It’s a strange feeling to go to a place that is almost the complete opposite of where you’ve come from and to not have a single feeling of culture shock. Reykjavik is landscaped by volcanoes and glaciers with lava fields, natural waterfalls, geysers and beautiful arctic coasts. It could not be more different than Chicago, but it felt like home right away. The Icelandic people all spoke English so impressively, and some of them didn’t even have accents. The food was incredible, and despite the several meat courses and delicacies, there was no disappointment for a vegetarian like me.
At our farewell dinner, while everyone else sampled exotic native foods like puffin and whale, I was given a beautiful display of grilled eggplant with a fresh tomato cucumber salsa to go on top. Even though the last meal was the highlight of our tastings, I was happy just to have a hot dog each night and more than obliging to wait in a line that wrapped around the block.
That’s right. The vegetarian said hot dog. And the cashier didn’t even think twice when I placed my ridiculous sounding order: “Can I have a hot dog with everything but the hot dog?” Because you can’t go wrong with a little bread, sauteed onions, fried, crunchy onions and a couple different Icelandic sauces. It might sound a little strange, but I craved them.
I learned this week that it hardly snows in Reykjavik, a part of the arctic circle, unless you’re in the moutains. I learned that basking in a breathtaking pool of geothermal mineral water is the perfect hangover cure. I learned that I can conduct interviews, cover shows, go out and make friends, hit my deadlines, discover a new culture and thrive without a single second of sleep for multiple days.
This experience was unlike any other I have been on or can possibly expect to see again. I have to come back. I will come back. But I can’t deny, I could not have had better friends to adventure with this week. We worked hard, and we played harder. Even though some of us are graduating and moving away pretty soon after our return, we’ll always have Iceland.