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The International Student Guide

In this guide we have gathered information that we hope is useful for you as an international student who intend to study at Umeå University and for you who have already begun your studies.

Film: A glimpse of Umeå University and the City of Umeå
A glimpse of Umeå University and the City of Umeå

At home

Find your accommodation

The International Housing Office (IHO) at the university offers student housing to exchange students and full-degree students that are citizens of countries outside the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
Student housing

All international students (other than above) that are citizens of the EU/EEA/Switzerland and are studying a full-degree programme, distance education, or individual single-subject courses, have the responsibility of finding accommodation on their own.
How to find housing in Umeå

Check the immigration regulations and submit an application

We have gathered a few pointers concerning immigration regulations that you should check up on before you plan to travel internationally. For further information, you should contact the embassy in your home country or the Swedish Migration Agency directly.

EU/EEA citizens

As an EU/EEA citizen you have the right of residence in Sweden and may study without a residence permit.

Non-EU citizens

If you are going to study for a period longer than three months you will need a residence permit. To obtain one you have to be admitted to full-ti­me studies. You can apply for a residence permit through the Migration Agency's webpage or send your appli­cation by post. If you apply online, the Migration Agency can start to work on your application right away.

Visa

Do you need a visa? For studies that are shorter than three months, citizens in certain countries must have an entry visa. If you are unsure whether you will need a visa to enter Sweden, you can consult the Swedish Government's list.

How to apply for a residence permit

List of foreign citizens who require Visa for entry into Sweden

Swedish embassies and consulates

Processing time for student permits

The time it takes for you to receive a decision depends on factors including which kind of permit you are applying for and if the Migration Agency needs more information from you.

If your application does not require any supplementary information or additional administration it fulfils the requirements for a quick decision. If you need to supplement your application the Migration Agency will contact you.

It is very important that all students who need a visa/residence permit to enter Sweden, start the application process as soon as they receive their Notification of Selection results.

Please note! If you have to pay tuition fees for your studies, this payment must have reached Umeå University before the Migration Agency will process your application.

Work and study

You may work over the same period as the residence permit. You do not need a special work permit. When you apply for work, you need to include copies of documents that show that you have the right to stay and work in Sweden. You also need to bring your residence permit card with you. The person that hires you will ask for a copy of the documents and will notify the Tax Agency of your employment.

Get insurance

As a student at the university you are covered by a personal injury insurance. Exchange students and fee-paying students are covered by a group insurance policy.

We recommend you to look over your insurance coverage before you arrive in Sweden. If the insurances below are not sufficient you should take out your own insurance policy.

Exchange students (Student IN)

Student IN provides exchange students insurance cover twenty-four hours a day in Sweden. 'Exchange student' means a student who studies in Sweden in accordance with an exchange or acceptance agreement between the Swedish educational institution and a foreign educational institution.
Student IN

Tuition fee paying students (FAS Plus)

FAS Plus provides cover to all foreign students who are accepted to, and undertake, higher education at the university or college and who pay term fees for the education. The insurance also provides coverage for students who have been granted scholarships.
FAS+

International students outside of formal agreements (Personal injury insurance)

International students are covered by a personal injury insurance policy. The insurance policy applies in Sweden and provides students with an accident cover during study hours, and direct travel in between the university and the students home.
Personal injury insurance

European Health Insurance Card

All EU citizens should make sure that they bring a European Health Insurance card. If you have the card you can prove that you are entitled to emergency care at the ordinary fee. If you do not have a card, you may have to pay the entire cost.

If you obtain non-emergency care and do not want to pay more than the fee, you must have a certificate indicating that your country of origin will pay the rest. If you do not have such a certificate, you will be responsible for the entire cost.

Personal ID number

If you are going to study in Sweden for more than 1 year you may be eligible for a Swedish Personal ID number (civic registration number). In order to obtain an ID number, you need to be nationally registered in Sweden. Once you have this number, you are entitled to health care on the same terms as a Swedish citizen regardless of your nationality. If your residence permit is for less than a year and you are not nationally registered in Sweden, you are not entitled to this health care. In the latter case, you must check the agreements between your home country and Sweden or get an insurance that will cover the costs for your health care while you are in Sweden.

Home Insurance

We advise you to purchase home or renters insurance for your stay in Umeå. If something is stolen from your room, or if your or your landlord's property is damaged/lost during your rental period, you are responsible for covering the repair or replacement costs. If you have home insurance in your home country, make sure that you are still covered during the time that you are in Sweden. Labor and repair costs are quite high in Sweden and even a small amount of damage can quickly add up to several thousand kronors in expenses.

Plan your budget

How much Money do you need?

Although student budgets varies in relation to lifestyle and priorities, you should not count on being able to live on less than SEK 8,190 a month, which is the minimum amount stated by the Swedish Migration Agency. This sum is also slightly less than what Swedish students live on. Therefore, before you leave home, make sure that you are able to financing your stay. It will save you a great deal of unnecessary stress and contribute to a much more enjoyable exchange experience.

Financing your stay

As a student at a Swedish university you are allowed to take up part-time work during the terms, without having to acquire a separate work permit. Getting a job is not always that easy though, especially when you do not speak Swedish. Employing students for odd jobs around the university is not an established practice in the way that it is in many other countries. With this in mind, we do not advise you to expect to finance your stay by working during your study period in Sweden.

The university does not offer any financial aid of any kind to foreign students so you will depend on your own funding.

Cost of living

A sample student budget for living and studying in Umeå. The budget is calculated for a student who lives in a student corridor room and cooks most of his/her meals in the corridor kitchen, with the occasional lunch at one of the cafés/restaurants on campus.

Expenses SEK/month

Food: 2000
Accommodation: 2900
Student union, fees, books: 500
Phone, TV, Internet: 300
Local travel: 500
Medical care, hygiene: 300
Clothing, hobby/leisure: 1100
Total: SEK 7600*

* Please note that if you are applying for a residence permit, you must prove to the Swedish Migration Agency that you will have a guaranteed sum of money at your disposal throughout the entire period of your studies. The amount, SEK 8190 per month for ten months of the year, is set by the Migration Agency.

Join the Buddy Programme

The Buddy Programme provides a helping hand as you settle down and get to know student life.

Buddies are students at Umeå University who volunteer to introduce you to the Swedish way of life. As a participant in the Buddy Programme, you will be part of a buddy group that consists of approximately 8–10 buddies and 25–30 international students. The Buddy Programme involves the possibility to participate in a variety of fun social activities, for example sports, parties and travel, or just having a cup of coffee with your group members.

How do I apply?

Up until the first day of the term it is recommended that you apply for the Buddy Programme by filling out the Buddy Programme application form.

If you want to apply thereafter you should send an e-mail to buddy@umu.se.

Make travel arrangements

Air plane

Umeå Airport is located only a few kilometres from Umeå University.

Bus

There are several buses servicing Umeå every day. Y-bussen takes you from Stockholm to Umeå, the trip takes around nine hours. When the bus reaches Umeå it will stop in the city centre, a few kilometres from the university.

Car

If you plan to drive to Umeå you should take the driving conditions into account. Winter tires are required during the winter season because snow and ice cover the roads.

Ferry

The ferry company servicing the route Umeå – Vasa (in Finland) is Wasaline. The trip takes approximately four hours. You will arrive in Holmsund by the coast, about 15 kilometres from Umeå. From there you can arrange for a taxi to take you into the city or the university

Arriving in Umeå

Finding your way to the university

The university is easily accessible from most arrival points in Umeå. If you are a student of Umeå School of Architecture, Umeå Institute of Design or Umeå Academy of Fine Arts you will need to locate Umeå Arts Campus down by the riverbank.

Airport shuttle

Take the airport shuttle (bus no. 80) to the university. The bus leaves every 20 minutes during peak traffic time. The trip to campus takes about 15 minutes.

Arriving by long distance bus or train

The train station, Umeå Östra, is located on the opposite side of the main entrance to the hospital with only a few minutes walking distance to the university campus.

By local bus

The main bus stop in Umeå is called Vasaplan. From there it is easy to take a local bus to the university campus. The trip takes about 10 minutes and you can get off the bus at "Umeå Universitetssjukhuset" (University Hospital) or "Universum".
Local buses

Moving in

If you are an exchange student or a tuition fee-paying student and have housing through the International Housing Office, you will receive an Offer of Housing. The offer will specify the recommended arrival date and give you detailed information on where to go to sign your contract and pick up your keys.
Arriving and moving in

Taking part in the Orientation

The Orientation consists of a series of lectures and activities that are designed to help you to become acquainted with life in Umeå and studies at our university. The course also offers a great opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. We strongly recommend that you arrive in time to take part in the Orientation.
Orientation

Exchange currency

Foreign currency is exchanged at Forex. The regular banks do not handle currency exchange. Forex has an Umeå office in the city centre.

Getting a personal ID number

A Swedish personal identity number is obtained when you are registered in the Swedish population register. You need to be admitted to studies that last for more than 12 months to do so.

To receive a personal ID number in Sweden

EU-citizens need to have the intention of staying in Sweden for a year or more to be given a Swedish Personal ID number. To acquire it, bring your passport and personally visit the Tax Agency and they will help you.

Non EU-citizen need to have a residence permit for a period of at least one full year to be assigned a Swedish Personal ID number. Bring your Notification of Admission, residence permit and passport and personally visit the Tax Agency and they will help you.

During your stay

Health services and emergencies

Health centres

The health centres is where you go to if you need to see a doctor. The health centres for the main student housing areas are situated in Ålidhem and in Mariehem. You always need to call in advance and book an appointment.
Health Services

Medical Advice Line

If you need medical advice, there is a help line you can call: 1177. You have to pay the regular phone tariff for the call, but the service is free.

The primary care emergency service in Umeå

The primary care emergence service is located at Ålidhem's health care centre. If you fall ill during the night or weekend, call 1177 and you will be given advice and recommendations on where to turn.

Student Health Service

The Student Health Service works with health promotion and prevention for students at Umeå University and at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Umeå. At the Student Health Service you can get support in matters relating to your physical, mental and psychosocial health situation. All their services are free of charge. They observe confidentiality. Please note that there is no doctor working at the Student Health Service.
Student Health Service

Dental Care

There are several public and private dentistry clinics in Umeå. The closest one to campus is situated in the University Hospital in connection with the Dentistry School. If you agree to receive treatment from a supervised dentistry student, you can get cheaper treatment.

Pharmacy

In Sweden you have to go to a pharmacy to get all prescription and most non-prescription medication. Sweden is quite restrictive when it comes to medicinal drugs and you will need a prescription to buy a lot of the medication that you might be able to buy without a prescription in other countries. Some non-prescription medications can be bought in supermarkets, convenience stores and gas stations as well. Most health centres have a pharmacy.

In case of emergency

Sweden uses the European SOS number 112. In case of emergency you can call this number for assistance from the Police, the Fire Service or hospital/ambulance.

Emergency room

The emergency room is located under the helicopter pad at the University Hospital. From the central entrance, follow the signs to "Akutmottagningen," which are marked with the red cross symbol.

Contacting the police

The police station can be found on Ridvägen 10 on Dragonfältet, which is just west of the center of town. If you need to report a crime or loss of property and it is not an emergency, you can call the national number for the police 114 14.
The Swedish Police

Religion

Religious organisations on campus

Kyrkan på Campus (Church on campus), is for both students and staff regardless of beliefs or philosophy. They are bound by professional secrecy and all counselling is free of charge.

Religious organisations and places of worship in Umeå

There are a wide variety of churches and congregations with different denominations throughout Umeå. Most of them can be found through the municipal online organisation register.

Student organisation and unions

There are a large number of student organisations at Umeå University. Not all of them are presented here, but a great part.

Student unions

At Umeå University there are three different Student Unions with different parts of the university as area of operation. Which student you should turn to, depends on your field of study.
Student unions

Credo

Credo Umeå is a Christian student organisation at Umeå university, part of the national organisation Credo.
Credo

Humlan

Humlan is a non-profit association with focus on organising cultural events.
Humlan (page in Swedish)

Snösvänget - Student orchestra

Snösvänget is Umeå University's student orchestra.
Snösvänget

Student radio station

The student radio station consists of students producing radio shows for students. You can listen to the student radio via their website or on 102,3 MHz. Some of the programmes are in English, produced by international students.
Student radio station (in Swedish)

UPF - Umeå Association for International Affairs

The purpose of the association is to spread knowledge and create debate about foreign affairs and global issues from a variety of opinions and perspectives.
Umeå Association for International Affairs

Student pubs

These are run by students for students. Besides regular pub/club evenings they also arrange other events. As a student you can get involved and volunteer in one of them.

The E-Pub

Kårhuset Villan

Kårhuset Origo

Transportation

Bicycles

Bicycles can be used all year round because there is a very good network of bicycle tracks all over the city. If you do not want to buy a new bicycle, there are used ones at reasonable prices at bicycle shops around Umeå

It can also be useful to check the online notice boards, Blocket or Lokus (only available in Swedish), and local advertisements on the internet.

Local buses

The central terminal for local buses is Vasaplan in the city center. All bus lines are routed through this terminal. It means that if you catch any bus going in the direction of town, you will always be able to get off the bus at Vasaplan. You can catch a bus to any part of town from this terminal.
Local buses

Long distance buses

The bus station for long distance bus travels is situated in the centre of town at Järnvägstorget 2. For information about timetables and destinations visit Länstrafikens website.

Please note! Cash is not accepted on buses. You can pay with most credit/debit cards (except for online cards such as Maestro or Visa electron) or buy a ticket at Reseinfo - Travel information and retailers. They are located at the central terminal Vasaplan, Umeå Bus Station and the University Hospital.

Train

The train station, Umeå Östra, is situated nearby the university campus, across from the hospital. Trains run daily to the north and south. The rails are trafficated by SJ. There are no trains that travel in an east/west direction.
SJ

Air

The airport in Umeå is called Umeå Airport. The travel time to and from the airport by bus is 20 minutes from the centre of town and 15 minutes from the university campus.

Renting a car

When renting a car, make sure that you know the terms of the renting contract. Pay special notice to things like liability, who can drive the car and so on. We also recommend that you buy the accident insurance that is offered. Finally, we want to remind you that winter roads can make manoeuvring the car much more difficult than usual. Also, when driving on smaller roads in the north of Sweden, it is not that uncommon that elk, reindeer and other animals cross the road.

Rules for driving in Sweden

If you bring your own car or are thinking about renting one there are some rules you need to keep in mind:

  • Sweden has right hand traffic.
  • Drivers has to be over the age of 18 and hold a valid driver's license.
  • The license must be brought with you when you drive.
  • A foreign driver's license can be used for a year.
  • There is zero-tolerance for drinking and driving.
  • Winter tires/studded winter tires has to be used between 1 December and 31 March. However, this rule does not apply if you bring your car from home (though it is recommended).

Umeå, Sweden and the Swedes

Climate and seasons

There is an old Scandinavian proverb that you will probably come across: "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing". It means that the climate in Sweden is nothing to worry about as long as you dress for it!

Sweden is located so far north in Europe that the Arctic Circle slices through its northern most province, Lapland. Thanks to the warm Gulf Stream in the Atlantic, Sweden is not an arctic country. The difference between the southern and northern parts of Sweden is marginal during the summer, but greater during the other seasons. Umeå has four distinct seasons which means there is something for everyone.

Northern Sweden is covered by snow between December and March/April. Summer usually lasts from June to August with an average temperature of 17 °C.

The climate that we live in is not new to our part of the world and therefore we build our houses accordingly. All the buildings, whether they are private residences or public buildings, are well insulated and have central heating. This means that even when it is below zero outside, the temperature inside is maintained within the recommended range of 18–22 °C.

The Northern Lights

Aurora Borealis, or more commonly the Northern lights, is a natural light display in the sky that is visible particularly in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions. The Northern Lights are most often red, green, or purple in color and lasts anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.

In Sweden, the Northern Lights usually occur during the winter months through late March or early April. Your best chance of catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights is on cold winter nights when the sky is clear and dark with little to no moonlight.

Midwinter darkness and the Midnight Sun

Due to Umeå's location, the number of daylight hours varies greatly between winter and summer. December is the darkest month with days that last only around 4 ½ hours. In contrast, the sun only sets for 3 ½ hours in June. By traveling a little further north, you can even experience the midnight sun.
Midnight sun, Swedish Lapland

Time

Swedes are usually very punctual. If you want to be like a Swede, it is better to arrive five minutes early than five minutes late. The exception from the rule is the akademisk kvart/academic quarter that only exists in the university sphere. Lectures that are said to start on the hour (10 am) actually start fifteen minutes later (10:15 am), unless it is an exam or if the time is stated as 10 am sharp.

Social life

The saying is that Swedes are reserved and difficult to get to know. This is true to some extent, but foreigners do make comments about the Umeå population being both friendly and eager to help if you take the first step and approach them. Student activities, the Buddy Programme and the people in your corridor will hopefully provide you with plenty of opportunities to break the ice and to make new friends.

Religion

Even though Sweden is officially a Lutheran (Protestant/Christian) country, the Swedish people are generally not very religious. It is not so common for Swedes to regularly attend church services or take an active part in a congregation. However, Swedes have not left the church altogether. Weddings and funerals are still commonly held in church and many people still baptise their children.

Dining out an picking up the tab

The concept of picking up the tab is an unknown phenomenon in Sweden. The bill is divided after what and how much you ate or drank. Tips are included, but it is always welcome if you leave some.

Queues and lines

Swedes are known to be law abiding and fairly fond of standing in lines. Whenever waiting is involved; at cinemas, paying in a shop, in the library and so on, you will be expected to wait in line, or take a ticket from a number dispenser.

Arms-length distance

This is the distance Swedish people normally stand apart from each other when talking. Swedes are quite reserved about personal space and if you get too close, you will probably see that the Swede will start to back off. Do not feel offended by this, as it is just normal for us to keep some distance between each other.

Taking your shoes off

When you enter someone's house or flat, you will have to take your outdoor shoes off in the entrance. It is normal to walk around in your socks, even at someone else's house.

The number that makes our country tick

After you have lived in Sweden for a short while, you will notice that ten little numbers make the world go round, or at least make life in Sweden a great deal easier. Those are the numbers that make up the Swedish personal ID number. In Sweden, this number is used for just about everything that involves the need to identify who a person is. Things like opening a bank account, buying insurance, using on-line booking systems and services are much more easier if you have these ten little numbers. However, do not despair, there are usually ways around it.

Right of Public Access

The Scandinavian rule of "Allemansrätt"/Right of Public Access provides everyone with the right of access to privately owned land (provided they abide by the rules), and thus to the pleasures of the forests and countryside from one end of Sweden to the other.
However, this is a right that also brings responsibilities. If the right of public access is to work, we all need to be responsible for our conduct when we are out in nature, and to take care not to disturb and to damage it. Do not damage bushes, cut down trees or leave garbage behind you.

Remember that the right of public access lets you walk around on other people's property, but that does not involve their back garden. For a thorough run through of the public right of access, see the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

Public holidays

Sweden's National Day (Svenska Nationaldagen) is celebrated on the 6 June in memory of King Gustav Vasa's accession to the throne in 1523 and the signing of the Government Act in 1809.

Other public holidays - when stores are usually closed and people off work:

January
New Year's Day - Nyårsdagen
Epiphany Eve - Trettondagsafton
Epiphany Day - Trettondagen

March/April
Good Friday - Långfredag
Easter Monday Annandag Påsk

May
May day - Första Maj
Ascension Day - Kristi Himmelsfärdsdag
Whit Sunday - Pingstdagen

June
Sweden's National Day
Midsummer's eve - Midsommarafton

November
All Saints' Day - Allhelgonadagen

December
Christmas Day - Juldagen
Boxing Day/St Stephen's Day - Annandag Jul

Most State employees (which includes university staff) are also off from work on Midsummer's Eve (Midsommarafton), Christmas Eve (Julafton) and New Year's Eve (Nyårsafton). If you look in a Swedish calendar, you will notice that all Sundays and holidays are written in red, which is why they are sometimes referred to as red days (röda dagar). Check with your department for information concerning the exact vacation days during the term.