In August 2019 I started my adventure abroad in Sweden for one semester. A couple of very educational, eventful and foremost emotional months were waiting for me that I would not easily forget.
Umeå is the biggest city in northern Sweden and is located 700km north of its capital Stockholm. The heart of the city is the Umeå University with its approx. 34.000 students, which the city owes its international feel and vibrancy to. Swedes and Austrians are very much alike – culturally and socially. We both love nature, are tolerant and cooperative. Against all my previous concerns, the weather proved to be not all that bad. Also, the darkness during the short days was quite well to handle. Even though the sun rose at around 09:25 a.m. and already set at 1:44 p.m. It would appear slightly above the horizon in muted red rays - if it appeared at all.
It was easy to get adjusted to student life. Different introductory programs and the so-called buddy groups consisting of local and international students helped immensely. We got together for BBQs, sport activities and house parties to get to know each other and to fall in love with the Swedish culture. The courses and the university itself are well-structured and individual as well as group learning is highly supported. Beside my lessons I had still enough free time that I spent travelling with my new friends.
In the beginning of October, the ten of us from five different nations decided to hire rental cars and to take a road trip up to Kiruna. Here, winter already greeted us with the first snow of the season. Spotting our first reindeers made the experience even more exciting. After we passed our first exams, we rewarded ourselves with a trip to Sweden’s neighboring country Norway. I fell straight in love with the indescribable beauty of the landscape. So, naturally we went on a second trip the following week. This should turn out to be the highlight of our entire stay. The four of us got ready to visit the unique Lofoten Islands. On our stopover in Bodø nature greeted us with a very special gift and the sky turned green and purple. For over an hour we were in awe of the spectacular northern lights. Overall, we spent four days on the islands. We were blessed with lovely fall weather and almost deserted beaches since the season already came to an end. My friend described the Lofoten perfectly “To visit the Lofoten Islands is like a walk through a Picasso painting.” In my opinion this best depicts this magical place with its sandy white beaches that I had only known from Caribbean holiday adverts before.
Next to ice skating and sledging in Finland a visit to Sweden’s capital Stockholm was a must during my stay abroad. I used the time to visit a fellow student from MCI, who spent her semester abroad here. We enjoyed the numerous leisure activities and now and then we allowed ourselves a beer for only nine euros. I really enjoyed being in a larger city after all my trips into the wilderness.
Looking back, I am sure I made the right choice by coming to Umeå for my semester abroad. I loved the nature and discovering new places as well as the university, where I learned so much. My greatest fortune are all the amazing people I met while I was in Sweden and with whom I got to share all my experience with. For me personally it was the best decision to come to Umeå and I am sure I will be coming back to Scandinavia very soon.
I want to thank everyone who made this experience possible and everyone who made this an unforgettable time for me. I will see you soon!