Study Abroad in Reykjavik

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A Guide to Study Abroad in Reykjavik

Remote, exotic, developed, and not yet completely overrun by tourists, Reykjavik may not be the first place that comes to mind when a study abroad program brochure boasts “island living.” Reykjavik has a whimsical, quirky, creative soul that sparkles with life and warmly invites you to join in and be a part of the fairytale-like magic of city. Studying abroad in Reykjavik—whether at the University of Iceland or through a program provider—definitely requires a “thinking outside the box” mentality, which happens to be the essence of what study abroad is all about!

What you need to know to studying abroad in Reykjavik, Iceland

As Iceland’s capital and largest city, Reykjavik is the go-to spot for universities in Iceland for international students—but also for study abroad in Iceland in general.. This is where all the action is happening as the country’s cultural and economic hub, as well as one of the world’s cleanest, safest, and most sustainable cities.

Popular subjects to study. Iceland’s hot springs, geothermal pools, and volcanic activity make for Insta-worthy pics, but they also significantly impact how Reykjavik makes and uses energy. Its isolation from other nations coupled with a unique geology has contributed to its status as a world leader in environmental innovation and sustainable energy solutions. For this reason, many students who choose to study in Reykjavik focus on subjects such as the environment, renewable energy, development, and sustainability. These programs help students get a better grasp on what real-world dependency on alternative energy looks like and helps to acquire a deeper understanding of the role these technologies play in the world.

Short term and summer programs vs. long term programs. As you might have already guessed, Reykjavik can get pretty chilly. But contrary to popular belief, Reykjavik university life is not just some frozen tundra where the snow blows sideways and sleet slaps you in the face all day. The climate is quite temperate and averages generally sits around 50°F in the summer months when many students opt to do short-term summer study abroad programs. If you want to experience the fegurð of the winter months in Reykjavik, semester and year long programs are also available. So if you have ever wondered if you can pull off earmuffs, this is your chance to find out!

Attending universities vs. other program types. Iceland’s top universities, The University of Iceland and Reykjavik University, both call the capital city home and make great settings for your study abroad program in Reykjavik. There are also a number of third party programs that run on a regular basis, and your home university may even run their own study abroad programs in Reykjavik.

Life in Reykjavik, Iceland for International Students

Magnificent fjords, mountainous landscapes, harrowing lava fields, and stunning glacial rivers all make Reykjavik an unreal environment to explore. Adventure travel is perhaps the most popular means of travel in this dream destination for outdoor-oriented students who want to experience a side of nature they’ve never seen before. After a long day of exploring, be sure to take advantage of nature’s IcyHot and have a soak in a thermal pool or hot spring before visiting a laugavegur for a fun night out.

If you decide to stick within the downtown limits while you study in Reykjavik, there will be no lack for adventure. The creativity that flows so effortlessly through the streets of Reykjavik make for the highest standard restaurants and cafes, as well as stunning architecture, museums, and galleries. Reykjavik is also known for its epic music scene. Expect to attend many concerts, festivals, and DJ gigs when you study abroad in Reykjavik.

GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop for study abroad students in Reykjavik

When you study abroad in Reykjavik, you’ll quickly discover that Icelanders are friendly and open-minded, eager to exchange ideas and teach you about their culture. The arts are a big part of Icelandic identity and asking a local to teach you about their passion, be it traditional folk music, literature, or dance, is sure to provoke interesting conversations.

Depending on how long you’ll be in Iceland, it’s a good idea to put some effort into learning the native language. While learning Icelandic can be difficult, it does have Germanic roots and some commonalities with the English language. Luckily, English is widely spoken, despite any difficulty you might face pronouncing street signs or names, Reykjavik is a welcoming and safe place for students.

When you’re living on an island in the middle of the ocean, prices are bound to be higher than a college student might prefer. That doesn’t mean that studying abroad in Reykjavik is out of reach, and with proper budgeting, it’s possible to experience life in Reykjavik without digging yourself into a hole. 

Your study abroad in Reykjavik, Iceland will surely make for a good icebreaker in job interviews. Reykjavik is the ideal location to spend a little time reaping a new lease on life and cultivating self-reliance while learning the importance of living within a strong community. What’s cooler than cool? Getting the chance to study in Reykjavik!

Read our comprehensive guide on studying in Iceland.

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API at Reykjavik University in Reykjavik, Iceland

API students who study abroad in Reykjavik, Iceland, will be able to directly enroll with Icelandic and other international students, and be among a small, fortunate group of Americans studying abroad in Iceland. Participants in this API program will take courses in a wide variety of subject areas, including but not limited to international business, computer science (such as game design), and ...

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Iceland: Renewable Energy, Technology and Resource Economics

Examine the physical processes of energy utilization as well as the economics and environmental impacts of energy use across diverse regions of Iceland. This program explores all aspects of renewable energy: from its sources in nature, to its technological utilization, to its social and environmental impacts. With lectures from interdisciplinary faculty, students investigate what it means ...

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CELL Iceland Study Abroad Program

CELL's unique study abroad programs focus on sustainability through community and are designed for students who believe that they can make a difference in the world: students who would like to play an active role in creating long-term solutions to problems facing our global communities and environment. Semester programs consist of a combination of structured course work, field-learning experien...

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Fire & Ice: The Geology of Iceland

Sign up for this 6-day, summer exploration program in Reykjavik - the heart of governmental, economic, and cultural activities in Iceland. The nation has earned the nickname, “Land of Fire and Ice”, for its constant contrasting forces of volcanic centers and glaciers pulling the island apart. Plus, it has served as the backdrop for many movies and TV series, such as The Game of Thrones. Pa...