For the past week I’ve been in Basel, Switzerland working on the summer project that will become part of my Master’s thesis. I can’t believe it’s almost over! I’ve changed my area of focus in grad school just to shake things up a bit, and have been studying lots of epidemiology and malaria. My project is to work with this group of Academics here in Basel who have developed mathematical models to simulate the dynamics of malaria in a specific locations, and test their models on real-world data from Western Kenya. Gone are the days of studying French Literature, C++ here I come! Funny the turns that life takes you. I’m enjoying it a lot, and it’s been really nice to explore a new city. The group I’m working with have been incredibly helpful and supportive, which is always a plus. Basel is very cute, not too big, everything very orderly as you would expect of the Swiss. Things are pretty much like you would expect in a small city in Switzerland/France/Austria, but once in awhile you will spot a dude who looks like this guy:
Well not exactly, but there are some serious Swiss-Alps-style ‘staches goin on!
I’ve noticed a change from even just a few years ago in how I conduct myself around people I meet for the first time in work circumstances. When invited to the team BBQ at a sailing club I was fine chatting away with people, putting on a bathing suit and jumping into the river. It was slightly disconcerting seeing work colleagues who I had only met 2 days before donning speedos, but hey, they’re Europeans so they get a pass from my hating on the speedos. I’m not second-guessing myself as much, and gone is the timidity, which is nice. Now I just have to remember to keep my mouth shut once in awhile!
I really do love exploring new places, finding the cool nooks and crannies into which I can fade into the background and watch the world go by. It somehow reminds me of who I am and where I come from, but also gives me new inspiration to pin onto my life. Clothing, religious beliefs, philosophy, art, architecture, music, all of it gets soaked up and soaked in and becomes part of the patchwork quilt of my personality and outlook on life.
Things have turned a corner with Simba, and even though we’ll be apart for 3 months (he’s working in Juba for the summer to pay for the tuition of his next school year), I feel stronger than ever about our future together. I worry that we want to live differently, that we want different things out of life based on the fact that we are from SUCH different places and backgrounds, but I am proven wrong every time. I really do think our lives are better for having each other in them. We enrich each other in so many ways, and I feel so lucky to have this positivity in my life. I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. It also helps that Simba is finally focused and determined and has gotten over the rough patch of moving to London (it went on for WAY longer than we both bargained for). But acknowledging that we both had a hand to play in making each other’s life difficult helped and allowed us to move on. That meant that we don’t live together for the moment, but it’s been a good thing all around.
Exercising and eating right has done me a world of good in so many ways. And believe me, I’m not missing those 15 pounds either. I’ve started going to dance classes (Zumba!) and jogging. I’m thinking about doing a half marathon in October, I even signed up for a 5k race at the end of July and a 10k race (London Pride Race!) in August so we’ll see how that goes before I make a final decision. I don’t want to get all obsessive and then lose interest, so I have to remember to take it slow.
Also in the doing me a world of good category was deciding that it is silly to keep wishing I had the life I want, and instead to start living it now, or at least taking steps to actively move towards that. It’s almost life changing how that little shift in mindset makes the world seem brighter. For most of my life it’s felt a bit like my path was set out for me the way that things fell into place so effortlessly. Yes, I had to work to get to where I am, but I was never working towards a particular place, just working in general because in theory you can’t get anywhere unless you work to give yourself a good foundation. School, my extended trip around the world, my jobs in DC, Sudan, Grad school, I never really had to fight for it, I always just did what felt right at the time (sorry it that sounds snobbish bit it’s true. Or at least in hindsight it is!).
But now I have a vision of the life I want and I plan on running towards it and grabbing it with both hands even if I have to claw my way there. There absolutely is something to be said for making sure you cherish the present, of being “here” now, but if you know you are working towards something that will make you happy, wouldn’t that make the days in between that much more fulfilling? We’ll see anyway.
And what is it that I want? I want a home, with Simba, with a garden, a job where I can travel to foreign lands and actually take advantage of the fact that I can speak 5 friggin’ languages, have me and my family be healthy and happy, if I have kids raise them to be good people (was that just my maternal instinct kicking in? let’s not dwell on that too much) and be able to build a house on the coast of Kenya to visit Simba’s family every year. Is that too much to ask for? I hope not, because that’s what I’m craving from life right now. Anyway, a girl can dream 🙂