Exchange report - Student at KI
The discipline of Academia require discipline
Home university: Makerere University
Study programme: Global Health (Master's)
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Spring semester 2016/2017
Name: Julius Busiri
Email address:


Initially, I never intended to travel out of Sweden for my research project. However, due to lack of suitable ongoing research projects for me in most research groups at Karolinska Institutet at  that time, I looked for opportunities elsewhere. Fortunately, it was announced that there was an opportunity to conduct research at Makerere University in Kampala and that this opportunity came with a travel grant.  I was fortunate enough to have identified a project in my area of interest-adolescent health. In addition, I have always revered Makerere University since the times I spent in Uganda as a young boy before travelling back to my home country, South Sudan. I was very pleased by the coordination office at KI, for the prompt and comprehensive communication regarding the prerequisites for getting this travel grant. Makerere University too was so open to discussion about time schedules for my engagement into the research project. There was no requirement for any new vaccination. However, I had already been immunized against yellow fever prior to my arrival in Sweden. This was a requirement upon entry into Uganda.
Braving the Swedish Coldness

Arrival and registration

Since the project was already ongoing, it was upon me to set a time of arrival as long as my study schedule was not affected back at Karolinska Institutet. Hence, after my last course in early February, I took two more weeks for an elective course in Statistics. I also used this time to finalize by discussions with my research co-supervisor who was based in Sweden. Since my purpose of joining Makerere University was basically research, I was not given any introductory courses but I was rather introduced to the other members of the research team. I needed minimal orientation about the university because I had been there before and I knew my way around most of the things. I was introduced to some senior academicians as part of a mentorship arrangement to orient me more regarding research and the research subject.


The cost of living was not so high for me. Of course this was because I have some relatives staying in Kampala already. However, for a student that wishes to have an exchange study period  at Makerere University, it is important to inquire directly from the contact person that they have in Uganda to look for affordable places of residence. Its advisable not to disclose explicitly that the visiting student is a European or probably from another foreign country because this may inadvertently lead to a hike in the prices. There is a belief that foreigners are less "stingy" and are more willing to pay without bargain. If the team is big enough, its also advisable to rent in a single residence and have common means of transport to and fro their residence. The visa fee for me was 50 USD. I am not sure if this is a uniform fee even for citizens from other countries other than Africa. Transport costs are relatively  large proportion of the daily expenditure. This is true because with the too much traffic jam and the congestion, at times it was inevitable to use the "boda-boda" the motorcycle taxi. They charge relatively more however could also be more risky.


I had prior contacts in Uganda, part of my family lives there. I couldn't compare with other places but I was definitely comfortable at home. My home was a bit far out f town and far from the university as well. However, Kampala also has some good places for students to stay depending on the budget someone has.  

Studies in general

I actually travelled to carry out my research project from Makerere University. I was so impressed by the availability of my supervisory team and other staff. The university environment was a bit busier than I expected. My main supervisor would at times have to delay our sessions due to the large number of patients she had to attend to. I was the only student on the research project so I got maximum attention. KI is different from Makerere in many ways. Internet services at Makerere are not as fast as they are in KI. Secondly, since the medical school in Makerere was located in the same premises as he main hospital, it was a bit "messy" with students and patients all over the place. Not so easy to enjoy a serene reading environment.

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 2 at KI
I actually did not have courses per se but I enjoyed my research project in Makerere University. The learning experiences were so good from the various research teammates. The mode of supervision I was accorded was a good balance between professional guidance and independence. The critique I got was fair and so constructive at all times. I learnt to work on a research project with independence yet  within the professional and ethical  limits.  However, it would have been so nice if I was paired with other students from Makerere University who were also on the same project to enhance peer-to-peer style of learning.

Language and Culture

I had no problem learning in English though its not my native language. I have been using English in all my school days. There were no language lessons. Besides that, having studied in Uganda before, I speak the native Ugandan languages well. There was certainly no cultural clash at all.

Leisure time and social activities

Particularly, the Medical school where I was attached did not have so much leisure opportunities. To engage in sports and other leisure activities I would wait for the weekend and do it from home. It was a bit difficult to engage in students' activities for many reasons/ First, I was so busy with my research project. Secondly, postgraduate students who could have been my natural colleagues were busy too. Third, my schedules never really matched the schedules of the undergraduate students since for some time after my arrival, they were doing their mid-semester tests. However, from my basic intuition, the student life is great if at all I was to spend much more time there.


I am extremely blessed to have had the exchange programme. Though, the time was brief, I learnt a lot. I learnt the basic principles of working in a collaborative arrangement. On a personal note, I made numerous friends at Makerere and most importantly those with similar aspirations and interest. My resolve got stronger to work in academia and for the welfare of children and adolescents. Generally, I couldn't have asked for more.