Karachi   ->   Sweden   ->   Karachi, again   ->   Dubai   ->   Bahrain   ->   Karachi, once more   ->   London and Leeds

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Yootay-bori is how Göteborg is pronounced in Swedish, or Svenska to be more precise. I reached this port city of Sverige (I mean Sweden) on 22nd of August. The city is very much like Islamabad in many ways - it's lush green hilly area with major activity only in the city center. The weather is quite cold (between 10 to 14 degrees Celsius in these days and it will go below zero in December!) It has been raining with short breaks almost continuously since I came here.

After reaching here, the first shock was to learn that you have to literally search for months in order to find a place to live. Fortunately, a group of Pakistani PhD students showed generosity and I had a shelter for a week. They are a very nice group of people - I shall write about them some time later. With an exhausting effort I have now found an apartment that I am sharing with 2 more Muslim students.

Göteborg isn't a very big city and the small, but well-knit, Pakistani community is very hospitable. The most interesting things is that my university, Chalmers, is like FAST in many ways. Chalmers University of Technology has a very strong alumni - it's 175 years old. The students know who graduated which year and are in close contact with their seniors. Also, like FAST it had been established by a businessman, William Chalmers, to promote science and technology in his country - very similar to what Agha Hassan Abdi did for Pakistan when he laid Foundation for the Advancement of Science and Technology (only that there is a gap of 150 years between the two men).

Another interesting thing is the slogan of the university which is Avancez. It means "to move forward" - very similar to the name of my last company Avanza Solutions. Avanza is a Spanish word that means the same.

Though education is free here, there are considerable living expenses. In addition to that there is a little bit of problem in written communication as they always prefer Swedish in written form. There are many other down sides of coming to this place and though the situation is gradually improving, life is extra ordinarily tough for international students in the initial few days. Problems like having no place to live, not knowing your way around, not being able to read sign boards and written instructions, not being able to find Hallal food to eat and below zero temperature with days as short as 5 hours have literally made people cry.

And remember, there are no jobs when you complete your studies!

You are most welcome if you are still interested in coming to this place because life is about "Avancez" and not about winning or loosing. Remember, stagnation is death.

Me: How many languages can you speak?
The boy: 3. English, Arabic and a little bit of Swedish.
Me: And how many languages does your younger brother speak?
The boy: (after a brief pause) Zero.
(Conversation with a very bright 6 year old Iraqi boy in Gothenburg)