UCL News


Studying Icelandic in London

20 February 2006

Icelander Thorbjörn Orri Tómasson, 28, had to leave his own country to understand what he had been missing in his studies.

Thorbjörn´s passion for language had led him to study an MA in Comparative Literature at UCL, where he discovered that UCL is, in fact, the only university in England that has courses in modern Icelandic. …

He was planning to do a degree in French at the University of Iceland, but while he was abroad he discovered that his true passion was for literature. A short introductory course confirmed his feelings: "There was no contest…" he explains, "studying literature just blew me away."

"I used to sneak out of the hotel and go exploring at night when I first came here with my parents," explains Thorbjörn. "I've always felt really at home here. I find the parks magical, you can always find a café playing your type of music and then there is the fascinating pub culture and, of course, I sometimes join in."

Living in a big city also has advantages for his course of study. In Iceland Thorbjörn was accustomed to having one lecturer teach the whole course but here he has found that specialists in the field give each class. "In two months we had five different professors for just one subject," he explains.

He also loves the fact that the lecturers sometimes simply stimulate - and then guide - a discussion. "Most of the other students here are from America or Japan, which is great for classes because you get a different perspective on everything," he says. "We all love literature and that makes for great discussions both in and after the classes."

Thorbjörn will do his MA thesis on 'the democratic verse of Walt Whitman' and then is planning to do a doctorate with, he says, the eventual aim of teaching English in an Icelandic school or college.

Paul Rigg, 'Study Abroad', February 2006