Iceland IMSA
(GMT+00:00) Casablanca, Monrovia, Reykjavik
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Iceland (IMSA) - Reykjavik

Alma Glóð Kristbergsdóttir
Katrín Kristinsdóttir
Eygló Dögg Ólafsdóttir
We welcome every medical student to Iceland, the land of contrasts, the land of fire and ice.
We can proudly say that students staying with us in Iceland have been very pleased with their stay. We have English speaking doctors and, since our hospitals are all university hospitals, there is an atmosphere of teaching fellow colleagues. There are planned case sessions for young doctors and students a few times a week and the availability of specialists and young doctors is quite good for learning. We have provided fine accommodation in a student house in Reykjavik where all the exchange students get to stay together to make it easier for them to get to know each other. The students have also been quite happy with our social program which is better described below. Every week we organize at least one fun activity for exchange students as well as Icelandic contact persons. During the 4 week exchange, we also take a weekend trip and a day trip to explore nature further from the city!

Iceland is a Nordic European island country situated at the confluence of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The country has a population of about 360,000 and a total area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi), which makes it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík. The city and the surrounding areas in the southwestern region of the country are the home to two-thirds of the country's population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists mainly of a plateau characterized by sand and lava fields, mountains and glaciers. The shoreline of the island is characterized by tall mountains in the east, west and north. However, the southern region is a lowland with sand, lava and farmland where many glacial rivers and lagoons flow through to the sea. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic ocean and therefore has a temperate climate despite its high latitude just south of the Arctic Circle.


Icelandic people are quite proud of their health care system, which is thought to be one of the best in the world. Health care insurance is paid by the state and covers all necessary treatments for Icelanders and international residents of the country. Receiving care at the hospital and clinics only require a minimum cost of a few thousand Icelandic kronas. Privacy of patients is taken very seriously in the health care of Iceland. It is therefore strictly forbidden to take any pictures at the hospital's wards. Photos can be taken outside of wards but only if no patients or relatives are seen in the background and no information about patients is visible (including names, social security number or scans). Medical students, as well as hospital staff, need to be very careful when sharing content on social media. No patient or their information may be visible and the pictures may not be taken from within wards. 

We have one hospital in Reykjavík and it is called Landspítali University Hospital (abbreviated LSH). It is operated in two different locations called Hringbraut and Fossvogur but both are close to the centre. They have different departments so we usually have students at both hospitals every summer. A shuttle bus drives between the locations every 15 minutes so meeting up with your friends at the other hospital is simple at the end of the workday!

Iceland has only one medical school. It is at the University of Iceland and located in Reykjavík. Icelandic students can start medical studies after finishing high school, which is usually at 19 years old. The medical faculty only admits 60 persons per year and the students have to take an exam in the summer before studies to get admitted. Hence the top 60 students get in every year. The medical program is 6 years. The first 3 years are mostly pre-clinical classes at the university and results in a bachelor's degree in medicine.

The later 3 years are clinical classes and work and the hospital.  After students' 4th year they can work as assistant doctors in the hospitals and after finishing their 5th year many students go out to the countryside to relieve doctors in the smaller towns of Iceland for the summer, working at clinics all around Iceland. In the final year, the students have 2 months of an elective period where they can choose a department and work as medical students, either in Iceland or abroad. They find a project and get it evaluated by the medical faculty.

After completing the 6 years, the young doctors complete one year of internship. They are then employed at the hospital as "Kandídat". During an exchange in Iceland, you might work a lot with medical students after their 4th year, Kandídates, general doctors, residents and specialists.

Many air carriers operate flights to Keflavik International airport (KEF) from Europe and North-America. From the airport are bus companies that drive almost directly to the student's accommodation. All exchange students are assigned a contact person who can further assist with planning the arrival to Iceland. 

During the exchange program, students are provided with a bus card. This allows students to travel to the hospital each day as well as explore what the city has to offer. 

To visit the countryside, many tour operators are available with bus tours from the city. If you have a driving licence and feel confident driving in Iceland, you could consider renting a car with the other exchange students.  There are car rentals close to the student-accommodation. 


We're proud of our social program which has been really popular these last years. Every week we organize at least one social activity including a hike, pool visit, scavenger hunt or a night out. There is also a weekend trip where we camp in one of the beautiful sites in Iceland or rent a summer house. Example of the places we have visited during this trip recently are the Westman Islands, Landmannalaugar, Snæfellsnes, and Skaftafell. We also take the students on a day trip where we sometimes go to the Golden Circle which includes Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss (the great waterfall) and Geysir (where the geysers are, which the international word for erupting hot water springs is derived from). Then we also plan a National food and drink party where every student and IMSA Iceland prepare a meal or bring snacks typical for their country. Then everyone gets to taste the food (and beverages) of different countries. This evening is always a lot of fun since we host exchange students from all over the world doing electives in Iceland. Please note that the social-program schedule you will get sent in the spring is a draft and dates may change since we try to choose dates when most of the students can go and when people in the committee or contact persons are available. 

Price estimate for the weekend trip is about 90 EUR. That includes 2 nights stay somewhere in Iceland, 2 dinners, transportation and a lot of fun!


- Gullfoss and Geysir
- Thermal pools (in Reykjavik
- Natural hot pools
- Reykjavik's night life
- Blue Lagoon
- Harpan (music hall)
- Small countryside/fishing villages
- Glaciers
- Jökulsárlón Glacier lagoon
- Whale watching
-Thingvellir national park (One of Iceland's two UNESCO world heritage site(and Game of Thrones filming location)
- Gay pride parade in August
- Seljalandsfoss (a beautiful waterfall)
- A black sand beach
- Take a dip in the Atlantic ocean
- Enjoy the view after hiking a mountain

Must see video:


Icelandic culture is very similar to Western Europe and there are no major cultural difficulties we have come upon. The majority of Icelanders are part of the national Christian Church but we also have a community of Muslims and Catholics. We have around 30 thousand Polish immigrants as well as a smaller number of immigrants from Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. There is very little if any, prejudice or violence for example against homosexuals or different ethnic or religious groups.

Cost of living is pretty high in Iceland in comparison with many countries. Check out this calculator to compare prices to your home country: 

We welcome you to Iceland and are looking forward to seeing you :)