PhD Student Sunna Kokkonen Arrives to Vienna for Her First Year of Studies by Bike

October 18, 2021

Sunna Kokkonen arrived to CEU last August to begin her PhD studies at the Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations. She biked from Leipzig to her new home in Vienna.

Most of the time, we try to travel as quickly as possible. We hop onboard the most direct connection: plane, train or car. When travelling within Europe, the beginning and the end of the journey usually take place on the same day. While moving from Leipzig, Germany, to Vienna, Austria to start my PhD at CEU, I wanted to experience every kilometer of the trip. Not just from the train window, but to see, hear and especially feel the changing environment (physical, natural, social, you name it) – and decided to cover the distance by bike. I set off from Leipzig on August 20th, and arrived in Vienna on 29th.  

Those 10 days were filled with ups and downs. The joy of watching a golden sunset from a campsite on top of a hill in Bavaria; riding through a thunderstorm in Czechia with soaked shoes; having a little hunter-gatherer moment while stealing apples. I found cycling rather monotonous but luckily watching the changing scenery kept me entertained most of the time – and when it didn’t, I listened to podcasts or motivating music (Falco’s Vienna Calling was high on the playlist!).  

I find it vital to be in touch with the web of life around me. For over half the cycling trip, the presence of the river Danube was the dominating force of my journey as I followed her course all the way from Regensburg to Vienna. There is something inexplicably majestic in witnessing the river turn from a clear blue stream into the massive opaque, green beauty that she is here in Vienna: seeing countless streams unite into the artery of life in Central Europe.  

Book recommendation / Nick Thorpe – The Danube: A Journey Upriver from the Black Sea to the Black Forest

 bike and tent

Sunna Kokkonen is in her first year of the PhD in Political Science, International Relations track. She's a CEU alumna, in 2020 she earned her MA in International Relations. 

During her time at CEU she will analyze and interpret the cosmologies and practices of the Viennese chapter of the Austrian Alpine Club (ÖAV) and a group of salmon fishers of the river Njauddâm in the homelands of the Skolt Sámi people, at the border of contemporary Finland and Norway. 
Of the work she'll be doing at CEU she says: "My research will look at alternative, bottom-up cosmologies and practice as possible ways of existence-within-nature in the current era referred to as 'Eurocene'".