The Faroe Islands Posted by on Jul 8, 2011 in Culture

When I landed 4 weeks ago it was 9 C, wind and pissing rain and everyting was grey, just when the temperature climbed over 20 in Gothenburg I would leave of course. The first sign that I saw at the airport said “KOMA” (COMA in Swedish) which means “ARRIVALS” in Faroese language. The airport bus didn´t seem to come for like 45 minutes..I looked my self around and I saw maybe 5 people working at the airport. I took a deep breath and told to myself “Three weeks hah? Well done mate..big city boy”.

I had three awesome weeks in Thórshavn in the Faroe Islands in the middle of the Atlantics!!!! And I´ll be thankful for the rest of my life for this experience and for the oppoturnity that I was given a scholarship.

This small island country is situated between Iceland and Scotland. The country is
1400 square kilometers with a population of approx. 50.000. The Faroe Islands
have self governance but administrations such as foreign affairs, justice,
military defense, currency are the responsibilities of Denmark, just like in
Greenland. The Faroese people don´t pay any taxes to Denmark but gain a wide
range of financial benefits regarding the areas of education, culture, economy
etc. However there are tendencies for independence from the Kingdom of Denmark.
Iceland that also used to belong to Denmark declared independency in 1944.
The old volcanic islands are covered by grass. There are no erupting volcanoes on the islands like in
Iceland, but the landscape is very similar in some areas. The mountains aren´t
that high (around a maximum of 500m-1000m) , but they rise straight from the ocean
so the effect makes you faint into the sky. Dramatic landscapes, powerful,
mighty, windswept cliffs and rocks, waterfalls, springs, small rivers all over the country-side.
The first settlers must have been Irish monks, but short after the Norse Vikings arrived on their
boats. The islanders still make the most money out of fish, but other services
are also provided on a local level just like in bigger European cities. You
can´t get bored in Thórshavn and the people are not only open but curious about
other cultures and often surprisingly well-informed. You wouldn´t expect that
“in the back of beyond”. But I guess isolation and bad weather conditions made
the Faroese people to be impulsive and spontaneous. So I have
experienced. A slightly Mediterranean and laid back attitude that differs from
the rest of Scandinavia where we live by the clock and calendar. Still you recognize
yourself if in nothing else but the language that reminds you of Icelandic first of all and
a bit of Norwegian, Danish and Swedish with some pronunciation influences from
English and Scottish in my own opinion. It is definitly easier to read Faroese than Icelandic.
I read a Norwegian research a few years ago that was made on Interscandinavian understanding i.e.
Scandinavians shall understand each other when communicating in their own
languages. In the Faroe Islands everyone speaks Danish fluently since it is compulsory
language at school. Many people choose to spend some school years or work years
in other Nordic countries which also results a better and wider understanding in
other Scandinavian/Nordic languages. (Shame on my Swedish fellow citizens who
speak English in Denmark or God forbid in Norway!!)
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