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2 new graduates visit 37 islands in 5 months. But why?

Career choices — After a few years as graduates, these two young scholars had had enough of their lives behind desks. Today they are travelling around Denmark's small islands to do reports on what life is like there.

It is all about grabbing your Go-Pro camera, electric drone, and your lunch, getting up on the mountain bike, and taking off for the sociologist Sarah Steinitz (28) and geographer Tine Tolstrup (28) this summer semester. They are visiting 37 of Denmark’s smaller islands.

Øjvind is with them too. It is the name of their old Volkswagen vintage 1994 camper van. It is not particularly comfortable, but it has built-in sleeping spots for the two adventurers, and all their gear.

The two have been friends from the age of six. One day a few months ago, it suddenly dawned on them that even though they had many common reference points to Sydney, Hanoi and Havana, they did not know what it looked like in the more domestic Læsø or Lyø.

Quit her job for ‘project island’

Now, from each and every one of the 37 islands, they will make short videos and blog posts, with which they hope to inspire other young people to take their own trip to the Danish archipelago.

 

Sarah Steinitz tinkers a bit with the camper before the trip to a new island can begin. The two mountain bikes on the back are particularly good for small islands.
image: Tine Tolstrup og Sarah Steinitz
A younger Islander is interviewed by Tine Tolstrup and Sarah Steinitz around a coffee table in the open air.
image: Tine Tolstrup og Sarah Steinitz

“We want to find out what experiences the islands have to offer. We became curious on knowing something about what is hiding out there in terms of adventures – and what it is like to live and grow up on an island as a young person,” says Sarah Steinitz.

She graduated in sociology from the University of Copenhagen in 2015, while Tine Tolstrup graduated in geography in 2016. Afterwards they both received well-paid jobs – which many consider attractive – but Tine Tolstrup quit her job in favour of the island odyssey.

Had to get away from the desks

Sarah Steinitz (tv) og Tine Tolstrup portræt taget på Nørreport Station

Sarah Steinitz (left) and Tine Tolstrup portrait taken at Nørreport Station

In their daily life, Sarah Steinitz and Tine Tolstrup both live with their boyfriends in central districts of Copenhagen.

They say that they have had their own preconceptions on what life on the islands would be like, and that they have had to change this perception after their encounter with small communities. Here there is a sense of community, initiative and enterprise.

The University Post is not the first to ask Tine Tolstrup about how they found the courage to devote themselves to this communication project.

“We get the question all the time, because it’s not your typical set-up, but we are learning things as we go along. I have, for example, never set up a website or edited a video. Perhaps we haven’t just dropped out of the career rat race at all. Maybe we are just trying to put our education in play in entirely new ways,“ says Tine Tolstrup.

They both seem enthusiastic about getting out and meeting the islanders, and they don’t care too much about what should happen when the project ‘Ødysséen’, a play on words that juxtaposes the Danish word for ‘island’ and ‘odyssey’, ends in the autumn of 2018.

“We wanted to get away from our desks and not just sit inside, write reports, and do analyses,” says Tine Tolstrup.

Not to save up for their retirement

She and Sarah Steinitz also missed having experiences in nature. The project ‘Ødysséen’ is set up with this purpose in mind. They are not going to make a living off the project, but this has never been their intention.

“The Ødysséen project was not designed to save up for our retirement. The project is designed to satisfy our interests, curiosity and wishes,” says Tine Tolstrup. She says that they have, in spite of this, succeeded in obtaining a donation that covers the cost of the petrol for their camper van Øjvind, bridge tolls and food expenses.

(The article continues below)

 

“We had completed our project no matter whether we had gotten funding for it or not. But we also applied for grants to do it as a communication project, and we have received financial support in the form of about DKK 65,000 from the Danish Youth Council (DUF),” says Tine Tolstrup.

Seize the day

The two tell us that they would like to experience more than office life as academics, while they have the chance – without forgetting the rest of the world or the times that they live in.

TheIR  project on social media

The Project Ødysséen website

On Instagram

On Facebook

“After all, we have many years in the labour market yet, certainly until we reach 75, so we thought, this is the only time we have to try it out. None of us have any children yet. We are still free to flex around the evenings and weekends in order to do the excursions, the video editing, the blog writing and whole huge planning circus that this is to keep the Project Ødysséen on track,” says Tine Tolstrup.

Sarah Steinitz has kept a 30 hour a week job as communication consultant at the Economic Council of the Labour Movement (AE). This gives her the opportunity for two work-free days every two weeks. This is then the time to fire up the ‘Øyvind’ camper can, and go on a trip to a new island.

At the time of writing, they have been out on a total of nine islands: Sejerø, Nekselø, Orø, Agersø, Omø, Læsø, Fur, Egholm and Venø. The other 28 are still waiting for them.

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