Meet Szu-Chen from Taiwan
Name: Szu-Chen Yeh
Home University: National Taiwan University, Taiwan
Field of Study: Business Administration
Favourite thing about Umeå: Fresh air and clean water
Favourite Swedish word or custum: "Fika!"
From a subtropical big city to a freezing small town
If you asked me, “What are the same things between Taipei and Umeå?” I would probably say “Nothing”. And the biggest difference except the languages is of course the weather. In Taiwan, it is always humid and hot, the temperature is all year round above 10 °C. But here in Umeå, snow covers the region for almost half a year! So I experienced my first sight of snowing and had a lot of fun with various winter activities like snow fighting, downhill skiing, ice fishing and reindeer sledging! Also, seeing the amazingly beautiful Northern light! They are all very special and are something I can never experience in Taiwan.
The other thing which is contrast between Taipei and Umeå is the population density. In Taipei, life is a rush and there are always a lot of people everywhere. Though life is colorful and convenient there, but we have rather limited personal living space. However in Umeå, you can easily access to the mountains, lakes, rivers, big fields etc. and enjoy yourself in the open nature. I would say, so far this is the most relaxing and comfortable year in my life.
Intensive studying in Umeå
As everybody knows, the study system is quite unique here. You take only one course a time, and that is different from the parallel courses system in most countries. Therefore, you have to focus on the same subject and have very intensive lectures, discussions, reports and exams all crowded within few weeks. This sometimes causes great pressure because you have to work hard from the beginning to the end of a semester and almost with no time for fun. (Of course you still party on weekends, just don’t expect too much on holidays and study period, they almost don’t exist.) So Umeå is undoubtedly an ideal place for studying and doing researches. You don’t get distract from other courses and you can easily get the resources you need from the professors, they are always willing to help and very friendly.
The most unforgettable experiences
Once I joined a trip of caving with IKSU in Norway, in which you have to explore some dark caves, climb on steep rocks, dusty sand, and walked in cold water. That was so adventurous and I’ll never forget!
Another time I participated in an ice fishing competition on a frozen lake. I waited for hours and finally caught a tiny fish. The moment when I felt something struggling and when I pulled the fish out if the water was really unforgettable.
And I will not forget shopping at the Sami market in Jokkmokk either. All the international pubs, all fikas, all moments having fun with friends, they are all something I’ll cherish forever.
Different activities are of course very interesting itself. But something even more joyful is the time you spend with your friends. Making lots of friends from all over the world is extremely cool, and you can not only have fun but also learn a lot from each other.
Advice for future exchange students
Be open-minded! Maybe everybody says so and it sounds kind of abstract, but it’s true the best advice. I would suggest you try to be curious about everything and everyone you don’t know. And don’t be afraid or shy to ask questions and participate in different activities. Another suggestion, don’t be lazy. Try to make your schedule as full as possible. Never volunteered in a music festival? Don’t hesitate to write an e-mail. Want to learn some Swedish folk dance? Just drop in the class and enjoy. Find all the possible opportunities that can make you feel abundant and satisfied then you will enjoy your every day of staying in Umeå!