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Natasha Harte (Exchange to Reykjavik, Iceland)

(Images courtesy of Natasha Harte)

I did my exchange semester at the University of Reykjavik in Iceland. Iceland is just an amazing, amazing place: the landscape is ever changing and absolutely breathtaking – 100% recommend going there for a holiday, and also as an exchange location.

The semester started in mid August, and I took masters courses in International Human Rights, International and European Energy Law, Refugee Law and a Moot Court Competition based on the EFTA court. The courses were pretty interesting, and it's nice to have had choice in what I am learning. Our classes are a lot smaller, it's all seminar style and so you can really discuss stuff. It's also interesting to see how a state as small as Iceland (330,000 people) fits into the international scale of things. For example, my Refugee Law teacher suggested that Iceland have a basic income – like they voted for in Switzerland and Utrecht recently – because it's such a small state it's a good place to have “experiments” on how new ideas could exist in society.

Reykjavik is quite a small city which is surrounded by sprawling suburbs (well, as sprawling as they can be to house 200,000 people). It has, in recent years, become a tourist hotspot, and this is demonstrated perfectly in the prices here – of food, of eating out, clothes and alcohol. Regarding food – puffin and whale are local delicacies. I tried fermented shark, because that's apparently what you eat when you're with someone who has just got engaged (not me haha) and a bar gave it to me for free, but I won't eat it again and won't eat puffin or whale either. I did go puffin watching though, which was pricy but cool and thankfully the rest of the natural sights are all free, and there are a lot of free concerts or cultural events to go and check out. The first or second week I was here there was the Reykjavik Culture Night, where the whole main street was totally transformed and there were free concerts, food stalls and exhibitions.

The country itself though is absolutely insane to travel, it changes every time you go around the corner.  It's all lava fields, glaciers, waterfalls and mountains topped with a plateau: the tourist office really got it right when they named this place the land of fire and ice. It seriously is ridiculously beautiful there, and I am so happy that I ended up there. It wasn't my first choice, but actually I could not be more glad that I went there as opposed to my other choices simply because it's such an “odd” destination.

I had the best time there, and really hope that more RUG LLB students go there in the future!

Last modified:21 December 2017 2.07 p.m.