My exchange journey as a student in Umeå, Sweden

What to do in Umeå?

• Discover the city center
Umeå is a quaint city where everything can be done by foot or by bike. It is a young and dynamic city, thanks to the university which contributes enormously to its openness to the world. Umeå is also modern with its shopping centers such as the recent Utopia mall or the municipal library, and its many museums (guitar museum, women’s history museum, contemporary art museum, etc.) and cultural events have earned it the title of European Capital of Culture in 2014! As if lost between sea and forest, the landscapes of Umea are an invitation to contemplate the landscape and architecture and to reconnect with what is essential (the famous “lagöm”).

• Take a fika break at Nya Konditoriet
One of my favorite places to have a fika, a sweet break with friends, is at Nya Konditoriet, where they sell the best kanelbulle and chai latte in town! But if you are a sweet tooth, give a try to every cake, it’s worth it!

• Do some sport at IKSU, one of the biggest European sport complexes!
The big advantage of the Umeå University is its closeness to the IKSU complex. It is one of the biggest European sport complexes where you can do as many sports as you want with a subscription. There is gym obviously but a lot of unexpected sports such as beach volley inside, dance, judo, climbing, and also pilates, yoga, steps, and many more.

• Go to see an ice hockey game
Being in Sweden is the opportunity to discover a national sport not so popular in France but very famous and appreciated here: the ice hockey. If I went as a real tourist, having no notion of the rules of the game, I really liked the atmosphere, the ambiance, and the show! It wasn’t just a sport, but rather a real choreography! If I had been able to see some matches on TV during my dad’s afternoons watching sports, seeing it in real life was absolutely nothing like it: the speed of the team changes (which is done on the fly, unlike football for example), the precision of the gestures to catch the puck, the speed of the game, the waving of the twocolored scarves, the agility of the players, the show of the referees, the music, the audience, the chants, the cheddar popcorn and the tiny hotdogs… I almost felt like I was watching a ballet on ice, and I came out of it amazed! I can’t wait to go see a women’s team play next time!

• Walk around Nydala lake
I must admit that my favorite activity in Umeå is walking around the lake of Nydala. Through every season, it is stunning and different each time you go. In Autumn, you can admire the colors of the Autumn and the leaves falling so fast while doing a barbecue with some friends. In Winter, you will walk on the frozen lake, ice skate or cross-country, even taking an ice bath if you are brave! It is also the best place to admire beautiful auroras in the night sky.

• Near Umeå (by bus or car)
Do not hesitate to visit the next areas of Umeå. There are a lot of beautiful hikes to do such as in Grossjön, Tavelsjö, Bjornlandet, visit the moose farm but also the national park of Skuleskogen, take the train to go to Luleå or Jokkmokk, the Sami village…l

Visit of Stockholm

We were just on holiday on the 17th of December when we packed our backpacks and took the night train down to Stockholm! It was a very fun experience and much more eco-friendly than flying, even if it took longer. I’d like to say that the 8 hours of train travel went by very quickly, but that would have required me to sleep… which of course we did very little despite choosing the sleeper option! The sleeper cars consist of 6 beds, and the customers seem to be divided according to their age as we fell in with young people of our age. Being rather social, I of course started the dialogue and we got on well, exchanging our cultural differences between French and Swedish. Around 1am, I think, we decided that it was time to “make” our bunks, following an Ikea-like instruction manual (a few glimpses are available in the sublime video edited by my roommate below, not to be missed: https://youtu.be/eVWCUGz7quY).

This article was written by Aline Smeeckaert

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