January in northern Sweden. Cold and dark. ”It’s just different”, says Elia Swai from Tanzania, used to studying in a warmer and brighter climate.

Elia Swai from Tanzania wasn’t exactly used the weather as autumn in Umeå eventually turned into winter. He makes sure to tell me that he doesn’t dislike the weather in Europe, he’s just not used to it.

In Tanzania winter jackets are more or less unheard of, at least no sane person wears them. Tanzania is close to the Equator which means that day and night are equally long, about 12 hours each, and it’s humid, warm and sunny all year round.

The lack of sunlight here in Umeå was the toughest part for Elia as his sleeping cycle was dramatically changed. When it had been dark for quite a while at 4 or 5 pm it felt to him like late evening, and he went to bed. Way too early. Despite protests from colleagues. And then he would wake up – at 2 o’clock in the middle of the night when everyone else would be asleep – ready for a new day.

Read more about Elia and the lack of sunlight in Umeå
in Vertex nr 1-2015, which appears the 26th of January.

Annelie Markgren
Foto: Emelie Fredriksson