First day at work!

On monday I had my first presentation about Malmö University at 13:00, but I couldn’t sleep the night before!! Nervous or jet lag or dry air? Finally I fell asleep around 4am (1am swedish time).
It was my first day at work, the plan was that Nune (my contact person) present Northern university, she would also translate my presentation.
I arrived at uni few minutes before 13, we went directly to the rector office. Entering his office made me the feeling of going back in time, the room had one big oval table with many chairs around it, the rector desk did not have a computer on it!  There was a secretary just before the entrance of the office. After greeting each other  and leaving my jacket and bag, we went up to the fifth floor.
I entered the room of the presentation, this look like any other meeting rooms, a big round table, a projector screen and a projector on the table. The room was full with people and they were all watching at me! I was so excited that I did not take any picture during the whole day! Hopefully I will do that the coming days! On the table there were plates with sweets, juice water and some other stuff. Nune presented to me all the people around the table, she had also invited  some students from the language department. I presented the general Malmö university english presentation plus some slides of TS faculty and english programmes at our faculty. When I show the slide “questions?” there were really many questions! I have never got so many question on a presentation (except when I defended my PhD thesis). That was actually fun, the audience have been listening to me with interest and were curious about the Swedish system! I got the following questions (I probably have forgotten some questions):
  • Salary of teachers (embarrassing question!)
  • Students paying a fee, (I explained the system with credits and that the students have to pass a certain amount of credits in order to get their salary)
  • Students trying to stay longer at university because they get a salary
  • Percentages of students finding a job
  • How many percent of students are good
  • Business incubator (from a student, I had to google to know what it is!)
  • Students dropping out, and why
  • Why do we have so many students (do we?)
  • Why are we successful (are we?)
  • Main income /product in Sweden
  • How is research funded
  • How many universities are public, and private
  • How would the Swedish government react if Armenia would start Swedish courses?
  • What is the goal of my trip
  • Why did I choose Armenia
  • What am I going to do here
  • Why did I move to Sweden
We had some discussion about gender, they have the same problem in IT with gender inequality.
During my presentation I heard some bells ringing, at 14:00 and at 14:15. I guess it was the break between lectures, it reminded when I was in primary school. Actually the whole university reminded me of an elementary school I attended in Italy, simple,  the rooms are with few furnitures, just small desks and chairs. the entrance door is small.
A classroom of Northern University
A classroom of Northern University
After my presentation, many left, so it was decided to skip Nune’s presentation for the day.
We went to the rector office again, where I was offered armenian wine and cognac. We sat around the table, me, Nune, the rector and vice rector and another man (do not remember his role). The secretary prepared the glasses with the water, and cognac (or wine).  We toasted to “the small countries”, the rector wanted to find a similarity between Armenia and Sweden. We talked about history of Armenia and todays world history and economy (very challenging for me!) and the hope that Armenia will become again a successuffull country like it has been before the genocide in 1915.  The rector excused himself for not knowing English, he said that when he was young he thought that armenian would become a big language.
They asked me if Sweden has diaspora (i.e. if many swedes are living outside Sweden). I answered that there are swedes living in other countries but it is not a big phenomena. Just for information, Armenia has 3 million inhabitants, but there are 10 millions armenian living in other countries (since the genocide in 1915).
After chatting a bit,  I got a book from the rector about quality assurance at the Northern university, then we sayd good bye.

My first weekend in Yerevan

When I arrived to Yerevan (at 11:30 of the 21st november), Nune was waiting for me with Jacob and Martin, we went all together to the apartment where I will stay for the whole month.
The first interesting thing was the elevator! The keyboard of the elevator has 14 buttons in total, 12 for the floors, one for the bell and another for the bottom floor. However, the number 3 was modified (by hand) to 13, the number 8 was deleted, the button with the bell was modified to 8. So, where is the number 3? and which button should I push if the elevator stops?

Anyway, the apartment is very nice, on the 13th floor according to the elevator (but it is the 12th floor by counting each floor), well furnished and with a very nice view!

I spent the saturday by myself, unpacking and trying to organise my life in Yerevan. I went out for tourism and for learning my way in the city. My apartment is in Tumanyan street, very central, close to the opera house and to the french square and the cascade complex.

Cascade complex in Yerevan
Cascade complex in Yerevan
I met 2 girls, Sylvia and Sara that welcomed me to Yerevan! That was nice, they were very social and nice, they pointed me where to buy a map. In the end there was a small surprise! These girls were Jehova witness, and left me a flyer about that (they are everywhere!)

Trip to Yerevan

My flight from Copenhagen to Yerevan via Moscow, was at 23:40 on the 20th of November.
I arrived at Moscow at 4:05 am local time, the airport was empty. I easily found my way to the passport control and terminal D and here there was a small problem! On my italian passport there is a small mistake, there is an M on the sex! This made the Russians suspicious! An italian, living in Sweden, travelling from Danmark, going to Yerevan via Moscow with an M instead of an F! Maybe she is a terrorist! 😉 The person at the passport control made a phone call and I heard clearly the word “italian” while she was talking on the phone. After a few minutes finally she pointed at the M on the passport, said something, and then let me go through!
On both planes my seat was occupied, from Moscow to Yerevan the person sitting on my seat suggested me another place which was also occupied! :-/
On the plane from Moscow to Yerevan the passengers were circa 95% males, I could count only 3-4 females. Nune (my contact person in Yerevan) has told me that there are many Armenians males that are poor and go to Russia to earn some money, and then in this period they come back to spend Christmas with their family. I got exactly this impression on the plane, quite many emigrants that were going back home, since most of people had big sacks packed in cellophane (not ordinary suitcases).  To be continued…