Where would you go if you had the choice to study abroad? I, myself, am currently studying abroad at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik. I arrived in Reykjavik on January 2nd, 2017, and it has been interesting, to say the least. Everything here is either different, the same, or somewhere in between. Sometimes Iceland is very North American, other times it is European and then you also get that sense of Icelandic identity as well.
One thing that I was informed of by a few people before coming here to Iceland was how expensive it is. Now, I was prepared for it to be expensive, being informed by others, but also through looking at the relative cost of living charts and using an online calculator to compare the cost of living in Reykjavik to Edmonton. However, I was still blown away by the costs of simple things such as a cup of coffee or even a one-way ticket bus fare. What I did not take into consideration was the amount of tourism that has been going on in Iceland due to cheap airfare rates and the layover deals that Icelandair offers. With the increase in demand, tourist companies, hotels and restaurants increase their prices because they know that tourists will continue to pay them.
I do have to say however, that the additional taxes Canadians pay like GST and PST are always added into the price here. When going out for dinner or on a tour, the prices also include tip so that you don’t have to worry about adding an extra fifteen to twenty percent onto your already hefty bill. Other exchange students that I have encountered also find Iceland to be extremely expensive compared to their own country. Interestingly enough, however, I have not met a lot of Icelandic people who believe that it is comparably more expensive here on their tiny island. To give you a basic idea of what I mean, let’s do some math:
So, the Canadian dollar (CAD) currently sits at an exchange rate with the Icelandic Krona (ISK) for 1 CAD equalling 80 ISK. Some basic goods and services vary in price depending on where you go and what region you live in, though in the capital area, the average cost for a small cup of coffee is 450 ISK ($5.63 CAD); a dozen eggs costs 565 ISK ($7.10 CAD); a basic sandwich from the library cafeteria costs 790 ISK ($9.88 CAD); a bus ticket valid for 75 minutes costs 440 ISK ($5.50 CAD); a movie ticket costs 1,600 ISK ($20.00 CAD); a main dish at a midscale restaurant costs between 2,000-4,000 ISK ($25-$50 CAD); and a glass of beer costs between 800-1200 ISK ($10-$15 CAD).
There are some great places to go for a relatively “cheap meal” if you are living on a student budget or just not interested in paying the exorbitant prices. The Student Cellar at the University of Iceland is a great cafeteria. Here they sell everything from bar snacks, breakfast, supper and dessert. Anyone is welcome here but if you are a student at the university, you get discounted pricing. And then on the last Friday of every month, they hold a “Totally Broke Friday” event where you can purchase pitchers of beer for about half-price.
Now wouldn’t it be great if Concordia had a place like this as well? We all know space is limited on campus, however, you never know what’s possible until you try.