Thursday, 27 December 2007
Luce and I have nearly finished reading all the poems about the Yuletide Lads, their mother & her husbands, and the Christmas Cat. I am also working my way steadily through Luce's After Dinner Mints (he told me I had to be careful not to close the drawer too loudly so that I could eat them with impunity - I'm not sure if this means I'm allowed to eat as many as I like so long as he doesn't hear...)
And it's back to work tomorrow - Christmas here is a long weekend, not a month-long holiday!
Saturday, 22 December 2007
In other news, we have now passed The Shortest Day, and I'm expecting to be woken by the daylight 7 minutes earlier tomorrow. Hopefully by the new year I can get up before 10am...
Monday, 17 December 2007
I've been collecting 'odd things about Iceland/ers/Reykjavik' in my head, and I thought it was time to post them:
1. The bus drivers here are ab-so-lute-ly insane. They accelerate up to red lights, roundabouts and bus stops before slamming on the brakes, they accelerate far more ferociously than any bus I've been in before has been capable of, they take corners like they're on rails (which they're not - snow or ice is more like it), and I've yet to have a bus trip where at least one person didn't get thrown out of their seat on one of these manoeveurs. Think Harry Potter on the Knight Bus, and that's pretty much what it's like, except here the chairs are bolted down, and there is a mysterious heat that warms your back and toes, and for which I've yet to find its actual source. They also don't open the back door until they've completely stopped, which always leaves me worried whether I'll be let out at all!
2. Icelanders don't seem to say 'hello', 'goodbye', 'excuse me' or 'please'. They also don't mind bumping into you and pretending it didn't happen (personal space in a queue extends only as far as your bones). This contrasts massively with boarding a bus, where everyone stands back to let everyone go on first - no pushing whatsoever.
3. The Wind is quite extraordinary. It can blow strongly enough so that if I jump in the air, I land somewhere different to where I took off from. This is quite fun when it's blowing in a direction you want to walk in, but I got a bit of a shock once when a sudden side-ways gust nearly landed me in a massive puddle (that I had thought I was a safe distance from!). It's also scary near roads, where you can never be sure that you won't get pushed into oncoming traffic... or that oncoming traffic won't be blown into you. I stand well back from the gutter now when I'm waiting to cross the road, ever since I found tyres tracks 2 foot into the footpath one snowy & icy evening. And heard the stories about the cars blown off the roads, and my office buddy's skylight that got blown off at 2 o'clock in the morning.
4. Icelanders totally don't 'get' Christmas. There's no Santa, only 13 elf things that come and lick pots and bowls, slam doors, peep through windows, eat your skyr and sausages, and chase your sheep. Oh, and their mother who's a troll, along with her latest husband. And the Christmas Cat of course, who eats children who don't wear new clothes at Christmas. I think Gryla the troll also eats children. (Actually, nowadays the 'Yule lads' (the elves) leave a present each night for the kids in their shoes, and if you're naughty you just get a raw potato. None of which really sounds like the Christmas I knew as a kid.) Luce and I were talking about this today, and really, Christmas here sounds like it's run by bunyips and drop-bears - there's rather a lack of Americanisation in this part of Icelandic life at least.
5. Icelanders have a love affair with cars that I imagine is only matched in America. For example: it's a 10 minute walk (if that) to the shops. Our landlord thinks that that's too far to walk (okay, so a big shop is somewhat out of the question). But there's a general perception that anything more than 2 minutes is driving distance (one uni building to another for example - I kid you not). I had assumed that this was because the weather was so bad that no-one could tolerate it. But it's really quite warm here. When it rains, the temperature goes up to about 8 or 9 (which feels like about 20). It's MILD. It's far less extreme than what I've experienced in Norway (or Melbourne for that matter), where everyone gets about in the outdoors, and they have a saying 'Det er ikkje dårleg ver, bare dårleg kle' (there's no such thing as bad weather, there's just bad clothers). People who I've mentioned this to here have just looked confused.
Sorry for the long post! We took the camera to Ikea yesterday, and we're making Christmas bread on Tuesday, so more photos then!
Sunday, 9 December 2007
Us foreigners were then taken to the Blue Lagoon this evening, where we paddled about in bath-warm/hot water, covered ourselves in beneficial white mud (silica mud) in the lava pools created in the run-off from a power station down near Keflavik, I turned into Beetroot Face in the saunas and longed for snow to roll in, and then we had dinner. Somehow the conversation turned to people falling asleep in lectures, and we had a bit of a 'that's NOTHin'!' competition:
- I told about my student who didn't take notes, but would sit up straight watching me, and so was very obvious when he slept;
- Ken told about a small class where two students side by side listed to the same side as they slept, and the rest of the class tried to work out if there was a strange gravity effect there;
- I told about my first years, and the guy down the front who I used to lecture specifically for, trying to keep awake;
- Ken told about a postdoc's job application talk, where 5 of the 9 panel member audience fell asleep in one guy's talk, and then how he fell asleep in the most recent job talk where he was a panel member, and that person got the job;
- someone (Øystein?) told about a class with 3 students, one of whom was a maths student who used to read the newspaper and then fall asleep in class, until a maths topic arose;
- Helge told about a guy who had one student in his class, who fell asleep, and mentioned later that he didn't know whether he should keep talking or not;
- and Höski told about a guy giving a lecture, who was so tired he actually dozed off himself in the middle of his own talk!!
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
Basically, I've started work, it's cold but not stupendously so, the hot water smells, it's dark lots but not always, mandarins come from spain and bananas come from brazil, L nearly faints every time he sees the price of anything (but still manages to overcome his fear and spend up anyway...) and Icelanders seem to like it if you try to speak Icelandic. Oh, and I think I've found somewhere to dance salsa :D
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
Our current visas allow us to travel to Iceland. When you arrive in Iceland, we then register our Icelandic address and have our mugshots taken at the Immigration office. THEN, the immigration office will issue your residence permit card. I'm glad (hope?) the immigration office knows what's going on...
Monday, 26 November 2007
"I have received your passports today AND the permit from the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration. Your visas have been issued and I will return your passports with the visas in the Express envelope you enclosed tonight."
Happily, the race between the visas and the flights appears to have been won by the visas - but I'll confirm this once we have our passports back in hand!
Friday, 23 November 2007
Thursday, 22 November 2007
Tuesday, 20 November 2007
Friday, 16 November 2007
Saturday, 10 November 2007
Enquiries about our departure/arrival dates are becoming more insistent, from friends here, and from our landlords there, but sorry, we're still 'aiming at 21-22/11'. The linguists in Reykjavik, meanwhile, seem to have nothing to say at this stage.
Wednesday, 7 November 2007
I sent an email to every embassy and consulate remotely connected with us getting our visas, and received several replies, so I have some idea of the timeframe: Iceland (the Directorate of Immigration) received our visa applications on the 24/10. For a process that normally takes 3 months, they're 'working as quickly as they can', and I expect 3-4 weeks turnaround on that (so around the 17th). Iceland then informs Sydney that they can 'issue the visa'. This means that we send our passports to Sydney via registered mail, and the person there said that, depending on workload, it would probably take a couple of days to get our passports back, with the visa permits stuck in them (so around the 20th).
We're planning to book plane tickets this afternoon, for the 21st (I think), with STA, because if we need to reschedule our flights, it doesn't cost anything. Flight Centre were going to charge $100 per flight to change, and booking online is about the same. Since we're going to be cutting it fine with the visas, we really need movable tickets. And this means that, even we once we've booked our tickets, this doesn't mean we'll be leaving the country then!! But the 20th/21st of November is a good approximation, hopefully.
We're expecting to hold our going-away party on Monday the 19th, at a pizza place in town, so hopefully folks can bring kids and there won't be any clean up. But we'll send an official invite closer to the date (unless too many people say that date's no good beforehand).
Thursday, 25 October 2007
Also, for the workshop, I have scoured my thesis for the 3 most cited folks, after those already in Reykjavik, and suggested their names as guests. Fingers crossed one of them can make it!
Oh yeah, our package arrived (obviously). It made for a happy little L for a few hours there :) .
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
Sent off all the forms yesterday, and have been happily tracking the package online - it departed from the DHL facility in Singapore at 7:28 this morning, on its way to Reykjavik!
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
I also found out that both of my requested people can probably come to my workshop (yay!), and that if I feel like inviting someone from outside of NORMS, that is also possible. Ie, the people I want to speak to aren't important enough - aim higher!! (And... choose a topic!)
Thursday, 4 October 2007
Thursday, 20 September 2007
Friday, 14 September 2007
A map of Reykjavík: http://www.backman.is/mapofrvk/
The University is here: http://www.backman.is/mapofrvk/part1.html
Thursday, 13 September 2007
After the initial disappointment and some trawling on YouTube, L & I have decided that maybe it's better we're not right in town - we saw someone's video looking down from their balcony at 3am, where it's daylight, and the streets are chockers with cars & people, and the noise echoing up the street is like it's the middle of the day!
I'm looking forward to seeing what their words for 'day' and 'night' mean: in Norwegian 'dag' means ~6am-~7pm, (with 'ettermiddag' being around midday-7pm), 'kveld' means ~7pm-midnight, and 'natt' means midnight-6am. Daylight (or the lack of) doesn't change this. I remember coming home from a bbq dinner with E & her 5 year-old daughter, where Daughter was talking about the tv she was going to watch when we got home. E told her she was actually going to bed, because it was night-time. Daughter replied (shading her eyes from the glaring sun), "But I can see the sun right there!". The Viking's reply: "Yes, I know it's broad daylight. But it is nonetheless night!" ("Ja, men da e natt forda!")
Saturday, 1 September 2007
Monday, 27 August 2007
Not sure if we'll get more offers, hope so!
A map of Reykjavík: http://www.backman.is/mapofrvk/
The University is here: http://www.backman.is/mapofrvk/part1.html
Flat 1: Bræðraborgarstígur, MAP 7
Flat 2: Víðihlíð, MAP 3
Monday, 20 August 2007
Tuesday, 14 August 2007
Admin Oskar also said that "'Place of residence' is the first issue to be solved", so it looks like we might have an address soon. Although L is moaning on and on about finding out my salary, so I've asked about that again too.
So, what will we find out first: whether we have a secret criminal record, who our landlord will be, or how much dosh we'll have to spend on touristing around Iceland... Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of ... Iced-Tee!
Thursday, 9 August 2007
Honestly, 'opinion of trade unions'!! Apparently it might mean something like 'is there a trade union who'll have you?', because being a member is compulsory. But, we need to know where we'll be living and everything, and every time I try to check an online renting site, I get the message 'sorry! Nothing available to rent at this time in Reykjavik! Try another area?' Gah!!
Thursday, 2 August 2007
Wednesday, 18 July 2007
Yep, apparently he did it! You can follow a link to see interviews of him, he sounds really normal, but I haven't heard him speaking Icelandic yet. If anyone knows a link to this, please let me know!
(PS, I still haven't heard back if Iceland was going to pay for a quick visit in August, so I guess that's a 'no'...)
Wednesday, 4 July 2007
Tuesday, 3 July 2007
Iceland gave us an extra contact for L to find work there, and has said he'll assist where he can.
As to what I'll actually be doing over there: Iceland thinks me studying Faroese (in addition to Norwegian and potentially Icelandic) is a great idea, since the massive Faroese data collection for the whole project will take place August 2008. (Now I'm even more excited - Iceland AND the Pharoes (sorry, no idea how to spell it in English).
And finally, I'm going to be part of the Syntax Variation Group. You all managed to remember 'Long-distance Reflexives' for my thesis, so I'm expecting you to now manage the SVG. :D (that's a super-massive grin to match my own smirk that I think is about to burst off my face...)
Friday, 29 June 2007
Monday, 25 June 2007
"I just heard he is hiking around Mt. Blanc, wherever that is. Things do slow down a little in Scandinavia in June, at least around the universities. I am sure he'll get back to you soon after he returns."
So, I guess there'll be no exciting updates until the Icelander checks back in to civilisation...
Saturday, 16 June 2007
In better news though, I'm working my way through the Icelandic Online course at a great rate of knots. I think I'm going to be okay at reading and hearing Icelandic, but useless at the actual talking. One of my salsa dance teachers last night mentioned that autistic guy who 'learnt Icelandic in 10 days' - I'll do some investigation and find out how much he learnt, and which languages he already spoke!
Sunday, 10 June 2007
2. There is a drag-n-drop bookmark that you can put in your bookmarks toolbar. It shows up as 'Next >>'
3. When you're at a blog or page with the little RSS icon, or a page you think you'll want to follow from a distance, push the subscribe button. Then push SUBSCRIBE TO THIS FEED once you're inside GReader.
Easy peasy. (thanks brent!)
Wednesday, 6 June 2007
Tuesday, 5 June 2007
L seems to be getting places with his investigations, S is happy to live in our lovely house while we're away (if not, A can). All that's missing is an email from the guy who's head of the Icelandic Linguistics department to acknowledge that I'm coming! Oh, and an official letter of offer, but I'm guessing that will have to include details about starting dates and salary and benefits and such like, which would involve this guy having emailed...
Monday, 4 June 2007
I had made up my mind to wait until June before I asked what the final decision was, but for the last week in May I found myself checking my email an inordinate number of times, and decided I needed to email them straightaway! I then got a response, saying a person ranked ahead of me had been offered the Oslo position (her first preference), and if I could imagine myself in Reykjavik, then they'd welcome me aboard. Hmm. Can I really imagine myself in Reykjavik?? Not yet, but I've been trying very hard, and I think I'm starting to!
So I wrote a reponse 'That's very exciting', and heard back 'That's very positive'. All very hedgy, but still kind of solid. L is now looking to see if he can get a job there while I'm there, my cousin is coming to Melbourne for 12 months for her PhD and may be able to live here (in our house), and the world seems very full of possible happy conjunctions