When you think of Iceland, what pops to mind? Pasty-white people? Ice? Remoteness? Vikings? While some of those qualities are marginally true, Iceland is known for having a well-educated and happy population. With that being said, volunteers can make a big impact in both urban and rural communities. Thankfully, untouched scenery surrounds both areas.
Photo Credit: Catherine Russell
Iceland is considered by many to be a Third world country and much help is needed to rebuild and restore communities. Caring for the elderly, assisting at drug rehabilitation centers, and educating children are but three of the opportunities in which volunteers can engage.
Venture to the glaciers surrounding Iceland’s ice caps to observe the effects of global warming. Taking samples and measurements can help scientists gain insight into glacier activity.
Youth Development / Education
Iceland was one of the first countries to severely feel the blows of the financial crisis. That most Icelandic schools are state-funded and that the government is burdened by debt means tutors and volunteer teachers are in great demand.
How Easy is it to Volunteer in and Get Around Iceland?
Commuting around the country is not a walk in the park: there is no railway or metro, leaving car rentals and urban buses both of which are very reliable. With regards to the language, English is widely spoken. If you can learn Icelandic before volunteering, more power to you!
Health and Safety of Volunteers in Iceland
Icelandic police don’t carry guns and prisoners are allowed to go home on public holidays. In short: Iceland does not suffer from violent, underground drug trades or civil strife. The landscape is the real danger: frozen lakes, deep crevasses, and uneven slopes of scoria (volcanic slag) can catch wandering travelers by surprise and inflict considerable, sometimes fatal, damage.
Health care risks in all Icelandic cities are very low. No immunizations or vaccines are needed. The water and food are safe to ingest. Volunteers can spend their time in Iceland with very few worries.
Visas for Volunteering in Iceland
Iceland is a member of the European Union, meaning any European passport is lawfully recognized in Iceland. What’s more, nationals of certain countries (excluding those in the Schengen Agreement) do not require a visa to stay in Iceland for up to 3 months. All that is required is a valid passport….and the expectation that you’ll want to apply for a visa at the end of 3 months.