Reserapport - KI-student
Lärosäte: Universiteit Leiden
Utbildningsprogram: Biomedicin
Utbytesprogram: Erasmus
Termin: Hösttermin 16/17

Innan avresa

The reasons why I wanted to leave for exchange was not so much the specific destination, as we had no choice in this for. I had previously thought about doing a full study programme abroad so it felt like a natural step for me to try it out. What intrigued me most was the difference in study methods, meeting new people and developing international contacts in the biomedical field. Our exchange coordinator also had previous experience of studying in the Netherlands which means she did a good job of objectively promoting the studies, without focusing exclusively on the positives. Another reason I wanted to go was the uncomplicated nature of this exchange in particular. Because we would have the same courses in KI as in LUMC I figured there was no reason, studywise, not to go.

Ankomst och registrering

I definitely advice arriving a week or two in advance of the studies. This is both to give you time to get used to your new home and to be there in time for OWL week, which is Leiden university's introduction week. Through OWL week I made friends with many other exchange students. The friendship remained throughout the studies all the way back to Sweden and I expect to keep in touch with some of them for years to come. 


When it comes to the cost of living it is actually a pretty pleasing situation if you arrive from Sweden. You are going to hear a lot of germans complaining about high grocery prices but don't be fooled, you will defeinitely eat cheaper here than in Sweden. There are a couple of different grocery stores in the town. For a person on a budget Jumbo and Aldi are nice stores. If you are willing to spend a little more for higher quality I would recommend Albert Hein. The days of preparing food one day in advance and bringing it in a pink lunchbox will also take a hiatus. Usually you can find nice food in the LUMC canteen for ca 5 euros. Eating out usually comes a little bit more expensive, but if you are willing to look around there are places that charge you ca 6-7 euros for a cheap dinner.

If you only have mastercard you are going to have a bad time. None of the stores seem to accept it. Rabobank seems to be the way to go. For this you also need a citizenship number which you should take care of as you arrive. I decided not to get the bank card and used cash instead. This does work but of course it is a nuisance to withdraw money all the time.


Accomodation was the biggest problem for the exchange students of our batch. We were told we would receive help finding an apartment through LU but they came up with nothing. Hopefully the situation looks better next year. It is possible to find housing by looking around on housing anywhere, Airbnb and random dutch rental sites but you have to be patient. Four of us stayed at a hostel a little bit outside Leiden, in the Groenendijk budget hotel. This was ca 30 min by bike outside of Leiden. Mostly the bike rides were nice, but once the rain pours it does get annoying. You should also be aware of the fact that the rain does pour often.

The hostel had a joint kitchen with separate rooms. Me and my roommate shared one for ca 760/month. This was a little bit much seeing that it was a pretty dirty environment. Other than students there were also alcoholics living there. They usually kept to themselves and they were not violent. But if that makes you uncomfortable you should look elsewhere. All in all I would recommend the hostel it if you enjoy riding your bike 60 min a day and don't mind a bit of dirt in your kitchen. Otherwise, it is probably smarter to look around more.

Some of the other exchange students managed to find places more centrally, usually they paid 400-700/month. Other students lived in the Hague. This is only a train journey of ca 30 min so if that doesn't bother you you should also try looking there.

Studier allmänt

The studies in LUMC are a little bit different from KI. Although you do go through all of the concepts on the exam during lectures, the lectures are more compressed. More focus is put on self studies and studying from the book. Seminars are also a bigger part of the education in LUMC than in KI. They are usually lead by competent teachers, but of course the quality varies. Differences are that in LUMC you have the same seminar teacher through out the course, and they are also obligatory.

Other than that, the studies were actually more difficult than I had anticipated. I had to spend around 7 hours of total study time per day during the course and 2 hours more right before an exam. Usually I spend 6 hours back in KI.

The lecturers were generally very knowledgeable and good presenters. The education had a quality feel to it overall.

Kurser under utbytet

Kurser motsvarande termin 3 på KI
The main courses were: Immunology, infectious agents and immunity and physiology. We also had extra courses which were separate for the exchange students. These were: Biomedical academical scientific training (BAST), communication in science (CIS) and electrophysiology.

Immunology was a good course for introduction to their study system. There is a lot of reading to be done and many seminars to take part in. Try to get started with the studying immediately and keep on top of it. It is probably not the most difficult course but try not to underestimate it. The exam is of open-book style. I would recommend studying for it like a normal exam though. This way you won't have to waste time opening the book for every question. The exam questions are not too hard, just keep in mind that it is very time-constrained.

Infectious agents and immunity was an organisational failure for our semester. We were split into project groups two times during the course and it was difficult to know where you were supposed to be at what time. It contains two practicals where you actually work alongside PhD students. The exam was not very difficult. If you plan to do traveling I would recommend the weekends of this course. Just be careful not to miss the practicals.

Physiology was definitely the most difficult course. Here I would recommend studying basically all the time. Try not to have a personal life. The exam is MCQ but the grading is a bit diffuse. you need approximately 70 % to pass, but it depends on how many alternatives you have for each question. The difference of physiology in KI and LUMC is that LUMC goes more into detail of the cardiovascular system and the kidneys. KI does not delve as deep, but gives a better overview.

The exchange specific courses were generally enjoyable. During the BAST course we interviewed a PhD student and their supervisor in order to gain insight into the possibility of doing doctoral studies in the future. Electrophysiology was not that demanding. We got the chance to take our own ECGs and to dvelve deeper into a specific topic of cardial physiology and write a simple review article about it. This project is pretty much what you make of it. I don't believe anyone failed, it took a lot of time but in the end I learned a lot from it. As for CIS it was basically just annoying. Assignments were simple but it involved a lot of nitpicking by the examinators. It was also sometimes part of other courses' assignments. For example it was required to do some presentations in immunology. The CIS teachers also examined these presentations in order to give you advice in how to improve.

Språk och kultur

Basically, there was no culture shock for me. I experienced the dutch culture to be pretty similar to swedish culture. The difference was that drinking was a bigger part of everyday life. for example, I remember first stepping in to the climbing gym and being surprised by it being half a bar. 

Not being able to follow along in discussions with dutch students did feel bad sometimes but usually they were nice and switched to english if they saw that I was trying to understand. There were the occasional mistakes on the powerpoint slides of putting dutch words in the figures. You should already be familiar with the swedish version in KI, though.

There were some language courses offered by LU. If I remember correctly the spots were taken pretty fast and the price was expensive.

Fritid och sociala aktivteter

The university sport center was the main place for training and sport activities. They have many different acitivities such as yoga, volleyball, basketball and a regular gym. It was also very cheap and only ca 10 min by bike from LUMC.

As for social activities it was easy to come into contact with other exchange students through the organisation ISN which I recommend joining. They had parties and events, such as joint travels to nearby cities. Leiden united was a little bit more expensive. I definitely recommend it though. Through Leiden united you could visit fraternities in Leiden and eat food, which usually was pretty good. The Idea behind it is that you meet with 50 % dutch students and 50 % international students, so it aids in integration. 

As for travels, the Netherlands are a good starting point but as far as I was concerned I did not enjoy travelling around the country very much. The nature is non existant, if you want to go for a run you will have to run on bike paths and there highest peak is a meek 300 meters. However, if you enjoy picturesque european cities it will not disappoint.  For weekend trips I would recommend traveling around other countries as well. Belgium is only 3 hours away by car and France ca 5.


All in all I think the exchange was a good experience, both for me personally and my future studies. I made friends with people who live all around the world and have other perceptions of what is important in the biomedical field. To go there with other students from KI helps if it is your first exchange because you actually know someone before you arrive. After the exchange I feel more independent and not as bound by Sweden. It helped me appreciate the international side of our studies more.