Life in Iceland

Cost of living

The cost of living at Bifröst is somewhat lower than in Reykjavík, as rent in particular is comparatively inexpensive for students at Bifröst. In general, food is relatively expensive in Iceland (especially when eating out), books and alcohol are expensive, and petrol/gasoline costs about the same as in other northern European countries. The cost of living is at least 60.000 ISK per month excluding the rent.

Students at Bifröst do not have to pay for:

  • Printing on school printers (within reason)
  • High-speed Internet access around campus            
  • Laundry facilities (except washing powder)
  • Access to fitness center
  • Sauna and heated outdoor jakuzzi

Currency

The currency in Iceland is the Icelandic króna (ISK). For current exchange rates, check Arion Bank's website. Bank notes are in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 ISK. There are coins in denominations of 5, 10, 50, and 100 ISK. Credit and debit cards are widely used and accepted in Iceland.

Banking

Regular banking hours in Iceland are weekdays from 09:15 – 16:00. Banks are generally closed on weekends, but branches in the Kringlan mall in Reykjavík have extended opening hours. Exchange students generally do not need to open a bank account for their stay in Iceland. Credit/debit cards are the dominant method of payment of in Iceland and most students in Bifröst do all their banking online.

Shopping

There is a free shopping bus every Friday 12:00 going to Borgarnes from the campus. The bus comes back to Bifröst at 15:00. Students normally go shopping to Bónus or Nettó. Both shops are in walking distance from eachother and mostly sell the same products. However, Nettó has more variety of products.

On campus there is only a tiny shop which sells only a few things and the opening hours are very limited.

Climate

Iceland enjoys a relatively mild coastal climate, considerably milder than the country’s name implies. During the summer (lasting from early June to mid-September) average temperature is 12°C and there are normally a few days in July or August where the daytime high climbs to 25°C. In winter (October to mid-March) temperature hovers around freezing, though one should expect at least a couple of days in January or February when the temperature drops to -7 or -11°C (usually accompanied by bright sunshine).

The Icelandic climate is drier than England or Scotland and although precipitation (rain or snow) is frequent, it is rarely heavy. Drizzle and snow flurries are more common than downpours and snowstorms. Strong winds are, however, common.

Warm, water- and windproof clothing is a must when packing for Iceland, no matter what time of year you plan to arrive.

Telephones

In Iceland, the vast majority of the population have mobile phones, and there are no phones in student rooms on campus. Foreign exchange students are encouraged to bring their GSM mobile phones with them and then to buy an Icelandic prepaid card which gives them an Icelandic telephone number and a certain amount of starter credit which can then be refilled. The two largest Icelandic GSM carriers are Síminn and Vodafone, and the prepaid cards can be purchased in the arrivals hall at Keflavík Airport (on weekdays, at least) and at the Síminn office in Borgarnes, near Bifröst. Increasingly, though, students are finding Internet-based telephone services like Skype as useful or more useful than a mobile phone card.

Getting around Iceland

Iceland is very much a country of private cars, but scheduled buses do pass through Bifröst daily. Because bus service is infrequent and not as convenient as we would like, we advise students to rent a car with 4 other students for weekends and share the cost. The nearest car rental is in Borgarnes and Bifröst students get 20% discount.
 To be able to drive a car in Iceland, you have to be at least 17 years of age and hold a valid driving license. Depending on the lease terms, the minimum age for the exchange students’ car may be higher (most likely 20 years). 
 It is also very common at Bifröst for students and staff to arrange rides to and from Reykjavík or Borgarnes with other students and staff.

Emergency

In case of emergency, dial 112 to reach police, ambulance of fire department. This is the number for the whole country.

Time zone

Iceland is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) year-round and does not observe daylight savings time. The time difference between Iceland and other countries is as follows:

USA/Canada (East Coast)

-5 hrs

-4 hrs

USA/Canada (West Coast)

-8 hrs

-7 hrs

UK/Portugal

+1 hrs

0 hrs

Denmark/Norway/Sweden

+2 hrs

+1 hrs

Finland/Estonia

+3 hrs

+2 hrs

Japan

+10 hrs

+9 hrs

New Zealand

+13 hrs

+12 hrs

 

Why Bifröst?

  1. Constant workload trains students in group and team work
  2. Small university that emphasises personal service
  3. We aim for personal development and social participation
  4. Friendly campus for individuals and families
  5. Active quality control and innovative teaching methods