Tag Archives: Linköping

Linköping and its Folkhögskola, Sweden

Linköping is quite small, about a 100,000 people. A university town, the old seat of a bishop so home to a cathedral and all the bishop’s faded magnificence and a handful of medieval maze-like streets and old buildings that are quite wonderful.

I somehow lost all the pictures from our wander round that first day. It’s a bit tragic. So there is no cathedral to see here, no narrow winding streets that convince you that wonder and beauty lie just up ahead.

Of course, there were few of those streets here, fewer left in situ. The government seems rather fond of picking entire buildings up and moving them safely out of the way of development. I suppose it’s better than knocking them down, but it is such a curious way to deal with history. It sanitises history in a way, excises it from the city and puts it safely to one side where you can visit it at your leisure.

Still, Linköping had some gracious spaces, lovely old buildings, a lively square where everyone had retired to drink beer in the fading sunlight after work. It had parks and sculptures and boulevards and wonderful bike lanes and many people didn’t even bother to lock their bikes up.

All of this I leave to your imagination.

There is a single photo of a church remaining from the very busy day following because it was my favourite church and I liked how the light fell on it:

Linköping

The churches are very beautiful here.

They did have an open air museum as well — it is where I took myself off too while the examiners were meeting before the defense.

It was, to be honest, the most opaque ‘museum’ I had ever been to. I wasn’t even sure I was in it, but I was almost certain given these great double-decker barns. This was my favourite, and I love the beautiful way these massively cut stones fit together:

Linköping Outdoor Museum

Linköping

Of course, from my recent farming experience I learned that livestock here is undoubtedly kept inside over the winter and hay and grain would also have to be stored, so these make so much sense.

I still enjoyed their awesomeness more than their practicality.

The second two-story barn had open doors and signs in swedish and I poked my head in and found rabbits and a horse, so thought I probably was in the museum.

Linköping Outdoor Museum

And then a sign! This was Valla Farm, a large farm standing here since the 19th Century, the stables before me to the left built in 1860s also served as storage for wagons…to the right, those to the left built in 1875 served as a cowshed.

Linköping Outdoor Museum

An old picture:

Linköping Outdoor Museum

I love that they cared enough to make this barn quite beautiful.

Linköping Outdoor Museum

The main house, built in 1859:

Linköping

I wandered up there wondering if that was were more information or anything at all to tell me more. But no, nor in the other more substantial building beside it.

Finally I found this map.

Linköping Outdoor Museum

It didn’t help too much.

I found more signs hidden away beside a kind of corral on flowers and the cycle of harvesting wood:

Linköping

Linköping

The last didn’t need translation exactly, but I missed it a little.

I wandered back and around and found the second, and main, section of the Folkhögskola. Here finally were signs showing some buildings that apparently you were allowed to enter and did serve as museums. Just not that day. They were clearly closed. These were the buildings moved here from surrounding countryside to be preserved while making way for development.

Linköping

Linköping

One of the buildings housed the museum detailing the history of water and sewage I think. I think this was it.

Linköping

There were also some goats and some chickens, and horses, and mums pushing prams full of screaming children, and some play areas. A pond with a heron. Some rather spooky empty cages. More rabbits. Lots of wildflowers. I almost wish we’d had another day here to visit the other museum or perhaps wander a bit in the woods, but off we went to Stockholm and really, I had no regrets about that.

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A Very Swedish PhD Defense (plus gothic after-party)

The real reason we are here in Sweden is for Mark to examine a PhD. That process is so different here, not least in the amount of camaraderie and collegial support because things are done as cohorts and everyone finishes about the same time. I was just a little jealous.

We all came together in a large round lecture theatre, it is a public defense here — I was not at all jealous about that. In front of the door there is a table with a stack of theses upon it, free to take away. They print them in the form of a nice little book, a lovely cover, something you’d be proud to have on your shelf. I was hell of jealous about that. In the audience sit: the supervisor(s), the three examiners with an additional internal examiner in wait in case of emergency, partners of examiners, the parents and siblings, a host of friends. There were maybe 30 of us? The candidate can open with a few words, and she did. Then the interrogator comes in — today’s was flown in from Michigan. He gives a summation of the thesis in about 20 minutes. He asks formally if she finds it an acceptable summation, to which she can say yes, or can challenge or add commentary. Then begins the interrogation, lasting over an hour. It was run more like a discussion, but many a tough question lurked near the end.

Coffee break.

We convene again, each of the examiners (two from the UK, an internal examiner who was of course based at Linkoping) asks questions for about ten minutes. They each have different specialisms, but each related to the candidate’s subject. Philosophy, Derrida, Monsters. Then it is over, there is applause. Examiners and interrogator retire to discuss their verdict. Everyone else retires for snacks. Champagne is ready.

Finally the examiners too are ready with the verdict. Apparent from chatter in the corridors is that if someone gets to this stage they are expected to pass. But of course, you can still fail.

The examiners return. There is a tense moment. Then passing, speeches, happiness, champagne.

I thought that actually, it is rather nice for everyone to sit and listen to the content of their friend’s life and work over the past years. To hear her talk about it. To then be able to make jokes about the present absence.

Everyone retires. A few of us convene again for dinner, theatrics and dancing. I think that is what impressed me the most, because it was so damn lovely.

First I love vaults and restaurants to be found downstairs — I am quite gothic in that respect, and gothic is what the party was. Masquerade masks met us on the tables, candles, dark corners, bricks and stone.

Linköping

Delicious food, wine, speeches and the best advice from advisor to student having problems I have ever heard — did you drink wine with your friends and talk about it? The best story about a tiny cat. Presents that were impossibly thoughtful, several involving a celebration of the new Doctor through Doctor Who. Some goth makeovers of friends and supervisor.

Then an homage to the candidate from her cohort, a little theatre piece based on the awesome Night Vale podcasts. Not only was it clever and creative, it also showed whoever wrote it was all too familiar with the theoretical arguments as well as the content. It was quite wonderful and I was entirely and wholly jealous, as was everyone at my table who had varying stories of our own PhD examinations that were all of varying levels of anti-climacticism.

Then we danced to songs I had never heard before. Someone mentioned Depeche Mode. There were some other things I had heard before, but I have forgotten what they were.

Wonderful night.

Linköping

We wandered back to our hotel — Fawlty Towers. An entirely hilarious Swedish interpretation of this British classic with surprisingly fine friendly service.

Linköping

In Swedish, Pangi Bygget. Awesome.

Linköping

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