Icelandic nights get longer, the sun bids its goodbyes and the rain washes away the summer. The tourist season dies down and international students arrive. The home coming ball is the first of many events on the student calendar that add to the university experience after hours of lectures.
WELCOME TO ICELAND
The welcome orientation at the beginning of a new school year gives international students the chance to mingle and get to know local students. There are two to three days of orientation at most of Iceland’s universities. At the Reykjavík University, the three day orientation is followed by Tuborg Útilegan (“Tuborg Camping”), a bout of sponsored camping trip fun for both international and local students.
As the school year goes on, the calendar is filled with concerts by well-known and successful local (and sometimes international) bands to keep one occupied. Nasa, Faktorý, Sódóma and Rósenberg all regularly host shows and concerts—look for ads on your schools’ bulletin boards or in the Grapevine listings.
During the weekdays, the party scene is naturally more subdued than it is during the weekend, but there is still plenty to get up to for the burgeoning alcoholic dropout. For instance, the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) throws parties every Wednesday from 21:00 to 1:00, which is incidentally when bars close in Reykjavík on weekdays. Parties organized by ESN are often themed or celebrate international holidays. Keep your eyes peeled.
Otherwise, Fridays and Saturdays are the days to go out partying. The most frequented bars and clubs by the students vary. “For us, the first semester place was Café Oliver, we went over there quite often,” ESN assistant Luis Ignacio Huete said. “Nevertheless, the second semester we spent almost all our time at Bakkus. Those have different styles; one is more commercial and the other one more alternative.”
Students like to pre-party before going out in their student apartments on weekend nights, which is definitely the style in Iceland. Usually, the noise doesn’t cause any tension with the neighbours as long they quiet down at a decent hour. But be civil and maybe alert them before inviting everyone over for a drink.
ANNUAL PARTIES, THE ONE-YEAR WAIT
The most anticipated events are the university galas and the festivals that attract thousands of people, like Iceland Airwaves, Oktoberfest, ‘Final ESN Party,’ ‘Annual Gala’ and the Prom Christmas Party. Those are all great fun, and they are anticipated for a reason.
These huge events are of course a great draw, but one needs not get bored while waiting for them to come around. According to some international students we talked to, their most frequented places are Bakkus, Kaffibarinn, Bar 11 and Barbara (while many former students still lament the passing of Stúdentakjallarinn… those were the days). Those ones close a little later than many of the other establishments, which usually makes them a final destination.