Bicycles can be used all year round because there is a very good network of bicycle tracks all over the city. The walking and biking trails are very well maintained, even during the winter. 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.
The central terminal for local buses is Vasaplan in the city center. All bus lines are routed through this terminal. It means that if you catch any bus going in the direction of town, you will always be able to get off the bus at Vasaplan. You can catch a bus to any part of town from this terminal. Local buses
Long distance buses
The bus station for long distance bus travels is situated in the centre of town at Järnvägstorget 2. For information about timetables and destinations visit Länstrafikens website.
Please note! Cash is not accepted on buses. You can pay with most credit/debit cards (except for online cards such as Maestro or Visa electron) or buy a ticket at Reseinfo - Travel information and retailers. They are located at the central terminal Vasaplan, Umeå Bus Station and the University Hospital.
The train station, Umeå Östra, is situated nearby the university campus, across from the hospital. Trains run daily to the north and south. The rails are trafficated by SJ. There are no trains that travel in an east/west direction. SJ
The airport in Umeå is called Umeå Airport. The travel time to and from the airport by bus is 20 minutes from the centre of town and 15 minutes from the university campus.
Renting a car
When renting a car, make sure that you know the terms of the renting contract. Pay special notice to things like liability, who can drive the car and so on. We also recommend that you buy the accident insurance that is offered. Finally, we want to remind you that winter roads can make manoeuvring the car much more difficult than usual. Also, when driving on smaller roads in the north of Sweden, it is not that uncommon that elk, reindeer and other animals cross the road.
Free parking lots at the univeristy is hard to find because most of them are rented on a permanent basis. You can find some open for daily parking for example close to Universum. Permanent parking cards are handled by UPAB, the parking company in Umeå.
More information about transportation in Umeå and some local maps to find the way.
The Swedish Transport Agency is the central agency for driving licences. Information about what applies for foreign driving licence.
Rules for driving in Sweden
If you bring your own car or are thinking about renting one there are some rules you need to keep in mind:
Sweden has right hand traffic.Drivers has to be over the age of 18 and hold a valid driver's license.The license must be brought with you when you drive.A foreign driver's license can be used for a year.There is zero-tolerance for drinking and driving.Winter tires/studded winter tires has to be used between 1 December and 31 March. However, this rule does not apply if you bring your car from home (though it is recommended).
Find your way to the University
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.
Arriving by long distance bus or 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.
By local bus
The main bus stop in Umeå is called Vasaplan. From there 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". Local buses
Foreign currency is exchanged at Forex. The regular banks do not handle currency exchange. Forex has an Umeå office in the city centre.
During your first days you probably want to buy some groceries and other useful stuff.
There are three larger shopping areas in Umeå, the City Centre, Avion (south) and Stora Birk at Ersboda (north). You can also find some stores in the near surroundings.
You can buy food at for example ICA, COOP, Willys and Lidl. There are also some oriental food shops in Umeå.
You can pick up prescripted medicine and buy other health care products and non prescripted medicine at an "Apotek". They are found around Umeå and are called Apoteket, Apotek Hjärtat, Apoteksgruppen and Kronans Apotek. You will also find a small selection of non prescripted medicine at a ordinary grocery shop.
Electrical Appliances, computers, cameras, mobil phones etc.
There are several options, for example Net on Net, Media Markt and Elgiganten.
For furnitures there are several options like, IKEA, EM HOME, Svenska Hem or Jysk. There are also second hand shops like Returbutiken, Myrornas and Röda korset. On facebook there are severeal groups like buy and sell, give aways.
There are a large number of clothing and shoes shops to choose between for new clothes, and a couple of second hand shops (mentioned above). The best option if you are looking for warmer winter clothes is the sports shops.
Emergency and safety
Important phone numbers
Call 112 in case of emergency where you need to reach the police, fire service or ambulance.
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
Call 090 786 76 00 if you need to reach campus security. Employees and students can call direct 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This number can be dialled to contact security guards, report unauthorised persons in buildings, if you find yourself locked in a room, etc.
Fire safety is important no matter where you live. Some things in Sweden may be different from where you come from. Please take a few minutes to watch this video.
Typical Swedish behavoir?
Interaction with other people
In Sweden, you usually do not spontaneously contact other people, if it is not an emergency, or you need help with directions. We do not mean to be impolite but this is how our culture works generally. If we talk to each other spontaneously, it is usually about the weather.No conflict please
Swedes do not want to end up in conflicts, especially in the workplace. We are rather quiet than saying what we think and end up in an uncomfortable situation. When we communicate in social media there may be exceptions, then we feel more anonymous.
Swedes would rather not stand out too much. If we do something good and get a compliment, we can dismiss it as if it was nothing special. Perhaps this behavior stems from the informal law of the early 20th century "Jantelagen". It basically says that you should not be better than anyone else, or believe that you are more capable or know more than others.
Fika – having coffee or tea together
We are very happy to have a coffee / tea break. In the workplace, this is our way of being social with each other. We often talk about private things such as what we have done over the weekend, or general things such as sports, movies or series we have watched on television. Sometimes there are also some discussions about work situations but preferably not.
Most of us think it is important that it is order and we can create this by using queues in different contexts. Therefore, there are also in many places eg. at Apoteket, the Migration Board a queuing system. In public places without queuing systems, a queue is often formed and it is not appreciated if you ignore it and pass by.
No shoes indoors
It is extremely rare that we use shoes indoors. It happens that we do not take them off if we have forgotten something and need to quickly fix it. For Swedes, it is considered rude not to take off their shoes because we are usually careful about cleaning and do not want to bring dirt into the other rooms. At work, on the other hand, we do were shoes. This would eihter be our our-door shoes or something we use only for work such as a sandal och indoor shoes.
If a Swedish decides on a meeting, we are usually on time, maybe even in place earlier than expected. If we have a working meeting, we will be taken into consideration at the appointed time. In many countries it can be considered impolite to come on time, but in Sweden we think the other way around, it is impolite to let people wait. There are of course occasions when it happens for different reasons but it is not common. At the workplace, the meeting starts regardless of whether everyone has arrived on time or not.
In Sweden, we do not use titles when we talk to each other. It is possible that we use it in writing when it comes to people with a higher education. Previously, we used a more formal and polite form of you, but it has disappeared over the years. So it is ok to use the first name directly, without title and last name.
Paying the bill at restaurants
We are usually responsible for our own note when we go to a restaurant and in the pub. When you have become more friends than acquaintances you can order and pay every other time so that both do not have to queue at the bar.
We usually have a relaxed attitude to children in public environments. It doesn't do much if they find it hard to sit still and if they talk. At finer restaurants, the pub and later in the evening we are more restrictive to having with us children.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Sweden´s elelctricity is 220 volts and 50 herz. Note that for instance US appliances cannot be plugged directly into the system. Certain US appliances can be made to work with the appropriate tarnsformer and electrical adapters, while others need to be replaced with appliances in the correct voltage and hertz. The plug system used throughout Sweden is the round two-pin type, adapters can be used to convert for example the 3-pin UK plug, but it is considered safer to change to the local plug.