Diaries in this series: Iceland Calls :: The Icelandic Language :: Tvær Vikur Til Reykjavíkur :: Reykjavík, A City of Lights :: Reykjavík, A City of Drizzle and Dancing Clouds :: Reykjavík, A City of Cats and Gods :: Reykjavík, A City of a Storied Tongue :: Reykjavík, A City of Yuletide :: Reykjavík, A City of Hope :: Frá Reykjavík, Til Hjartans Heimveldisins :: Doldrums and Storms :: Til Kaliforníu, Til Iowa, Til Íslands
Tvær vikur til Reykjavíkur: two weeks to Reykjavík. No, this is not "The Move". It's not the day I drive to Boston, load my car into an Eimskip crate, cram my cherished tropical plants into suitcases, and then take off over the North Atlantic with a minimum of my possessions and two emotionally-needy parrots who I'll have to leave in quarantine in a stranger's care for weeks. Nor is it the day that the shipping crate leaves our house full of all of our possessions which we haven't sold or given away, carefully inventoried and photographed for customs and insurance, down to the last DVD, the last carrot peeler, the last pair of tube socks. Nor the day when my spouse, too, boards a plane to fly from Minneapolis over Canada and Greenland to join me on the shores of a massive, storied rock sticking up from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Til Íslands. Til "klakans". Til nýja landsins míns.
No; immigration to a EFTA country from outside the EU/EFTA is rarely simple, and this is just the first big step. I go to Reykjavík to finalize paperwork with and get trained by my new employer. And perhaps a bit more. :)
It's the time of year where all across the Northern Hemisphere, the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer -- but nowhere more dramatically than those places in extreme latitudes. Have you ever seen the TV show "Ice Road Truckers" or otherwise heard of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada? It's often used as an example of a town far in the extreme north of the world. Well, jæja, Reykjavík is even further north -- the world's northernmost capital.
Sunrises and sunsets in Iceland are always protracted. The sun doesn't so much rise over you during the day as spin around you. In the heart of summer, the sun rises and sets in the north -- lifting up higher into the sky as it passes south of you and back lower as it reaches north again. In the heart of winter, the whole arc is lower, and as a consequence, it only peers slowly up in the south before slowly sinking back down again.
It's into this world of daily-dwindling daylight and -- perhaps, kannski -- the sky's dance of the glowing norðurljós or perhaps some nacreous clouds -- that I'll descend
My new employer has discovered that it will take about three months for all of the paperwork to hire me and for my residence permit to be approved by the Útlendingastofnun. Obviously, like any company, their work needs aren't going to just sit on hold and wait, so they're exploring what their legal options are to have me help in the meantime via telecommuting. It looks like this might be via contracting development with a company I started in the US a few years ago.
In order to train me for their system and have me finalize paperwork for all of the applications, they need to have me up there. So they'll be flying me in and lodging me (Poor me, right? An all-expenses paid trip to Reykjavík! ;) ) in order to get this done. In the evenings I'll need to decide carefully how to spend my limited time. Preliminary househunting? Figuring out the availability and prices local goods? Icelandic lessons? This won't exactly be a tourism trip, that's for sure.
... not like that will keep me out of the geothermally-heated pools, mind you ;)
So, here's how things need to go down -- the main steps from a legal perspective.
1) I need to get my residence and work permit applications in as soon as possible.
2) I need to get a Kennitala (Icelandic social security number) in order to be able to fill out the later applications.
3) I need to file the applications both to bring my birds and to bring my tropical plants (many of which will probably be the first of their kind in the country; I doubt there's a big jaboticaba-raising subculture, or a huge population of fruiting passionfruit vines, til dæmis :) )
4) My birds will need a vet visit right before the trip, and will be quarantined after arrival. My plants will need a phytosanitary inspection within a month of their arrival, and must be shipped soilless.
5) My spouse doesn't need to apply for a family reunification residency permit until after she comes, which is convenient.
6) Our car will be inspected and there will be a lot of fees when it arrives. All of our other stuff will undergo a several day inspection by customs when it arrives. The standard is, anything newer than one year must be declared and will likely be taxed. Icelandic customs is famous for being ruthless and thorough about catching people trying to avoid import taxes.
On the homefront, the biggest steps are:
1) Fixing up the house for sale. Currently we have, til dæmis, a half-painted deck outside, and winter is closing in. We haven't even started on reigning in our overgrown garden.
2) Inventorying and classifying everything in and out of the house that's not nailed down.
3) Selling or giving away everything that we don't want to bring.
4) Loading up everything that remains into an Eimskip crate.
5) Unpacking and bringing to our new home in Iceland, after said home is acquired.
Being a geek, I've done everything I can to help streamline #2 and #3, although it's still a ton of work.
* One person photographs everything, both by itself and with a tape measurer. Everything.
* The pictures are automatically uploaded to a server
* A second person identifies the objects as they come in and add them and their dimensions to a spreadsheet. Weight is guestimated by volume and assumed density.
* For applicable items (books, CDs, DVDs, etc), a script I wrote calls Google Goggles image recognition to figure out the object and add it to the spreadsheet on its own.
* We then have to go down every item and decide what to do with it.
* The spreadsheet is structured to be able to auto-list any items that we flag as such on Ebay, in bulk, rather than having to manually list each one. It'll even autocalculate shipping. Ebay'ed items require extra fields to be filled out, of course -- various description fields, price fields, package type, category, etc.
* We can also flag what needs to be declared to customs on the spreadsheet, and everything has a picture field for insurance and documentation purposes. The spreadsheet also figures out how much it'll cost us, in terms of shipping crate space, to bring each item with us to Iceland.
Nobody said this all would be easy. In fact, anyone with half a brain would know that this is quite difficult, what we're doing. And I'd be lying if I said I had no worries or doubts. I'd have to be an idiot not to. But at the same time, jæja... well... Ég er ástfanginn af, I'm in love with, Iceland. Its landscape flickers with unreal beauty. Its people inexplicably have the creative output of a nation dozens of times its size. Its government has foreign and domestic policies that, while far from perfect, I can actually be proud of, instead of ashamed of (no military to speak of, no death penalty, universal healthcare, etc). A country that's strongly pro-family at the same time as strongly pro-LGBT, and best of all, often has trouble understanding why some people in other countries would find that a contradiction rather than a truism.
A country I look forward to calling "heimilið mitt". My home.