me, myself & andrei

01 Sep 2008
Complaining about KTH

I want to have a fresh start here - at EMIS, at KTH, in Kista, in Stockholm, in Sweden. Therefore I need to get it all out, and then continue with much more pleasant things and ignore the shitty ones.

It might seem “funny”, but I’m complaining about KTH after just 2 weeks.. That’s says a lot about their induction.

I do admit from the start that this is my experience, and that maybe I was just really really out of luck.

Dorms

The first wall that I hit was called “dorms”. I remember picking up the key around 1pm, on Friday the 15th, from the Valhallvägen Campus.

I remember it was so nice, yet so weird. I was practically rushed into signing the housing contract. It was nice that it all went quickly, it was weird because I think I was entitled to read the contract first and then sign in. Not with girls though - they were nicely invited to read, they were explained about this and that, about Internet, etc. Equality my ass!

Arrived at the dorms, and saw the room. At that moment it was just not cleaned, and didn’t seem like such a big job. And I also wanted to keep my spirits up, so I just took photos, looked at the view that I will have during my future stay there. I also ignored the fact that I had no key to the main entrance of the dorms (actually I had one - they have a magnetic key, but they don’t tell you, and it is so old that I easily mistook it for a trinklet).

On Saturday I met with Trevor, and he was ok to come give me a hand with cleaning the place. Of course, he saw it.. and I take it that by not saying anything, he had the same impression - it’s not clean, but nothing we cannot fix in a couple of hours. Bought stuff from COOP, from ICA.. spent like 70€ in an hour on just the stupid tools and chemicals we needed.

We started with the kitchen cabinets… I think after an hour and a half we were still cleaning them. The only difference was that he gave up and he was just washing them, while I was close to the outcome of a sand jet blower. During 4-5 hours.. Trevor washed some of the cabinets, some drawers and mopped the floor. In that time, all I could do was scrubb 2 cabinets to the level where I could say “It’s now clean” - and believe me it’s not that I was requiring that it’s good to eat directly from it.

On Sunday I was back at the place, on my own. I clean some more. On Monday the same.

On Tuesday I was all day long at Rita, in Västra Skogen, sleeping. It was probably the worst days ever in terms of “I’m not sick, but I just don’t want to live”.

The following days, I was mostly living at Rita, where I had the peace of mind, the Internet and the cooking tools, and I was going to my dorms as if I was going to a construction yard.

And slowly… very slowly actually, it came to a halt yesterday when I managed to clean my oven as well. And with that there’s just the small entrance hall that needs to be cleaned by Gaya.

So.. it took 2 weeks to have the place clean and liveable!

My conclusion is that I need to thank to K Gulbinas, or Roche, or Ludwik Victor.. or to all three for not cleaning the place.. ever! I had Gulbinas as a door tag, Roche as a mailbox tag and Ludwik is still on the tenants’ chart! And let’s not forget KTH whcih was supposed to charge up to 300€ the previous tenant for not leaving the room clean! Not “in order”, not “with nothing broken”, but clean! Scrubbing and not seeing the difference, or collecting a wig of the floor, or cleaning pure carbon from the oven, or cleaning oil, food or wax off of a number of places… is just disgusting and demeaning!

And for all that.. I got a 500kr discount on my first rent… 50€.

But the filthy place was not all.. no, no..

The cherry on the cake came two days ago when I found out that there’s a screw missing from my door locker. I wonder if that’s something I didn’t notice, or happened during my stay there.

The mailbox problem was something unique as well. So I first got a key to none of the mailboxes there, on Friday the 15th.. then I was redirected to my the dorms’ care-taker on Monday… then I called him, only to find out on Thursday that he is not in charge of me, since I’m renting from Svenska Bostäder through KTH, so I must talk to KTH.. then on Friday the 22nd, I was given another key that should work, and a map in order to know which is my mailbox (they are not numbered, not anything - you’re supposed to guess!)… and amazingly it did work.

Then I tagged my mailbox.. but it wasn’t until Thursday the 28th that the mailman noticed my name, and registered me in the Post Office system. And in all this time, practically KTH managed to make the post office return two envelopes to Skatteverket, to stall me from getting a bank account and ID card, and if it wasn’t for Dmitry (aka “the inside man”) telling me my personnummer, I would have been fucked up a little bit more. Thank you, KoTeHå!

Then there’s the lack of signs towards the garbage dump.. which lead to having people put their trash in the public bins..

Then there’s the laundry room.. which has no instructions on how to book yourself for doing the laundry..

Then there’s no “keep the entrance doors closed”… plus the mailman always locks it open with the bench, although he usually just needs to enter once to put all the mail in our mailboxes..

It’s almost like no man’s land!

THS/ISS

When you hear about the Nations in Uppsala and Lund, and then you think you’re coming to Stockholm.. you might be a bit down. Then you hear your Swedish KTH friends that the student union at KTH is pretty great, and that you shouldn’t worry that much about that.

But then.. you, an international student, arrive in Stockholm and you find out that the ISS is just a superficial umbrella that covers nothing.

Let’s take it one by one.

First of all the forum is “one piece of machinery”… there were so few people using it.. I wonder why?! And then I really need to thank the ISS for all the unsolicited E-mail I got from them, with all the international students’ addresses put as TO. Even after I explained them that they should use the BCC field. But that’s just IT, and there are more important things to wine about.

How would you feel arriving in Sweden and having the induction schedule right when induction is supposed to change. Not to mention, the bomb was receiving the new schedule inside the KTH folder with the note “The schedule may be subject to change”. How the hell are you supposed to go online and see the changes? Or wait! Wow… I’m so stupid.. maybe the schedule sheet was an electronic sheet of paper.. with nano-robots.. maybe it was updating by itself… Wow!… Let me check!

NOT!!!

Then.. doing the most idiotic thing ever which is so against common-sense. When you change something on such a short notice, you put it later in time.. the next day, or two days after.. and not before the time it was scheduled the first time. But.. I guess I’m just asking for too much.

Let’s see.. the two most important things that you want to do.. are.. visiting the campus and Stockholm, right? Well.. the KTH Rally, which, I highlight, was supposed to be “a guided tour”, took place like this: we were 150+ people, 4 ISS students, only one speaking, using a megafon. Nobody could hear nor understand anything. And when we did hear and understand, it was all like “here’s building A, here’s building B, here’s where you can go online, here’s where you can eat, ok - let’s go!” Again.. maybe I’m asking for too much, but why couldn’t we be split in smaller groups? That way we would have been able to mingle better as well. Or why couldn’t we get a small flag for the country we come from.. That would have been a nice conversation starter. But yeah! Too much!

Stockholm rally, you say? Well.. they just gave a map, some questions, a route.. have fun, kids!

I don’t know.. in such an international environment, those two things should have been the best planned and executed things. The parties, the movie, etc.. may not apply to all cultures, so they could have gone a bit wrong.. but those two.. pfff!

One more thing… KTH has a fashion where each department has a different color, and so.. the older students dress in these one colored costumes.. and then you also have the bad guys, dressed in black. Which are not supposed to smile at you, act weirdly and frighten you away. Never been explained that, though I find it really funny.

It sure seems like I forgot things..

KTH Induction

The shittiest thing is that they tell you “It would be really good for you to be here during the induction weeks, so that we can give you crucial information and you can accomodate easier to the new environment” but they treat you like an outsider.

Registration to the programme happened just 2 days before school started, and it will take days/weeks before getting a registration email. Only then can you go to the student union, pay the fee, and then get your student public transport card. Otherwise, happy spending 26€ each week!

But forget that!

Let’s talk about the induction seminar.. Rights and Responsabilities.. Intercultural Communication.. I get the point that it was more or less mingle time - that is if you had the guts to speak to the one sitting next to you.. But what was with “let’s talk about differences of rights and responsabilities at our home unis” or.. let’s chit-chat about ethics.. or.. “you have the responsability to get informed”?!!? Excuse me.. that’s either “we’re responsible to inform you” or “you have the right to get informed”. Of course, I’m in deep shit if I received an email, or information was posted online.. there’s only one person to blame: me. But it’s not that I’m responsible to get information on my own from each professor.

Plus.. I do understand the fact that being late is wrong, but choosing the following way to illustrate how wrong that is… is just wrong! We were about 150 international students in the class.. and we were told.. that if each of us was late.. that would be wasting 2250 minutes of the professors’ time. Say what? Any student that has anything to do with maths will tell you that it doesn’t work like that, therefore it’s just stupid and futile to take it as proper information and abide it. And that was surely confirmed today at one of my courses - half of the class was late, disturbing the others.. hack! some people arrived even in the middle of the course.

And there was so so much emphasis on gender equality.. as if the students there were coming from the stone age.. I’d say that the Intercultural Communication seminar was nice because of the presentation given by a Swedish KTH student who had a very consistent speech and all in all.. it made sense and opened some eyes.

The Welcome address though.. that was nice, and it was good to hear something from each of the entities at KTH.

Other than that.. I could actually complain a lot about my registration day. I was there 5 minutes before it was supposed to start, but I kept wondering trying to find the room, and of course I was late. But disregarding this minus on my side.. the whole presentation was weird.

First of all.. we were supposed to take some info papers on our own. In my mind, that’s just stupid to do no matter the moment, but especially when it’s a first-time moment. It’s stupid since it can create chaos.. everybody trying to get their papers, and above all.. since it’s a first-time thing.. people are just not used to that. I was always handed papers, otherwise I was “out of my student limits” to go take it on my own.

Then the information that was written on the whiteboard.. was a bit inconsistent.. the speech as well. We were always told “the information is anyway in the papers”, although it wasn’t very correct. Then there was this.. amazing comment “About the blue folder.. we’ve spent money, time and energy producing it. Don’t start asking us questions, first check the blue folder. People worked on it so you’d better read it. Have a little respect!”. I have to say that after 7 years of international conferences and folders.. I got speachless when I heard this.

Plus the way to say that you, as coordinator, should not be disturbed any time, any how. but at specific hours.. that was weird as well..

And one more thing.. Paul Johannesson gave a really coherent presentation, only to end with “That should be all.. I guess - looks at the 2nd year students and to the coordinator - Did I forget anything? Maybe you have questions?”. From the back of the room, the coordinator rushes and says “Nooo! They’re tired anyway”. Buf!

My personal interaction with the coordinator was really beautiful as well. Since there was no organisation whatsoever.. there was a long long queue with people having their documents in their hands to deliver to the coordinator. Aron and me waited until there were just 5 people in the queue, so we went at the end. Conversation follows.

Me: Hej! :)
Coordinator: You.. must be italian, right?
Me: :| Close… Romanian.
C: Then you must be Andreea..
Me: :| Not really.. Andrei! Here you go.. I hope you have all the papers you need
C: *checks*
Me: *waiting*
C: *finishes checking*
Me: … Ok.. so is that all?
C: *no response*
Me: I guess so, right?
C: *no response*
Me: Thanks!.. Bye!
C: *no response*

Maybe I should not forget the 2nd year students.. that are supposed to act as mentors :) I think they’re good lads, anyway. But there’s this Bulgarian guy.. Svetlin. If you read his interview online, you get this “wow” impression. But during that registration.. there’s another “wow” :)

For some reason I couldn’t find 2 forms, but they were supposed to have some blanks one anyway. I ask Svetlin, he doesn’t know what to answer, I go to the pile of papers, I take one form, and then I forgot how the 2nd one is entitled. I went to read the title from Aron, and then I go to Svetlin. He was chit-chating with some of my classmates about his EMIS experience and all..I went straight to him.. and waited.. you know, for the conversation to have a small break. And while there was an empty conversation, I didn’t intrude, nor invited to come forward with my enquiry. I just waited for a minute in front of him.. and then just went by. Thanks goodness I actually found my forms after some more searching.

Then.. there was his super-duper experience sharing of his EMIS life. The headline should probably be “I like Computer Science and Martial Arts.. and I’ve been talking a bit with you.. with some of you.. and it was nice.. but I’m very very curious to find out what you like.. Ok! Next slide!”. All that phrase in under 20 seconds!

What else, you say? :) Well.. the cards and accounts is another story. You can get a library card without being registered in the programme, and that you do separately. Then you register for the programme, then you go get a KTH.se account and an access card.. then you need to go get another 2 accounts. Queues over queues.

Conclusion

None..

Other than the fact that these past two weeks are in a competition for the worst weeks of my life. And they stand a good chance winning!

And I managed to still cope with this, because of some friends and a lot of money. Otherwise.. pfff…

So.. in no order whatsoever, thank you

  • Jesper, for letting me stay in the attic for one night, and lending me 80€ for the cab
  • Rita and Victor, for letting me stay over your place, and have some peace of mind now and then ;) and for your SL card
  • Per Christian, for.. pfff.. lots of things: bank, Skatteverket, SL card, complaining, stupid and not-so-stupid questions, past ones and ;) future ones!!
  • Trevor, for helping me clean out the place, do some shopping from IKEA, :P stand up to me being mel-content
  • Stefania, for the first day of relief after my arrival to Sweden :) - probably just because of the Latin spirit and language
  • Ayca, for the Belgium beer treat and the familiar sounds of Turkish
  • Aron, for the making me feel in charge - :) since he is Swedish, but he was as confused and dissoriented as me [get that HDD working!]
  • Anja, for the sarcasm
  • Swedish female (and male) phone support personell
  • Mom, for not bugging my ass that much and being really supportive (I also don’t think she knows the whole amount of money I’ve spent ,) )
  • the Swede at the KTH Library - Accommodation office, for getting me the right mailbox key in less than 2 hours

I think that’s all. If it’s not, and I remember something, I’ll probably not update the post.

I really mean it as a closure-post! There! I feel so much more relieved now! :)


Andrei