A few years back, I provided the Icelandic immigrant community with the gift of an article on The Three Stages of Integration. Yes, I know, you’re welcome. We all had fun times over that. However, a lot of confusion arose, as it seemed a number of foreigners weren’t able to identify which stage they were in. Well, good news: I am here to help again. The best way to be able to identify which stage of integration you’re in is to know what kind of immigrant you are. Because if there’s one thing we foreigners love, it’s to be neatly classified into easily identifiable and generalizing categories. So let’s get started.
Stage 1 Immigrants (Utterly Smitten By Iceland):
The Nationalist. You are the “right” kind of immigrant. You believe everything wrong with this country is due to foreign influences, and not because of baked-in nepotism and corruption. You sincerely believe the Icelandic language must be kept “pure”, ignoring all the foreign words already in the language. You go out of your way to defend the most vile discriminatory practices of employers and immigration officials because your version of Iceland is a pure elfin paradise that needs to be protected, mostly from foreigners who are not you.
The Fetishist. The Icelandic version of anything is better than its foreign counterpart: Christmas songs, ice cream, women, you name it. There is literally nothing better than something Made In Iceland. You refer to your Icelandic boyfriend as “my Viking”. Even those concrete Soviet-style apartment buildings are cute and endearing to you.
The Apologist. OK, so maybe everything isn’t exactly perfect here, and maybe some of the things wrong with the country are homegrown, but! There’s always a but, such as, “but immigration is still new here” or “but the country is too small for real competition in the marketplace” or “but a lot of Icelanders don’t know that that word is offensive, are you sure he wasn’t just quoting Chris Rock?” and other non-truths. Whatever it takes to excuse your favorite country by inadvertently implying Icelanders are ignorant hillbillies.
Stage 2 Immigrants (Disgusted With Iceland):
The Eugenicist. Any slight, any insult, any offense real or imagined from any Icelander is due to their ethnicity and nothing else. Some old lady rammed her shopping cart into your heel while you were standing in line at Bónus? Icelanders. A bartender short-changed you? Icelanders. A violent snowstorm with 35 m/s winds covers half the country and your flight up to Akureyri has been cancelled? Icelanders!!!
The Whine Maker. Can’t stop, won’t stop, complaining about Iceland and Icelanders. It is literally the only topic of conversation you ever want to discuss. In fairness, it’s everyone else’s own fault for asking you, “So how was your day today?” You wonder why your foreign friends never introduce you to other new arrivals, secretly believing they’ve been brainwashed by the Icelandic cabal.
The Nihilist. Yes, Iceland is shit. It’s a backwards, medieval, podunk vortex of suck and fail. But whaddaya gonna do? There is no hope for this country, so you may as well wallow in the mud with the rest of the pigs. Guzzle that beer, scoff at the music scene, mock anyone who is remotely politically active. You know, more than anyone else, that Iceland is doomed. Doomed!
Stage 3 Immigrants (Accepting Of Iceland):
The Icesplainer. You’ve lived here long enough to know that Iceland is neither a quirky elfin paradise nor a festering shitpile, and that Icelanders are just regular folks like anyone else. But you also happen to know more about Iceland and Icelanders than pretty much any other immigrant, and probably more than even a lot of Icelanders know, too. You are quick to jump into any conversation about anything Icelandic with a jaunty “Actually …” before you launch into a pedantic screed about history, politics or culture, even if no one asked. Especially if no one asked.
The Hipster Tour Guide. Family coming to visit? Maybe your room-mate’s family coming to visit? This is your cue to save these people from themselves before they do something … touristy. Maybe they’ve never been to the Blue Lagoon or seen Gullfoss and Geysir, but you’ll be sure to tell them that shit is over. Whales are lame and you can’t even pet them. Northern lights? More like BOREthern lights. It is your personal mission to point out just how overdone every completely new thing to them actually is, because how else are they going to know?
The Wizard. Whether listening to someone gush about how Icelanders are so adorable or listening to someone gripe about how surprised they are that Icelanders can even walk upright, you will be there to nudge them in the opposite direction. You will point out to those in love with Iceland that this country has its fair share of problems. You will point out to those who hate Iceland that this country has a number of great qualities. Some might take this as being a kneejerk contrarian, but when you notice your immigrant friends start avoiding you at parties, deep down, you know the reason why: they just can’t handle the awesome power of your truth bombs.
And there you have it. If you’re honest with yourself, I’m sure you’ll find you fall into one of these nine categories perfectly, with absolutely no overlap or nuance whatsoever. No need to thank me; I’m just glad to be of service.
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