This year, more than 600 international students are going to study at Umeå university. Today they received useful tips during the orientation course.
– Buy a warm coat, says Gregory Neely.

Taking the step from Swedish High School to university studies involves several different challenges. But those are nothing in comparison to the ones facing the 630 new international students at Umeå university. Therefore an orientation course has been arranged in order to introduce them to the Swedish culture and the life as a student at Umeå University.

Gregory Neely shared some "survival hacks".
Gregory Neely shared some ”survival hacks”.

The orientation course started today in Aula Nordica, with Gregory Neely greeting the new students welcome. He himself came to Sweden for the first time in 1989 as an international student. Now he is Head of Division at The International Office. Talking from own experiences Gregory Neely starts the course with sharing some survival hacks. A big photo of Umeå’s streets covered in snow appears on the white screen at the moment he gives the first advice.
– Remember to by a warm coat and enjoy the sun today. It might be the last time you see it for a couple of months, he says and smiles.

The students come from more than 30 countries. Gregory Neely thinks that the mix of cultures brings great opportunities for both Swedish students and international students. He encourages them to use the time well and means that they play an important role themselves in making the stay in Sweden memorable.
– You will only get out of this as much as you put into it. See this as a chance to develop both as an academic and as a person, and as an opportunity to discover lots of people from all over the world.

Gregory Neely also explains that the strict hierarchy that characterizes a lot of universities abroad doesn’t exist in Umeå. Therefore he exhorts the new students not to be afraid to talk to professors and go to seminariums about subjects that interests them, even if they’re not related to their own education.
– If a student would knock on my door and ask about my research I would gladly enjoy talking in three hours about it. Here no one calls me professor, if someone called me that I wouldn’t know who this person was talking to. Everyone just calls me Gregory.

This study climate is something the Master student Amh Khoa from Vietnam appreciates. He already knows Sweden since he earlier spent som time here as an exchange student. Now he has returned to do his Master degree.
– There is a very friendly atmosphere in Sweden. I like the people and the city is beautiful. If I get a chance to study more in the future I would like to go to Umeå again.

According to a survey, Umeå University has the most satisfied international students in Europe. That is the reason why Huyen Ta travelled all the way from Vietnam to Sweden to take her master degree in chemistry.
– I saw in a folder that Umeå is the best place for foreign students and has very good facilities. I will stay here one year and I hope to meet new friends and graduate successfully, she says.

Text and photo:
Vendela Wikström