Travelers invited to matriculate at Iceland Academy

I have wanted to visit Iceland since the early ‘80s when I became acquainted with a gentleman who called Reykjavik home. Now, the country’s tourism organization has introduced a new online tool that will help bring the country closer, both figuratively and - for one lucky person - literally.

The tool recently unveiled is called Iceland Academy. With tongues firmly planted in their collective cheeks, a panel of eight local experts present various aspects of their island in short, light-hearted, yet informative video clips. The clips highlight the topics that tourists ask about most frequently, according to the statement by Promote Iceland that announced the start of the Academy’s classes.

The first four videos, each of which runs less than a minute and a half, help visitors understand the facets of Icelandic etiquette with regard to the favorite pastime of hot tubbing, responsible traveling while enjoying the country’s natural wonders, dressing appropriately for its sometimes-harsh climate and a guide to many of the winter sports available.

With an area of just under 40,000 square miles and a population of fewer than 330,000, there is a great deal of unspoiled nature to be explored in Iceland. One of the stated goals of Iceland Academy is to educate tourists about how they can enjoy the island’s natural wonders while allowing them to remain in their pristine condition.

“The majority of tourists want to experience nature, and we know that Icelandic nature must be treated with respect and care,” Inga Hlín Pálsdóttir, director of tourism and creative industries for Promote Iceland, said. “We believe that if the traveller is better informed of conditions ahead of time, he or she will get more out of the trip and leave the country happier.”

Icelanders enjoying a natural hot spring
Just as other schools offer different classes at different times, Iceland Academy will introduce new videos on a seasonal basis with new classes launched each term.

Classes yet to come include “How to eat like an Icelander”; “Pack warm and stay happy”; “Driving in Iceland”, a guide to dealing with the challenges Mother Nature throws at drivers; “How to travel further in Iceland”; “A guide to Icelandic festivals”; “Therapeutic Iceland”; “Capturing the Northern Lights”, a guide for shutterbugs seeking to photograph the aurora borealis; and “A beginner’s guide to Icelandic sagas.”

Iceland Academy‘s classes are open to all via the Inspired by Iceland website and social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

While the online “classes” will help bring Iceland closer figuratively, completing the courses may also bring the country closer in a literal sense. “Students” at the Academy will collect badges for courses completed and, once they have collected all available badges, they will have a chance to win a ‘field trip’ to Iceland to test out their new skills.

Students who “enroll” before April 30 and complete the “Spring Term” by watching the first four videos, then correctly answer three multiple-choice questions that follow each video will have the opportunity to enter the contest. The winner will be notified by email before May 6.

The Iceland Grand Prize includes economy class round-trip on Icelandair for two persons from an Icelandair gateway to Reykjavik Airport (KEF), round trip bus transfers from the airport to Fosshotel Reykjavik, four nights’ accommodations including breakfast, a “Heli Happy Hour” tour including a flight to a mountaintop, a whale watching or Northern lights tour, and applicable government, airport and other taxes.

Winning the prize may be a long shot but the videos are fun and informative. And who knows? As the saying goes, “Someone’s gotta win.” Might as well be you. Or me.

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Photos by Promote Iceland
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