Hard choices

I have dreamed about sailing the world oceans for as long as I can remember, so at least for me, the choice of leaving to live on a sailboat for a while is not at all random. But even then I have been wondering lately what the price will be.

For the last 15 years, my life, and in the end also Esben’s, has been largely driven by my desire to learn about the ocean. We moved to Gothenburg so I could study physical oceanography, and when I was offered a PhD in Bremerhaven, we went, even though I actually had a job offer in Denmark at the same time.

AWI, is one of the world’s most renowned marine research institutes, and the work I have been participating in at AWI has been challenging but at the same time also very rewarding. Experiences like going to the Southern Ocean and the Arctic Ocean on the Polarstern is something that is simply not possible in many places. But my main reason to come to Bremerhaven was that the job of developing and working with Polar biogeochemical models gave me the option of combining everything I learned during my studies. And after coming here, I have realized how much I like working in such a diverse environment as AWI is; researchers from the whole world work here, combining their knowledge from different disciplines to get a better understanding of the Polar Oceans. If you need some information in a discipline you know nothing about, one of the world’s leading experts is usually right down the hall. Also, I have met some of my best friends here. Friends with whom we spent countless hours, and who we will all really, really miss when we leave.

The downside to working at AWI is that most of us are on short term contracts, and getting one of the sought-after “permanent positions” is difficult to say the least. And if I want one of them I should fight for it, by doing great work, rather than running away on a sailing boat to spend time with my family. And even though I know that I do want to take the time for us as a family, I have been wondering lately what I am giving up to do it. Does leaving mean that I have turned my back on a career in science, something I have worked for for so long?

The fact that we have absolutely nothing to return to does not make it easier. If we knew that we had a house, or at least an area we called home, it would be easier. But we don’t. Germany has been a place we have spent time temporarily, but it was never the plan to stay. And even though I love my work, and I will miss the people so much, we also know that we don’t belong here. Even if the kids would be beyond thrilled to return to Sellstedt – or especially if we were to tell them that we won’t leave at all. I guess we will go back to Denmark when we are done sailing. But fact is, we don’t know where we will get a job when we want to return, and we actually don’t even know which country we will return to.

But we really want to take this year together. We want to spent time with Runa and Mattis while they still want to spent time with us. And we want to experience the world, being present in this moment together. Then we will deal with the future when we get there. After spending seven years in Germany I have realized this is one thing that sets Danes apart; trust in this world, knowing that it will all be fine, even if you take a chance and step off the normal path. And of course it will all be fine. And actually, both Esben and I are looking so much forward to leaving.

I guess what it comes down to is that we are incredible privileged, having the possibility to go on a trip like the one we are planning – while at the same time having a life in a foreign country that we will be very sad to leave.

2 thoughts on “Hard choices

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