#StudyAbroadBecause It Broadens The Horizon

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Thormodur Simonarson (1978) was born on a farm in Snaefellsnes, rural Iceland. His parents gave up farming soon after and built a guesthouse. At age 22 he ventured abroad and began to explore Europe on his own. For the next eight years he traveled to various places, both in and out of Iceland. Among his various jobs, he was a speed boner (title on the hiring contract) in the Falkland Islands as well as a crew member on a shrimping trawler in Arctic winter storms north of Iceland. 

In the spring of 2008 Thormodur took off for a three-month course in creative writing at Emerson College, UK. Shortly after arriving, he purchased a motorbike and after finishing the course traveled the British Isles and Scandinavia for the rest of that year.

When returning to Snaefellsnes in the spring 2009, he had half of his first book handwritten on a block of sheets. 

In the summer of that year he took up windsurfing, without anything - except internet training. To learn windsurfing from the internet takes more than determination; there has to be a gritty kind of stubbornness.

Learn more about his book here - we just interviewed him! Around and Back: A year and a day on the road.


 Thormodur Simonarson  - #StudyAbroadBecause It Broadens The Horizon


What motivated your decision to go abroad? How/why did you choose where to go?

A year or two before I someone told me about Emerson College and how it would be a great place for me. My partner then wanted to go back to university and I was drawn into the same taste for something new in my life.


Thormodur Simonarson  - #StudyAbroadBecause It Broadens The Horizon


What was your experience like? What is your favorite memory? What were some challenges you observed?

It was like a pleasant blend of college and summer camp, with a spiritual twist. 
Once when I was feeling a bit blue, I stumbled into the grand hall where another student was rehearsing some classical music on a piano. I laid down on the floor under the piano and let all the vibrations of all the notes hit me and massage my soul. I was there less than half an hour but afterwards I felt like a bubble of soup floating in the sun, unattached to anything.

I don't remember any real challenges, the culture was a bit more strict or maybe too careful, but that was all right.


Thormodur Simonarson  - #StudyAbroadBecause It Broadens The Horizon


What skills did you develop from your experience? Do you feel changed from your experience abroad? If so, how & why?

My teacher was able to hone my writing skills, well he helped me refining my writing.

In Iceland almost everyone is a writer, but we are strict or bound when it comes to writing. I feel as if I was freed from that so now I write unlike others in Iceland. It was by getting to know a different culture of writing, like trying on clothes of other cultures and making it your own. It brings one closer to one self.


Thormodur Simonarson  - #StudyAbroadBecause It Broadens The Horizon


Has your experience helped you get to where you are today? If so, how?

Yes, in enabled me to write a book in a way which is more beautiful than it would be otherwise. 


Thormodur Simonarson  - #StudyAbroadBecause It Broadens The Horizon


What advice (on finances, the experience, etc) would you share with other students who are thinking of going abroad?

I saved up for the school and my keeps before I went, and kept an open mind (as much as I could) to the whole thing. I also remembered that I was a guest in another country so I tried to be a polite observer. 

That worked well for me.


Thormodur Simonarson  - #StudyAbroadBecause It Broadens The Horizon


How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity?

It has made me more open minded so it is easier for me to understand news from abroad - or rather it is easier for me to accept that I don't understand news from abroad.


Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

I would recommend studying abroad to everyone who has the chance to do so, even for a short while.



All photos courtesy and copyright Thormodur Simonarson