One of the challenges about working in Sweden (or at least here at this University) is that many people are not very comfortable speaking English, most of the paperwork and online information systems are exclusively in Swedish, grant applications, talks announcements, etc, all comes in Swedish. I am not necessarily complaining – this is Sweden, after all. I am just saying that it adds a layer of complexity to even the most mundane things. I am still studying the language and I try to do my emails and texts in Swedish but right now I am in a phase in which I feel completely incompetent. I think part of this has to do with how much energy I am putting into work – leaving limited reserves to devote the language processing.
So, lately I have had some trouble getting reimbursements and expenses approved. I was dealing with 3 different folks in 3 different office for 3 different types of expenses (medical, travel and research materials). In every case there was some problem with the way that I initially sought reimbursement (or in one case, charged an expense to my department) although it is still not at all clear to me what the problems are and the email conversations (in Swedish, of course) didn’t help me much.
Finally, I got the idea that I should request meetings so that the folks holding up my money could “show me what I am doing wrong.” Although I intended these requests to result in actual meetings in which I learned how I was supposed to take care of these matters, the unintended consequence of my requests for meetings was that the relevant people fixed the problem and responded that I was all set so there was no need to meet.