Last Days in Umeå

Posted on January 21st, 2015 by

  

  Hej! My name is Erin Baumann. I am a sophomore Environmental Studies major from Madison Wisconsin. This is my first time traveling to Sweden, actually it is my first time in Europe! I am on this program for a number of reasons. First, I wanted to do a type of study abroad program that is different from a university stay or a home stay. This program is unique in that we move from place to place over the course of the semester, which feeds my sense of adventure. Also, I am fascinated by the way that Swedes treat the environment, living in a “green” way.

We are finishing up our stay in Umeå, it was a great place for us to start our semester!

Like Becca said, Sunday was a free day. Personally, I went on the walk that she mentioned. A group of five or six of the people went and walked across a river and along some trails in a nearby park. It was a nice way to explore Umeå. For dinner on Sunday some of us went to an authentic Italian restaurant recommended by Krister. It was a great suggestion, the pizzas were made right in front of us, and they were huge!

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On Monday we visited the University of Umeå, and spent some time at the Center for Sami Research. This is where Krister works, so he gave us a tour of the whole center. Although the center is affiliated with the University of Umeå, no teaching is done in the center. Instead there are a number of researchers, including a number of students working towards their PhD.

At the center we had two lectures from researchers, Lena Maria Nilsson from the Arctic Research Center located one floor below the Center for Sami Research, and Anna-Lill Ledman from the Center for Sami Research. Lena has PhD in Public Health, and she talked about two of her more recent projects. In one of them she and others researched food and water safety in the Arctic region, and looking at indicators for public health. She also talked about the issues that came up in this research, especially data collection. Her other presentation looked at the intersection of religion, culture, and public health. This research was sparked by an eye disease that she got last year, which turns out to be a common issue in the Sami people. She looked at how eye diseases have been seen through stories and curses that are now traditions in Sapmi.

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Anna-Lill Ledman gave us a short overview of Sami history. In recent years she has been traveling around, mostly in Europe, teaching about the Sami. Her dissertation was titled “To Represent or to be Represented”, she focuses on the representation of the Sami people. She talked about some basic Sami history, and also the purpose of the Center for Sami Research. Representation, education, outreach, and critique are the goals of the center. They want to work on educating and working with both the Sami and other Swedes, trying to make their work relevant for both groups.

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This clock hangs from the ceiling at the Umeå University Library. The mirrors move every minute!

That evening we had our first group dinner in Sweden. As a group we signed up for different jobs for our time in Umeå, including travel, gift preparation for our hosts, food, scheduling, and the “on time” person. I signed up for the food preparation and organization with Britta. We went to the store and bought ingredients for tacos, and then anyone who wanted to help cook was busy making a huge meal. It was great having the whole group sit down for a meal for the first time since arriving in Sweden.

 

 

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Our guide Krister, and Maria.

On Tuesday Krister organized a morning activity for us. We went back to the Vasterbotten museum, but this time we went into the woods. The museum has a number of traditional Sami villages from different Sami groups set up. We went into a South Sami hut, which would have housed one or two families. South Sami structures are semi permanent structures, formed mostly with large branches in a dome shape. The wood in our fire was a bit wet, causing thereto be a lot of smoke, and we were a bit cramped with twenty people, but I had a great time. In the structure we shared stories. It was an opportunity for the Semester in Sweden group to get to know each other better. Krister even told us some stories that he knew because of his Sami heritage. It was a great way to spend our last day in Umeå!

Where we spent our morning!

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A North Sami storage building. It is raised up to keep animals out.

 


2 Comments

  1. Krister Stoor says:

    All my clothes had a smell of birch wood smoke. A lovely odour.

  2. Maria Jeremiason says:

    You all look so much like students rather than bundled up adventurers in the University photos! This is such great fun. It’s so hard to explain these experiences to the full extent of how great they are, but you’re doing a really nice job.