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Rika Rostika
Published: 2024-03-19 Updated: 2024-03-20, 13:50

Why Umeå?

PROFILE We know that the winters are cold and dark - so why choose Umeå? Rika Rostika is one of the departments international PHD-students from Indonesia. We asked her how she views her new city and why she choose the Department of Political Science at Umeå university for her doctoral studies.

Image: Hans Karlsson
Rika Rostika

What did you know about Sweden before you came here?

Before venturing to Sweden, I held an image of a country known for its captivating natural landscapes, forward-thinking social policies, and comfortable standard of living. I appreciated Sweden's emphasis on equality, sustainability, and innovation, reflected in its unique cultural identity. Growing up, I recognized Sweden as a place of long, dark winters, adding to its distinctive allure. Additionally, globally recognized brands added to Sweden's charm, highlighting its influence on the world stage.

Did you read up on Umeå and what did you find out?

Indeed, I dedicated some time to familiarize myself with Umeå prior to my arrival. I uncovered its reputation for a vibrant atmosphere and multiculturalism, underscored by a strong commitment to education, research, and creativity. What particularly caught my attention was Umeå's distinction as the largest city in Norrland, challenging the notion of being remote or isolated; instead, it radiated a dynamic energy where urban life seamlessly intertwined with nature's embrace. Furthermore, I learned about the city's renowned extreme weather, marked by prolonged, dark winters, which only seemed to enhance its distinct charm. Delving deeper, I discovered Umeå's rich cultural scene, offering diverse outdoor activities and fostering a welcoming environment for students. It all sounded appealing and got me looking forward to experiencing it firsthand. Moreover, I stumbled upon the excitement surrounding the aurora borealis, eagerly anticipated by enthusiasts, adding an extra layer of anticipation to my impending adventure in Umeå.

Was that image correct when you came here?

Absolutely! Upon arriving in Umeå, I found that the city truly lived up to its reputation. The dynamic cultural life, friendly locals, and academic environment exceeded my expectations. Despite the extreme weather conditions, I was impressed by how well-prepared the city was for winter, with efficient public transportation and well-maintained pathways. Additionally, the city's commitment to sustainability and innovation was evident in its infrastructure and community initiatives. Umeå's vibrant atmosphere and welcoming community made me feel right at home from the moment I arrived.

What is your best tip on how to get by during the cold and dark winter?

My best tip for getting through the cold and dark winter months is to embrace the concept of "mys" (coziness). Invest in quality winter clothing, enjoy indoor activities like cozy gatherings with friends, explore cultural events, such as Christmas Markets or Umeå Light Festival, and make time for self-care. Additionally, staying active through outdoor winter sports can help combat the winter blues and make the most of the snowy season. Furthermore, in Umeå, there's a fantastic opportunity for locals to borrow outdoor activity equipment for free for two weeks (Fritidsbanken Umeå). This initiative provides an excellent chance to try out various winter sports and activities without having to invest in expensive gear upfront. It's a wonderful way to take advantage of the winter season and explore the beautiful outdoor surroundings of Umeå. So, whether you're hitting the slopes or cozying up indoors, Umeå offers a perfect blend of winter wonder and snug vibes to see you through the season in style.

What is best with Umeå?

One of the best things about Umeå is its perfect balance between urban amenities and access to nature. The city offers a vibrant cultural scene, excellent educational opportunities, and a strong sense of community, while also being surrounded by beautiful forests, lakes, and outdoor recreational areas. It's like living in the heart of the city with the soul of nature right at your doorstep! And here's a funny tidbit: People will jokingly tell you it's only 10 minutes away when asked for directions – because in Umeå, everything feels so close and accessible, you'll be amazed at how quickly you can get anywhere!

What did you know about Umeå University? And how did you find out about the position? Did you know anything about the department's research?

Before applying for my PhD position at Umeå University, I was aware of its esteemed reputation as one of the premier institutions for research and education. I stumbled upon the PhD position through advertisements on the university's website, which piqued my interest.

What further intrigued me was discovering that the position would be regarded as an employment position, offering a unique opportunity to become a part of a vibrant research group spanning various departments, including political science, and applied educational science. The prospect of collaborating across departments added an exciting dimension to the research experience, promising diverse perspectives, and insights.

Moreover, I was drawn to the department's research focus on educational leadership, which perfectly aligned with my academic interests and career aspirations. This alignment, coupled with the opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration, made pursuing a PhD at Umeå University an irresistible choice for me.

What are the positives about doing your PHD at Umeå university?

  • There are numerous positives to embarking on a PhD journey at Umeå University. Firstly, the university fosters a supportive and collaborative research environment, offering access to top-notch facilities and resources. Moreover, Umeå University's strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research and international collaboration provides invaluable opportunities for academic growth and networking.

  • Being affiliated with different departments and a unit has made my experience exceptionally dynamic and collaborative. This interdisciplinary approach enables me to build extensive networks across departments, fostering diverse perspectives and innovative ideas. Additionally, having the flexibility to navigate and collaborate within various academic realms has greatly enriched my research journey.

  • Umeå University's commitment to promoting work-life balance and student well-being ensures a positive and nurturing experience throughout the PhD journey. This supportive environment enables students to thrive academically while maintaining a healthy lifestyle and well-being. Overall, the combination of a collaborative research atmosphere, interdisciplinary opportunities, and emphasis on student support makes Umeå University an ideal place to pursue a PhD. 

Rikas doctoral studies is a collaboration between the Centre for Priciple Development and the Department of Applied Educational Science.