!)

During the days, I am also watching autumn develop in another land. Much of it is similar, with touches of bright leaves spotting the hills, a noticeable shift in the sunlight (our days are now shorter than my East Coast readers after the Equinox today) and a new snap to the air. Here, though, the view of trees is framed by the daily dusting of snow on the mountains ringing the city, and the bright colors on trees do not last as they are snatched away by the ever-present wind. Rain still brings out the smell of decaying leaves (my favorite) and this morning there was a skin of frost on the windshield of the car.

The days this month are long, full of packing, confusion on the job, and constant mental stimulation, but I am carving myself a place here, and it feels good.

1 comment:

The Prima said...

I adore your entries!