Having just completed my first two weeks of classes in the Icelandic as a Second Language BA program, it’s interesting to reflect back on this same time last year. My, how things have changed!
At the start of last year, we had no kennitala, and no place to live, which resulted in a great deal of money spent, and a great deal of hair falling out. I also failed my entrance test to the Icelandic BA program which was an epic blow to my ego and not a little soul-crushing. Eventually, of course, this all worked out. We found an apartment, I made my peace with the fact that I was entering the Icelandic-for-Super-Beginners program, and life continued anew.
This year makes for an interesting point of comparison, however, when you consider that when we arrived, we returned to an apartment—and our landlady had made the bed for us and left the light on, even. And we may have jumped right into the thick of it, but I came back with a job, and moreover, suddenly had an amazingly confidence-inspiring run of Winning Icelandic.
And oh, as it turns out, having that first year of preparation for the BA program was a really good thing in the long run. Because as it stands, I am ahead of the curve in my classes—my professors speak in Icelandic and I understand. I actually skipped a grammar lecture because I am already familiar enough with the concepts the teacher was discussing. It’s really great, not least because these first weeks at work have required a lot of my time and attention, and if we were jumping into concepts I had no familiarity with, I’d be a wreck right now. It’s a lot more fun, I think, to not be a wreck.
The thing with these first year classes is that we are starting from the very beginning in a lot of ways—we’re talking about the fact that nouns have genders in Icelandic, and thus far, we’re only dealing with them in the nominative form. But these basic concepts are being combined with a number of others (new and/or additional rules for vowel shifts, matching adjectives/pronouns in gender/number/case) which are more advanced. The text books are all in Icelandic and the explanations are often rather cursory. It’s like a crash course in the language leading up to more complex study (I think, at least), and really—I would have been a mess last year trying to navigate this all from scratch. Instead, I am now simply reinforcing what I already know and adding to it here and there. And even better, I’m listening to people speak in Icelandic at least 7+ hours a week.
One of our lessons this week was about star signs. It was a similar lesson to one we had last year, but with much more vocab. I had to go through and translate all of the descriptions for each star sign, and then explain whether I thought the adjectives fit my personality or not. This, nicely enough, involved some explanations of the nuances of certain adjectives and slight differences between synonyms, which I appreciated.
I’m a Taurus, or naut. My personality description was as follows:
Nautið er… The Taurus is…
nátturubarn nature-lover (literally, a nature-child)
nautnabelgur indulgent/gluttonous (“a person who enjoys the good life,” my teacher explained)
heimakært a home-body
So why not see what my horoscope (stjörnspá) is today, too? According to stjörnuspeki.is:
Hugsun þín er kraftmikil sem þýðir að nú er tími til að leggja áherslu á nám og pælingar, tala við starfsfélaga, skipuleggja vinnu þína. Þú gætir fundið fyrir smá stressi og spennu og því er vissara að fara varlega þegar þú talar við fólk.
which loosely translates as…
You are thinking dynamically, which means that now is the time to put emphasis on your studies and ideas, to talk with colleagues, to organize your work. You may feel a little stress and tension. Be sure to take care when you are talking with people.
Shoe seems to fit…Who wants to know theirs?