Researching cities and cemeteries
After working as a book publisher in Moscow, Pavel Grabalov decided to follow his dream and pursue an academic career in urban studies.
Urban studies has always been a passion for Pavel. After hosting exhibits and reading books on cities and urban landscapes for many years, he finally took the plunge and applied for the Urban Studies programme at Malmö University. The programme’s focus on research was ideal for him, and he’s now pursuing his PhD in Norway.
“I’ve lived in cities for all of my life, as have my parents, so I’m part of many generations of city dwellers and was always interested in how the environment around me developed. Before starting the programme, I thought urban studies was more connected to architecture, but now I realise how broad the field actually is,” he says.
Pavel’s choice of Malmö University was largely based on how open the application process was.
“It wasn’t a requirement to have a bachelor’s degree in something specific, the most important thing was your motivation for studying. This meant that the class was really diverse in terms of professional and educational backgrounds.”
Learning from the city itself
“Malmö was a great place to study Urban Studies because the city functions so well as a case study by offering examples of challenges and solutions you can find in urban spaces. Everything you read in books you can just go outside and experience in real life,” says Pavel.
His advice to prospective students is to come prepared for a flexible, open learning environment.
“It was very different to my Russian experience. In Russia I was used to a lot of seminars and lectures, but at Malmö University it’s up to you. The fact that you get to shape and control your learning, is something I personally appreciated. You get to study the way you want and pursue your interests, but you also have to be prepared to motivate yourself.”
Graves and recreation
During his studies, Pavel became more engaged in the social sciences side of urban studies, and his PhD project explores the role of cemeteries in contemporary cities.
“In Russia it’s not normal for cemeteries to be places for recreational activities, but in Scandinavia it’s quite normal for cemeteries to be used for leisure activities, like parks.”
“If you’re interested in the academic side of things, the programme really prepares you for a career in research. The PhD I’m doing now is based on a smaller study I did during the programme, on jogging in Swedish cemeteries,” he says.