Today was much more mellow than yesterday. Although I had a full day of interviews, and then an awesome dinner with the group, I feel fully settled here in Reykjavík already, and it has become my home away from home.
I woke up around 8 a.m. after a night of minimal sleep, and I thought I was in a dream. Nothing really felt real, and I forgot where I was. Also, my room was freezing, so I really did not want to get out of bed. However, the free breakfast buffet was calling my name, so I gathered all of my strength and rolled out of bed.
I had a total of five interviews at the University of Iceland to talk about my two cultural stories, Post-Secondary Education and Parental Leave in Iceland. One of the people I talked to was Steinunn Gestsdóttir, who is a Professor of Psychology, and who recently took parental leave. She told me a lot about why she thinks parental leave is so important for not only mothers and children, but also for fathers.
After my interviews on my walk back to the hotel, I stopped by the pond and got to watch a little girl happily feed the geese and ducks, and it was the sweetest thing.
To end the day on a high note, we got to grab dinner at Tapas barinn, a tapas restaurant in downtown Reykjavík. Tapas are basically just appetizer-sized plates that you order for the table so everyone can try a little bit of everything. We started out simple with bread, hummus, and tapenade. The tapenade mixed with the hummus was amazing, and we hadn’t even started dinner yet, so I was super excited about the rest of the meal. We were then surprised by a round of shots called Black Death, which is an Icelandic liquor made from cumin and potatoes. This alcohol was so strong and it tasted so gross, but at least I can say I have now officially tried Icelandic booze. Our first course was puffin. That’s right, I ate an endangered animal and I felt like crap about it (but it was still pretty good). The next course was a piece of Arctic Char (a type of fish) on potatoes and salsa, which was easily my second favorite course. The next course was a lamb kebob with a sweet, dark sauce, followed by cod with a creamy, garlic-y, potato sauce and lobster on top. The cod was by far my favorite course, mostly because I have a weakness for garlic. Then we had buttered lobster tails; whale with a sweet potato puree and to top it off, a slice of skýr with passion fruit sorbet.
The food was absolutely amazing, and I think that trying a different country’s cuisine is by far one of the best and easiest ways to really submerge yourself in the culture.