Exchange report - Student at KI
One of Leiden's canals
Home university: Universiteit Leiden
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: Erasmus
Semester: Autumn semester 2016/2017
Name: Felicia Jennysdotter Olofsgård
Email address:


Why I Went
One of my friends who had gone to Leiden the previous semester had recommended me to go. She warned me that it would be hard work, but a great experience and well worth it. I have always loved to travel and experience new cultures so an exchange term is always something I have wanted to do. For the 3rd term in Biomedicine at Karolinska, Leiden University in the Netherlands is the only option if you want to go on exchange. Leiden University and Karolinska has had an exchange for years and are closely connected. Leiden University is the oldest university in the Netherlands with a rich history and Leiden itself is a university town. The university is spread all over Leiden, but the Leiden University Medical Center is situated in four large buildings close to the train station. Stockholm is a great city, but I wanted to experience a real university town and Leiden was a great choice. 

Pre-departure Preparations
There is a bit of administrative things you need to take care of before you can get accepted into Leiden University and before you can leave. Our international coordinator at KI was quick at responding to questions and summarized well what we had to do to apply. You need to make sure that you stay updated in all the emails that both international coordinators at KI and at Leiden send you. It is good to save them in an individual folder. Write down all the student numbers and passwords you receive so you don't forget them when you have to log in months later. The application part was quite straight forward even if it was a bit of work getting the application form signed and collecting my grades from the first year. To apply you need a personal letter (an A4 paper explaining why you want to go and why you would be a good KI ambassador), your grades from the first year (you can get that from Infopunkten), your CV in English (list both education and work), and filled out application form containing some personal information. Once you get approved by Karolinska that you can apply, you are almost guaranteed a spot in Leiden. When you get the acceptance letter, there are a few more things you need to do. It's a good to start early when looking for housing especially if you want to pay the housing fee. Also, make sure you have insurance which covers everything. If you are from a EU country, the European health card usually covers the Netherlands (as long as you have a good insurance in your home country). There was a bit of miscommunication during the summer between the international administration in Leiden and me. They were very late in sending  the email about paying for introduction week. When I asked them about it, they told me that I wasn't in the register. We had to email a bit back and forth, but it turns out it was just a misunderstanding and everyone from Karolinska were registered. So you might have to be prepared to email the international coordinators of Leiden if things are not working out.

It was not necessary for me to get any vaccinations. If you have a passport from another country than Sweden, it might be necessary for you to prove that you have taken certain vaccinations by showing your vaccinations records. 
One of the canals in Leiden

Arrival and registration

What to do when you arrive

Town Hall Appointment
When you get to Leiden or even before you arrive, it is good to book in an appointment with your local Town Hall. If you are not registered at a Town Hall you will have to pay a tourist tax of one euro per day which adds up if you are staying there for four months. You will also get your BSN number through the Town Hall. Depending on where you live you belong to different town halls. If you live in or close to Leiden you belong to the Leiden town hall. If you live in Den Haag you belong to that town hall. I lived far enough away from Leiden that I belonged to another town hall called Alphen a/d Rijn. Once you book an appointment you need to bring your passport and in some cases your birth certificate (I didn't need to) and fill in some paper work. You will then get a letter in the mail.

Buying/renting a bike
I bought my second hand bike at a store called Budget Bikes. There are two or three of them in central Leiden. They are usually a good place to buy and sell your bike. Though it could be good to go to different bike stores to make sure you get a good price. I got my bike including lock for 120 which was a bit on the expensive side for a second hand bike but it lasted the entire term and I was very happy with it. If you are selling it off before you return home, you might have to prepare to settle for less than you were planning to sell it for. I had to bargain a lot just to get 30 for my bike. You can also hire a bike for a fixed price each month. They are a pretty good option if you are not planning to bike too much or too long distances. The bikes you hire usually don't have gears and therefore it can be a hassle to go far with them. There are bike parking spaces underneath the medical faculty, so you don't have to worry about not having spaces to put your bike when you go to lectures. There are also bike parking spaces near the central station.

The introduction week
I arrived a few days before OWL (introduction) week began so I had time to get settled a bit before it started. You need to sign up for OWL week sometime during the summer so keep a look out for that email. If you still haven't received an email late in the summer, it can be good to contact them. It costs 80, but that includes all the dinner and lunches that week so it is well worth the money.

I definitely recommend you participate in the OWL week. It is very well organised and a lot of fun. It is a great way to get to know your international classmates as well as international students from other classes and faculties. It is from Monday to Friday one week before you begin and each day has a specific theme. You usually have two guides who are dutch students who belong to the same faculty as you. My group had two really nice guides. The groups you get divided into are based on what faculty you go to so my group had both international biomedical and medical students. Part of the introduction week focuses on getting to know Leiden as a town. You get to know more about the dutch cultures as well as more about the actual university. There is one day during the introduction week where you visit the medical faculty and get more practical information about the program. It is quite full-packed days and you get to do everything from listen to the mayor speak in one of the big churches in Leiden to pub crawls, to boat trips along the canals. 
During OWL week, there was a bbq set up close to the Hoglandskerk.


Food and Housing
I took standard CSN loans and it more than covered the costs of living in Leiden. As a rule, the rent and housing fees are the same as in Stockholm, however, the costs for food and other activities are less expensive. The food in the grocery store, especially vegetables and bread, is comparatively cheap. Alcohol is also less expensive as well as movie tickets and other social events. You still need to remember to budget of course. Since there were many KI students staying in the Budget Hotel. we took turns buying the groceries and preparing dinner. Jumbo is a standard good quality super market, that I frequently visited. Aldi is a cheaper lower quality alternative. If you are okay with going a bit farther to stock up on groceries, Lidl is good place to go buy cheap household items. 

Vaccinations and Visa
It was not necessary for me to take any vaccinations so there was no cost for that. Since the Netherlands is in the EU, it is not necessary for Swedish citizens to apply for visa.

Study Fees
Since it is an exchange, the tuition is free for Karolinska students (the dutch students have to pay tuition). The textbooks are what will cost the most study wise. They can be quite expensive (as similar to Karolinska). It is definitely not necessary to buy all of them. I have written in the "Studies" section which textbooks I bought. You can also join many clubs while you're there. I joined the international group called ISN. Usually it doesn't cost more than 10 euros for the membership fee. 

Traveling in the Netherlands
As an exchange student you want to explore the country you are living in. The Netherlands is a very nice country to do so in since it is quite a small country with a very high population density so all the cities are close to each other (except for a few). The public transport system is not cheap, however, since it takes so little time to get in between cities it is not so expensive to explore other dutch cities. You get an NS (train system) card and top it up when you need to. For all the local transport around Leiden you can take a bus, but usually bike is the go-to transport. It is cheap and the entire Netherlands is well adjusted for bike travel. It is quite astounding how many bikes there are, especially in Amsterdam.

Paying in the Netherlands
The Netherlands uses euros and different bank cards than in Sweden. Most supermarkets and small stores do not accept VISA cards. More touristy places can accept VISA cards but mostly the dutch people use their own bank cards directly connected to their bank accounts. You can also use Maestro cards. What I did when I was in the Netherlands, was mostly take out cash from the ATM using my VISA card. You can pay with cash in almost all stores. One exception is the canteen in the LUMC, however, they have newly added a cash register which takes cards such as VISA cards so it should be no problem. A problem with just taking out cash from the ATM of course, is the ATM fees every time you take out. You can apply for a dutch bankcard, but then you need an BSN number (like a Swedish personal number) which you get from the Town Hall. 

A picture from the New Church in Delft.


Finding Housing
At Leiden University, it is possible to apply for help with finding a house if you are an exchange student. You have to pay a housing fee of 350. They will then try to find you an accommodation within student housing either in Leiden or Den Haag which is roughly 12 min with train from Leiden Central Station. I applied for student housing and payed the housing fee. What is important to know is that paying the housing fee does not guarantee that they will find you housing. Even if you pay before the final deadline, that does not mean they will have a student room available for you. One of the problems, us KI students had were that we didn't get our acceptance letter for Leiden until the beginning of May and the deadline was already at the end of May. I payed the housing fee around 1-2 weeks before the deadline was set. In the end of June, I got an email saying that they had no rooms for me and that I would have to continue looking on my own. None of the KI students who applied that year got housing. I know that the year before wasn't as bad and that most KI students who applied for help got student housing, so it seems very different from year to year. You also have to be a bit careful with the student housing. I had a friend who was offered a room which costs more than 600 per month and therefore above what she wanted to pay. Once the student housing have offered you a room, they aren't obliged to offer you any more rooms even if you are not interested and therefore my friend had to take it. When applying for housing you can list what you consider paying for a room and usefully they take that into account, however, that is not always the case when there are few rooms left. The end of June was quite late to start looking for housing. There are Facebook groups (search for "Leiden Housing" on Facebook) which help connect students who are renting out their room with international students who are looking for a room to rent for a semester. It is possible to get a good room through those sources though it requires more work and sometimes the roommates want to interview you first meaning you have to visit Leiden during the summer. You will have to expect to pay at least 350 per month for a room, but 400 euros is pretty normal. It will of course be cheaper if you have a roommate than if you live alone.

The Budget Hotel
I was lucky since one of my KI classmates had heard of a Budget Hotel not too far away from Leiden which let students (and workers) rent a room for a few months. It was situated in Groenendijk which is quite far outside central Leiden, more on the countryside. It took around 35 minutes to bike to school every day. It is not a very glamorous place, but it works for a student for a few months. I shared the room with a KI classmate and therefore the price was reasonable. If you are staying alone in a room the price would be a bit too expensive for a student. The manager at the hotel is very nice and you can easily ask for things you believe are missing. Four KI students stayed at the hotel and we became friends with some other students staying there. It is possible to take a bus from the hotel but it is quite expensive and goes irregularly. The best option is definitely buying a second hand bike and using that all term. It's 7.5 km to bike to university but it's completely flat the entire way so it's not that tiring. You will miss out on some of the university town feel since you will be living so far away, but if you are still determined to do something in Leiden at night, as long as you bring a friend it should be fine. There are probably better alternatives for the same price where you would get a bigger room and an own kitchen, but it's a good safety option if you can't find anything better.  

Here is the link for the Budget Hotel: 
One of the farms we rode past everyday when we biked to University.

Studies in general

Studying in Leiden in general
The Leiden University Medical Center is the medical faculty of Leiden University and is abbreviated LUMC. The school work in Leiden was challenging. It was definitely not the case that you could take it a bit easier because you were on exchange. The workload is high at LUMC and there is more self-study assignments and workgroups than at Karolinska. Karolinska has more lectures and everything you need to know for the test is in the lectures.  At LUMC, for many courses, you weren't in school for more than 3-4 hours, however, you were expected to read pages in the books and answer questions for the day after. The workload also starts abruptly, there is not really a slow first week where you get to know the course. Already the first day you will receive assignments for the day afterwards. 

This being said, it is surely possible to keep up with the workload. It is very hard to save everything to the last minute. You won't have time to read all the necessary pages. If you consistently study throughout the term, you will have time over to do other things such as travel and social activities, but it's important to plan. 

Many of the lectures take place in the actual hospital building. I really enjoyed that because it was nice tie between the theoretical and clinical aspects of Biomedicine. Many of the aspects are more clinical than Karolinska. We got clinical cases to examine for many of the workgroups and also got a patient demonstration during one of the courses. On the other hand, there is not as much practical labs at LUMC. There is only a few labs during the entire term and very few lab reports. Karolinska has a lot more lab practicals. Some of the lessons termed microscopic practicals actually are only on the computer, with microscopic images.  

For the most part, I have been very happy with the teachers at Leiden. Many of them were passionate about their subject and had good teaching skills. There were quite a few guest lectures who only taught a few lectures, but there were also some teachers who were in charge of the whole course and taught a large part of the lectures. Similar to Sweden, there is quite a flat structure when it comes to authority so it is possible to ask questions to teachers and discuss with them the courses. The workgroups are when you get the best contact with the teachers and can hopefully feel free to ask more extensively about the subjects.

Blackboard is LUMC's version of Ping Pong. It is an online resource which is used frequently by teachers and students. It is important to check it regularly. Usually if there is any change in schedule or if a teacher wants to contact the student, they write it here. Sometimes assignments are written on Blackboard or in the module book, but otherwise not mentioned so it's important to log in frequently. Blackboard is where you can find weblectures. The weblectures are recorded videos of old lectures including PowerPoint slides. They are a very helpful tool. You can pause them as much you want and even speed them up if you want to process them quicker. Going through the weblecture can help information stick which it didn't the first time you heard the lecture. It depends on what course you have, how long it takes for the weblectures to be uploaded.

For every course there are textbooks which are recommended to buy. It is definitely not necessary to buy all of them. The Immunology course is heavily based on one textbook (Parham) and I was very glad that I bought it. I read almost the entire book since you are supposed to read pages from it for each workgroup, usually around a chapter per work group. The Infectious Agents and Diseases course did not have an assigned textbook, instead you were given articles to read which could be attained online. The Physiology textbook had four textbooks which you were to read from for each self study assignment. I did not buy any of them since they were too expensive. Some students bought some of them which seemed more important. Some of them can also be used in other courses later on in the Biomedical program. Each course also has a module book which lays the groundwork for how the course is organised and also contains all the self-study and workgroup assignments. You can either choose to buy a paper copy or use the one they uploaded on Blackboard. You can buy the textbooks and module books through the LUMC bookstore. Since it is run by the students, the opening hours are very limited. It is only open certain weekdays during the week and usually during lunch hour. 

Grading System
There is a different grading system at Leiden than at Karolinska. The grading system in Leiden goes from 1 to 10 with 1 being the worst and 10 the best. You need a 5.5 to pass a course. It is almost impossible to get a 9 or 10. The grades you get in Leiden won't be translated into Karolinska grades meaning it will just say that you have passed all the courses, not if you got a G or VG.
Tutor Lessons
LUMC has organised special tutor lessons for international pre-masters and exchange students. They are taught by a Master's student. The idea of the tutor lessons is for new students to get more used to how things are taught at LUMC. The lessons go over how best to tackle the exams and for the physiology course, the lessons summarized all the subjects we had learnt so far. They were especially helpful. Not all tutor lessons felt necessary to go to, but many of them were valuable.

The final tests were not as long as at Karolinska. None were longer than three hours. This meant that there could be quite a time pressure which we are not used to at Karolinska. Some of the tests also had a different structure than the standard final tests we usually take at Karolinska. The immunology test was an open book test. The physiology tests were multiple choice. 
The Education Building in Leiden University Medical Center

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 3 at KI

Courses with Dutch Students

Immunology is the first course. I'm interested in immunology and I enjoyed learning the subject. This course is very focused around the workgroups which usually take place every other day. As I have said earlier, buying the Immunology textbook is very helpful since you will use it a lot. For each workgroup you usually need to read roughly one chapter in the Parham Immunology textbook and then answer questions associated with the subject you read about. These questions will then be discussed in the workgroups. In the module book it says which questions are discussed when. It usually takes the whole two hours to discuss the questions since you can always ask relevant questions and it's a good opportunity to ask your mentor teacher about things you need clarified. The final grade is made up partially of the grade you got for the lab report and mostly on the grade you got for the final test. The final test is three hours long and is an open book test. This is to allow you to look up certain terms you don't remember, but most of the questions will be open ended and therefore require fundamental knowledge and understanding. 

Infectious Agents and Diseases
This course came after Immunology and was broken into many different parts. Unfortunately this made it quite messy. The schedule changed constantly so it was important to keep track on the updates on Blackboard. The actual subject matter was interesting and we covered many fascinating microbes. Infectious Agents and Diseases looked at different bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites causing pathology. The course was broken into the theory part, the mini project, and the electives. The theory part consisted of workgroups and instead of reading from a textbook, you practiced reading scientific articles and answering questions surrounding the experiments mentioned in the articles. The mini project part was one of my favorite modules since we got to work with an actual lab team in their lab. My group got to work with anti-microbial peptides. We tested which peptide was most effective when placed in urine. We compiled the data and our whole group worked together to create a PowerPoint which two of the group members presented. You got to choose between a lists of subjects for the electives module. I got my first hand pick of working with helminth worms to prevent allergies using regulatory T cells. We read articles about our subject and had one practical day where we got to visit the animal lab in the research building and examine snails with schistosomiasis and mosquitoes with malaria. The electives module ended with a presentation.

Physiology Basic Concepts
Physiology looks at how the different systems in your body function in a healthy state. The whole body is not covered. The course is broken into two parts with the first part being Cardiovascular and Respiratory Physiology and the second part being Renal Physiology and Homeostasis including some endocrine functions. The biological components and the physics behind the function of the heart, lungs, and kidneys are explained. There are some mathematical calculations involved as well as  knowledge of the anatomical sections of these organs. 

Physiology is a difficult course, but manageable. They changed the layout of the course and the test quite a lot from the year before us. Apparently that test was way too difficult. They took out a significant amount from the respiratory section of the course in order to decrease the workload and that seems to have made a difference. The Physiology course is mainly based on self-study assignments meaning they assign pages you should read in the books and then questions you are supposed to answer pertaining to those pages. This questions are usually not discussed in a workgroup, they are just for your own learning. The self-study assignments can take a very long time to complete. many students do not finish all of them, instead they focus on the subjects they have trouble with and for the rest they look at the lectures. Looking at old weblectures is very helpful. I focused on trying to understand the concepts we learned in the lectures and it worked out well. The head teacher for the Cardiovascular part of Physiology was especially good at explaining the concepts and was very keen that we understand.

Courses for exchange students

Biomedical Academic Scientific Training (BAST)
The main point of BAST was to allow students to better understand what it's like to be PhD students. You have as an assignment to interview a PhD student as well as their supervisor. You work in small groups of exchange students and organize the interview yourself. It was quite different than the other courses and brought nice variation. The teacher responsible for the course is very enthusiastic and helpful. It is a good time to ask questions you might have about research and the academic world in general. You write a final report for the final grade which summarizes the two interviews and certain other topics which your group was responsible for covering. It takes a bit of planning so you need to have good communication within the group. I enjoyed preparing the interviews and writing the report with my group.

Communication in Science for Exchange Students (CIS)
This course focused on developing your communication skills. It was interwoven with the other courses through the term. Sometimes the CIS assignments fit well with the main course. Sometimes the assignment just added to the workload. We had to prepare a presentation about a scientific article. We also had to write a persuasive essay. Dutch students also have CIS, but exchange students have a few extra assignments since we need to accredit more university points. This can be slightly confusing since there is both CIS for exchange students and normal CIS. As an exchange student you need to do all the assignments for both. CIS also has a few lectures on how to write a good persuasive essay and how to structure a scientific presentation. They also give you feedback on your presentations and essays which can be helpful.   

Electrophysiology for Exchange Students
In this course, exchange students get to learn how to interpret electrocardigrams (ECGs). It is quite a clinical course, but good preparation for physiology. It is slightly oddly placed since the lectures and workgroups are placed in September and the cardiovascular part of the Physiology course does not start until November, however, the extra time is needed to work on the large article review students are expected to write and hand in during the beginning of December. The teacher in charge is very nice and passionate about the subject. We also got to have our own ECGs taken. Luckily, everyone seemed to have normal ECGs. The workgroups and lectures were enjoyable and since we were such a small group, it was easy to ask questions. The final article review we had to write was quite cumbersome. It was very long and the articles we reviewed were over our heads. It's smart to start writing on it at least by the beginning of November. 
The hospital building of LUMC

Language and Culture

All the courses on my exchange were in English, so I didn't have to know any dutch. The dutch are known for being good at English and you can talk English with almost anyone. Sometimes the dutch students would talk in dutch so you felt a bit excluded, but mostly they tried to stick to English for your sake. It can be fun to learn a bit of dutch while you're there. I didn't hear of any dutch classes you could take, but I'm sure they exist even though you probably have to pay money.

Since Sweden and the Netherlands are so close to each other, the culture is also very similar. I would say that the dutch are slightly less reserved than the Swedish, but still more reserved than southern Europeans or Americans. The Netherlands is also environmentally friendly and very progressively. They are very liberal and accepting of everyone. Especially Amsterdam is a very multicultural city.  

Since the food in the grocery stories are relatively cheap, it's a perfect time to cook homemade food for dinner. The canteen in LUMC is almost half the price of the canteen at Karolinska so I ate there almost every day. They have many choices to choose from and the quality of the food was high. The Dutch like fried food. There is bitterbollen, croquets, and french fries, which are all delicious, but you can grow tired of them after a while. The cheese in the Netherlands is amazing and trying freshly made stroopwafel is a must. 
My roommate and I swinging off the A'DAM tower in Amsterdam.

Leisure time and social activities

As an exchange student you want to explore the country you're living in. The Netherlands is a very good country to travel in since it's such a small country, but has a very high population density meaning Leiden is surrounded by many cute towns and exciting cities to visit. Amsterdam is only around 35-40 minutes by train away from Leiden . It costs 18 euros for a return ticket. When you're traveling by train you use an NS ticket which is a card which you top up when you need to. You need at least 20 on your card in order to get into the train station. It's important to remember to tap out on one of the machines as well when you reach your final destination otherwise you lose 20. This same card you can use for buses as well, but then you need less money on it in order for it to work. Biking really is the main form of transportation when you want to just go to somewhere in or close to Leiden. The bike pathways are always present and bikes are always prioritized. 

Places to visit
Amsterdam, as I mentioned, is relatively close to Leiden and is great for day trips. It's a must if you're studying in Leiden. I would recommend you go on the Free Walking Tour one of the times you visit so you get a good overview over the city. I especially enjoyed the beautiful Jordaan district.

Another town, than Amsterdam and Leiden, I would recommend you to visit is Gouda, where the cheese comes from. It is a very picturesque town with a beautiful town hall standing in the middle of the square. You should definitely try to go to Gouda during their annual ceremony of lighting the Christmas tree. During the event, the major holds a speech, there is a lot of music all over town, and they light candles everywhere including the town hall. 

Den Haag is only 12 minutes from  Leiden by train and there is a chance you will receive student housing there. Many of my friends lived there so I visited quite frequently. It is where the government sits and it has many impressive government buildings and embassies. It is even possible to bike from Leiden to Den Haag, but it takes around two hours. Remember to check the weather if you plan to bike. We made the mistake of biking when it was pouring rain, but it was a good adventure anyways. 

Rotterdam is a very modern city compared to most other Dutch towns. It has many skyscrapers and the second biggest harbor in the world. Taking a harbor tour on a boat is good way of seeing it.

Utrecht is another big student town. It's a bit farther away from Leiden but it's worth visiting at least once. It has the highest church tower in the Netherlands.

Harleem is very close to Leiden. It is an old town with a cathedral and many secret courtyards and gardens. It's very enjoyable walking around the city looking for them. 
Many of my friends who were exchange students from Singapore traveled extensively around in Europe. For them it's an excellent time to see more of the continent when they live relatively close. So traveling to other countries is definitely something you can do, but again you need to organize you studies well if you're taking a weekend off to travel. I traveled mostly just in the Netherlands, except for one weekend trip to Belgium. Four classmates and I took a flixbus to Brussels, stayed there for two nights and then spent a day in the medieval town of Ghent before we returned back to Leiden late on Sunday. It was a lovely trip. We did the Free Walking Tour in Brussels and saw famous buildings and ate Belgian fries of course. It was around Christmas time so the Christmas markets were up. Ghent exceeded my expectations. It's a gorgeous town with medieval castles and churches littered around the center. Flixbusses are a very convenient way of getting around to neighboring countries.

Social activities in Leiden
It can take a while for you to befriend some dutch students. They already have close friends in the class, but it depends largely on which workgroup you are placed in. It is usually during the workgroups and practicals that you get most contact with the other students since the lectures are so large. I was placed in a very nice workgroup. The dutch students tried hard to include the other international student and I. The group shared documents and assignments to help each other out. I know that other exchange students did not have as considerate workgroups and there it was much more split into groups. 

Student Life
Leiden is undeniably a student city. The dutch students have fraternities and sororities. If you want to experience a bit of that aspect of student life, you can join Leiden United. It's an organisation which tries to bring together international and dutch students. You pay a fee in the beginning of the term which allows you to eat dinner at a certain number of dutch fraternities. You get slotted into a group with a mixture of international and dutch students and with this group you visit the fraternities. There is also a large organisation for international students called ISN. They host an international night every Wednesday at a bar called Einsteins. You pay a small fee to become a member which gives you discount for their events and allows you to participate in international night. They are good way of meeting other international students and also get to know the Netherlands better since they frequently do trips to Amsterdam and trips around Leiden.  

Leiden has many small bars and cafes where students can meet and many of the bars organize events. There are also parks in Leiden where you can have picnics and plenty of cozy restaurants.  

We had seven class representatives in our class including one international student representative. They had a variety of responsibilities, but one of the main ones was organizing a few social events where the whole class could meet. They organised a karaoke night in Hepatho which is the cafe/bar which is located in the hospital building of LUMC. The karaoke night didn't take place until November so it was already a bit late in meeting with the dutch students, but it was an enjoyable experience and we got to know some of our dutch classmates better.

Leiden University has a nice sports center. It costs to be a member, around 60 for 3 months. If you plan to exercise there regularly then it's absolutely worth it. They have many different classes and sports you can join which is included in the membership costs. They also have a modern gym. There is a swimming club you can join. 

Here is the link for the sportscenter: 
We visited Belgium over a weekend. This a picture from Ghent.


I see my overall experience as an exchange student in Leiden as a positive experience. I have been on my own traveling before, but I have never really stayed in one place and built a life on my own. It was a great learning experience and I know now that I can live abroad independently. Not to say I never missed my home or Karolinska, but I feel that more opportunities are opened to me now that I know that living abroad can be challenging but undoubtedly worth it. I have tested how it's like to study in a different structure than at Karolinska and that it's possible to adjust to it if you're open to changing your habits a bit. I meet a lot of interesting and kind people from all over the world. I got to know a country and a culture which I really learned to appreciate. The Netherlands and Leiden are places I could go back to and I'm happy I got to experience a real student city. I feel there are some professors/teachers which I know well enough now to be able to contact if in the future I come back to Leiden or I find new career opportunities abroad that I need help with. Going abroad is usually a merit to most employers since it shows you know how to handle new situations and that you are used to the international academic world. This is of course helpful for the future. I also realized that I find immunology fascinating and it could possibly be a field I could work in.  

It was challenging and intense semester, but also very fun and full of experiences. You have to be prepared to work quite hard to both pass all the courses and have time to travel and socialize. To wrap it up, it was worth it!   
The exchange students from Biomedicine when we went ice skating in Leiden.