Life In Perspective: Five Years After The Crash - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Life In Perspective: Five Years After The Crash

Life In Perspective: Five Years After The Crash

Published October 11, 2013

Our last issue was all about the Icelandic economic collapse. We traced the effects of The Collapse And Beyond, examined The Secret History Of The Collapse, and featured a Total Banking Collapse Timeline.

We reached out to two people used to being in the spotlight, actress Saga Garðarsdóttir, and RÚV reporter Þóra Arnórsdóttir, asking them about how their life has changed in the five years since the economic crash.

Saga og Þóra -  86b48a71fbd4b0b5.jpg

Saga Garðarsdóttir, actress and Batman Princess

What was your life like in 2008, before the crash?
I was immersed in the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, training to become a better person and actress. I went to the theatre, bought steaks, and travelled abroad. I hardly worried about the economy or politics, except when the powers that be repeatedly turned beautiful rivers into hydro-electric dams, flooding irreplaceable landscapes for the benefit of foreign heavy industries.

What’s your life like today, five years later?
Now I’m immersed in the National Theatre of Iceland, training to become a better person and actress. I go to the theatre, buy steaks, and travel abroad. I am very worried about the economy and the fact that the same people that were in government before the crash are now back in power, drowning in self-centredness; they’ve abolished the ministry for the environment, and are determined to cut down on the arts and culture.

What’s the worst thing that happened to you as a result of the crash?
It was difficult to watch an entire nation feel so angry, hurt and betrayed. The worst thing was that a few greedy men could mess things up so much, so adversely affected those who are worst off in society, and then get away with it all even though it was clear how unethical the whole thing was. Five years later the debate is even more hostile, and there are more people whose extreme views don’t contribute to the discussion – people are more easily angered, and are afraid of being betrayed.

What’s the best thing that happened to you as a result of the crash?
A new government was elected and the debate opened up about ethical values, and how we could prevent a crash from happening again, reinforce the creative industries, and tend to their own back yard. Even though the old losers have returned to government and are trying to change things back to how they were before, more people are aware of what warning signs to look out for, and that awareness extends to economic matters, feminism, environmental matters, humour and culture.

What do you miss most about your pre-crash life?
Everything was so cheap outside of Iceland. I remember stopping in a small countryside shop to buy some biscuits whilst on a sports trip in Czechoslovakia. After walking through the store for a bit, I realized that I could probably buy the whole shop and the members of staff for the money I had in my pockets. That was around the time that I realized things weren’t quite right – a twenty year old middle class girl is not supposed to be able to buy a whole store for her allowance. Someone was being cheated, but I never suspected it was me!

Þóra Arnórsdóttir, reporter at RÚV

What was your life like in 2008, before the crash?
I lived in a 2 bedroom rental basement apartment in Breiðholt with 2 – 5 kids and a husband. I worked at RÚV as a news reporter and host of Útsvar, taught at the university, played soccer, and didn’t have a dime.

What’s your life like today, five years later?
I live in Hafnarfjörður, with 4 kids on average, a husband and a cat. We Bought a house, I work at RÚV as a reporter for Kastljós and host of Útsvar, play badminton, and don’t have a dime.

What’s the worst thing that happened to you as a result of the crash?
I missed the wedding of my good friends Chris and Camilo in Colombia in 2009 because we just couldn’t make it with the ISK devaluation. I’m told it was epic.

What’s the best thing that happened to you as a result of the crash?
To realize we weren’t the losers we had started to think we were. Everybody else had been buying new houses and cars, but our calculations showed there was no way out of the basement at the time – which we loved, by the way. We had the best landlords you can think of who were lovely people. It was just a bit overcrowded.

What do you miss most about your pre-crash life?
Nothing. I didn’t have anything then that I don’t have now. On the contrary, I’m a very fortunate person, becoming happier with every year that passes.


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