Students from abroad have been on the rise in Iceland, with ever-increasing numbers in the Westfjords.
In a statement to the press, programme director of the university centre of the Westfjords Ingi Björn Guðnason told the Grapevine, “In the late afternoon of August 1st a total of 107 students arrived in the West Fjords to learn about the Icelandic language and the culture. The majority of the students have found their way to Iceland through exchange programmes, Nordplus or Erasmus, and they are staying at Hótel Núpur for the duration of the courses. They come here to acquire a basic but thorough introduction to the Icelandic language and the culture before embarking on degree studies at various institutions of higher education in the country.”
Ingi Björn is quite pleased the growing numbers of students, saying, “Despite the long drive from Reykjavik, the students descending the bus are bursting with excitement and curiosity, some of them eagerly trying out their Icelandic skills. It is a delightfully heterogenous group with many different languages and a rich variety of academic disciplines. 20 of the course participants have themselves obtained accommodation in Ísafjördur and it is their personal interest in the Icelandic language and culture that has brought them to the Westfjords.”
The students learn the language not just in a classroom setting, but also through excursions into the countryside, as well as through an “Amazing Race” style of game, where students must use their Icelandic skills with locals in order to complete a set of tasks.
“The stay in the Westfjords has left a positive mark on the Icelandic students of past years and often they return with friends and family later on,” says Ingi Björn. “In a sense they become ambassadors of the Westfjords around the world.”
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