me, myself & andrei

29 Jul 2008
Sweden or...

After a successful series on the procedures of admission to Higher Studies in Sweden, I’m now going back to a bit more personal chained writings (series). I’ll try to keep track of my experiences around my master at KTH ;)

I’ll start fresh..

In the summer of 2003, I was finishing my high school studies and I was planning to go to Universitatea Tehnică Cluj-Napoca (en. The Technical University of Cluj-Napoca), located in [wiki:en:Transylvania]. It was really far from my hometown ([wiki:en:Galati Galați]), but I went to [wiki:en:Cluj-Napoca] a year before and the town and youthful atmosphere seemed a far better alternative than the polluted and busy capital, [wiki:en:Bucharest].

What many didn’t knew was that it was also a nice alternative, considering I actually wanted to try my luck in Sweden. Partially due to family reasons, but mostly due to personal ones, I didn’t try that. I was seeing friends sitting their [wiki:en:SAT]s and [wiki:en:Toefl] exams, trying to find the money they needed, etc, for going to Germany, UK, US, and other places. I simply didn’t see myself doing all that for another place other than Sweden. The pure fact that people were looking for the money they needed, or that they were accepting clauses like “I will work at your company 2 years after I finish my studies” seemed restrictive. It’s like “Here’s the carrot..” but I would have always thought of the stick waiting behind the corner.

Why only Sweden? Because of a.. almost spiritual experience in [wiki:en:Sigtuna], Sweden. Sounds lame, I know, but it felt right there. And the feeling was backed up by the reality of having most of the Swedish things in place, without loosing the humane part. In 2001 I was thinking Sweden is a lot like Germany, but with a touch. In 2007, I went to Frankfurt for one day, and I realised I was right. You can probably replace Germany with any Germanic country/culture and that wouldn’t change anything. It’s something about the culture, language and social context that attracts me and makes me feel like home in Sweden. Period.

And it’s not Scandinavia, it’s specifically Sweden!

But for going to Bachelor studies in Sweden, I would have needed to learn Swedish, which at that moment seemed quite easy (and it is), but I didn’t have it going - I didn’t see myself speaking it in the near future. And the money situation was problematic for me as well. At that moment, I felt I had quite a neat chance at a Masters scholarship, but zero for a Bachelor one… all due to the [wiki:en:Swedish_Institute Swedish Institute]’s offers at that time.

So I went to Cluj (refers to Cluj-Napoca, not the county) instead ! :)

And it was really great there. I learned lots of interesting things at the Automation and Computer Science department. I was at the System Engineering faculty, English section. So I learned Physics, Logic Design, Discrete Mathematics, Analysis, Computer Programming, Linear Algebra, Digital System Design, Data Structures and Algorithms, Mathematical Analysis, Special Mathematics and Electrotechnics in English. It was really challenging ;) I especially liked going to Physics courses and laboratories with Simona Nicoară and to Logic Design, learning how automated components move and act and how that can be translated on paper.

Right from the beginning I met someone who tried to do the impossible, and pushed me towards learning Swedish, move to Sweden and all, and I thank her for that :) but I was too messed up I guess, and couldn’t gather my pieces up well enough to get it going.

Computer Programming and Data Structures and Algorithms was OK with Marius Joldoș, though the computers seemed problematic - we went to a presumed (we never saw it) lab a couple of times, at one end of the town, and we came back empty handed. Then we were announced that the labs are suspended, and then finally the labs were moved elsewhere, and we had some nice computers. Of course, at the other end of the town :) It was fun though.. Talked quite a lot with fellow students on the way there :)

Mathematics were “okeish”. Mircea Ivan was difficult for me. I was OK with his humor, but he had that “let me show you the no-goods you really are” attitude. You had to reach him. He put no effort into lowering down himself to reach you. He was always speaking of his top students, that hit it big at MIT and others. I always wanted to tell him “Fuck your elite students! What the hell are you going to do with us?”. Sadly, I didn’t do it, and I just kept remembering my high school math teacher every time I saw him. Anyway, one of his math subjects (I think it was Discrete Mathematics) was also the only one that I failed to pass - twice! I still don’t know if it was because of my nogood maths, because of my lack of ability to get along with this “character” or because I didn’t buy his book :P That is long gone, and I don’t care any longer. I just don’t get along with arbitrary results in the academic world, but that is another story ;) Let’s put it like this:

Ivan was so smart - so smart I didn’t get him.

So Discrete Mathematics was actually the reason why I had to move out of Cluj not by transferring to another university, but by starting fresh at Universitatea Româno-Americană (en. Romanian-American University) in Bucharest. But that was OK. Many have said that I lost a year, but that’s far fetched. What I gained in Cluj is maybe more valuable than two years in Bucharest. There was actually one disappointment, and that is related to Joldoș. His programming classes and labs were really OK, and I enjoyed them, and I kind of liked the guy. But on the last lab, when I sat the exam at his course, I told him that I wish him my best and that probably he won’t see me next year in Cluj. He asked Why? and I told him the start of the big picture: “I just need to move closer to my family..” His reply was just along the line that it will pass: “You don’t need to be momma’s and pappa’s boy.. You’ll do fine without them and they most certainly do great on their own!” He said that just several months after my dad bleeded uncounciesly somewhere near Taiwan, barely surviving, and just a couple of months after he got out of his hospital after a couple of throat surgeries. Maybe I was tough, or maybe I was just amazed, but I didn’t tell Joldoș anything but

“Mmm.. Maybe you’re right. OK. Have a good day and a nice holiday. Bye!”

During my time in Cluj, it was getting more and more clear that I will need to make the decision to move out. And there were two possibilities: trying to get in to a Swedish university, or to move to Bucharest. My parents were actually counting on the idea of moving to my hometown, but that wouldn’t cut it for me as I wouldn’t have been challenged at all, and I would have probably just blended in.

Well, obviously I ended up in Bucharest, but the reason why I didn’t go for Sweden was that my personal situation was quite tough, if not very tough, and on top of that I would have needed to learn Swedish for the Bachelor studies. Now.. I can be strong, but not that strong. There’s strong.. and.. strong. It also didn’t make a lot of sense, because I was actually put in the situation to move out of Cluj in order to be closer to my family.

I ended up in Bucharest for 4 years, met some really nice people (some rockin’ people ;) ), challenged myself by living in the dorms with some nice, others annoying people :), challenged my couple skills (or mental strength), and many other things..

and here I am today, after I graduated the Bachelor studies, heading for the [wiki:en:Royal_Institute_of_Technology|Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden].