Monday, April 28, 2008

Pizza talks and thesis sherry

After a couple of years at one department I got used to how things were done there. Of course I don't expect everything to be the same over here, at another university in a different country, but it's fun to see the differences and similarities.

A new thing for me is the concept of pizza talks. This is a kind of seminar that is held over the lunch hour, and everyone gets pizza (except maybe the speaker). It's a nice idea actually (but perhaps a bit annoying for anyone on a diet).

Something I miss from my department in Uppsala is the tradition of serving cake (also not extremely healthy, except for the general mood -- not that I care, since I love sweets!) when you have published an important paper or when funding was approved or something otherwise good has happened. Maybe I should introduce that over here if the technical detector paper I'm working on ever is finished.

The whole set of ceremonies around the thesis defense is also a lot different here.

I'm not very surprised that the tradition of "nailing" the thesis does not exist here. For those of you who don't know, this is the act of posting your thesis abstract in the main university building to announce that it is printed and that you will defend it. It is done electronically nowadays, but many want to physically post it anyway. At Ångströmlaboratoriet, where the physics departments in Uppsala are located, there is also a board at the entrance where the PhD candidates post the whole thesis (the actual book) with a good nail and hammer. And then you give a party at the department, at coffee time, called "spiksherry", nailing sherry, although sherry is not necessarily included. At this party copies of the thesis are handed out, and many will ask to have it signed.

Over here the thesis is not printed until after the defense, because you are supposed to include corrections. In Uppsala, you just added a sheet of errata to the books.

The big formal or semi-formal dinner parties are also a Swedish (or Uppsalian) thing. Here the celebrations of a new doctor of philosophy are more in the form of going out with the friends to a bar or club. The formal part of the celebration is in the form of a lunch with the people from the group and department. The family and outside friends don't seem to be involved at all, at least not that I have seen.

New environment, new traditions and habits to learn. Always interesting!

1 comment:

Elliot said...

Whoa! The only thing I knew about that practice was that Luther did it, and it was the standard practice in his time.