This semester 250 exchange students arrived in Umeå, the largest number of them from Germany. Vertex had a chat with Barbara Cremer and Dana Elster.
– We’re German so we usually have bratwurst and beer for breakfast, they joke.

Apart from the 250 exchange students, 835 international students are also starting their studies at Umeå University as free movers, meaning they have applied on their own instead of taking part in an exchange program. Of the 250 new exchange students that arrived in Umeå at the beginning of this spring semester, 35 were from Germany – making German students the biggest group of international students.

WITH THAN MANY students from the same country, the question is: are they one big happy family? Is there perhaps a German community in Umeå that few know of? The answer is: no, not really.
– We always hang out in groups of mixed nationalities. We never say ”hey, let’s meet just us Germans”. Usually Germans try to get away from each other, Barbara Cremer laughs.

– We want to get to know other countries and cultures, and not just stick together. When we’re in a group of people we don’t even speak German with each other, Dana Elster adds.

FIKA, LOTS OF OPEN SPACE and days like ”cinnamon bun day” are things that the girls appreciate about their new country. On the negative side they mention expensive alcohol, food and transportation – and reserved Swedes.
– I get surprised when Swedes tell me that they think Germans are so open and friendly, we’re not! But it seems Swedes are even more introvert. That’s why we mostly hang out with other internationals, because it’s difficult to get to know Swedish people, Barbara says.

Read more about Barbara and Dana in Vertex 3-2014, which appears 25 Mars 2014.

PETRA MARJAMÄKI
PHOTO: ELIAS AGRELL