Where to begin?

When I returned back Iceland after the conference in Tampere I had to put everything I had into my studies, 42 credits + thesis (HELP) and at the same time, I decided to apply for my masters in Finland the following semester because I felt like I could be more involved and do more if I was physically there. Right from the start of my role as the president of NESU we had some great ideas for the coming year, we talked about an excursion to Sweden and I was hopeful for the country rep of Iceland because she was planning on attending her masters in Denmark so we had a great shot at making NESU international with trips and easy connections into the organizations in the universities abroad.

Move to Finland
On the 4th of January, I moved to Finland to start my masters and I was looking forward to what was to come even though all events were held in Finnish and I didn’t understand a word except a few not worth repeating haha. Once I settled into the university of Jyväskylä and got to know the area I was ready to go. Luckily I knew a few Nesuits there and it made it a lot easier to adjust.

My first event was NESU-Dagen in January, it was my first time at Dagen and we even had one additional Icelander attending. Dagen went well and it was great to meet everyone, both old friends and new. The Icelanders had a checkpoint of their own about Iceland. It was probably a bit different for the Finnish students having non-Finnish speaking people attending but it’s a great challenge for both parties to practice English and get more comfortable. After Dagen I thought why arent all or at least some Nesu event’s in English, this would also encourage the (nordic and non nordic) exchange students to attend and bring the experience and culture back to their nordic counties. I tried my best to talk to the nordic exchange students I met and they had never heard about NESU.

ICCA seminar
I was invited to attend the ICCA seminar in Gothenburg 3rd – 4th of March to talk about sustainable meetings. I accepted that invitation with grace and was allowed to bring +1. Margrét, country rep of Iceland at the time, and I attended the 2-day program. It was great to meet all the association experts from the nordic countries, share our knowledge, work on cases, and enjoy everything that Gothenburg had to offer. We talked about our union and made some connections for future conferences. After our seminar, we flew straight to Jyväskylä, enjoyed a few days with the rest of the Icelanders who were coming to attend the spring conference.

NESU spring conference
As always with much excitement, it was finally conference time! The pandemic was spreading slowly and we knew from the start that this conference would be a bit different and probably the last social activity in a while so everyone wanted to enjoy it to the fullest. During the cabin few of us, Icelanders made the hardest decision to leave and go back to Iceland to protect our health so we were on the next flight to Iceland. The organizing team did a great job of dealing with this not an ideal situation and did everything they could to keep everyone as safe as possible. Some participants decided to leave during the week but most continued the whole week with great success.

Back to Iceland
Unfortunately, I had no other option than to stay in Iceland permanently due to covid 19. As sad as I was making that decision I knew it was the right thing to do because of the uncertainty and the university also closed a few days later. It wasn’t easy to accept the fact that my time was cut short in Finland and I still had my hopes of returning in the autumn for the next semester but after long consideration, I decided to continue with my studies in Iceland.   

NESU autumn conference canceled
Shortly after the spring conference and with the increase of covid cases we needed to keep everything open but most of all follow the law in each country and be responsible. I kept close contact with the head organizers and country reps regarding if the conference would have to be canceled. In August we made the difficult decision to cancel the Autumn conference in Oulu, the head organizers, country reps, and myself all agreed on this but we wanted to at least have some activity during the week and were able to offer online casework that I hope many of you already signed up for. We talked about being responsible, we have had a lot of time in the past to attend conferences and have events but now it’s time to stand together and we know that one day (hopefully soon) we will be able to continue our work and make our union stronger.

Sweden excursion and hope for Denmark
Plans regarding the excursion to Sweden were starting, case program research, and dates discussed. We wanted to use our connection with former president Juuli to build a strong connection with the Swedish students. These plans were all put to rest in early March due to covid but we still are hopeful that one day after the pandemic we will be able to go.

In my opinion, our strongest way to expand NESU is to go back to Denmark but this time to Arhus. We have a connection to the university there through Margrét and there are many other nordic students studying there as well.

NESU Iceland in a vulnerable position
Auður jr, current country rep of NESU Iceland, and I had two presentations about NESU during our freshman day at the University of Iceland in August. I’ve presented a few of those over the past years and this one was far the best one. The students seemed really interested and curious about NESU. The student organization also has never been as open to spread the word and is willing to help us in any way possible as well as attending the next conference. This is extremely important for Iceland at this time because most of the students who have been regular participants have graduated.


Regular meetings with country reps
I’ve had our regular meeting online with the country reps all year and we’ve discussed a lot of topics. With minimum or no activity going on during the pandemic the most important task for us now is keeping the stories, memories, and knowledge alive. Talk, talk and talk more about NESU, what we stand for, the amazing events we plan, and the opportunities it can give us. I’ve also been in contact with the organizing team for the spring conference in Vaasa. We are aware that the pandemic might go on until next year and we have to be patient and prepare ourselves for all situations. We hope everything will slowly go down and the world will open their borders and the conference will take place as normal and the organizing team will continue until organize the week as so. It’s not the best time to be in the role of president of a union but it’s a really important time to be there for others, be the person people can go to for advice, and make a decision. The new president will be elected soon and I will still be around if needed.

I wish you all the best and hopefully, we will meet again soon.
Auður Elísabet Guðrúnardóttir
President of NESU 2019-2020