International Story by Chaojun Tang



Chaojun Tang, Doctoral student at Dep. of Chemistry

1. What made you choose Umeå University as an employer?

For me, it just happened naturally. I came to Umeå along with my husband 9 years ago. That was our first time going abroad for studying. We could not imagine that we would stay here for such a long time. Umeå is our second hometown. We spent our most important moments in Umeå.

2. What was your general impression of Umeå and Umeå University when you arrived?

Calm and peaceful nordic town. No crowds! People here are very friendly and you will get 'Hej' anywhere when you even meet some strangers around. Easy to communicate in English before you manage Swedish. Of course, people will be quite happy if you try to use Swedish even if your pronunciation sounds funny. High living cost compared to our home country but you will get used to after 2 months.

3. Has your impression changed during your time here? Why and in what way?

Sure, Umeå is changing with the world! Most changes are going to good directions but some of them are not that good. I am always standing at the positive side and getting rid of those negative influences.

4. What is the best/worst thing about Sweden?

The best thing is that Sweden almost provides the best education resources for students from all over the world, especially for those in higher education, such as PhD study. You can just focus on learning and discovering without any financial pressure. The almost perfects social welfare system supports you to balance your family stuff (such as caring for kids) and work. The only complaint is slow speed on doing something. But sometimes it is not a real bad thing.

5. Have you experienced situations where cultural differences has affected your work- or private life and how have you handled it?

I did not have bad experiences that my work or private life was much affected due to cultural differences. Indeed, the cultural difference exists. No matter where, I just critically take the cultural differences. Using those Swedish positives to correct our negatives. I believe that cultural differences are always there but people should not be stubborn, and take what you think good and respect what you cannot still understand so far.

6. Do you have any general or good advice for other doctoral students?

Plan the accommodation as early as possible when you have made a decision to study in Umeå. Put yourself in the queue on Bostaden's website; because it will take a long time to find a suitable living place at the beginning.
There are different student unions at Umeå University. You can obtain a lot of supports or living tips when you start your new life in Umeå. In addition, you can make friends from different countries and you will not feel lonely, especially in the long and dark winter.

Rosita Nilsson