This is a guest post by Veerle van den Broeck, a Belgian girl who came to Reykjavik, Iceland to study eight years ago.
'Why on earth did you choose Reykjavík?' That's the question I usually get when I tell people I did my Erasmus at Háskóla Íslands eight years ago. Honestly? I really don't know. The fact that I didn't know anything at all about Iceland or its capital sort of enchanted me. I only knew bands such as Björk, Sigur Rós and múm. Maybe it was the prospect of Scandinavian men? Or the fact it was far away from Belgium? Anyway, it was a big jump into the unknown.
I gambled and I won: I lost my heart in Iceland. It's the only place I have ever felt completely at ease. Whenever I return, it feels like home. Still. After almost nine years. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost there is this special vibe in Reykjavík. Numerous times Icelanders told me that if they had the money they would move to London. Sort of not realising you don't find that vibe easily anywhere else. The only city I also sense it is Berlin.
There's a lot of creativity in the city, it's a way of living. Almost everyone I know is an artist or a musician or both, usually next to their day job. Weekends in Reykjavík are very lively: music, art expositions .... Everyone is partying, drinking and basically having a good time. And not only during the annual Airwavesfestival. Moreover your age doesn't matter when going out and everybody knows how to have a good time.
Another thing I like: Reykjavík is full of fashionistas. No one stares at you for dressing alternatively. Laugavegur and surroundings are full of lovely vintage and design shops. Quite a difference with Belgium. Here people just stare if you're not wearing the same things as anyone else. Once it even happened that this woman kept looking, even though she had greasy hair and baggy cheapish clothes that didn't suit her at all.
And the weather in Iceland? I love that, thank you very much. It's not as cold as you would expect. Besides there's nothing better to calm you down than a walk along the ocean when there's an icy breeze. I just love both winter and summer in Iceland, the lovely changing landscapes being an extra bonus!
A partying crowd during Airwaves
What I do love most is the people. They lead their lives the way they want to. They are very realistic but keep chasing their dreams. They are open, nice and do have an opinion, especially on politics. And yet they know when to relax. Or did I just meet the right Icelanders? I only know I miss them and the country quite a lot!