This site contains the archives of my travel blogs from 2010-2016.

I'm now blogging via Medium. For other life updates, including opportunities or requests to collaborate, visit my personal website.




Sunday, March 23, 2014

Odessa, Ukraine: My Poetic Tribute


In the wake of the conflict plaguing southern Ukraine, I've been reflecting on the two months I spent studying in Odessa during the summer of 2011.

As I prepare to fly back to Finland, the past few weeks of spring cleaning in my parents' garage has had me going through boxes of foreign language books and memoires I've brought home as trophies from my adventures.  Tucked away in the back of a notebook filled with grammar exercises, I found the following poem I once scribbled and a few telltale grains of sand - remnants of a summer spent writing and reading Russian books on the beaches of Odessa.

map: CNN

Young Ukrainian girls play along the shores of the Black Sea in Odessa

великолепный город на берегу Чёрного моря
модные Одесситы на пляже
улитцы спокойные
никогда далеко дома.
Туристы у тебя
думают о следующем раз
даже прежде чем они уехали.
В террассах, тянующих вдоль дорожек
люди довольны своей отпуск потягивают фрещов
на самые жаркие дней лета.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Making Sense of a New Field: 5 Tips to Use During your Next New Job or Project


I remember when I started my bachelor thesis and had begun to scratch the surface of a few journal articles on entrepreneurial intentions.  I went to my thesis advisor asking, "Can you give me a map or flow chart or some kind of structural organization for this field?! I feel like I have no idea what the different branches of the discipline are..."

In his most patient and understanding way of putting me up for a challenge he replied, "Well, nothing like that exists. That's for you to go figure out for yourself."  And then he gave me a big, knowing smile.

It wasn't an easy process, and it took about a year, but I finally got my bearings in the intentions literature.  Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the entire experience is the discovery that venturing into a new field is a process, and there are specific techniques that can help me move forward while minimizing the headbanging and aimless wandering.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

On the Front Lines: Changing Minds Proves More Challenging than Changing Borders & Administrations


As I read through Geraldine Brooks' Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women, I am continuously surprised by the riveting, intimate stories of women whom I imagine are just like me in many ways. And women whom I imagine could be good friends of mine. Women who are strong and beautiful, driven and courageous.  And yet, while some of my greatest struggles are in proving the worthiness of my ideas and concepts, turning these into a profitable business that will provide for my living, these young women are often struggling to prove that they themselves are worthy of simply living as individuals with a brain and will.

This post is in honor of International Women's Day.

Jenny Matthews/Panos

As I continue to seek out transitional environments -- traveling to observe first-hand when I can; reading and interviewing about them when I can't -- I continue to find evidence that laws and constitutions and job titles and borders are not the biggest challenge facing those who seek progress.

Deeply ingrained cultural ideas and traditions are much, much more difficult to challenge.

The following excerpts from Brooks' Nine Parts of Desire reflect her experiences during six years in the Middle East as a foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.  In this story out of northern Africa, we watch women fight and prove their physical equality and strength of character, then return home only to fight again -- this time against oppressive cultural traditions.  Like so many of the transitional regions I've lived in, the story of Eritrea reveals that cultural and ideological walls are much more difficult to break down than walls of brick and mortar.
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