Life in Umeå: Apartment & Neighborhood

My apartment in Umeå is located in the neighborhood of Berghem (pronounced something like ‘berry-hem’), north of the main university campus. As an ‘international’ student, meaning I am not from the European Union and am technically required to pay tuition (though luckily I am on scholarship), housing was provided for me by the university’s International Office. I had no idea how fortunate I was to have housing covered before arriving, as a large number of EU students were still without housing throughout the first week of classes due to a shortage in Umeå. Most have since found some sort of housing outside of a hotel, hostel, or couch. In addition, small yet crucial necessities like internet and a mattress were provided for me upon arrival (furniture is a standard inclusion). Lastly, I was able to choose my apartment’s neighborhood, which at the time I based on the larger room and guaranteed private bathroom as Ben will be with me for a couple months. On the downside, I pay a tad bit more than average rent.

View Umeå in a larger map

Points displayed on the map, starting North and moving clockwise: Stadsliden park, Berghem Neighborhood, Umeå Arts Campus, Umeå City Center

In general, I am very happy with my housing. My two favorite aspects, which I lucked out with, are the neighborhood and my corridor mates. Berghem neighborhood in general is a bit quieter with lots more open space, as compared to some of the other housing areas that are known for their exchange students and undergrad parties. Therefore, it tends to feel more like a real neighborhood and less like the student ghetto. Since Umeå is a small city, most neighborhoods have access to green areas, but Berghem specifically is in great proximity to Stadsliden park and Nydalasjön lake.

Stadsliden by Berghem

Stadsliden Park by Berghem

We haven’t been to Nydalasjön yet, but we have spent large quantities of time running and biking through and around Stadsliden. In the winter, the forest on the west section of Stadsliden turns into cross country ski trails, and a central hill in the center (not shown) opens for skiing and snowboarding (with its own mini lift as well!).

Houses by Stadsliden

Colorful houses by Stadsliden on one of my runs

Street in Umeå

Birch lined street west of Stadsliden

My apartment building can best be described as OLD. Each floor is divided into two corridors, with around 12 apartment rooms per corridor. The end of my corridor contains a common room, a shared dining area, and two kitchens. Its significantly more spacious than other common areas I’ve seen of peers’ apartments, and it’s not uncommon for my hall mates to hang out and eat dinner together. On my hall is a Dane, a Finn, a German (also in the Design School), me (and Ben), and the remainder are Swedes. The Finnish girl Mirva makes fabulous cinnamon rolls!

Berghem apartment

Berghem apartment building exterior and interior corridor

Berghem apartment kitchen and eating room

Corridor kitchen and eating room

Corridor kitchens

Corridor kitchens

Corridor common room

Corridor common room

If I’m being nice, I could call my furniture vintage. If I’m being honest, it’s just plain janky. That being said, my room is quite large with ample closet space in the entry way. The bathroom… well, it’s quite tight, but the Swedish lack of a shower basin actually works surprisingly well. As for my bedroom, it’s still a bit depressingly bare, though I’m hoping my requested items from TN will add a bit of spice to my apartment life – including, but not limited to: an American flag for the wall (ironically a German’s idea), a homemade pillowcase (courtesy of the special people at KC), and all those postcards from home you lovely readers are dying to send me (hint hint)!

Berghem apartment entry way and bathroom

Apartment entry way and bathroom, shoes left Swedish style at the door




A boy!!

Upon moving to Umeå, I also welcomed a new addition to the family. Svea, named after the Swedish national emblem, is cranky, old, and a bit too thin, with a nice green complexion. She is a middle aged female who enjoys long rides in the park, and is super safety conscious as she has a few battle wounds from a previous relationship. Though she lacks youth, she compensates with acquired grace and a few unexpected curves.


My lovely bicycle Svea

In all seriousness though, it is essentially to have a bike in Umeå. I’ll cover that topic later though in a post about the city.

And if you thought seeing my bathroom wasn’t personal enough, below is a short, and very quick, in class creative writing assignment I had to do at school today in third person on my morning routine…

She loves to sleep. She loves to sleep so much that her favorite part of the morning is when she snoozes, because it is then that she is most aware of sleeping. She snoozes her alarm at least three times, for ten minutes each, part dozing, part dreaming, part spooning, part thinking. Since her lucky number is 13, she always sets her alarm for the last digit to be either a one or three, her superstitions will not allow otherwise. When she finally crawls out of bed, as her annoyed boyfriend reaches his snoozing threshold, she heads to the shower to shock her hazy body and mind awake. Following the shower she brushers her teeth, and afterwards approaches the daunting task of deciding what to wear. She almost never wears the first outfit she tries on, instead, routinely dresses then redresses until a large pile of clean clothes are left haphazardly across the floor. She then abandons the disorganized mess and proceeds to methodically pack her backback with necessary items for the day ahead. Last but not least, she heads to the kitchen to simultaneously eat yogurt with granola while packing miscellaneous items for lunch that will compliment her trusty jar of peanut butter.

More to come in upcoming days/weeks on the Design School and Arts Campus, as well as Umeå city center!

One Comment

  1. Nancy Darnell Helms
    Sep 17, 2012 @ 23:02:20

    Ohhhh……Nancy noticed Svea’s ‘GREEN’ complexion……does Svea have a cranky, middle-aged Sista for Kelly?
    Does Svea have a younger, sports model Sistal for Bob?

    In re: to “the boy” if the boy does not speak fluent French call security 😉

    “Tank you” for warming Nancy’s heart!


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