My 8am wake up alarm came far too soon, especially considering I was prepping for my five interviews that would unfold the next morning until 6am. Before I knew it, I was awake again and off in my first taxi of the day on my way to the Directorate Of Labour.
Upon arriving, I was greeted by the receptionist and when I told him I was there to speak with Karl Sigurdsson, Icelandic Labor Market Statistics And Trends Expert, he giddily remarked, “Oh! You’re Miranda from the U.S.A.!,” and just like that I was whisked away to my first interview. Sigurdson and I chatted about the various expanding industries in Iceland and other projections about the labor market. To find out more, especially if you’re interested in visiting, studying, or moving to Iceland, be sure to look out for my upcoming piece being released later this week on industry and foreign labor! After that interview I spoke with another expert in the field. I had the opportunity to sit down with Sigrún Brynja Einarsdóttir, director general of the Ministry of Industries and Innovation. Brynja gave me exclusive insight, sharing some of her personal connections to the job market in Iceland relating it to young people’s ability, or lack thereof to find jobs, which is currently a very important issue to myself and many other college students.
After my first two interviews I had some time to kill in the 101 so I went shopping around the main street of Reykjavík, Laugavegur, to see if I could find some souvenirs to bring back to my friends and family. Many of the shops I went into sold home goods and other Icelandic knick knacks, obviously meant for tourists to take as souvenirs, but I passed on buying any in hopes of finding less “tourist-y” things to bring back over throughout the next week.
My shopping excursion was short lived because it was back to work for me. The next three interviews I conducted were regarding my other piece that will be produced after I get home from Iceland on Geothermal Energy. My angle thus far has been regarding the negative elements of geothermal, including but not limited to the cost and inefficient nature of this energy source, which I spoke about with the chairman of The Icelandic Nature Conservation, Àrni Finnsson. After that meeting, I took a cab to The University of Iceland to speak with doctoral student Aðalbjörg Kristbjörnsdóttir and public health sciences professor, Thor Aspelund. They are both distinguished in the field of geothermal research and this year released an updated study on geothermal areas’ correlation with increased cancer rates. We spoke a lot about how geothermal should not be seen as a bad thing but Icelanders should be aware of how it can affect their bodies.
Once the interview was over I decided to walk to Harpa, my next interview destination, rather than take a car. I’m so glad I did because the entire time I was awe struck by how beautiful the scenery was. The path from The University to Harpa starts atop a hill overlooking the capital city, then took me around a pleasant little lake in the middle of Reykjavík, which was definitely Instagram worthy, then through the rustic city streets toward the shore. The entire walk consisted of me feeling overwhelmed with gratitude that I am lucky enough to travel to the amazing destination of Iceland to speak with such educated experts like the ones I interviewed today.
It was a bit ironic that immediately following my peaceful walk through the beautiful city, overlooking gorgeous mountains and the clear ocean, I sat down to speak with Ragnhildur Finnbjörnsdóttir to talk about the deadly air pollution in Reykjavík due to geothermal energy. Finnbjörnsdóttir has a Ph.D. in Public Health, works at The Environment Agency in Iceland, and has released studies on the possible health effects of low-level air pollution in Reykjavik. She, much like Kristbjörnsdóttir and Aspelund, had the goal of educating the public of what is in the air and land around them, so they can make informed decisions on what is best for their individual health needs.
Finally, after a full day of interviews, around 4pm my work for the day was done, and what better way to celebrate than with an amazing six course meal. The class and I met up at Tapas Barinn, a restaurant that combines both Spanish cuisine and atmosphere with traditionally Icelandic delicacies including puffin, lamb, whale, and various indigenous fish. It was all delicious, or so I hear because I, being a vegan, didn’t eat any of those things. Luckily, Tapas Barinn was exceptionally accommodating and served me one of the best meals I’ve eaten in my life. My courses included a cauliflower and sweet potato dish, tomato and arugula salad with truffle vinaigrette, a dish of quinoa, beets, and mandarin oranges, potatoes bravas, and my favorite, a plate of marinated oyster mushrooms on a bed of greens. The feast didn’t end there, next was dessert, a blueberry and passion fruit sorbet with a fruit salad of dragon fruit, kiwi, bananas, and berries. I don’t think I have ever been as full in my life by the time our three and a half hour dinner concluded.
I feel like each day I’m here Reykjavík gets better and better. I’m struggling to put into words how excited I am for the first day of Airwaves tomorrow. I’ve been mentally preparing myself by listening to Kiriyama Family on repeat for the last week so you bet I’ll be jamming out tomorrow at the historic Gamla Bíó.
Check out my photos of the food at Tapas Barinn below!