Reflections on Copenhagen, Hopes for Malawi, Thoughts about Life

Well, it arrived sooner than I expected. My last night in this apartment forever, this city for a while, and this hemisphere for 2 months. In a display of perfect pathetic fallacy, the weather went on a roller coaster ride from 25 and sunny to pouring rain and rolling thunder. This blog post is likely to brush the fine line between coherency and inarticulate blabber so I have broken it into sections to cover everything on my mind right….. NOW!


I have mixed feelings about my time in this city. On one hand, work was fruitful, exciting, and fun. I enjoyed catered lunches with an interesting range of academics and NGO execs who were all friendly and welcoming. Equally, my roommates have been generous, kind, and thoughtful.

On the other hand, I have felt more isolated in these past 5 weeks than at almost any other time in the past 23 years. It isn’t just that I have spent a lot of time alone in an unknown city where people speak a language that I haven’t a hope of understanding, its also the feeling that my mind and heart bifurcated when I boarded the plane in Vancouver. Some part of me stayed at home, unwilling to replace comfort with adventure. I really have no one to blame but myself then, for being disconnected from this place.

On the other hand, this month has been incredibly fruitful and often fun! Today at my going away dinner (a lovely tapas meal after which a very attractive Danish waiter talked “Vancouver”), I reached an agreement with the project’s Principal Investigator (henceforth, PI) to  sign a contract and become an official, and officially paid, research assistant in September. This is a job with no foreseeable end point and lots of exciting prospects for the future (including the oh-so-desirable “co-author”). She also complemented me on my initiative, work ethic, and even offered to write me a letter of recommendation for my commingle PhD applications. Pretty exciting stuff. It just goes to show that if you work hard enough and exhibit both creativity and organization, the world becomes your clam (or oyster… some sort of cliche ridden shellfish).

So: I have mixed emotions about Copenhagen itself (though it is certainly a beautiful city and well worth the visit), but I have no doubts the time I have spent here.


I leave for Amsterdam tomorrow at noon and fly out from Schipol >> Nairobe >> Lilongwe at 9pm. Simply put, I am THRILLED! Anyone who has spoken to me for more than 5 minutes in the last 12 months knows that Malawi holds a special place in my heart. I can only imagine that the brief time I will be there this year (only 7.5 weeks) will be challenging, emotional, and unexpected. I look forward to seeing old friends, making new ones, listening to hippos laugh, chowing down on daily nsima, buying 20 cent corn, and generally living life the way it was meant to be lived – with a smile on my face, a wrinkle in my brow, and an un-tread path beneath my feet. Don’t take the last thought for idle colonialism or ex-pat arrogance, I only mean that each step I take is new to me and stunning in its newness.


And in that moment

As you turn the page

The story both exists and does not exist

Fragments revealed on both sides

Glimpses of what’s to come fall forward

as what’s been fades like a wallflower

just don’t lock a cat

in a box

or I will call the SPCA



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