This trip, my first trip abroad on my own, was such an incredible experience. Time flew by, but by the end I had begun feeling homesick… I kept dreaming about my dog and not seeing him when I woke up made me really sad. Anyways, I kept it low-key on my last day. I went for a little walk, had breakfast at the Waffle Wagon (which, by the way, made the most delicious waffles I’ve ever had) and rummaged through a few local bookshops.
To my absolute heartbreak, Reykjavik’s cutest bookshop, Bókin, was closed. I decided I’d venture into every other bookshop I came across. I found several, and though they didn’t have the charm of a small local bookstore, they did have a fantastic selection of books in a wide variety of languages.
I still can’t believe how proud I am of who I became while on this trip. I rented a car and took a road trip , explored a plane wreck, made new friends, drove a snowmobile on a glacier, grew as a photographer, and faced many of my previously held fears. I think 20 is the perfect age to take your first solo trip abroad, and I will always encourage others to step out of their comfort zone, and into something far greater.
This is one of the main things I came to Iceland for. To document their most celebrated years event. This year Reykjavik hosted its 16th annual Pride Parade. This parade began as a small local event that had about 1500 people in attendance, but has grown to be one of the country’s biggest events with up to 100,000 locals and visitors each year. People come from all over the world to take part in the week of festivities leading up to the parade, and as a guest in their country, I could not have felt more welcomed. I was surrounded by kind-hearted and loving people and am honored that I was there to witness the tremendous pride in Reykjavik.
Thought I’d include this little snippet I took, just because who doesn’t love Abba?
Unsolicited Concluding Thoughts:
Same-sex marriage was legalized in Iceland in 2010, and registered partnerships were legalized in 1996. In 2010, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Iceland’s Prime Minister, became the world’s first head of government to enter a same-sex marriage. Iceland is what you might call a progressive, forward-thinking country. Human rights are highly valued, which may be one of the reasons why the country is full of very friendly and kind people, and why their crime rate is so low. Seeing the whole capital city come together for this event was truly beautiful. I did not see one protestor, and I did not see anything worthy of being protested. It got me thinking about the United States, and about the world. The truth is, there will always be people who maintain the belief that LGBTQ+ lifestyles are immoral. And you know what? That’s okay. People are entitled to their own opinions, and I respect people who hold true to their beliefs. These people, however, do not have the right to try to stop others from living their lives in the manner that they see fit. At the very least, we should all be celebrating the fact that every year, more and more countries grant their citizens the basic right to make their own decisions. Just two months ago, the United States took that step, and I am extremely proud that individual liberty is being granted to the people. So if you don’t celebrate homosexuality, celebrate the fact that there are places in this world where homosexuals are being treated like everyone else once and for all. Celebrate your own individual liberty. Celebrate the fact that you can safely live the life you want, and that your friends, family, and neighbors can do the same.
For more information about Iceland’s annual Pride Week and parade, visit their website.