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Sophia N. Wassermann


PhD student in Marine Science at the National University of Ireland, Galway & Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholar. Interested in computational approaches to issues at the intersection of fisheries and climate change. Currently modelling mackerel collective behaviour. MSc in Biodiversity & Conservation (with Distinction) from Trinity College Dublin; B.A. in Environmental Studies from Vassar College.


Island living, but just a little different from the TCI.

Hi, dear reader! This is an old post from a travel/adventure blog I used to keep. This is my first post about settling in as a Fulbright Student Grantee in Iceland. So funny to look back on, now that I have deep connections to the country!


Well, I’ve been in Reykjavík for more than a month. Woohoo! Let’s see if I’ve assimilated.

So far, I have:

  1. Had skyr, which is Iceland’s much-superior version of yogurt (actually as soft cheese! Very high in protein with no fat!) for breakfast every morning.
  2. Become a full convert to chocolate-covered licorice…though I still can’t handle the salted stuff.
  3. Knitted a scarf from Icelandic wool.
  4. Almost been knocked down by the wind, which reached more than 40 mph last week.
  5. Stopped the habit I formed in the Caribbean of smiling at the people I pass in the street. Back to the Vassar/New York mindset, the…how should I put this politely… “please don’t talk to me” face.
  6. Sampled a few Icelandic beers. And spirits: something called Tópas, which tastes like licorice mouthwash….not entirely unpleasantly. Haven’t tried the infamous Brennevín, also called “the black death.” I promise to report back.
  7. Reveled in geothermally-heated outdoor pools in decidedly chilly fall weather.
  8. Reveled in the funny looks I get walking down the street eating an ice cream cone in decidedly chilly fall weather
  9. Been to the westernmost point of Europe (geopolitically, if not geologically, but who’s counting), called Látrabjarg.
Látrabjarg cliff walk

View along the top of the Látrabjarg cliffs. And yes, Iceland can be green, yada yada.

Gorgeous Icelandic sheep

sheeps!

  1. Seen a lot of sheeps.
  2. Dived (in a drysuit!) in Silfra, next to the ancient Viking parliament at Þingvellir, a fissure along the boundary between the North American and Eurasian plates, filled with glacial water, providing 100m visibility.
  3. Actually swam in only a swimsuit in the ocean off Reykjavík in 12C water (56.3F). By “swam” I mean I was submerged to my neck for about 30 seconds, but it still counts!
  4. Almost managed to correctly pronounce the name of the street I live on. Still working on that one.
  5. Done at least a little bit of actual work. I’m settling into my project, which has morphed into an exploration of the spawning migration of capelin, which are small feeder fish and a food source for cod. We’re tracking their position in the water column during the migration and how that relates to temperature. We’ll also tie it back to the cod stock, and I’ll connect this work to my original project of exploring the cod fishery here in Iceland.

So, not too bad! I still haven’t hiked Esja, the mountain right next to Reykjavik or seen the aurora borealis (though that might change tonight), and there is plenty more exploring to do. The daylight is slipping away, with long, slanting sunlight in the afternoons. It’s absolutely beautiful, but makes me a little nervous about what’s to come. At least I’ll face the winter with wonderful new friends, a charming city, and plenty of chocolate.