It’s been around two weeks since I arrived back in Australia after my semester in Iceland and it feels absolutely surreal. It is definitely a bit warmer here.
My parents’ visit came and went. I sat all my exams and I passed all my courses, which I was very pleased about. My two Dutch housemates and our friend from the UK went to a number of artsy tours, exhibitions, film screenings, the Eurovision screening (of course), and free concerts. We made a last daytrip, renting a car (being one of two people in the group with a license landing me driver responsibility – in a European car, having to change gears with the wrong hand and driving on the wrong side of the road) and heading down to the south coast and the town, Vík, visiting the Kerið crater, Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, and the Reynisfjara black sand beach there. It was all with an air of solemn finality, knowing that the little bubble of life we’d built over the past five months would soon burst.
And it did burst very suddenly. One moment I was baking cookies and watching Netflix with my housemates, the next I was wrestling my suitcase shut, and heading to the bus station at 3:45am (it was light already and my housemates were so great that they walked with me at that ridiculous time), then I was on the plane to Oslo, the next moment I was breaking out in a cold sweat disembarking at Dubai when the 34 degrees heat hit me after months of nothing above 10 degrees, then I was at customs in Adelaide showing the attendant the hiking boots I’d worn to Geysir and Gullfoss, then my parents and I pulled up in our driveway, and suddenly my adventure had ended.
Luckily, having a couple of projects to immediately jump into upon returning, including a frantic job hunt and room clean, has taken my mind off the sadness of it. I’m strictly avoiding the thought of what I’d left behind there and any teariness over it – the dam is holding – I’m still messaging my friends over there like I’m still around, nothing out of the ordinary, I live there, how was your day, swimming tonight, right?!
However, it is nice to be home and to see everyone here again. I feel like I’ve learnt and grown so much. I feel more resourceful and resilient, less frightened by new situations, ready to take them on actually, and keen and comfortable to talk to anybody. I’ve made friends with people from all over the world. Going on this exchange has certainly been an amazing experience and something that I will look back on and appreciate for the rest of my life. I’d certainly encourage anyone who was considering an overseas exchange to grab the opportunity and I would certainly recommend Iceland and Háskóli Íslands.
Anna Van Rensburg, a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance/Economics) student , Semester 1 2016 exchange at University of Iceland, Iceland