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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

Housing and budget

Find your accommodation

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

If you are not an exchange student or a fee-paying student you will have to find accommodation on your own.
How to find housing in Umeå

Arriving and 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

Cost of living

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 8,370 (2019) per month for ten months of the year, is set by the Migration Agency, and updated yearly. For latest information, check the Migration Agency’s Website:
Studying at universities or university colleges

Calculating your budget can be difficult and how much money you need depends on your lifestyle. At Study in Sweden you will find examples of a student budget:
Cost of living in Sweden

If you rent your accommodation through the International Housing Office at Umeå University, you will information about rent at:
Housing Information

Financing your stay

We recommend that you have arranged your budget before you arrive in Umeå. The university does not offer any financial aid of any kind so you will depend on your own funding.

The university has no support for helping students find part-time jobs.

Opening a bank account

Depending on how long you intend to stay in Sweden, the process of opening a bank account differs. If you will stay in Sweden for one year or longer, you can apply for a Swedish personal identity number which makes the process a bit easier. To become a bank customer you need to be able to identify yourself, and answer questions about why you want to open a bank account. 

At Swedish Bankers you will find information about what the bank requires from you when you visit a bank branch:
Becoming a bank customer

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.

Residence permit and visa

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. 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.
Requirements and how to apply for a residence permit

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.

List of foreign citizens who require Visa for entry into Sweden

Swedish embassies and consulates

Processing time for student permits

We urge you to apply for your residence permit or visa as soon as possible to allow enough time for your application to be processed.

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.
Time to a decision

Work and study

You may be able to work over the same period as your student residence permit. For more information, visit the Migration Agency’s webpage:
Working during your studies

Personal identity number

What it's for and how to get it

If you have moved to Sweden and are planning to live here for one year or more, you are generally required to be registered in the Swedish Population Register. When you have been registered you will be given a Swedish personal identity number. 

The number is an identifier that among other things show when you were born. The Swedish Tax Angency issues personal identity numbers, but you need to meet certain criteria.
Personal Identity Number

Insurances

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.

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

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+

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 certain medical and dental care at the ordinary fee.

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.

Health care and emergencies

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

Travel to Umeå and local transportation

Air plane

Umeå Airport is located only a few kilometres from Umeå University. From there, 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.

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.

The main bus stop for local buses in Umeå is Vasaplan, which is within walking distance from the main bus station. From Vasaplan 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".

Please note! Cash is not accepted on buses. You can pay with most credit/debit cards or buy a ticket at Reseinfo - Travel information and retailers. For more information about which cards are accepted, go to: Where can I buy tickets?

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.

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.

The two main railway companies are:
SJ
Norrtåg

Social life

Take 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

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.

Buddy Programme

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 union 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

 

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 and 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.