From Iceland — Sour Grapes Issue 02 2008

Sour Grapes Issue 02 2008

Published February 8, 2008

Sour Grapes Issue 02 2008

Dear Editor, I moved to Iceland around 6 months ago from Birmingham, England. I moved here to be with my long distance boyfriend of almost 3 years, and after 2 and a half years of waiting i finally made the choice by myself to move here. Anyway, at first i loved it, i loved going out and seeing the beautiful landscapes and taking drives into the middle of nowhere to find solace, the kind of thing you couldn´t do in a big city like Birmingham. But when i started work things changed, i started noticing people staring at me out of the blue for no reason, which made me uncomfortable, but what could i expect being a coloured girl i guess, but still, things seemed to get worse for me, the more i thought about the stares and the comments about me not being able to speak Icelandic after even 2 to 3 months the more it started to anger me, how could people be so ignorant? I regard myself as a very polite and friendly person, who gives everybody a first and second chance, whereas i feel like nobody gives me a chance to show them who i am before they make their judgement about me and where i´m from. I know that it is an isolated island and that people are not used to immigration, I of all people know that in England there is also racism and predjudice but nowadays there is such a variation of people that colour or race or religion doesnt seem to matter as much as it used to in England. I dont expect things will change anytime soon, but it kinda depresses me in a way that i cant comunicate on any level with some people, even if they speak good english, it seems like they are miles away when i talk to them. Infact i find that when i speak english in a public place or at work, i get stared at, which is kind of humourous but can be annoying if you´re having a bad day. I know some Icelanders do try really hard to accomodate immigrants, and not all icelanders are ignorant or rude, but i feel that it is a long way before iceland truly accepts immigrants the way other more integrated countries like america or england, which kinda makes me sad, as i would have loved to have stayed here for longer but now i have plans to move back to england in 6 months. I have tried to learn the language, but resources are hard to find, my boyfriend is icelandic and he tries to help the best he can but he can only do so much..
I also think it would be more helpful if Icelanders advertised jobs in english as well as icelandic, because learning icelandic takes some time, and for an english speaker like myself, its extremely hard to find a job when you dont understand any of the advertisements.
thanks for reading,
Jessica x
Dear Jessica,
It always makes me sad to read letters from people who move to Iceland, only to be confronted with Icelander’s prejudges and lack of manner. Your story is hardly more than a variation of a story I’ve heard many, many times before. But, you and me, we are on the right track here. The only way to uproot prejudges and lack of cultural understanding is to open discussion. Ignorance, pure and simple, is the root of all prejudges, and we need to get to that root, through the only means we have. Open discussion is the only effective method to educate those who are still in the dark. I hope that your letter will be put this issue in new light for somebody. That would be a good start.
Thank you for writing,

Hello, I would like to ask, through your paper, about the possibility finding penfriend, an Icelandic woman between the age of 45 and 60. I live in north Queensland, Australia, and I am a family person. I would prefer the old fashioned method of correspondence. My address: 18 Cedarbrook Terrace, IDALIA, TOWNSVILLE 4811, North Queensland, Australia.
Denise Moore
Phone 4722 0304
I expect that by old-fashioned mode of correspondence you are referring to carrier pigeons. You can expect my letter in a few weeks, oh, and I need that pigeon back.

Editor: Barker Bjornsson I would like to offer my commemorative poem to be published in your English language daily newspaper. Of course, I was inspired to write this poem on hearing about the death of the great chess player, Bobby Fischer, who was able to find shelter and comfort in your wonderful country, for the last few years of his life.
Thank you Iceland!
Bobby Fischer
Bobby Fischer’s gone and died,
He’s famous cause he once defied,
The Ruskies at their favourite game,
And he American by name!
It’s hard for us to quite assess,
How good he was at playing chess;
He took poor Spaskky, rook and all,
And trapped his bishop at the wall.
And with his poisoned pawn approach,
His queen in danger, did encroach,
And snatch a piece without exchange,
Left the white Sicilian strange.
But too outspoken was his curse,
And like a pawn he felt it worse;
They threw him in a Japanese cell,
With both his knights captured as well.
And now he’s had his final fling,
For God has moved to take his King;
In Iceland’s womb he met his fate,
He’s now received his own checkmate!
Written by: Michael J Monteith, January 19, 2008

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