Finding Apartments in Uppsala

It is no shock to learn that it’s hard to find apartments in Uppsala, Sweden. In fact, every year some students have to literally sleep in tents when the school year begins because they can’t find a place to stay.

When I moved to Uppsala a year ago, I searched and applied for every apartment I could find on blocket.se.

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Blocket is a website that’s similar to Ebay and Craigslist (or Swedish Ebay [Tradera)), in that people list items they want to sell (or in this case rent) and then you contact them to see if you can get it. Since moving to Uppsala I have lived in two apartments: 1) With a guy who owned the apartment, while I rented a room and 2) rented an apartment second hand. Both people told me why they selected me. The first guy stated he picked me because I was American, while the second apartment guy stated he selected me at random. Both advised me that they had over 60 applicants within the first few hours of posting the apartment. And this theme rings true time and again with everyone I’ve talked to about it.

The benefit to Blocket is that you’re renting from individuals and therefore you don’t have to wait in a queue. But Swedes love queues. After all, it’s the most fair–the longer you wait the more likely you are to get the apartment, as they typically go to the person who’s waited in line the longest (unless they don’t want it and then it goes to the next person in line).

Naturally this hurts foreigners since many Swedes know about queuing up and have signed up years before they ever plan to live in a particular city, like Uppsala.

Student apartments, like the ones you can get through Studentstaden take nearly four years of queuing, and by that time you may be finished with your studies. The benefit to living in a student apartment is that they are typically cheaper than other apartments (i.e. 5000-6000kr for a 56 sq meter apartment [one bedroom, one living room]).

AKA–sign up on as many websites as possible and get in as many lines as you can for as long as you can, since most are free and if you ever need a place to stay (in Uppsala), then you’ll have to queue. So start early; start often.

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Another student (and employees of the University) website is Uppsala Akademiförvaltning. You have to work or be a student at Uppsala University to get these apartments and you can only select two types of apartments (i.e 2 rooms and 3 rooms, so then you can’t get a one room apartment if that becomes available, for example).

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Another place to go as a student is to the Nations. Uppsala is notorious for its Nations. Historically people would come to Uppsala to study from various parts of the country and then they would create social groups from those areas (i.e. Norrlands Nation or Stockholms Nation) so that they could better bond with similar people.

Today though people from one part of the country (i.e. Göteborg/Gothenburg) may join any nation (i.e. Uplands Nation). For example, some people join a nation because it has the best reputation for parties or for bringing in musicians or because it has the most apartments for rent. Currently Norrlands Nation has the reputation for having the most apartments. And you must belong to that nation in order to get their apartments.

But don’t worry, if you belong to one nation but want to move into another nation’s apartment, you can switch which nation you belong to by signing up at that new nation (and paying the membership fee).

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Other helpful websites where you don’t have to be a student are:

Rikshem: They have apartments all over Sweden. Some are short and others are long term contracts. They can even give you what seems potentially like a long term contract, because there’s no end date, however they write in the contract that they can kick you out within 30 days (so be cautious of what the contract entitles the company to do [not all contracts are like this])–this can be good though in that it’s easier to get an apartment and it’s a (relatively) short queue for these types of apartment.

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Uppsalahem: Here you can apply for apartments in Uppsala. Probably will have to wait 5 or more years in this queue to get an apartment, but if you’re lucky it could be shorter.

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Stockholmsbostadskö: This is a relatively good queue, in that people I know have (only) waited in line for two years, and they are nearly always in the top 10 and if lucky, sometimes number 1 in line to get a particular apartment. However, it currently costs 200 kr per year to join this queue (a cheap price to pay to ensure an apartment), but once you find an apartment through them, your points drop to zero (I think) so then you’d start over collecting points.

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HSB

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Swedish Websites for Flying

In the US, I mainly used www.kayak.com to find airline tickets, mainly because they compare several differention competitors at once.

Sometimes it might be beneficial to go to the airports website that you’re flying to, see which airlines fly in there and then go to those actual flight company websites (i.e. SAS, Northwestern, etc). Sometimes cheaper airlines don’t advertise on specific websites beyond their own.

In Sweden, there’s several websites to book flights (beyond the flight companies own website).

The following allow you to book flights and hotel accommodations:

http://www.ving.se

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http://www.momondo.se

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http://www.apollo.se

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http://www.fritidsresor.se

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http://www.resia.se

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http://www.solresor.se/

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And then there are other websites to just book airline tickets:

http://www.mrjet.se

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http://www.supersavertravel.se

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http://www.kilroy.se

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http://www.statravel.se

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http://www.flygstolen.se

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My First Newspaper Interview: Head Start, Teacher Retention, and NPR

In the beginning of March 2013, I was contacted by Elle Moxley to do an interview on my preschool teacher retention research.

Elle Moxely works for StateImpact Indiana: A Reporting Project of NPR Member Stations. See Elle’s reporting here.

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She had somehow heard that I had worked for the University of Indianapolis and that I had done research on preschool teachers of Head Start and the reasons they would give for staying or leaving their place of employment (perhaps through my blog). When she contacted me via email though, I, Michael Wells, was already living in Sweden, where I’m a PhD student in Social Pediatrics.

I became quite excited by the prospect of someone picking up my work and wanting to share it with a greater audience. After all, that’s a reason researchers go to conferences–to spread the word about their research findings. Only now someone will come to me!

After explaining that I lived in Sweden, we decided to do the interview via Skype. However, shortly after saying that I was a PhD student in Social Pediatrics, Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Faculty of Medicine, Uppsala University, Elle quickly changed the conversation from discussing Head Start teacher retention issues (which I had researched) to my political thoughts on President Obama’s stance towards early childhood education (which I had not researched)…and then stated that I used to work at the University of Indianapolis (perhaps because that adds more validity to my research than citing the University that I’m now working for?).

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Sadly the only aspects of my conversation that made it to print weren’t about my research nor about Obama stance, but rather arbitrary details on the cost of preschools for families. The article is printed here and says the following quote:

“Michael Wells is an early education researcher formerly with the University of Indianapolis. He says high quality preschool is out of reach for many middle-income families, let alone those below the poverty level that quality for Head Start.

But what we’re doing is saying, ‘Hey parents, at a time in your life when you’re the youngest — and that’s typically correlated with making the least amount of money you’re every going to make in your life — that’s when you need to pay $8,000, $10,000, $12,000 a year to send one child to preschool.’ “”

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Another very similar article is printed here.

This first interview taught me that:

1) I need to stick to just talking about my research

2) Reporters have their own agenda

3) I get nervous when talking on the spot (even when it’s a topic I know very well)

4) Be careful of anything that you say, because it’s being recorded and could be taken out of context when quoting you (this did not happen with Elle, but was just a lesson to be learned)

Being asked to present to Swedish doctors on father involvement

Social Pediatrics sits just beyond the others in the Faculty of Medicine (and even beyond those in the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health) at Uppsala University, both literally and figuratively.

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So, in order to help bridge that gap, Anna Sarkadi, the leader of the Social Pediatrics Research Group, thought that it would be a nice idea to bring in three presenters to speak about important topics related to health, while at the same time promoting our team by hosting the presentations and having a poster session prior to the presentations.

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One guest speaker came each month for three months to give a 20 minute presentation on some topic involving families and health. Click here to see the monthly schedule of speakers (written in Swedish and English depending on the presenters language).

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 11.45.43 AMThe first speaker was Sven Bremberg (pictured left), a huge name in Sweden, especially when talking about child health, is an Associate Professor at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

Bendeguz Nagy, a Hungarian traveller, explores the world in his wheelchair, allowing him to photograph and experience the world from a different view-point. He gave a speech on a few different cultures he encountered, highlighting through pictures the differences in family life. To see some of his pictures click here for his photography website.

The third presenter was myself, Michael Wells, who talked about father involvement within the healthcare field in Sweden and Internationally. Click here to see the slides from my presentation.

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Unfortunately, beyond our research group, only a handful of people showed up for Sven’s and Bendeguz’s talks, so I wasn’t expecting much of a crowd. So when I saw that the room was not only packed, but people were standing, I thought that this must be an important topic that Swedish medical workers care about.

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The talked reverberated with the audience, with several people afterwards giving testimonials as fathers, while workers from the hospital described how they involved (didn’t involve) fathers. Since the talk was such a hit, Jan Gustafsson, the Head of the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, asked me to come to a lunch seminar for all pediatricians in the fall of 2013 to present for an hour and 15 minutes on the topic of father involvement in healthcare.

A Quantitative Look at Preschool Teachers’ Retention: A Study on Head Start Teachers

 

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 10.39.13 AMI was just at the 23rd EECERA Conference: Values, Culture and Contexts hosted by the European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA) in Tallinn, Estonia where I gave a presentation entitled A Quantitative Look at Preschool Teachers’ Retention: A Study on Head Start Teachers. Click here to see my presentation.

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I presented in an oral session under the heading Leadership and Quality, which felt quite fitting, as this research was completed in an effort to improve the quality of classroom instruction by motivating the leadership to make

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 10.53.59 AMneeded changes in order to keep preschool teachers teaching. My research was on head start teacher retention, and comparing those preschool teachers who stayed versus those who quit working for Head Start. I found that the reasons preschool teachers quit are due to five main factors: the center director (their boss), their stress levels, their amount of paperwork, their wanting to stay in Early Childhood Education as a career and their level of higher education.

There were two other presenters in this session: Elina Fonsen from the University of Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 3.32.20 PMTampere (Finland) who gave a presentation called “Dimensions of pedagogical leadership in Early Childhood Education and Care” and Geraldine Davis from Anglia Ruskin University (UK) talked about “Graduate Leader Plus. Making a difference beyond education.”

Elina promoted her new book chapter, while Geraldine discussed teachers’ education levels and the benefits from those who participated in Leadership Plus.

Read about the overall aspects of the conference here.

To read more about Tallinn, Estonia (and the Old Town in Tallinn) click here.

23rd European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA)

I recently attended the 23rd European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA) Conference in Tallinn, Estonia.

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Click here to see the abstract book from the conference: EECERA abstract book

Click here to see all of the official pictures from the conference and here to see all of the Keynote speakers’ presentation slides.

There were several well-known early childhood keynote speakers at the EECERA conference. They had Marika Veisson representing the University of Tallinn, Gennadi Kravtsov, who spoke in Russian (with a translator), Nora Milotay who spoke about EU cooperation, and Nandita Chaudhary who gave a compelling talk on the state of India and family life. Nandita’s claim to fame was her concluding remarks, which are ever so poignant to researchers ears: “It is the story that matters and not the storyteller.”

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Even then Estonia Minister of Education and Research, Jaak Aaviksoo, was present.

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 1.04.20 PMHowever, Kathy Sylva from Oxford University gave the most impressive talk, in my opinion. She spoke about the quality of preschool programs within Britain and their effects over time. What made her talk particularly fun was her random fun sayings such as “the team that drinks together, thinks together.” However one critique to her talk was that it was entitled “Quality in early childhood education: Can it be international?” but she only briefly mentioned the international perspective in her concluding remarks, and choosing instead to focus on her research within a British context (“Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education” (EPPSE) project). Click here to read more about the EPPSE project.

The conference consisted of about 700 attendees from 49 countries spanning all of the continents (minus Antarctica).  The conference was on mostly qualitative research.

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 2.32.56 PMOne tidbit that I took out from the conference was when listening to Ingrid Engdahl from Stockholm University (Sweden) in the Department of Child and Youth Studies. She gave a talk entitled “Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Swedish Preschools.” In her talk she discussed how children play with dolls and which gender different professions are: police officer, nurse, teacher, doctor, etc.

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The kids noted that they said “all nurses are women” and “all police officers are men” not because they think men or women, respectively, couldn’t be in those positions, but because they, as children, have never seen the opposite sex within that position.

Read about my specific involvement in the conference here.

To read more about Tallinn, Estonia (and the Old Town of Tallinn) click here.

Non-research life while researching

Sometimes it’s just fun to let loose and have fun at work.

In our office we love pulling pranks on each other and just generally having a good time.

Our office makes up the Social Pediatrics Research Team and each of us are a Member of that team, known as SPRTM. For our bosses going away party (she’s taking a sabbatical to Australia for half a year), we made her a powerpoint which highlights why she’ll miss us through “selling” us in a software program.

Here’s why you’ll miss us!

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Click here to see the powerpoint: Sommarmiddag