Viking Studies


When people hear that I study Viking Studies at university, they tend to immediately assume that I run around in a horned helmet, building ships, drinking mead and harassing any monks I meet.

As much as I would love to confirm that yes, I am paying nine grand a year to learn how to pillage Europe, my degree is a lot more reading than sword fighting. However, if given the choice between colonising Iceland during a volcanic eruption and trying to convince someone that my degree is a serious and legitimate degree, I would parachute straight into Katla with a suitcase full of coke and menthos.

In fact, trying to get anyone to do anything serious involving my degree is usually a multiple hour task plus toilet breaks (ironically, if I did have a sword and helmet, things might not take so long).

Which is why I’ve decided that the time has come to post this;

List of situations which could be appropriately classified with #VikingStudiesStruggles

  1. introducing yourself as a Viking Studies student and receiving one of these two responses;
    Viking Studies?!”
  2. saying what you study in an apologetic/tired/cautious tone in anticipation of said reaction
  3. spending every family get together updating them on all aspects of your course in order to convince them that it’s still worthwhile
  4. being bombarded with pictures of the Minnesota football team every time you google “Vikings” and giving you another reason to hate the yellow/purple combination since UKIP
  5. becoming uncomfortably aware of any misconceptions of Vikings in popular culture
  6. becoming uncomfortably aware of any misconceptions of Vikings in historical sources (seriously, – screw you Ibn Fadlan!)
  7. being simultaneously very aware that Vikings did not typically wear the horned helmets and heavily disappointed that it was not the case
  8. taking any excuse to wear the Viking helmets anyway – probably while you’re lecturing someone on how the Vikings did not wear them (see instagram photo above)
  9. people becoming so confused when you explain that the constant twitching in your hand is due to hours of non-stop Old Norse translation that they forget to offer any sympathy (shout out to the ancient history/latin student I shared my room – and my pain – with in first year!)
  10. having to hide that you thought getting a piece of paper with “BA in Viking Studies” on it would be really cool and was a big influence when choosing your degree
  11. being tagged in everything/anything related to Vikings which your friends happen to find on FB
  12. and then resisting correcting it because you don’t want to be that person
  13. becoming infuriated by the fact there is never a seat in the Scandinavian section of the library…. and you know none of them have anything to do with Scandinavian Studies because the department is so small someone could lose an eyelash and everyone would notice (okay this one is quite UCL specific but seriously, goddammit!!)

If you related to any number on the list, even if you aren’t a Viking Studies student, I hope you had a little chuckle and that maybe it soothed your soul a little. If you didn’t have a clue – that’s okay.. someone needs to be the settlement/monastery to our Viking raiding party after all! 😉


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