"Yesterday my cousins, Jóhanna and Ragnhildur, took me to a special place in the forest behind their house where they practiced the art of 'Gullabú' or as I understand it, 'playing house'. Their mother grew up nearby and played in the same 'Gullabú' when she was younger. Here they made mudpies (sandkökur or moldarkökur á íslensku), drank tea or maybe just water depending on the day, and pretended to be parents.
Funny, I did the same thing back home. Even though I grew up thousands of miles away from here, I realized this week that the games I played as a child are essentially the same games children play here in Iceland. Take for example the classic 'Up high! To the side! Down low! OH! Too slow!!' high five game. When I told Ragnhildur about it, she showed me an Icelandic version: 'Gimme five, upp á hæð, niður í hús, stubba knús!' Stubba means Teletubbies in Icelandic. Knús means hug. And then she gave me a Teletubby hug. I think Iceland wins on this one.
So my life lesson from this week is that even though we may grow up with vastly different languages, schools, currency, television shows, etc., we can always find similarities that tie us together. Those similarities for me were: the desire to create things like mudpies, the eagerness to pretend we are parents for an hour (then realize that growing up is hard and go back to being kids), and the need for human interaction... especially with a Teletubby hug. As I continue on my family stay, I am excited to find other similarities between the United States and Iceland, to learn more about the differences we have, and ultimately build lifelong connections to the country of my ancestors."
- Erin Mae Johnson from Iowa, living in Minneapolis, MN.
Erin Mae is currently in Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland.