Guinea Bissau: Day 0 – Arrival

So this will be my first post of hopefully many, during my stay in Guinea Bissau for the next year or so.. It is my hope that I can make my musings somewhat interesting to read, but entertainment value aside, they will mostly serve in lieu of what would otherwise quickly become an endless stream of emails – were I to try to keep each and every friend and family member up to date on how I spend my days there.

I’m writing this while waiting in Lisbon Airport, having spent the last couple of hours lounging in what I suspect will be the last plush leather couch I’ll be seeing for a good while, drinking Ice Coffee and eating a delicious cream filled pastry that had Cavity Crew immediately setting up their winter palace in my pearly whites.

.oOOOOOo. <- teeth  / .o.O.OOo. <- my teeth after pastry.

For those of you who have no idea why I’m leaving Denmark, maybe because you don’t know me personally, or perhaps just because we haven’t talked for the last year or so, let me try to explain somewhat briefly:

November last year, I made a decision to no longer passively be educated on what I suspect will become my future professional life, but instead take matters into my own hand and try and shape the path of my career towards a direction of my own choosing.

Having before given much thought towards travelling and working in 3rd world countries, I contacted a doctor and a researcher involved in the Bandim Health Project in Guinea Bissau, asking if it were possible to become involved in the work carried out at the station there. Having sent him my resume and met with him personally, I was set upon the long path that has now taken me to Portugal, with my final destination only being 5 hours away.

What I will be doing, is (in university circles) called a research year, granted to students upon request and agreement with a senior researcher. Under his/her guidance the students will carry out a project of their own, to be concluded with a paper preferably published in a scientific journal or magazine.

Most often these are carried out at department at a University Hospital, where financing is secured beforehand, and the student simply steps into the role created for them, but as I discovered, the role of a research year student in a project carried out abroad, funded solely by grants and donations, is not quite as plush as those to be had at home.

Suffice to say there have been difficulties with financing my trip, as I myself have had to apply for every single (insert monetary unit here) to come my way, as well as battling with Visas, permissions, ethical committees and government officials, not to mention the local university staff that did not exactly fit their job description of facilitators/counsellors.

It’s been a very educational experience though, and one I would not have been without, as the confidence gained with every obstacle overcome, will surely be needed in the weeks and months to come, where such challenges are every day work, and added barriers such as language and culture are likely to raise the bar of difficulty somewhat drastically : )

But it’s all been leading towards this day, and in the last few days I’ve had in Denmark, I have tried my best to be prepare myself for what’s to come, and just as importantly for what I would be leaving behind. This summer I visited Iceland with some friends, and got to meet both friends and family while there, and after coming back, I fortunately had good time to say my farewells in Århus. Then came but 3 short days in Copenhagen, during which I managed to see many but not nearly all of the people I would have liked to visit before I left, and I hope that those of you I did not manage to see will forgive me for this oversight, which certainly bereft me the pleasure of your company as well.

Lastly, let me say thank you, for being who you are, and for having supported me in all the aspects of my life that we’ve had to share. You have all played a part, be it big or small, in shaping who I am today. By being my muses and my influence, through who you are and everything you’ve done, be it good or bad, you’ve helped create the path leading to this moment. Without you in my life, I would not be I do hope that if reading this, you’ll want to leave me some comments from time to time, as it’s a way for me to see who, if anyone, is reading – and it’s always nice to know you care ; )who nor where I am today. – I do this for me, and for all of you.

Not having much else to share right now, except for a scathing review of an in-flight meal and the pleasant smell of Ajax on a clean floor (currently wafting upwards from the shining tiles left in the wake of buxom young Portuguese sanitation personnel), I will now leave you with a picture of the sun setting outside my window here in Portugal, bidding you adieu, and looking forward to having something interesting to share.

Lisabon Airport

5 thoughts on “Guinea Bissau: Day 0 – Arrival

  1. Mom

    This was an excellent idea you got there.
    I will be reading this to see how things are going for you. Best wishes for now, I hope everything works out for the best for you once you get settled in.

  2. Lasse

    I wish you the best of luck and may you have a great stay in Guinea Bissau, i look forward to following your blog (Thanks RSS) and hopefully you will spice this up with some pictures ;o)

  3. Claus Franz Overbeck

    Hi Petur,

    I wish you all the best on this very big adventure which you are about to go into, and i am very much looking forward to read more about your life and research in Guinea Bissau. I am sure you will do a great job!!

    Your friend,

  4. Ragna

    Hi Magnus.
    Great and long blog entry! You have a flair for languages and everyday things that Spice things up!
    I look forward to hear more, and if the Internet in GB allows it, to se some small videos as well!
    for now i wanna say; i’d love to hear a waterballoon story – an tell Me when you run out! I Can send you some more ;0)
    hugs -ragna-

  5. Magnus P. Bjarnason Post author

    Thanks guys, I will try to keep you posted on what’s new, although right now everything is new and I could spend every minute documenting my life and still feel I was missing something : )

    @Lasse – Pictures will follow soon, well as soon as this internet connection will allow me to.

    @Ragna – I will get to work on the water balloons very soon, looking much forward to it, and will let you know when to send more – now!

    Att. Magnus P. Bjarnason
    Projecto de Saúde de Bandim
    Apartado 861
    1004 Bissau Codex

    My best wishes from Bissau to you all!

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