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Matheus de Abreu Costa Souza
Published: 2024-03-19 Updated: 2024-03-20, 12:58

Why Umeå?

PROFILE We know that the winters are cold and dark - so why choose Umeå? Matheus Souza is one of the departments international PHD-students from Brasil. We asked him how he views his new city and why he choose the Department of Political Science at Umeå university for his doctoral studies.

Image: Mattias Pettersson
Matheus de Abreu Costa Souza

What did you know about Sweden before you came here?

I must confess I did not know much about Sweden before deciding to apply for the PhD position at the Department of Political Science. I knew about the good working conditions for PhD students, which was a big selling point for me, and also about the cold (but also lovely) winters that awaited me!

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

Yes! I found out that Umeå is a relaxing yet vibrant city, also known for being a place where the Northern Lights are visible from late September to early April. I learnt more about the different cultural events held throughout the year, the long winter season but also the amazing summer with extended daylight hours. Another place in Umeå that I became quite excited about is IKSU, which is one of the biggest sports facility in Europe and is right next to the University. There you can find many different sports activities, from the traditional Swedish innebandy to yoga classes and indoor beach volleyball courts that can be used all year long.

What that image correct when you came here?

It was indeed! Since I moved in, I have been fortunate enough to sport the Northern Lights on quite a few occasions (sometimes even from my apartment window!) and it is a truly breathtaking experience. I have taken part in different cultural events such as food festivals and experimented with the different restaurants, cinemas and museums that make Umeå a cosy yet vibrant city to live in. Umeå also helped me to adopt a more active lifestyle and I have been playing volleyball and beach volleyball at IKSU, which is also a great way to socialise and meet new people!

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

I think the best way to cope with the darkness and cold is to socialise in indoor and outdoor activities and try to remain active. Little by little, I have tried different winter activities such as dog sledding and hanging out with friends by a fire on winter sunny days, and I learnt to appreciate the season. Gatherings with friends at home, game nights and exercising are also great ways to go through this nice yet challenging season.

What is best with Umeå?

What I love about Umeå is that it combines a very relaxing atmosphere with the infrastructure of bigger cities. Nature is close by and here you can pretty much walk, bike or take a quick bus ride everywhere. At the same time, it is also a city that is culturally active and there are nice places to visit and good restaurants to go to.

What did you know about Umeå university? And how did you find out about the PHD-position? Did you know anything about the departments research?

I saw the ad on Twitter and after a thorough research on the city and the Department, I decided to apply. I knew the impactful work of prominent scholars at our Department, in particular those in the Peace and Conflict Studies Research Group to which I now belong.

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

At Umeå University, a PhD student is considered an employee and gets a proper monthly salary, which is the biggest advantage for me. The university also offers great working conditions, such as an office to work from, a library with great resources and paid vacation and sick leave, for example.