When I was accepted into Reykjavik University I was told that accommodation is pretty hard to find, because Iceland has such a high tourist population in recent years. There is no housing at the university unfortunately but they did help out a bit. They booked some rooms at a hostel for some students to claim, and told us about some websites like bland.is (similar to Gumtree). I ended up joining a bunch of Facebook groups and asking around. This led me to chatting with a few locals who helped me find a share apartment.
I was honestly so happy that I found somewhere to live, within walking distance of the university and with my own room; I didn’t realise how great it was until I got here. It’s close to the famous church Hallgrímskirkja, and about a ten minute walk from the city centre and the harbour. I think I have completely lucked out on my apartment! It’s adorable and really close to town and to the water. I can see the ocean, the mountains and even some snow on the top from my kitchen. Not to mention that it is cheaper than where I lived in Brisbane next to the city.
Reykjavik University held 2 days of orientation sessions for all the exchange students. This year there is a record number of about 100, which is double last year. These orientation days were very helpful.
The university is very different to QUT. For instance, the whole university is only one building! I mean it’s a good thing because no one will want to go outside to change classrooms once it starts snowing, but it still seems so small. The classes are also much smaller, with only about 30 students in each course. Now, coming from engineering, my first year had about 1000 students and now were down to about 140 in Electrical Engineering. So it’s a bit of a dramatic change, but it feels more personal.
In the second week of university they held an international day. About 2 – 5 students from each country cooked traditional food from their home country to share with the local students. I baked a giant batch of ANZAC biscuits but they were all gone by the end of the day, and we also served fairy bread (the essence of our childhood) and Vegemite on bread for those brave enough to try! Some of my favourite reactions to Vegemite were “It tastes like I’m eating broth”,”It tastes like seawater” and “It tastes like something I never want to try again”.
I’ve been quite lucky with my location so I have been just walking around downtown and through the city. Most tours often pick up from somewhere in the city too.
The bus is also available and is what I’m planning on taking it when it starts getting too cold to walk. There is a student card you can get but it’s only available for a year, so I am just going to get the 3 month card, which turns out cheaper than just getting a ticket every time. Having a card allows you to take any bus in the Reykjavik area whenever you like. I also like the bus’ here better; they have little screens saying the next stop at the front, which is very helpful.
Taxis are also available but I think are a bit expensive. I caught one from the airport and it was super expensive but I was desperate to be clean after flying for so long. So I am planning on catching the bus to the airport when I go home.