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Umea Travel Blog

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Well, I have been here for over a week now and still can't find anything I don't like about this place; despite the weather. I woke up to what looked like a bad blizzard yesterday morning and by the afternoon most of the fresh snow had turned into slush! I still seem to find something new to do everyday! I still can't get over the fact that I can go anywhere and hear some swedish. I've had a few chances to practice some swedish, but in shops people will usually start talking in english if they can detect an accent. Every once in a while though you can find some swedes that will keep talking swedish with you. I'm starting to understand more and more conversations people are having, but I still lack some vocabulary to carry on a pro-longed conversation. I actually went to the city library and checked out a couple of kids books to help with the vocabulary. I'm excited to read them once I can find some time!

I went back to classes this week after a month off. The class structure is probably the hardest thing to get used to right now. Back home, everything is very strictly scheduled. When you register for classes you know the days, time and where it's going to be. Not so over here! It seems very disorganized. I didn't know one of the rooms until the day before. They also don't take 4 or 5 classes simultaneously like in the states. They base their classes on an intensity scale of how much work would be involved. The classes also go for a few weeks and then you'll start new ones midway through the semester. Right now I only have two classes, swedish and sociology. My swedish class seems to be the only regular time and day type of schedule whereas I may have a sociology class or two this week, and then not meet for a week or two. It's a very strange system.

I've also gotten involved with the mentor program where I'm in a group with a few native swedes and a few international students. Last night, all the international students went to yet another student pub near campus to get to know our native swedes group leaders and the other international students. I'm still finding it crazy how in MN it may take a while to meet some international people but I come to northern Sweden of all places and have meet people from at least 15 different countries in less than a week. The standard introductions around here are now something like this:
-name
-country of origin
-age
-what you study
-why you chose Umeå
-where you live in Umeå
-what mentor group you are in
If you just state all this right away you can save yourself a few minutes of small talk. Its very interesting to learn about so many different cultures and what life is like for them. There are also so many misunderstandings during conversations but its still fun to talk to different people. I do think talking to so many non-native english speakers has started to have an effect on my english skills. Its funny cause they all ask the non-native speakers to correct their english if they say something wrong. Well, that's all of an update I have for now-I'm off to do some more exploring!
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Umea
photo by: Sjoshie