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Sophia N. Wassermann, PhD

Marine ecologist interested in quantitative approaches to issues at the intersection of fisheries and climate change. Postdoc in the Punt Lab, School of Aquatic & Fisheries Science, University of Washington, in collaboration with the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center & Northwest Fisheries Science Center. PhD in Earth & Ocean Science from the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Greetings from the frozen north!

Hi, dear reader! This is an old post from a travel/adventure blog I used to keep. This is my second post about settling in as a Fulbright Student Grantee in Iceland. Now, in this post, winter is settling in. *ominous music plays*

Well hello, strangers!

So, let’s get down to brass tacks. I’m sure many of you have seen a video of a guy in Iceland named Oskaar who is complaining about the lack of sunlight? It’s not that bad, I promise. There’s more than 3 hours of sunlight, but it’s a different feeling from the depths of winter in the US. I wake up before the sun most mornings, but I still expect to see morning light creeping through my curtains at 9 AM, perhaps a vestige of South Caicos mornings when the sun woke me up, whether or not I was ready. Here, the sun comes up, according to Google, at 9:49 and the whole day feels crepuscular, the sun circling the horizon, perpetually rising. Or setting. It’s beautiful, but does not help the mid-afternoon sleepiness at work, not to mention the struggle to get out of a warm bed before the sun is up.

Otherwise, the weather is entirely manageable, better than a slushy Poughkeepsie winter. The warmth of the Caribbean is a distant memory by now, recalled in the delightful hot pots of the public pools. I’ll say this for the Icelanders: they give good pool. A couple of the other Fulbright ladies and I have formed a little academic “old girl’s club” in the hot tubs, our version of cigars in the sauna, or whatever the old guard favored, discussing life as women in the Academy. I’m the most junior and am learning more than I could have ever imagined.

I’ve been quite busy over the last couple of weeks, trying to get two papers ready for publication, re-structuring our approach to the capelin project, and some socializing. My parents were here two weekends ago and we took the chance to drive out to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, about two hours out of Reykjavík. I rented a car (my first! I’m such an adult!) and we went out to a summerhouse. It was incredibly windy that weekend, but we managed a gorgeous drive around the peninsula, even encountering a zip line in the backyard of a lighthouse keeper’s house (perhaps abandoned, or closed for the winter) in howling 30-40mph winds. Oh Iceland, what surprises you have up your sleeves!

My dad on a zip line on the Snæfellsnes peninsula

My dad tries out the zip line in this stunning setting.

Then, last weekend was Iceland Airwaves, a festival of local and international acts that takes over the city. I didn’t buy an official ticket, but checked out a few of the off-venue acts. I wish I could have made it to more and now have a full roster of acts I’d love to see. I did make it to Mugison, Una Stef, and Sin Fang, and into the line, if not the gig, for FM Belfast. I’m sloooowly digging into the world of Icelandic music.

And the adventure never stops here in the ~*land of ice and fire*~. I’m headed up to Akureyri, the main city in the north of Iceland, for the weekend. We’re staying in another sumarhús, or as my co-Fulbrighter Scott just called it: a “winterhouse,” this time with a hot tub. Fingers crossed for aurora borealis in the hot tub (my main bucket list item at the moment), and with the encroaching darkness, that might not be too difficult to achieve.