21 September 2007


This week I've been thinking of things that now fill my brain that I wasted not a care on before, and realized that it has replaced some stuff that was front-and-center in my head in the old days. I started making a mental list of the remembering/forgetting items, and in the interest of freeing up that brainspace, it's going down on this site.

Things I don't have to think about anymore now that I live in Iceland:
  • Clothes dryers. I'm air-dry all the time, baby. Only problem is when I am finishing my chenille scarves I need to borrow a dryer, and I know a total of two people who actually have them.
  • Furnaces, and therefore waiting for the heat to be turned on in the fall. Makes the basements of apartment buildings look really weird and empty without the Great Beast lurking down there. Also, I've never been to someone's house that is just not quite warm enough, unlike the time when I visited my aunt in Paris in her lovely-yet-frigid Beaux Arts-era apartment building.
  • Hot water heaters. Consistent shower temperatures all the time, and no need to get up super early to beat out the guy downstairs for the hot water!
  • Antiperspirant/air conditioners. It's never warm enough to need either.
  • How to get OUT of the city. Unlike 5 hours of traffic to get to a bit of empty on a popular weekend, it's 20 minutes.
  • Will the tap water be drinkable at a restaurant or hotel? Whenever I am not in Iceland, I am very preoccupied with water quality and end up drinking far less water than when home.
  • Ants, cockroaches, mosquitoes and other creepy-crawlies. Yes, we have some up here (like silverfish) but for the most part it's but a memory. Means you can forget to wash a plate for a lot longer here. Nice!
  • Restrictive work hours/sick time. I have to be present for meetings and get my work done, but how and where that happens is my business. This was a big stress factor in the US that is totally gone.
things I do think about a lot now that I don't live in Boston/USA:
  • Sleeping with the window open, whatever the temperature or wind conditions may be outside
  • My passport. I have to carry it much more often now, and thanks to all the visas and stamps, have to get extra pages now.
  • How true or incorrect stereotypes about people from different countries are, since I meet so many people from so many places now.
  • Laundry planning. Euro machines seem to heat their own water and take their own sweet time washing your clothes ever so gently. A load can take up to 2 hours to complete, so it's a big planning session to make it happen. Add in the drying negotiations (see "no clothes dryers" above) which involve either picking a non-rainy day and hanging in the morning for sun exposure, or beating the other building residents to the inside lines, and laundry day gets exciting.
  • Bathing suits. I have about 8 of them and it's just never enough with all the pool and hot tub opportunities here. Must have variety.
  • Suitcases. Somewhere on some life-abroad list I read a comment that said being an expat means learning how to pack a suitcase really well and get all kinds of odd things packed together in a tiny space without breaking anything. I still hate packing to go on trips though, in spite of all my recent experience with it.
  • Food spoilage. Everything has a much shorter shelf life here. Bread & milk are only good for a couple of days before they get fuzzy or funny smelling. Therefore, I think more about my grocery shopping plans. I've gone all old-lady and bought a fold-up grocery trolley (like this only a more stylin stripes and mod flowers pattern), which is fun when trundling eggs home over the cobbled sidewalks.
  • Raincoats that don't look foreign-tourist or straight-from-the-mountain for all-the-time wear. Umbrellas just don't cut it, and the weather the past month has called for almost constant raincoat use.
  • Boots with low/no heels, for staying stylishly warm and being walkable on cobblestones and icy sidewalks. I realized just how much of a new thing this is when I tried to find footwear in Boston and found that only the Super Sensible (=really not fun to wear and rather ugly) boots had flat/low heels.
  • Apartments and housing. It's over 3 months until I have to move out but I am already planning where I will live in January. Gotta work the inside route if possible.
  • How to escape the darkness of December/January here for a bit of light somewhere else.
  • Running into people who are all "HEY!! How've you BEEN?? SO GREAT TO SEE YOU!!!" that I don't remember at all. This happened to me at a party a few weekends ago with a very bubbly Spanish lady that I thought was someone else. Turns out I met her two years ago at my first-weekend-in-Iceland party and have basically not seen her since. She has a new job with some people I sort of know and ended up at the party, where she recognized me and I didn't. That's how it goes in Iceland.


New Diva on the Blog said...

LOVE sleeping with the window open! Wish my allergies loved it too.

Angel said...

I miss sleeping with the window open- with crime high in my 'hood and being that I am on the first floor, it is not a good idea.

I hear you on the boots. I don't really like heeled boots myself because I find them uncomfortable, but the flat or low-heeled ones always look so blahhhhh. Lucky for me, you don't really need boots down here in the warm and steamy south. (Its 90 today!! So much for fall weather...)

Anonymous said...

I had the same boot dilemna when I moved to Montreal. My husband took me boot shopping and became a bit frustrated because I was vetoing every boot we saw. As a result, I went several winters w/o proper boots - that wasn't very smart and I suffered. I finally gave in a few years ago and purchased some rather sensible skecher winter boots.

I've also used the European washing machines. We had a German washer when we lived in Tokyo and it took forever to do a load. I didn't like them because a lot of our clothes ended up faded.


Kelly C said...

Iceland gets made fun of collectively... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dk4rBQDxOEE

Where'd they get those accents?

Mary said...

On my one trip to Iceland, the tap water in the hotel was absolutely delicious. Do you mean that is true anywhere in Iceland? How wonderful.

tsduff said...

You are the second friend who has mentioned those "old lady" type grocery halulers... hey, those ladies were on to something! Great post - I've enjoyed reading it several times.

I remember the delightfully regulated shower temperature.

ECS said...

diva: I was actually wondering recently if it was a bad idea for me, since the window is near my head and it can be quite breezy. It also makes it a bit harder to get up in the morning sometimes when the room's so frosty!

angel: If I lived on the first floor I think I would probably not do it either, even here in Reykjavík with these windows that don't open much. As for boots, if you ever come here I will definitely take you shoppin, and I will cross my fingers for a job next year at a cooler place!

Steph: I would have thought Montreal would be well supplied with winter footwear. Odd. As for European washing machines, I haven't noticed more fading, but I do know that the front-loader machines like are the standard here use much less water and are not usually as destructive on clothing as the top loaders with the central post in them. My parents used to own a laundromat so I learned a lot about machine technology when I was younger!

Kelly c: I have NO idea where those accents came from but they are definitely not Icelandic. The first shot at the beginning is definitely an Iceland-standard kind of boring apartment building (you can tell what my preferences for housing is by that sentence!)

mary: I have yet to taste really miserable tap water in Iceland. Same goes for the streams. It's safe to drink from most Icelandic streams, as long as they are not coming directly from a glacier (and therefore are murky with minerals and silt).

tsduff: it's the way to roll, literally.