Markus Stocker bio photo

Markus Stocker

Between information technology and environmental science with a flair for economics, the clarinet, and the world of soups and salads.

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When I first entered my room with private bathroom after moving to Finland – and first saw what had been quietly enduring my repeatedly delayed departure – I thought, “OK, but as soon as I get a chance I’ll move out again.” The room wasn’t, and still isn’t, exactly welcoming. A cheap student flat but, of course, it could be a lot worse, as well as a lot better.

The Kuopas Student Housing Company makes it really easy for students. Provided you are a student admitted to a school beyond comprehensive school you only need to submit an application and they guarantee you a room, a rather inexpensive one too. Further, you have the option to set your name on a waiting list for housing objects that are harder to get to, e.g. because of their location.

For the last seven months I was on such a list, coherent with what I thought upon my arrival. Last week I got the notification for the reservation of a room in a shared apartment with two bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom in the, I believe, most recently completed Kuopas apartment building, which proudly radiates its modern splendor in one of the better areas of Kuopio. Over the weekend, I organized a truck, selected some new furniture, packed my stuff and cleaned the room. This morning, before signing the new contract, I quickly visited the new room.

I left the building saying “this doesn’t feel right” and I ended up not signing the contract. To put things a bit in context. First, there was my initial promise to move out as soon as I have a chance. Then, the new apartment is 10 minutes from the university (not 30 minutes), 10 minutes from the city center (not 45 minutes), completed in 2005 (not 1974), has a shared kitchen with one roommate (not on the floor with 10 or more people), apparently includes optic fiber Internet access and this for something like 60 euro / month more rent. Markus, are you insane? This doesn’t feel right?

Yes, it didn’t feel right. Later, I tried to understand why. At the cost of sounding completely mad, I think I felt sort of betrayed. Funny. The modern building with its attractive façade is utterly in contrast with its tasteless interior design. In a 2005 building, would you expect anything else but a nice vitro ceramic stove? A not all-in-white kitchen, bathroom, corridor, closet, table, chairs? Anything but a homogeneous dark-bluish PVC floor in your bedroom which, you bet, would never have matched my planned-to-buy dark wood furniture?

At this point, I need to note that I’m alone to blame for the dissonance. The Student Housing Company did an amazing job, even in the estimate on how long it would approximately take to get an offer. But my expectations were too high. For 297 euro / month rent (utilities included), I could not possibly expect hardwood floors, however attractive the outer façade. And so, I’m writing this from my old room where, as it sounds like, I’ll stay for awhile longer. As a friend recently said, commenting on my move, “what’s wrong with Särki?” Nothing, I will start working on interior design.