More than half of the students at Umeå Institute of Design are non-Swedish speakers. All masters courses, and our one-year course, are taught in English. The only courses taught in Swedish are the Bachelor programme and many of the short single subject courses.
The social language at UID is also English, and information from the administration is given in both English and Swedish.
Swedish is a fascinating and expressive language. It is also a melodic language, admittedly difficult to pronounce like a native because of its characteristic sing-song rhythm, but otherwise not more complicated to learn than English.
Most Swedes do speak or understand English and you will probably be able to have a memorable and enjoyable stay in Sweden without any deeper knowledge of Swedish. But you will find that just a few words of Swedish will work as a wonderful door-key to the Swedes. Addressing someone in his or her native language is a matter of respect, a way of showing that you play by their rules, so to speak.
A special feature in the Swedish language is the dots and rings that appear above A:s and O:s in the letters Å, Ä, Ö. These letters are the three last in the Swedish alphabet and they are pronounced roughly like the vowels in more, band and sir, respectively. In our case the name of the city Umeå is officially pronounced Umeo - and if you want to sound like a native you leave out the last vowel and just say Ume.
The name Umeå originates from Umeälven, the 470 km long river that divides the city in two halves. The oldest known name of the river (Uma) dates back to the 14th century with the meaning "the one that roars" or "the roaring". The wild forces of the river have been conquered since the 1880s by several hydroelectric power stations and today Umeälven is gently flows through the city like a peaceful blue ribbon.
If you want to know more about Swedish, a really helpful resource is the guide created by Urban Sikeborg, Stockholm School of Economics (link below).