How to prepare for Iceland

Jiayan Ji
As long as it's waterproof, it is welcome in Iceland

The name of Iceland is really confusing. Before I left, my mom and all my friends had asked me to bring winter clothes as much as I can. However, guys who have experienced Iowa winter, you don't need to worry about the winter temperature in Iceland.

The average winter temperature in Reykjavik is about 32F, which is pretty warm compared to Iowa or other places in this latitude (Thank you, Gulf stream). But the mean temperature for the whole year is only about 52F, so even in the middle of summer, it will still be a little bit chilly to dress in a vest and shorts.

rainbow
During the summer time, rainy hours and sunny hours rule the day time alternatively, making it is possible to see rainbows everyday

From September to next March, it is the stage for arbitrary Icelandic storms (sometimes sunny shiny hours barely tear the suffocating lead-color cloud coverage to have one faint breath). Icelandic storms, without any lightning and thunder, are displayed with blusterous wind roar that pours HORIZONTAL rain, slush, hail, or snow (depends on temperature). Days with a wind speed below 15 mph will be ranked as GOOD DAYS in my mind. Days with wind speed around 20 mph are OKAY DAYS, as long as I am still capable to bike to school. Days with wind speed around 30 mph are WORKING-OUT DAYS, and in those days every walker can practice their balance by a natural way (p.s. pay more attention when you are crossing a road). Days with wind speed around 40 mph are HAPPY DAYS, since school might be canceled. And they call the ~40 mph wind "gale." I learned this word “gale” when I first saw the “gale warning” show up on my phone.

Thus, if you are OKAY with Iowa winter, it’s even unnecessary to bring your down coat, instead I highly suggest all jackets you pack are waterproof or at least water resistance! Icelanders joke around that they only have “sunny hours,” which perfectly describes how much rain they get. During the summer time, rainy hours and sunny hours rule the day time alternately, making it is possible to see rainbows everyday. The rain is soft during this fabulous rainbow season, and so is the wind. Unfortunately, both of them only pretend to be friendly from May to August, and you will realize how much the summer time fools you about the real harsh Iceland in the rest of the 8 months.

Just as I mentioned before, everything is horizontal in the wind. So bringing umbrellas to Iceland can be a bad decision. Even though your umbrellas are strong enough to survive under the wind, you will still get as wet as your umbrella after a 10 minute walk. People here are fond of rain jackets, heavy but highly functional rain jackets. So if you are planning a trip here, it would be the best to bring a good rain jacket and a pair of good waterproof boots, and if you really want to be “super dry," a pair of waterproof pants is the origin of satisfaction.

man shoveling
Winter snows can be HEAVY

Winter snows can be HEAVY. There was a good one a couple days ago, which reached half meters over night. I was quite shocked to see my neighbor try to dig out his car in the morning after the storm night.

Now, let’s do a conclusion for what you’d better prepare to go Iceland!

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Rain jacket (selective)
  • Waterproof backpack
  • Waterproof boots
  • Waterproof pants (selective)
  • Waterproof etc… (as long as it's waterproof, it is welcome in Iceland…)

*Jiayan Ji is a junior at the University of Iowa studying geology. An international student from China, she will be spending her semester abroad on the University of Iceland Exchange program.

Student blog entries posted to this International Accents page may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UI Study Abroad and International Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Keywords: 

Author: