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The Nordic PhD

Surviving and Succeeding

Edited By Christopher McMaster, Caterina Murphy and Jakob Rosenkrantz de Lasson

The Nordic PhD: Surviving and Succeeding is an edited book written for prospective and current doctoral students by a mix of doctoral students and those who have recently completed their doctorates. The premise is simple: if you could go back in time and talk with yourself when you began your studies, what advice would you give? Isn’t hindsight a bonus? If only I knew then what I know now!

The Nordic PhD: Surviving and Succeeding follows editions focused on study in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, the U.K., U.S., and South Africa. What sets The Nordic PhD: Surviving and Succeeding apart from many others on the market is its down-to-earth and practical approach. Furthermore, its originality also lies in the fact that it is grounded in the context of doctoral studies in the Nordic countries.

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Chapter Seventeen: Speaking Scandinavian: From the Classroom to the Lunch Room (Luke John Murphy)


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Speaking Scandinavian

From the Classroom to the Lunch Room



Moving to a new country is hard enough if you already speak the language. Moving somewhere with a totally different language is even harder! Fortunately, most Scandinavians have a good grasp of English, and at universities the level of English is often exceptional. Your new colleagues can likely slip effortlessly between languages the instant you walk through a door, without interrupting their debate on obscure scholarly topics. Most Scandinavian academics regularly publish and attend international conferences held in English, so you’ll be able to communicate (relatively) easily with even more senior staff. However, not every department is the same and you might find different levels of the international lingua franca in different places.

It is perfectly possible to complete a PhD in Scandinavia without learning more than a few words of the local language, but there will always be contexts where locals will speak their own language amongst themselves, be that on coffee breaks or in specialist Scandinavian journals. Other areas of the university—particularly the humanities—tend to have far fewer foreigners, making the pressure of learning the local language all the greater. There is also off-campus life. Maybe your landlord, bank teller, or doctor’s secretary doesn’t speak your language, or their English leaves something to be desired. This chapter is for those aiming to move ← 138...

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