Spring semester 2018 in Umeå, Sweden
I have been to Umeå for the Spring Semester in 2018. I can highly recommend a semester abroad in Northern Sweden because you will discover amazing nature, feel very welcomed in the big international community and will experience Swedish culture at the same time.
In this report, you will find the most important information about the student life in Umeå.
Before leaving: prearrangements
One year before my semester in Umeå started, I received the confirmation from the Institute about choosing me. That means, I had plenty of time to prepare for my stay abroad. As you can expect extreme weather conditions in winter, your preparation should include some shopping for a proper winter jacket (synthetic is fine when you don’t ski), sweaters and long underwear. I can also recommend ski trousers for special winter activities and warm winter boots, because you going to walk a lot through the snow (which is knee-high in the winter months).
You should have some savings before going to Umeå. Sweden is a quiet expensive country and especially in terms of food and alcohol, it is way more expensive than Germany. The Erasmus grant is not enough to handle your cost. I received Bafög from the German state. But other people didn’t, so they needed the support from their parents or used their own savings.
The university will offer you a dorm room. You can choose the dorm and room freely, so now some suggestions: You can either live in Ålidhem or Nydalahöjden.
- Most of the students live there. It is like the center of student life besides the university.
- The clubs in Umeå close at 2 am, but there often are after-parties in Ålidhem. But that doesn’t mean that it is noisy everywhere. If you don’t want to party, you can escape the rumor easily by staying in your dorm room.
- A bit closer to the campus (but depends in which area you study)
- The lidl, which is way cheaper than the ICA (like Edeka), is located in Ålidhem. To save money you gonna walk/bike a lot to Ålidhem to do your groceries, if you don’t live there anyway.
- Close to the local recreational area including the big Nydala lake.
- Especially in the summer months the hot spot. We had BBQs nearly every day
- In the winter, it may be annoying to walk or take the bus to Ålidhem all the time, but if there are northern lights, you going to be way faster at the lake then others.
And maybe you can already see them from your room.
- Dorms are nicer and cleaner and kitchen are mostly better equipped.
- Dorms are maybe a bit quieter in Nydalahöjden, because most parties take place in Ålidhem. But in sum, it depends on your social circle, if you are a party person and how important this is for you.
- If you choose this area, take Rullstensgatan 4. There you have the laundry room in the basement (other students need to walk to this dorm for doing laundry).
In the end, it depends on your preferences. In Winter Ålidhem is beneficial because you don’t have long ways to walk to get to all the parties, whereas in Summer everybody cycles to the Nydala lake for long Barbecues in the afternoon or evening.
During the mobility
The international office is very good organized. They will offer you any information you need and answer every question. After the introduction on your first day, all international students will be split into smaller groups called “Buddy groups”. They consist of Swedish or international students, who will organize activities with this group including meet ups in Downtown Umeå, parties or a trip to the moose farm. The fact that I was part of this buddy group has made this semester amazing. We did so much together and build close friendships.
To be part of this program is a very important part of the Erasmus experience in Umeå.
What I liked:
- The Buddy Program: I met my best friends there and got to know Swedish culture.
- Campus University with four student pubs: Always gatherings and little parties on the Campus
- Nice atmosphere on the campus: You always meet people for a little chat or coffee. When it gets warmer, you can relax outside as there are many green areas.
- Wonderful nature close by: You can rent a car easily or travel by bus and discover amazing places. Two national parks are reachable in two to three hours.
- In the winter, you can see northern lights.
Good to know:
- Umeå is a small student town. If you have lived in Berlin, maybe you find it difficult in the beginning without the big city life. Especially as the clubs close so early. But on the other hand, the buddy program arranges so many activities and there is so much to discover in the surrounding that you shouldn’t feel bored.
- There is no student ticket for the public transport included in your student ID. If you want to take the bus, you have to pay (but student discount). In the end, you walk way more or take the bike as your dorm won’t be far away from the university. Maybe in the winter months, you want to take the bus sometimes because of the temperatures.
- Because there is no bus ticket included, everybody has a bike. Umeå is a proper bike city. In the first weeks of your semester, you should have a look at all the second-hand bike groups on Facebook. There you can get a bike for under 500 crown (=50 Euro). Furthermore, in this groups you can buy a lot of second-hand stuff for the kitchen or your dorm room. You should have a look at them before buying new stuff downtown.