West Highland Way | Pre-Departure

 “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain
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Dancing up a storm | Belfast, N. Ireland

In the second grade, I would go over to my friend Megan’s house and we would skip around to the Riverdance album. With time we would learn the difference between Highland and Irish step dancing, but at 8 years old, all we needed was a good Celtic beat to get us fired up and practicing our pas de basques and reels. I hadn’t thought of those after-school dance practices until I stood on the arena floor in Belfast, soaking up the spotlight alongside my teammates as we waited for our cue to relevé and begin our steps to Riverdance’s titular song, in commemoration of Riverdance’s 25th anniversary.

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Krakow UNESCO City of Literature | August 2019

Freakonomics authors Steven D. Levitt and Steven J. Dubner refer to a study that found children who grow up in homes with books will score higher on academic tests, and the more books one is surrounded by, the longer they stay in school. As I complete my 19th (non-consecutive) year of schooling with aspirations of continuing my studies towards a PhD, I have to admit, I am partial to this idea. That’s right…I blame my parents.

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Run, Write, Repeat | Spain 2019

I have spent the past month in Valencia, Spain, surviving on a healthy dose of banana pancakes, watermelon, and Maggie Rogers to get me through writing my dissertation. It has been a whirlwind month, beginning with arriving straight from Cape Town via Leeds to join Jess at 48 Carrer Peurto Rico in Russafa, a quirky neighbourhood full of cafes, restaurants, second-hand shops, and artists’ coworking spaces.

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UN PRME UKI Conference 2019

“Aujourd’hui, je vais vous parler de…” My first public speaking competition was in the fifth grade when our French Immersion class was tasked with preparing a speech as part of Concours d’Art Oratoire. The topic of my presentation? Emily Carr, my favourite artist at the time (whose works I still cherish). I detailed Carr’s early childhood, and her passionate portrayal of Western Canadian forests and Aboriginal totems using charcoal, watercolour, oil paint, and even thinned house paint.

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South Africa Series: No. 5

After writing our final exam on Friday afternoon, we threw our bags into Tom’s Defender and headed to Table Mountain. Dominic and Donal had hiked up earlier in the day, and we arrived with just enough time to get last-minute tickets to ride the tram up. Once atop the mountain, we found winding trails leading to various viewpoints, and we meandered along with smiles of pure bliss; likely a result of both relief from being done our exams, and the natural euphoria of finally experiencing Table Mountain. About half the programme’s students had arrived to take in the stunning views from the summit, 1 089 metres above Cape Town.

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South Africa Series: No. 4

My sisters and I were raised on a healthy dose of Willie Nelson, Dire Straits, and Paul Simon. Don’t get me wrong, we could also belt out every Disney song under the sun, but it was more common for us to know all the lyrics to You’re the One or Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain. Whenever I hear these songs today, I am overwhelmed with nostalgia and a sense of home. Our parents made this music important to us by explaining the stories behind the lyrics, and it was through Paul Simon’s Graceland album that we first learned about Apartheid. As I sat aboard the safari vehicle at the Aquila Private Game Reserve on Sunday morning, I thought back to those powerful learning moments and reflected on how they had prepared me for my time studying in Cape Town.

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South Africa Series: No. 3

你要去哪里 | Nǐ yào qù nǎlǐ | Where are you going? This is one of the few phrases I can recall from my middle school Mandarin classes. I studied the beautifully complex language for two years, yet I can only remember a few basic phrases. What I do remember, arguably more importantly, were the lessons I learned about Chinese culture during these classes. Through learning Mandarin, I developed an acute appreciation for traditional calligraphy and Chinese cuisine, as well as social protocol and history. China’s increasing presence on the world stage cannot be ignored, and has both the global north and global south questioning, “Nǐ yào qù nǎlǐ?”

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South Africa Series: No. 2

July 3, 2019, officially earned the title of “best day of my life so far”. A bold statement, but let me explain…a road-trip along a coastal highway to visit a National Park, catch a sunset, and visit some penguins. Throw in great company who, despite hailing from different countries and speaking with various accents, become fluent in a secret language of inside jokes and nostalgia by the day’s end.

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South Africa Series: No. 1

Although my dissertation research is about the Arctic Blue Economy, I have kicked off Summer 2019 immersed in the London School of Economics-University of Cape Town short course “Africa and Global Transformations: The rise of emerging powers and a new international order”. South Africa and the circumpolar Arctic may be around 11,000 kilometres apart in physical distance, but the ties that bind the two regions are profound; of particular note is the geopolitical demand for their respective resources.

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Paris | June 2019

Audrey Hepburn was quoted as saying “Paris is always a good idea”, but as I packed my bags to leave London, I was questioning this advice. I was so enjoying my time in South Kensington that I could hardly bear the thought of saying good-bye to the city I’d only just grown to love. Nevertheless, I boarded my flight en route to Charles de Gaulle airport.

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Malta | May 2019

In June 2018, I completed a journal exercise in which I wrote what “a Day in the Life” would be like for me a year and a half into the future. While many of the details of this fortune-telling exercise are yet to reveal themselves as true, there was one piece that has already come to fruition: In this entry, I wrote that I would spend a week in Malta while writing my dissertation. Last week, Jess, Shiva and I boarded our flight from LLA to Malta International Airport, where we spent a glorious four days balancing our time between writing and exploring Valletta, Sliema, Naxxar, and St Julien’s.

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