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Reflections on 1 Year in Iceland: Then vs. Now

Oh. Em. Gee. Today marks exactly 365 days living in Iceland! One year ago today we landed on this wonderful island…this time to stay.

This is what’s called an “expataversary” and that calls for a celebration!

It’s hard to emphasize the drastic difference between my life one year ago and today.

For those of you that might not know, we moved to Iceland one year ago from Texas. Texas is not where I grew up, nor where I wanted to be for long. Texas was a transition after Grad school. A good job for my husband. Texas and I were not a good fit.

Iceland, on the other hand, is my perfect place. A place that I felt immediately connected to on our first visit. Where I couldn’t stop thinking about after our trip. Where I felt comfortable living right away.

In this post, I’m reflecting on the differences between my life then through my old Instagram account (before I owned an actual camera and used multiple filters on each photo!) and now with my current Instagram account.

Life has changed, and I love everything about it.


Weather | 
 Obviously Texas is HOT, but the worst thing about Houston is the crazy intense humidity. The sun shines almost every single day, but in the summer you can’t really enjoy it because even walking from your house to your car causes you to break out in a full sweat. Iceland is cold, gray and rainy most of the time. The temperatures rarely get above 60° F. But yet I have zero complaints about the weather in Iceland.


THEN
:
*Smack dab in the middle of the hottest part of the country!

A photo posted by @lifeofjeanteam on

NOW:
*Playing in the snow like a child. Snow angels and all.

 

Relaxing | My idea of relaxing is anything that is outdoors. In Houston, my options were limited for such a thing. I literally used to have to Google places with grass (i.e. a park?!) so I could pretend I was in “nature”. At times that place would be close enough that I could ride my bike to, but usually I would have to drive because Houston is gigantic.

THEN:
*Pretending to enjoy my time out of doors. Not pictured is the gallon of sweat rolling off my body because there’s 100% humidity and I can actually only sit there comfortably for 30 minutes.

A photo posted by @lifeofjeanteam on

NOW:
*I’ll take a mountain view anytime! Even if that mountain view involves hours of hiking to get to, it’s still outdoors!

 

Weekend adventures | Houston is best known for three things: oil, being the third biggest city in America, and it’s awesome restaurant scene. On the weekends we would take advantage of these amazing restaurants by picking a new place to sample as often as we could. Yes, it was delicious and so kewwwl…I felt like a foodie for the first time in my life. But was it actually what my heart looked forward to after a long week of work? No.

THEN:
*Don’t get me wrong, I could really go for some delicious Mexican food right now!

A photo posted by @lifeofjeanteam on

NOW:
*Now our weekend adventures include road trips around Iceland. Westjords, Þórsmörk, Landmannalaugar…check check check! This is the actual BEST. THING. EVER.

 

Giving a shit | I use to give a shit about ALL THE THINGS. I wanted our place to be perfectly decorated. I had serving dishes for every food and occasion. That was top priority in my world. I lived and breathed for my Cuisinart 14 cup food processor, Vitamix, and standing KitchenAid mixer. Now I don’t even own a bed. The only kitchen item I own is a hand mixer. A hand mixer. I moved here with two suitcases of clothes. We own a Defender, a map, and a camera. But that’s all a need, really.

THEN:
*I spent $600 on these knives! And yes, I love them with my whole heart, but I could take a trip with that money!

A photo posted by @lifeofjeanteam on

NOW:
*Jumping for joy that I get to live in the most beautiful place in the world.

 

READ MORE:   Our Life in Iceland - Month 9

Patio views | This is the most ridiculous thing about where we lived in Houston. The view from our patio was a Coca-Cola factory. I wish I had a picture from that view, but I think I just tried to erase it from my memory – it was the absolute worst. Most of the year it was too damn hot to actually use it, but in the event that I did, I brought a cold beverage and tried to forget it was 1,000 degrees and I was dripping sweat. Now my patio views include mountains, the ocean, downtown Reykjavik, and a glacier. We get to see the most AMAZING sunsets. We can see the NORTHERN LIGHTS on the regular!

THEN:
*Notice how I tried to cut out most of the view?! Ooo but look at my cute garden stool!

A photo posted by @lifeofjeanteam on

NOW:
*One of the many videos I’ve taken of the incredible sunsets out of our living room window.

 

Travel | Traveling always has and continues to be one of our top priorities. Houston getaways included San Antonio and the Texas Wine Country. However, in the States, if you want to take a trip abroad, you usually have to save and plan months if not years in advance (As was the case for our Honeymoon trip). But now when we can hop on a flight and in two hours be snowboarding in the Swiss Alps, WHY NOT?!

THEN:
*Leaving a big city to visit another city is not exactly my idea of a getaway…but I had to take what I could get!

A photo posted by @lifeofjeanteam on

NOW:
*Grateful for trips to Sweden, Switzerland, and Ireland this year!

 

Stress | I don’t have an old photo to highlight my stress, because Instagram is only for happy photos right?! But there were hints…like when Bobby would bring home flowers and chocolate to cheer me up. Or when you make a countdown for your vacation because you can’t wait to get away.

Like I said before, I used to be a super type-A stressed person. I would stress about the small things. I wanted a clear plan of our future. Iceland has changed that about me. I am happy in my job, I have time for my hobbies, I have nature out my front door. I am so happy where we are right now, that I don’t stress about what’s happening next. In fact, the “next thing” is unknown, and for the first time in my whole life, that is okay with me.

 

 

Iceland brings out the best in me. I am so unbelievably thankful that we decided to take this leap and move abroad. If you would have asked me a year ago if everything would work out as well as it has and that I would be this happy, I don’t know if I would have answered yes.

ONE LAST REALLY IMPORTANT THING.

This post is in no way meant to offend anyone. If you are a person that loves the things listed in the “then” photos…all the more power to ya! It just wasn’t the lifestyle for me.

Was I crying every single night because I didn’t like living in Texas? NO! Did we get to do some fun things and grow together as a couple? YES. Did we meet amazing people in Houston? THE BEST.

It’s also not a post to brag. It’s not a comparison. It’s a testament that you can do exactly what you want with your life. Find what makes you happy and run with it. 

So what’s the lesson in all of this?

  1. Life is one big learning experience.
  2. Enjoy the ride.

We all have to find our own path in life. Sometimes the hardest thing about finding it, is being brave enough to take a risk.

 

My life motto and favorite Icelandic saying: "Thetta Reddast!" | Life With a View

 


Question: Are you a city dweller or a nature lover?

 

 

 

 

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  • Physician on FIRE
    October 16, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Congrats on making an amazing move! I visited Iceland with a friend in 2002, with my fiancee (now wife) in 2007, and in March, we’ll be there for 2 days as a family of four. Someday, I’d love to spend A LOT more time exploring, but until then, I’ll gladly take advantage of the free stopovers Icelandair offers.

    Skål
    -PoF

    • Jeannie
      November 7, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      Thank you! So exciting that you get to visit in March, even if it’s for a short time! Where are you planning on going?

  • Jane Bailey
    September 27, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    My husband and I are visiting in October for our 30th Anniversary, and I am sooooo looking forward to it…. Your blog has given us so much information and inspiration….. thank you so very much!

    • Jeannie
      October 11, 2016 at 9:19 am

      How awesome, have a great trip and Happy Anniversary to you two! 🙂

  • Lauren
    September 13, 2016 at 4:05 am

    Congratulations! Thank you for having this blog I love reading it. My goal is to move to iceland as well, I’m in love with it!!

    • Jeannie
      September 16, 2016 at 8:59 am

      Hey Lauren! I’m so glad you found my blog and thanks for following along! Iceland is the best 🙂

  • Tes
    September 9, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    You moved to Iceland on the exact day that my husband & I arrived for our 5th anniversary adventure! Iceland made a lasting impression on us as well… Thanks for making Iceland seem closer for those of us who live stateside.

    • Jeannie
      September 15, 2016 at 9:42 pm

      Aww, thank you SO much for your nice comment Tes! So awesome that you also chose Iceland for an anniversary trip – the perfect place for adventure! I am so happy that I can bring a little bit of Iceland into your home in the States 🙂

  • Leanna
    August 20, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Happy Expativersary! So glad that you’re still loving Iceland! I am definitely not a city person, but I wouldn’t say i’m super outdoorsy either. I like a good mix of both. I had no idea you used to live in Houston! I’m going there in October for a mini tour of Texas!

    • Jeannie
      August 29, 2016 at 10:09 am

      Thank you Leanna! Houston has some amazing restaurants, I definitely miss the food! Please eat extra for me 😉

  • Teresa fisher
    August 19, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Jeannie, it’s so wonderful to hear how happy you are…we miss you, but, couldn’t want anything more then to see you both in an experience of a lifetime. Sounds and by your amazing pictures all year it’s an amazing place…we have so enjoyed seeing Iceland thru your experiences….look forward to more…

    • Jeannie
      August 29, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Aww, thank you so much Teresa! That is so nice of you to say, and we are so grateful for your support. We hope that you will come visit us soon so we can show you what we love about Iceland so much!

  • Kaelene Spence
    August 19, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    So happy you made the move here one year ago!! Congrats to you both for having a kick ass first year, you guys rock at this whole expat life business!

    • Jeannie
      August 29, 2016 at 10:05 am

      Yay, thank you! I’m just glad it was the perfect fit for us. Cheers to more years 😀

  • Julia
    August 19, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    Congrats on your anniversary!! 🙂 I would move to Iceland in a heartbeat if I could! What’s the coldest weather you experienced living there?

    • Jeannie
      August 29, 2016 at 10:04 am

      Thanks Julia! Actually in Reykjavik (coast) it doesn’t get that cold. I think a couple days were minus 10 celsius which is nowhere near as cold as I was used to growing up in Wisconsin!

  • Cynthia
    August 19, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Happy expativersary! I feel similarly… I had a good lifestyle before but job satisfaction, travel opportunities, and just general happiness has definitely gone through the roof after the move abroad. Looking forward to chatting about soon! (yay!!)

    • Jeannie
      August 29, 2016 at 10:03 am

      Thank you Cynthia! Yes, totally agree the overall satisfaction is what makes living here so wonderful. Yay expats!

  • Van @ Snow in Tromso
    August 19, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Can’t see any of your pictures 🙁 But anyway, congrats on your 1st year! I love following along 🙂

    • Jeannie
      August 19, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      Ahhh thank you for letting me know, I just fixed it! Thanks for the congrats 😀