Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Beginning is Nigh

My interest in Viking history began over five years ago in the form of a lecture series by Professor Kenneth Harl. I downloaded the lectures as a way to pass the time while I packed up and shipped out wonderfully hand-built guitar speakers at Weber. As Harl approached the Battle of Hastings my attention was pulled from my job to the action of King Cnut and the mess England was in during and after Aethelred's reign (Sorry, TA!). I stopped working completely to draw up a rough flow chart of the action of each character leading up to William's decisive win at the Battle of Hastings. It was then, when I should have been working, that I knew the Viking Age was the place for me.

Many of you might have been curious to know what my plans were. I'd been talking about the University of Iceland since I started reading about Vikings, and many people know that I was accepted to the University of Nottingham. I've been quiet about my plans because they were so uncertain. In April, I received my rejection letter from the University of Iceland. It was a crushing blow, but it did not deter me. Nottingham had always been more of a back-up plan, so I began to research it more thoroughly. When I confirmed that the tuition alone (not to mention plane tickets, living expenses, rent, books, etc) was over $20,000 for a one-year masters program, I decided Nottingham was not the right place for me. 

Back to square one, I contacted the wonderful Torfi Tulinius at the University of Iceland to ask him what could I do to improve my chances of getting accepted next year. His response was that because I had had such little contact with the language of Old Norse, I would struggle to keep up with the other students. Sure! No problem! I'm sure every school in the Midwest offers an Old Norse course! I began to panic as the already small list of institutions that offered the language began to shrink, as Old Norse is not taught regularly. It's offered here at Indiana University! But, I inherited that good, ol' Melton luck and the professor is going on sabbatical next year.

My searches, however, were not in vain. I discovered a school in the Orkney's and Scotland with the delightful name of University of the Highlands and Islands. They offer all kinds of degrees, including Viking history.... ONLINE! I quickly applied for a certificate program. Three courses (Old Norse/runes, Gender studies in the Viking Ages, and History of the Vikings in the Irish Sea) and I receive a certificate, which is not as good as a degree, but will prove that I mean business. There is the Old Norse that Iceland needs, plus some other actually tight classes that sound incredible. 

I spoke to Donna Heddle this morning and blew her nug when I started dropping names like Jesse Byock and David Dumville, and that I had written a song about Adam of Bremen. She informed me that if I continue with the master's program, they offer a Viking music class where they study black metal! 

She accepted me into the school over the phone. I start in September. While staying in Indiana is not as romantic as Iceland or England, I can still work full-time and save up. In December I will apply to the University of Iceland again, this time with a chip on my shoulder. But if they make the mistake of denying me again, Donna assured me that I will have a place at the University of Highlands and Islands and will finish up my master's degree online.

I can't adequately express how excited I am to finally be taking the first step towards this dream I've had for the last five years. I also can't thank my friends and family and especially my band enough for the support and the forced grins and nods when I start nerding out on them. 

In the words of Kevin McCallister: This is it. Don't get scared now.