Who is Dwayne? An OpEd

I consider my first two posts crucial to introducing myself and this project, yet I have failed to discuss the significance of my blogs title. As such, I figure that it is finally time to discuss who Dwayne is and how he has become a part of my experience in Copenhagen. In doing so, the blog will be fully introduced and I can move on to more supplementary topics. To complete this analysis, it is crucial to understand who Dwayne was in the beginning and what he is now. I will conclude this post by discussing the possibilities of Dwayne’s future, although we must remember that his future is inherently unstable and unknown.

I first met Dwayne in Pemberton, Canada last summer in a camping chair eating mac n’ cheese with some friends. He was wearing a green and white rugby jersey with the sleeves cut off and an Indiana Jones hat with a GoPro glued to it. What I first noticed about Dwayne was his sense of humor. It seemed as though his jokes, if you could call them jokes, were designed to make him laugh and no one else. They were packed with obscure references from across the last two decades that few, if any, in a social gathering would understand. Dwayne’s jokes make him laugh like crazy, while everyone else laughs at the confusing nature of the moment. I also recognized Dwayne for his heightened states of social awareness, physical stamina, and musical prowess.

Ice Skating in Frederiksberg

In case I haven’t made it clear, Dwayne was not just some random traveler that I met in the Canadian wilderness. Dwayne was Devin, or at least a persona that Devin could shift into (like the cover of an Animorphs book). The catalysis of Dwayne’s creation is unknown, and I consider this a crucial aspect of his story as a character. He did not come about because of a single event. Instead, he arose naturally from the accumulation of my experiences. Last semester, I continued to notice Dwayne, although there was no doubt that his presence was beginning to dwindle. Part of me felt that this was a sad loss, because I enjoyed having another side of myself that I didn’t quite understand.

Pictured: Nick Horst, another Whitman student studying at DIS.

Prior to my departure from Copenhagen, I decided that I wanted to fully embrace my Dwayne persona. My plan was simple; I was going to introduce myself to everyone, even the teachers in my classes, as Dwayne. Studying abroad would offer me the perfect chance to try to craft an alter ego and live my life under another name for a short amount of time. In order to prepare myself for the transformation, I felt I needed a slight change to my physical appearance, so I grew out my ginger beard and dyed my hair silver. I stepped onto my flight from San Francisco to Copenhagen, ready to begin my life as Dwayne.

A Danish Birthday Party in Ballerup

Ultimately, the plan didn’t really work for two crucial reasons. The first reason is that I underestimated how deeply rooted our names are in our conscious and subconscious memories. When someone would ask what my name is, saying Dwayne nonchalantly was actually pretty difficult. I often stuttered or had to backtrack. Many times I would just say Devin without even thinking about it. The second is that even though I was introducing myself as a different name, I wasn’t acting any differently. Dwayne was no longer really a persona; it was just one of my names. I found myself pondering about Dwayne’s  current nature and significance.

Over time, I came to realize what Dwayne has become to me while I’ve been in Denmark. He is no longer merely an eccentric persona. To me, he represents the characteristics of myself at this stage of my life that I am most proud of and find the most unique. I associate Dwayne with my budding interests in both medicine and filmmaking, because who else would have two passions that are so polar? Moreover, because I’m delving into these subjects so deeply while studying at DIS, it seems as though Dwayne is present within my academics and not just my social circles.

Semmelweis University Heart and Vascular Center in Budapest

I also credit Dwayne with my rekindled interests in fitness and rugby. Since last summer, my passion and interest in rugby and general fitness was starting to fade. In Copenhagen, my desire to push my body to it’s limits has returned. Thanks to the gym at my kollegium, the rugby team at Copenhagen Business School, and the boxing gym of an old British man underneath a French bistro, my body is once again on the path of improvement through hard work.

Boxing Gym underneath La Petanque bistro                     Szechenyi Bath in Budapest

                                  However, these characteristics that Dwayne represents are not separated from my own identity. In fact, they are the most important parts of my identity at this moment. As such, Dwayne is no longer separated from Devin; the two have become conjoined and the line between them grows ever blurrier. You can follow Dwayne on instagram at d.r.dwayne




Dwayne Talks About Medicine

Since my first semester at Whitman, I have taken the medical school prerequisite classes alongside many other students imagining their futures as physicians. This being said, for a long while I was not certain if 1) being accepted to medical school was possible for me and 2) if it was even the path that I wanted to take. As such, I would think to myself that I was just leaving medical school as an open option. This philosophy actually helped me cope with the stress of the rigorous coursework immensely. A boring subject or a bad grade didn’t bother me as much as it would bother others since I wasn’t even sure whether I wanted to be a doctor in the first place. In my mind, if I didn’t enjoy or excel in the coursework, it would just mean that medical school wasn’t for me. As it so happens, this way of thinking eliminated a large amount of my premedical stress and allowed me to continue taking the difficult classes each semester without completely burning out. Although my transcript is far from perfect, I’ve made it through the majority of the prerequisites in one piece. There’s a decent chance I would be accepted to a medical school if I filled out the applications. Consequently, I can no longer appease my brain by thinking that I am leaving medical school as an open option. It is time to decide whether I want to apply or not, and the stress of this decision is very different from the stress of organic chemistry.

There are many reasons why enrolling in a medical school is scary, but there is one that really stands out to me. Throughout college, I have learned to thrive by investing myself in very diverse academic and extracurricular interests; this is one of the signature characteristics of my Dwayne persona. For example, I’m double majoring in biology and film and media studies. I am not the most promising student in either discipline, but there is no one else studying both of these things. The uniqueness of my interests gives me a powerful sense of fulfillment. Although I’m not certain what I want to do following graduation, I know that I want to try out different things and keep my experiences as diverse as possible. I am very afraid that going to medical school will force me to eschew my other interests and solely focus on medicine. Medical school and the life of a doctor take up immense amounts of time. Moreover, as soon as you enroll in medical school you are nearly 100,000 dollars in debt. It seems that there is almost no going back if you decide then that you don’t want to be a doctor.

My hope is that my time in Denmark will allow me to begin to unravel, if not answer, this difficult question. My core course at DIS is Medical Practice and Policy, and it’s one of the only off campus studies programs offered that is related to medicine. So far, I find all of the info very interesting since pathophysiology isn’t really taught in Whitman’s introductory biology classes. For example, I’ve heard about meningitis many times, but I never had any idea about what it actually is before taking this class. I’ve also gained a better insight into the obstacles that medical students face. We visited the macro anatomical lab at the University of Copenhagen, and I learned that the students had only 7 weeks to learn nearly the entire human anatomy (over 3500 scientific terms).

I’ve also selectively chosen my elective classes according to my non-medicine academic interests. Biology of Marine Mammals = Organismal Ecology/Conservation, Psychology of Endings = Old Age/Death, and European Documentary Film = Documentary Filmmaking. I’m also interning as a student videographer in the DIS marketing department to see what it is like to film with an organization. So far, I can safely say that I really am interested in all of these topics. As the semester continues, I will try my best to gauge how I really feel about everything that I do.       My observations will certainly not stop me from enjoying and appreciating all of my different activities.

This concludes the second installment of a Fresh Dwayne in Denmark, and I just realized I still haven’t talked about Dwayne at all. I guess I’ll just have to introduce him in the next post.

Introduction – ‘A Fresh Dwayne in Denmark’

This is the first post of ‘A Fresh Dwayne in Denmark’. My personal expectations for this blog are listed below.

Number 1: I do not want to simply write a checklist. There are too many blogs that are filled with boring recaps of people did and everywhere  went without any real substance. Here’s an anecdote to explain why I feel particularly averse to these sorts of projects. Before I left for Copenhagen, I glanced through one of my mom’s photo albums. It was filled with photos of when she was 19 and took a road trip across the country with her friend Elizabeth. Understandably, most of the photos were of the places they visited and the things that they saw; Victorian houses, trees, fire hydrants, etc. As an observer of these images, I couldn’t really care less about them. To me, they were merely replications of things that I see everyday in my present life. However, the photos of my mom and Elizabeth were amazing to see. It felt as though the crucial elements of their road trip (The tightness of their friendship, the sense of adventure and the unknown, etc.) radiated from these pictures. They were important, while the photos of trees and buildings were not. My goal is to try and replicate the personal quality of these pictures through this blog. Each picture and video that I share will portray a personal experience of mine; you will be hard pressed to find an aesthetic picture of the Amsterdam letters. Moreover, my biggest hope for this blog is for my writing to carry my current personal voice and opinions in the same way the photos of my mother carry her personality from that time.

Number 2: I do not want to portray everything as the best or most life-changing thing I’ve ever done. (i.e. Visiting the ______ was a truly life-changing experience). I dislike the term ‘life-changing’ because I don’t believe that my life has ever been hugely impacted by a singular event. I dislike blogs that are overly positive and enthusiastic because it’s annoying, narcissistic and too obvious. I’ll just get this out of the way so that I won’t have to say it over and over again. I’m living in Copenhagen with a bunch of Danish people, studying what I really enjoy, playing rugby, and seeing my favorite rappers perform all over Europe. It’s obvious that I’m having a good time. I’m writing this blog so that I can think more critically about my time here and better analyze my current mental and emotional states, not flex on social media to my friends and family.

Number 3: This blog is more for me than it is for you. I’m glad that it is public because I have really valued reading about my friends experiences in their travel blogs (Chris Hankin and Michael Augustine’s blogs come to mind) and others may enjoy reading mine in the same way. This being said, I could care less if I’m the only person that reads it.

This concludes the first post of ‘A Fresh Dwayne in Denmark’. In the next post, I’ll introduce Dwayne and discuss my thoughts on William Bridges’ theory of ‘The Neutral Zone’.