ossamenta: Medieval manuscript showing a man trimming the thickness of a hide with a knife (Pergamenter)
[personal profile] ossamenta
And suddenly… it was March! February has passed quickly, and not just because it’s the shortest month. The first weeks went as usual, some writing, lots of emails sent out, books borrowed and articles downloaded. Stella, one of the PhD students here, nailed her thesis* on the fifth.

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*: Yes, literally. It’s a tradition in some Swedish universities, that when the thesis is published** – usually one month before the defence – you nail it to a designated board at your faculty. Some places do it electronically on the department or faculty webpage, others only nail an abstract/bibliographic information sheet, Lund Uni makes you nail the whole book. This is a way to publicly acknowledge that the thesis is available to read for those who wants to before the defence.

**: As opposed to, for example Britain, Swedish theses are published and available to purchase. The disadvantage is that “passed with minor/major corrections” is not possible – if there are any things to correct, it’s too late for that. As a consequence, you either pass or (God forbid) fail.

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All was well, and then, one Friday afternoon I felt my throat being a bit sore. And was utterly knocked out by what I would describe as “a cold that wanted to be a flu but didn’t make it all the way”. My throat was razor blades for two days, and I can’t really remember that Saturday happened. I was off for the entire week, and unfortunately missed a day-long research seminar that I really wanted to attend.

Just as I was getting better, it was time to fly to England for a week-long research trip. Before Christmas I was asked to contribute a paper for a conference held in honour of my MA supervisor, who’s been a mentor for me. Obviously I couldn’t say no. The topic was very wide (interactions between humans and birds), but it was still a bit of a struggle to think of a subject for the paper, as I’m not really doing anything with birds. That said, I decided to do something on the use of geese for writing/literacy, which is sort of part of my PhD. The main focus on the research trip was information on a specific type of artefact made from (mostly) geese radius bones, mostly believed to be used for writing, but quite frankly we don’t really know.

I could not go to every place that has these artefacts, so I concentrated on visiting the places with most finds. It was a very busy week: flying there on Monday, Museum of London and various London libraries on Tuesday, York Archaeological Trust on Wednesday, Norwich Museum on Thursday, and Oxfordshire County Museum on Friday. The actual information gathering didn’t take that long, but since I had had to buy train tickets well in advance to avoid extortionate ticket prices, I had made sure I had plenty of time for my research. As a consequence, I had five hours to kill in both York and Norwich… There’s only so much you can walk around and see/do in five hours on a cold February when your body really wants a proper afternoon nap.

The trip was well planned timewise (apart from the whole exhausting cold thing): I could have a weekend in Oxford where I could see the Bodleian Library’s Designing English exhibition (recommended!) and participate in a weekend lindy hop workshop/social dance event! The dance classes were very good, but it was not until the Sunday evening dance that I felt well enough to dance more than one dance. A bit of a shame, as the bands were really good. But I had good music to listen to, good dancers to watch and lovely people to talk to. Definitely worth it!

And as I was heading to the airport, I felt my throat being a bit sore again. I didn’t really dare to push through and hope it would go away, so I spent the next few days at home, drinking hot ginger and honey water. It seems to have worked (*knock on wood*).

So that was my February.

Last Friday (3rd March), Stella defended her thesis and can now call herself Dr. Macheridis!

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