Procyon (procyonid) wrote,

Farvel til Danmark

My time in Copenhagen is finally at its end: in the afternoon I head to the airport trundling the same suitcases that I moved here with that summer carrying all of my remaining possessions, and head off to another country once again.

If it feels like I've hardly even got here, that's probably because in a sense I have. I was in Berkeley for seven years and Pasadena for almost four. My stay in Denmark lasted just nineteen months from beginning to end, and an significant fraction of that (at least one third) was spent traveling somewhere else. I learned what was around my local part of Copenhagen and (towards the very end) was finally well on my way to establishing a friend group here - still, I never truly felt that it was a permannt home, and never learned the language or even had a chance to leave the Copenhagen metro area.

Anyway, partly as a result of this, my good-bye week has been rather anti-climactic compared to the last couple times I moved out of an area. I did go to go out for dinner and a few drinks with a few of my co-workers on Friday, and I saw some of the local furry crowd on Saturday (although it was a birthday event for someone else, and not really about me!) And packing has indeed been mostly trivial: I own only a little bit more than the two suitcases full of stuff I originally came here with, and furthermore I packed up a good fraction of it back in September and left it in storage in my office.

This move marks another transition, too: it's my last day as a post-doc. Tomorrow I finally become a faculty member, taking up a permanent contract in a move that has for much of the past five years always been the most prominent end-goal. That's of course a big success, but as always there are tradeoffs - including less freedom with my personal time and a more conspicuous, high-profile, high-pressure role in and outside the department. Many professors have told me that they missed their postdoc days dearly before group management, teaching, and committee work devoured their time, and I can certainly see why. The past few months in particular have been remarkably liberating, with the new job in the bag and a healthy string of 2016 first-author papers already out there and in the CV. I've travelled the world with almost no fixed responsibilities, sitting somewhere different practically every week with no immediate pressure. Still, such a life can't go on forever.

Despite my short stay, I will miss quite a lot about Denmark, or at least about Copenhagen: the sleek and functional mass transit system (among other things: buses everywhere all night long, a $3 ride to the airport within half an hour), the convenience of living in a capital city with its international services and transport links, the cheery architecture, the safe streets and near-absence of major crime, the progressive political culture, the beautiful parks and museums. Even the weather's not that bad, especially in summer. In an alternate reality I would have failed in my job search this year and put a serious effort into finding new funding to stay here permanently.

I sometimes feel a bit guilty that I didn't do more or become better integrated here, at work or otherwise: my interests and planned career trajectory took a significant turn in the year leading up to my move here, such that - ironically - I ended up collaborating with my Danish colleagues more before I actually moved here than I did while living here, and conversely I now collaborate more with the Caltech group much more than I did for much of the time when I live in Pasadena. Ah well. No sense having regrets about it: it's time to look forward, and not backwards.
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