Fran Aleo Monteagudo is a 31 year old computer science engineer and entrepreneur from Barcelona in Spain who came to Sweden in July 2008.
After finishing my Bachelor of Science in Networking, I started to work in Barcelona in a consulting company. In Christmas 2007/2008, my brother, who was living in Stockholm, talked with me about the KTH International Master programs. I had a look, and since I was not really happy with the work I had, I just applied to one of them.
I really wanted to change something in my life. A year before I started to work in Barcelona, I was doing an Erasmus in Wales, but I felt that was not enough, I wanted more. As Sweden has some of the best tech Universities in Europe (KTH, Chalmers…), and I already knew Stockholm, it was easy for me to pick Stockholm and KTH.
A few months after I sent the application, I was accepted to Software Engineering of Distributed Systems, an International Master that KTH offers.
What was the hardest to adjust to?
Probably the language and the bureaucracy. But in general I had no big problems, as I got help for most most of the challenges (personnummer, bank account, mobile subscription…) by my brother and my sister in law. Now I’m paying back this support with babysitting sessions though XD.
What do you like about Sweden?
There are different aspects of the Swedish system I like:
KTH has a completely different education system from the one I am used to, the Spanish one. As you might know, the year is divided into 4 periods, 2 months each period. The normal pace is to take 2 courses per period. I think this make it easier for the students, since you just focus on 2 fields per period.
Work conditions are amazing, if you compare with other countries. I’m not talking just about the salary, I’m talking about how companies (at least IT companies where I’ve been or I know), treat employees. In general there is a great respect for your work.
They give you responsibilities, which is something really important if you want to grow as a (in my case) engineer. Moreover, there is a trust relationship, which is necessary to make you feel confident and happy.
I’ve been a boyscout since I was 5 years old, and I really love nature. Even big cities like Stockholm have found a good way to integrate nature and the urban life. I live in Solna, and on the way home from the subway I go through a small forest. I remember going home after a party, and I was completely alone in the forest at 4-5 in the morning. Suddenly a deer appear in front of me, 2-3 meters. Just amazing…..
You always have the feeling that everything works fine. For example, the public transportation.
What do you like about the Swedes?
In general I think Swedes are honest and respectful people. I also like that a lot of people I’ve met during these 7 years don’t just care about themselves. They think bigger, in this sense they are not as selfish as in other cultures. This way of thinking is crucial in order to build a system that works for everyone.
What is your favourite Swedish word?
Fika, by far 😉
What do you find strange about the Swedes?
Sometimes some Swedes are just too polite. In general this is good, however, it might be a barrier for social interaction.
What do you miss the most from Spain?
Family, friends, food, sunlight and my girlfriend 🙁
What is confusing about Swedish culture?
Is Systembolaget considered Swedish culture? Never seen this before coming to Sweden. At first I did not understand why people cannot buy alcohol in the supermarket, as in most countries.
Do you have advice for a Newbie?
Enjoy the experience. Try to meet nice people and have fun.
Do you have an anecdote about something funny that happend during your first time here?
One of the funniest things I’ve done in Sweden are party-boats. There are some low-cost cruises, and if you gather some friends it can be very funny.
When I was student I took a 3 days cruise (Stockholm-Riga-Tallin-Stockholm), I think we were like 2000 students in the same boat. We had party all 3 days, and the last day, at 6 in the morning, people still wanted to have party. However, the crew was attempting to make people to finish the party. I remember a crew-guard chasing a guy running naked while yelling funny stuff XD