Icelandic Language Blog

Signs in Apartment Complexes Posted by on Aug 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

I was going to write this yesterday, but after coming home from the post office I slept over twelve hours. Sorry!

I’ve lived in two apartment complexes and am about to move into a third. The first was the student apartments from the University of Iceland, the second was a regular apartment near Laugavegur, and this third one is an apartment next to the pond. Even in the student apartments, frequently signs will not be in English.

This was the notice board inside the laundry room at the student apartment.

Probably the only sign that was also in English at the beginning.

Washing instructions. As I come from America, we usually have “hot / warm / cold” instead of degrees, but thanks to this chart I had an idea of how I should set the washing machine.

If you’re unlucky, your washing machine might be in Scandinavian or might have symbols instead of words (I don’t have a photo of that). From here on are photos from my second flat. I can only read a couple words from this so I had to get my Swedish friend to translate so I could use the machine.

“All trash should be in closed bags!
You may never put pizza boxes or other things that jam in the trash chute!”
(Please follow this rule – it’s other people who live in the apartment complex that clean up the trash chute area. One day it’ll be your turn.)

This is the cleaning schedule for who cleans what in the apartment per month. Clean up the trash, sweep and possibly mop the floor, make sure the trash isn’t overflowing in the trash chute, that’s probably what you’ll have to do in any apartment. All the names on this sheet are really outdated.

Our apartment seems to have things translated to Polish (I’m guessing that’s Polish) but nothing’s in English. Further list of chores.

“The outer door should always be locked.
Take care that it’s locked and closed.
Smoking is banned in public property.” (basically)

I don’t even know a single reader’s Icelandic level, for those of you reading this. If people can comment telling me how well they can read then I can translate more or less depending on what the majority knows.

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About the Author: sequoia

I try to write about two-thirds of the blog topics on cultural aspects and one-third on the language, because there's much more out there already on the language compared to daily life information. I try to stay away from touristy things because there's more of that out there than anything else on Iceland, and I feel like talking about that stuff gives you the wrong impression of Iceland.


  1. Alx:


    Cool blog, good to read about how life is up there. I applied to do English at HI but my qualifications weren’t too high, and neither was my level of Icelandic (someone said I should have asked to do the same course as you and then switch after one year). So I’m just continuing to learn from home, between and you can get an awful lot of both written and audio material.

    What made you do that course and move up there, if you don’t mind me asking? I was up there about 6 weeks ago staying with an Icelandic friend, had an amazing time, didn’t want to leave. I met the President of Iceland in Gatwick Airport departure lounge and chatted with him in Icelandic for a bit, then went flying in a cessna over Eyjafjallajokull, Thingvellir etc, then we drove all the way to Jokulsarlon and back to Reykjavik in a day (long drive!) That visit has made me determined to find a way to spend some serious time there!

    • sequoia:

      @Alx The Icelandic for Foreigners degree program isn’t meant for beginners at all, but their diploma program is. It seems the degree program is meant to be taken after you finish the diploma at the least (or have those skills down well).

      I really like Iceland and Icelandic so I decided to move here! That’s all there is to it. I do like Icelandic, but you also have to know Icelandic to get jobs (and know it well) so that’s why I’m taking a course instead of only studying it on my own. If you want me to teach any grammar or any specific type of vocabulary (even if I don’t know it myself I can ask other people to help me come up with it) or something just ask, so far I’m just posting whatever I can think of.

      I’ve been to Eyjafjallajökull and Þingvellir, and in 2009 I think I went to Jökulsarlon but I can’t quite remember. I don’t care much for geography so I just go to those places when someone else wants to go and take photos for my family.

      Sorry this reply is so late, I had some logging-in problems and even now I have no idea how it got fixed or what was wrong.

  2. Bill:

    Hey what a funny coincidence – I used to live at Snorrabraut 35 (the place with the laundry room instructions with the Word Art heading). It was my final term at the University of Iceland, the 1989-90 school year. I rented a tiny room in the basement with a view of the cinema. Cramped quarters, they were, but affordable student accommodation was impossible to come by back then. The guy who rented this cellar “flat” out to me was called Jón. He lived on the top floor, apartment on the left. I see his place is now occupied by other people. His sister, Gunnleif, apparently still lives there, same flat. She must be extremely elderly now. Nice lady, Jón redid all her flooring when I moved into the building. I remember Gunnleif telling me she was the only Gunnleif in all of Iceland. Funny, I thought it looked like a fairly normal name, but sure enough she was right. Funny tale: the fuse boxes for all the cellar rooms were in my quarters. There was a guy living at the opposite end of the corridor by the laundry room who would crank up his stereo system so my friend Sigrún living in the apartment above me couldn’t get any sleep for his Billy Idol music. She had a2-year-old son as well. So she’d call me up when it got to be too much and say “Do you want to shut Billy Idol off for me, please?” … and I’d throw the switch. LOL. Poor guy – this was during the height of winter and it turned out he had electric heating. He made it very ckear to me with the aid of some very violent gestures that the next time I pulled that stunt would be my next. Haha! Apart from that he was a pretty nice guy. Anyway, i’ll stop my ramble here. It’s been fun reminiscing about Snorrabraut 35.

    • sequoia:

      @Bill The top-left flat is rented out to a Vietnamese family right now while the real owner is somewhere else. I was in the top-right flat with an old lady named Svanhildur, but she hasn’t been there for more than a few years. There is a guy on the second floor I think who always blasts old American music, and country music sometimes. I’ve seen an old lady in the room on the ground floor closest to the door, but haven’t really seen any other inhabitants.