First Year of PhD Project


On 1st October 2019, I began the first year of my PhD Project at the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo. In the next days, I met fantastic people and was introduced to the rules at the Museum and the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History. I also chose my two supervisors: Julie Lund and Ann Zanette Tsigaridas Glørstad. After my working hours, I also tried to manage some practicalities and to find a new flat. In the second week of October, I moved to my new place. Next days of this month, I spent working on my database on collecting details on the Viking Age graves with bird remains. On 27 October, I was invited to present my project during seksjonsmøte at Conservation Section in Økern in Oslo. I t was really nice to talk about the aims of my project in front of very nice and knowledgeable people.

In November, I participated in my first research seminar, which was part of the course in which all the PhD students participate. It was wonderful to hear about different research of PhD fellows. On 8th November, I travelled to Poland to take the rest of my books and other belongings which I needed in Oslo. I came back on the 16th of November. A few days later, on 19th November, I had the possibility to participate in the very nice and captivating trip to the Viking Age site at Borre. It was a fantastic experience to see the huge mound surrounded by old trees. In the following days, I continued my work on the database. I also devoted my free time to photography and observations of the wild birds.

In December also several interesting things happened. In the very beginning of this month, I joined the Centre for Viking-Age Studies in the Museum of Cultural History. On 11th December, I participated in another captivating PhD research seminar. This time, I presented a long paper discussing the aims and problems of my PhD project. I also had the possibility to read and listen to various research of PhD students.

Later in this month, I also took part in fantastic julelunsj at the PhD student attic and julebord for all employee the Museum.

Photos, which I took during my first three months in Oslo, are presented in the galleries “First Days in Oslo“, “In the Museum of Cultural History and Viking Ship Museum“, “Autumn in Oslo“, “In the Norsk Folkemuseum“, “Soloppgangene og solnedgangene“, “Fram og tilbake igjen“, “I Borre“, “Svaner“, “Kalde dager“, “Snowy Day“, “In the Viking Ship Museum“, “Fugler i Oslo“, “Jul i Oslo“, “Nyttårsaften i Oslo” at my photoblog. Also, check my story “Eventyret i Oslo” at Instagram.


This year, I started very happily watching fireworks over Oslo and thinking about other months which I will spend in Oslo. I never supposed that it brings so many problems, much suffering and sadness. First days of January, I devoted to preparations of the other parts of my PhD database. Days of January, I spent my time not only in the work but also on photographing, editing my photos and on short and long walks to the different parts of western or central Oslo. On 4th January 2020, I took the metro to Frognerseteren when I had the possibility to photograph charming sunset. On 9th January, I flew to visit my family in Poland (gallery “Fram og tilbake igjen (del 2)“). I spent there several very nice and pleasant days. I came back to Oslo in the afternoon of 15 January. I never supposed that it will be my last trip for a very long time.

Next weeks, I spent collecting details about 200 Viking Age graves from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and the British Isles. In my free time, I also went to several nice walks and photographed different parts of Oslo (see galleries “Lyserød solnedgangen“, “Til Fornebu“, “Brannhimmelen“, “Ettermiddagen“). In the newsfeeds and social media started to appear details concerning new unknown virus which began to spread in the East. That information arouse anxiety in my mind.

In February, I continued my work on the database. After several consultations with my fantastic supervisors, I decided to narrow the scope of my PhD thesis. Therefore, in the following days, I focused on polishing parts of a database dedicated only to graves from Norway and some part of Sweden (Uppland, Öland). Moreover, I also started to organise publications which were useful in the preparation of my next chapter of the PhD thesis. On 4th February, during the Frokostseminar I had the possibility and the pleasure to present my research project to the members of the Centre for Viking-Age Studies (ViS). It was fantastic to present the topic of my PhD thesis in front of such numerous knowledgeable people. It was also nice to discuss various matters related to my PhD project. I would like to thank very much Marianne Vedeler for such a nice invitation. On 13th and 14th February, I also had the possibility to participate in nice introductory course. During it, I not only learned new things about rules on PhD studies at the University of Oslo but I was also acknowledged with the different ways of finding job after PhD studies. I also meet nice PhD students from different institutes.

Furthermore, I also had the possibility to photograph some nice locations in Oslo (see galleries “Oslotur“, “På Fornebu“, “Førster solnedganden etter en storm“, “Utsiker fra Niels Treschows hus“, “Regnfylte dager“, “Himmelen i flammer“, “På Fornebu (vol. 2)“, “Mellom natt og dag“).

Another month of the year for me started peacefully. However, in the media, more and more disturbing news concerning new disease appeared.  Beyond this sad news, life went on in the normal rhythm. On the 3rd of March, I participated in the PhD research seminar during which I had the possibility to read numerous nice research papers. Beyond my reach on Viking Age graves with bird remains, I also had the possibility to observe interesting species of birds and to photograph very gorgeous landscapes of Oslo (see galleries “Oslo i snø“, “Ru fjorden“). In the second week of this month, the situation became more problematic. Lots of new cases of the COVID-19 disease were reported. This news made me a little anxious.  Therefore, I started to avoid public transport as much as possible.

During the one day, however, everything was changed. On Thursday (12th of Mach), I decided to walk to my work. It was a dark, wet morning. I walked along the harbour to the central part of Oslo. On my way, I did small grocery shopping. In the office was only one of my colleagues. I started to work on my PhD thesis. I also tried to follow the news were very disturbing. In the middle of the day was the press conference with the government. They decide to close schools, universities, museums and reduced flights. This was the start of lockdown in Norway. After the conversation with my colleague, I decided to leave my office. I went to a shop to buy a lien bag and coffee brewer which I did not have in my home. Later, packed the most necessary books, notebook and I left my office. Weather become better so I walked along the harbour with heavy bags. I remember that it was sunny, but it was something disturbing in the air. This premonition of the anxious future. In my home, I realised that I am lacking still the basic things. Therefore, I decided that I must go to the shop. I planned that for the next day. I remember that when walked to a shop I felt very unsure and full of fears. In the shop, many people bought things in a panic. I observed many empty shelves. I bought the most necessary things and I left the shop in a hurry.

In the following days, I tried to fit my room for working from home (see text in the gallery “Soloppgangen i krisetid“). It was difficult because I lacked a proper table and bookshelves to place publications. However, despite these difficulties, I found the solutions which allowed me to start my work. Next days of March, I devoted to the restructuring of my database. I also started to prepare myself to write another chapter of my PhD thesis, dedicated to the history of research. In my free time, I photographed sunrises or sunsets (galleries “En kort tur“, “Morgener og kvelder“), observed birds, went to shot walks and did the daily workout.

In April, I write other parts of my history and research chapter. I also photographed numerous beautiful spectacles in the sky (galleries “Morgener og kvelder“, “Morgener og kvelder (del 2)“, “Regnbuer og kvelder“) and continued my daily workout. I also start a new adventure with gardening. First plants, which I bought, were two garden pansies (one purple and one yellow). Later, I also bought some herbs (e.g. peppermint [Mentha × piperita], chives, thyme). On 24 April, I took part in the first-ever online PhD seminar. It was really nice to see all PhD students despite this hard and problematic situation. I was also wonderful to read and discuss their works.

Days become longer and warmer. I spent more time outside managing my small garden, doing the workout and photographing (gallery “Regnbuer og kvelder“). In my working hours, I worked on my history of research chapter and article on waterfowl. Furthermore, I started to prepare an article on waterfowl to the publication on human-nonhuman studies. I also participated in the Norwegian course.

On the 9th of May, I participated in the Global Big Day. During my long walk, I could observe numerous interesting species of birds (see gallery “Til Storøya og tilbake“). On 17th May observed celebrations of the Constitution Day (Grunnlovsdagen) in Oslo. In this year, all events were cancelled. Therefore, I decided to go for a walk and to see decorations in the city centre and to observe small celebrations (see gallery “17. mai 2020“). On the 26th of May, I again participated in the PhD research seminar. However, for the first time, I presented my work. It was a very fruitful meeting. I would like to thank you very much all participants for the useful remarks to my history and research chapter. In the afternoon of 27th May 2020, I took part in the introductory course in Oslo Kajakklubb. During it, I learn about rules in this nice kayak club. I was also able to kayak in the nice Oslofjord. I was nice to remind myself of some kayak skills, to meet other people interested in this fascinating sport, and to become a member of this nice club.

In the following days, the situation with COVID-19 pandemic became more stable. Some countries started to slowly change regulations and opened their borders. Therefore, I decided to end my work from home and to return to my office. On the first day of June, I walk with my books and other stuff to my office. Next days, I spent walking whether in-line skating to my work and back (see gallery “Lange dager i juni“). I wrote other parts of my article. I also started to revise my history of research chapter. In the middle of June on change happened in my life. On 19th June 2020, one of my colleagues kindly lent me a bike, which stayed at home unused. Having a bike allowed me to move faster and more convenient to my work, to do bigger shopping and to see other parts of beautiful Oslo. I would like to heartily thank for lending this nice bike!  (see gallery “Til Malmøya“).

July brought some new things to my life. At the beginning of July 2020, I finished the first draft of my article concerning Viking Age graves with bones of waterfowl.

Further, during my online Norwegian course, I meet a person who is also a member of this club. On 10 July 2020, she invites me to join her (and her friends) in the shot afternoon kayak trip in the direction of Fornebu. About 5:00 pm we gathered on a pier, prepared equipment and kayaks, and finally started to paddle. We paddle along the harbour, passed boats and sailing boats. The sky above us seemed to be a little stormy but luckily it was no rain. It was not easy to conquer waves under my kayak. However, thanks to the advice of my colleague, I learned how to overcome them more efficiently and how to paddle easily. When I paddled, I observed not only landscapes (on both sides of the fjord) but also birds standing on the rocks (or flying above us). I saw several species of gulls, ducks and wonderful Arctic terns (Sterna paradisaea). It was nice to observe them from the shorter distance. When we reach our destination (a small isle named Vasholmen) we placed kayaks on the harbour. Later, we have supper in the evening sun. During it, we had also very nice long conversations concerning various topics. After this pleasant time spent together, we paddled back. It was a wonderful experience to paddle in the fjord in a very nice company! It was amazing to feel the waves, see beautiful Norwegian landscapes from the side of the water and to be surrounded by the water birds. I would like to thank you very much for an unforgettable trip!

On 15 July, I started my vacations. I decided to spend several days visiting placed which I was not able to see in 2019 or the late winter and spring of 2020 (see galleries “Museer, architektur og natur“, “I skulpturparker“, “Barcode“, “Natur og architektur“). I also observed remembrance of the 22nd July (gallery “22. juli i Oslo“).

August was a month which I spent working on my chapter and revising another version of my article on waterfowl. Moreover, I also cycled and walk a lot. During my short or long trips, I took numerous photos of charming landscapes, birds and architecture (galleries “Sognsvann“, “Soloppgang i august“, “Triungsvanna“). By the end of this month, I also participated in the on-line EAA conference. I co-host session ‘Pre-Christian Beliefs of Central and Northern Europe. Interdisciplinary Investigations’. I also presented then the paper ‘Elaborate Funerals and Feathery Sacrifices. Birds in the Viking Age Burials and Beliefs’ on the meaning of various bird species in cremation and inhumation Viking Age funerary rituals.

In the next month, after the vacations, people at the Museum came back to the normal working routines. On 14th September, I presented the results of my research during online “Feiring av forskning” – yearly event at the Museum dedicated to the presentation of the results of analyses from the previous academic year. It was the pleasure to speak about the meaning of birds in the Viking Age funerary practices in front of so many fantastic people!

On 18th September, I took part, in person, in another PhD seminar, during which I discussed works of different PhD students. On 21st September, I had the pleasure to participate, in person, in Museumsgruppemøte. During this nice meeting, I had the possibility to present the results of the EAA session which I co-hosted. I also talked a little about my paper, which I delivered during this conference. By the end of this month, I started to prepare myself to write another chapter of my PhD thesis. This part is dedicated to the presentation of the theory and methods which I use in my dissertation. In September, I also visited and photographed several interesting lakes in Oslo (galleries “”, “”).

To conclude, I am more than happy that my PhD project was accepted at the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo. It is a pleasure to work in such a fantastic city with wonderful and very knowledgeable researchers. In my opinion, the first year of the project was difficult for me (because of the pandemic) but also fruitful in the matter of academic work. I finished my database, prepared two chapters, and wrote one article. Further, I also took part in the EAA conference. Beyond my academic work, I also took numerous photos of the fantastic places in Oslo and its neighbourhood.

I hope that next year of my PhD project will be more calm and sure. I hope that it will bring new observations, new chapters, and (maybe) new research travels.

One thought on “First Year of PhD Project

  1. Pingback: My personal review of 2020 | Hrafn Photography

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