Reserapport - KI-student
Lärosäte: King's College London
Utbildningsprogram: Biomedicin
Utbytesprogram: Erasmus
Termin: Vårtermin 16/17
Namn: Puck Näsman Norell

Innan avresa

Hey you! I see that you are interested in going to London, and maybe specifically to King's College? Well, in that case, I can tell you a bit of this and that!

I already knew before applying for the biomedical program that I wanted to go to London. Therefore, the choice of university was not really that important to me. I heard from others before travelling, and also when coming back to Sweden, that King's has a great neuroscience department. Since I am very interested in neuroscience, this was a great opportunity for me.

It was actually super easy to apply for going abroad. One reason for this was because KI has a great international co-ordinator, and the co-ordinator at King's was super kind and supportive. I pretty much got a lab handed to me, which was great. Use their expertise, and also your classmates to help each other and be supportive. I know that there is some competition amongst you to get the spot that you want, but it is also important to help each other. 

When applying for going abroad:

When you know for certain that you have been nominated for a university, it is great to start looking for a supervisor. The coordinator responsible for your exchange at Karolinska will give you the email to the international coordinator at King’s, and you can ask questions to this person if you do not know where to begin. It was actually through the international coordinator I got the email address to the supervisor that I ended up with! For me, it took 20 minutes from sending the email to the supervisor until getting an email back saying I am welcome to his lab.

This is something that is not really to be expected. Expect that you will have to email for a while, and start as soon as you have been nominated. I do think that is the wisest. Some supervisors will need to Skype with you, and take that opportunity to see how they’re like before meeting them for the first time!

When applying for your specific university (in this case King’s College London):

First of all, of course you have to be nominated by Karolinska Institutet. You cannot apply for a university that you have not been nominated for.

- Go in to the website to see what is actually required from you, and what do need to do. You will find all the required documents here.

-Register an account at King’s application portal system at to be able to create an application

- Add personal details like first name, surname, address, a school email (the and other details

- create a new application where you fill in that you are a study abroad student doing undergraduate studies full time, and that you are not applying via a study abroad coordinator (for some reason)

- select the time period of your stay

- start filling in all the required information. This starts with education. State all your education (that is the easiest) starting from high school, university studies and so on (I did not include my elementary school however I guess you could do that as well). State which year you attended the education, which courses you took, what your average grade was, and also your transcripts for each of them.

- Add previous employment history. Here, I added for example things that I have done within the union and also research internships. Maybe that is not what is supposed to be there, but I just wanted to add as much information about what I have done as possible, and no one ever complained. I think it is better to put more of what you have actually done, than to leave anything out.

- Supporting statement. This is a text that should not extend more than 4000 characters, and should answer the specific questions required. Look at the website for more information

- References. You will need two references for King’s, and you will have to add their names, telephone number, position and relation to you as a student.

- Funding. Basically, they are asking who is paying the tuition fee and who will pay for accommodation.

 After that, you can look through your application and then submit it!

Regarding English proficiency test- if you do not have one, it is fine. I did not have one, but contact your coordinator at Karolinska to write a proof document that the bachelor’s programme is in English and that you are well familiar with English. That will do just fine. You can then send the document in an email through the King’s login application portal. Easy!

You will get emails when something has been changed or added to your application, and when they have decided, you will receive an offer letter if you have been accepted. You will have to accept your offer so you need to click that you accept it.

When you have been accepted, you will have to fill in a Module Request Form (MRF). Since it does not work the same way at King’s with credits, the thesis project is not actually enough to do when going to King’s. You will have to register for an additional course of 15 ECTS points. However, you will not need to do the exam in this course. If it is manageable, it would be great if you managed to do the exam anyways! But there is no need in pushing yourself too far, after all you are abroad and should enjoy yourself just as much as you are putting an effort into your studies.

If you have a hard time understanding which modules that you can actually pick, ask your international coordinator. Visit the website with module information:

It is important to include the times and days that the courses that you are applying for are running, otherwise they will not look at your MRF.

Before travelling:

- Buy flight ticket. My tip is to look at SAS “Ungdom”, which offers people below the age of 25 to travel with SAS for a cheaper price. However, the cheapest tickets do not include a baggage.

If you are a silver member in Eurobonus (SAS) as I am, you can get one baggage (23 kg) for free, and also access the fast track and the lounge that offers free food. However, the lounge and fast track is only valid until the 8th of January for silver members.

- Apply for CSN. I almost forgot this actually, silly me. The thing is that when you are going abroad doing your thesis project, you do not have to apply for CSN for studies abroad, which is a relief. Therefore, do only apply for CSN like you normally do. You do not have to provide CSN for a document that you are going abroad, which saves you time!

- Find a place to live. London is a vicious city when it comes to lodging. Never trust anyone, or at least do not trust someone blindly. My friend’s tip who’s living in London was to actually come and look at the place before renting it and signing the contract. If you have a friend in London, take advantage of that! Make the friend to go and look at the place, it is worth it. More information about living in London, look further down.

- Get the European Health Insurance Card. This little piece of blue plastic may not look like much, but you will need it. They will mention this in the welcoming lectures that take place in the beginning of January.

- Rent out your place. This is especially applicable for SSSB students. If you are travelling abroad for such an amount of time, rent it out! Do not forget that the person renting it has to be a member of a student union and has to take 15 credits or more in a semester. You will need to provide a proof that you are going abroad from Karolinska Insitutet on official university paper with a watermark, and you also have to provide your grades.

- Download the app citymapper. This will be your modern bible – it shows all the routes that you can take for any direction you’re going; for train, bus, walking and biking. Use it well!

- Get your KCL login and student card. 

And what else?

London, or the UK overall, is not really infamous of their poisonous animals or diseases. Therefore, there are no important vaccines that you have to take. It is good to have cover of tetanus and maybe hepatitis, which you can get for free from KI, great isn't it? 

You could always browse the internet and look up some nice spots before arriving to London! Maybe a stroll in China town?

Ankomst och registrering

When arriving:

Since you followed my tip and downloaded citymapper, you should be able to check your way to your place with this app! Use Heathrow’s free wifi, since it is a hassle finding free wifi there. Once you get down to the subway platform, you’re on your own.

- Start getting familiar with the surroundings you are going to be in. Find your living place, find the campuses that you have to be at.

- Look at the travel card options. The smartest thing to get is an oyster card. However, there are actually season tickets, which are a bit expensive. You are a student, make use of that! If you want to get the season ticket, sign up for an 18+ Oyster card, which gives you 30 % off all the season tickets as well as weekend tickets. You will have to do it online, and also pay a fee of 20 pounds.

- Get to know the university! King’s has a welcoming week where you can meet other students. This is a great opportunity to get to know students, but also what you should do if you get sick, want to go for the best pasta, or just get information about different upcoming events. 

- Join KCLSU! This is the student union at King's. If you want to meet new people and connect, and also join a specific association or club, this is a great way of getting introduced to the student life. Visit their home-page for more information

So what do you have to think about? 

- Be there at least one week in advance

- Make sure to participate in the Welcoming week! 

- Keep in contact with both your international coordinator at KI and King's

- Go to Strand campus and pick up your King's ID, as well as apply for an Oyster card!

London by night


London- not the cheapest place to live in

London is great. It truly is, but not that great in the sense of the hole it leaves in your wallet. Maybe it's just me who likes to treat myself a bit too much to expensive and tasty food after a long and hard day in the lab. Maybe it is the city pulse that just sweeps you on the road to wallet destruction. It is horrible, but yet so nice!

Let's see what we've got

So what money can we actually use? Let's see

- Erasmus stipend. This is a sum of around 12 000 sek that you get before travelling. If you have the possibility, put these in a separate bank account to actually save them, since you get them a while before traveling. 

- CSN money + loan. If I were you, I would take the loan part. With only the "get" part of around 2800 sek, you will seriously not get long. The rent in London is crazy in some parts (for me it was worse since I was living with my partner), which make you need the last bit of money

- Savings. This really saved me. If you have the opportunity to work alongside your studies the semester or year before, it is going to give a great addition to your semester abroad. 

- MF stipends. There is a possibility to apply for MF stipends, if you are a member of MF. This is something that most of you might not be familiar with. It is not a great addition, but it is something! 

What do you have to pay?

But what do you actually have to pay per month? 
There is nothing that you have to pay for your tuition, so King's does not really require anything from you. What you have to pay every month is however

- Oyster card. This is around 80-90 pounds per month. A tip is to apply for the oyster 18+ that I said in the beginning. What you can do with this card is to choose the start and end date of the card, so that you can use it for the whole stay. I did not do that, and that meant that I had to travel on "pay as you go" the last week, which is expensive. 

- Lodging. You have to live somewhere. I lived in airbnbs, which became a bit expensive. I paid 1000 pounds per month, split in half, making it 500 pounds per month for me alone. I think that you should count with that you spend around 
140-190 pounds per week, making it between 600-900 pounds per month

- Food. This is very individual, but I think that you should at least think that you spend between 200-300 pounds on food per month. Maybe less. The food in Iceland is super cheap, so if you buy most of your food there, it can get even cheaper. However, I do not like to by frozen food that much and prefer buying vegetables and fresh fruit, which makes it a bit more expensive. Tesco, M&S and Iceland as well as Sainsbury are great stores, go to them!

What can you want to do more?

- Membership at a gym. I got a membership on the Guy's campus gym as well as the St Thomas' hospital gym. In this fee, an indoor pool was included. I paid around 850 pounds for three months. This can seem as an expensive price, but it is pretty expensive going to other private gyms. The standard is not as high as in Sweden, but you will manage. 

- Go for drinks and food out. This cost can vary a lot. Therefore, it is hard to estimate how much you will actually spend. 

How much to spend for the entire stay? 

I think that i spent a lot during my London time. Maybe between 60-80 000 sek. It is not very hard to spend those kind of sums, it all depends on what you do and how often you go out to drink and eat. I am more of a saver kind of person, so I like to save up as much money as I can, but when I am going abroad to experience, I don't want to miss out on anything either. 

How to keep the costs down? 

- Bring packed lunch. Packed lunch is a great way of bringing food to work, as well as sandwiches for a day out!

- Buy a bike. If you do not want to spend that much on travel costs, you could buy a cheap bike and bike everywhere, but remember that it is a bit dangerous in the city centre! Be cautious. 

- Do a lot of free stuff and go to events with free food. Most of the museums are for free, so if you don't know what to do, just go to a museum! Also, keep track on facebook when there will be free talks and events with food, it is a great way of getting full without paying a single pound!

Eating out can be really nice, but also very expensive in the long run


Many different types of accomodation

London is a very big place, with a big scary market for renting places. It is important to know that a lot of people are trying to scam you, and it is better to be safe than sorry. Use already known webpages that you know about that are handling the transfer between you and the one renting out. They usually take a small fee for giving out this service, but it is worth it. Housing anywhere is one of these sites. If the one renting out through this page starts talking about handling the payment outside the homepage, they are usually scams. Do not fall for that!

Student accomondations is also one option. If you visit King's homepage about accomodation you will find some options. However, I know that they do not prioritise students only staying for one semester, which is why you should not rely on getting housing through this way. 

I used airbnb. This was the easiest way since I was going together with my partner, and double rooms in student accomodations were super expensive since you have to pay times two since you are two people. We managed to get to live with a family in Elephant and Castle, which is pretty close to Guy's campus and also St Thomas' hospital where my partner was doing his internship. 

Is it possible to live central?

Through airbnb, I lived both far and central to campus. First place I lived in was Peckham. It took me around one hour to get to Guy's campus, which was fine. However, going home from a night in a pub close to Soho took a bit longer, which is why we decided to move since it felt like we were restricted to the time it took to travel somewhere. 

Then, we found a room in an apartment in Elephant and castle, which was amazing. Located on Northern Line, it was two stations away from London bridge, and had great connections with other places. Elephant and Castle is infamous of being wuite dangerous during the nights, which was a bit true. There were a lot of dogy people in these areas, but it was fine walking togeter with someone. 

Last place we lived in (around 2 weeks) was in Clapham. I liked this place especially since it was super nice surroundings and we got to have the whole apartment for ourselves. It was the cheapest place to live in, and took around 15-20 minutes to waterloo station. 

Useful links

King's accomodation-
Housing anywhere -
Pretty house located close to the British museum

Studier allmänt

What is different in the UK? 

I was required to take a course since the project did not correspond to the same amount of credits as in Sweden. However, I was having the same workload as in Sweden, meaning the project was a 20 weeks course full time (5 days a week). I did not have to do the projects nor the exam in the course. The course I chose was a pharmacology course about different neurodegenerative diseases and stroke. It was every thursday afternoon, which was different from Sweden. In Sweden, you have the same course until you do the exam. In the UK, and in some other places as well, you have many courses at the same time, and then an exam period, where you have all your exams in all the different courses you're taking during the semester. 

The content of the course was however very similar to what we have in Sweden, and the way of lecturing was just the same, and the attitude towards learning seemed to be the same. What is different from Sweden, as mentioned before, is that the classes are containing many different students from various classes. 

Research in the UK- is it different?

I think that the laboratory experiences might differ depending on which lab you go to. I have done research in Sweden as well as in Switzerland before, and there were no real differences there. I had a supervisor who helped me, and we were all eating together at lunch time. However, it was different in London. This might be due to that the lab was much smaller. I did not really have a proper supervisor, and I was not taught any of the protocols with someone, but had to do them myself from the beginning. In Sweden and Switzerland, they looked at me when performing the protocol to see if I did it correctly, which they did not do in London. I think this was both good and bad. 

What was good is that I learned how to work independently from the start, and the bad part was that I did not really have a supervisor who told me when I did something slightly wrong. I noticed mistakes in the end of the project, but this taught me the things that are important that you usually don't reallt think about. 

Also, the lab did not have a lunch room, making us have to sit in front of the computers to eat, which was kind of sad. Also, since there is no real "fika" culture, people tend to work and not really socialise too much at work, to be able to go home earlier. 

Since I was working in the lab all the time, I did not have anything theoretical. I think that it is more important to get practical knowledge, since you get exposed to the things you've learned only in theory. You will notice it is pretty different from reading a book! I really enoyed this semester, and think makes you grow as an independent researcher.  
Working with immunocytofluorescence!

Kurser under utbytet

Kurser motsvarande termin 6 på KI
As I mentioned before, you are required to take two courses, one called "Extended Research Project in Molecular Science", which is the equivalent to your thesis project, and then an additional course. This will make up 60 ETCS credits (45 ETCS for the project, and 15 ECTS for an additional course), corresponding to our 30 hp (credits). 

You have to fill in the Module Request form (MRF) in order to choose your courses, which I explained earlier. 

Marking of  the 15 ECTS course is under accordance of the "Regulations for taught programmes", which can be found under this link

The course was balanced between home exams, group work and presentations, as well as a final written exam.   

The Extended Research Project in Molecular Science is the equivalent to the bachelor's thesis project at KI, and you will be assessed by different people on different things, through an assessment form. 

Your supervisor will assess you on your theoretical knowledge, practical research skills, how autonomous you are in the lab, how scientific your research project is, and how professional you are (academic professional skills). You will further be assessed by your examiner and the examining teacher on your written report and oral presentation. 

The assessment form can be found at Pingpong. 

Språk och kultur

Same language and a very broad culture

Since everything was in English, there were no problems with following the curriculum or to speak to people. I bet that King's offered English courses, but since both you (I presume) and I study an English speaking programme, that won't be necessary. 

London is a very very very international and multi-cultural city, fitting Stockholm to Kairo in the same space. You will see the diversity through all the restaurants and shops, and the languages that are spoken on the streets. 

But I guess there is one important thing to talk about when it comes to culture and England, and that is 


Like what will actually happen? What I noticed from the brexit is that stores might not offer the same grand variety of brands anymore, which is not that weird. I myself was not a subject of any "racist" comments or anything (cannot even be compared to what poc* are affected by every day), but I have read in the newspaper that this is occurring. My friend who has lived in London for three years has not noticed anything, but it might also be due to that we are blonde haired girls and are not really the subjects for the discrimination that might come after brexit. But yes, I guess that London will change a bit. 

But really, I think it is hard to really define the culture in London since it is so diverse, and I was not affected by it at all. 

Another thing that one might also talk about is that 

London might not always be the safest city

I would say that London is a city where a lot of things can happen. I might not have been affected by culture, but I was indeed affected some by the attacks that happened there. First, it was the Westminster attack, which wasn't close to my site of work but to my partner. Also, an attack happened just where I had my work in London bridge around one week after I left for Sweden. I had a lot of friends living around that area, which made me very scared and stressed that they might have been affected by the attack. Therefore, always be alert. During my whole stay, I wasn't really keen on taking the underground that much. It might seem silly, but really, it is only about being precautious. You have to remember that anything can happen to anyone - you included. 

Stations that you should be extra careful of: 
- Victoria
- Waterloo
- London Bridge
- St Pancras/King's cross

* poc - people of color 
Although you might not speak the same language as your friends, most of them speak English! Here with my Chinese, Taiwanese and Singaporean friends :)

Fritid och sociala aktivteter

There is a famous quote saying "You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."

this is very accurate. It is very hard to grow tired of this city, since there is so much to do. However, many things cost, such as going to the theatre. But fret not, the museums are for free! (you can give a donation, which is encouraged, but I think they will not be mad if you don't). 

What did King's organise? 

The student union organised a couple of events each semester, that could be found on their homepage

Also there was a pub quiz every Thursday evening at the Strand campus that you could join for one pound each. It was super hard but fun. This was held at the Waterfront bar and kitchen

KCLSU, the student union organises loads to sports and other activities, which is why it is important to look at their website for more information!

I think that it is relatively easy to connect with other students during your stay, easier with the internationals than the native. I took the opportunity to go to as many events as possible to meet new people!

Not connected to the union, I have tried to compile a list of restaurants that you have to visit, as well as some travel destinations!


Puck Picks:

Here’s a list of nice places which you should (or at least try to) visit when you’re in London (I absolutely love food and drinks, so you can have my word it’s going to be awesome)


- Princi (135 Wardour St, Soho) This is where you can get an awesome, nice, delicious and just perfect pizza. The prices are ranging between like 9-13.5 pounds, and it is totally worth it. However, they can be slow with their service sometimes, but just scream something in Italian and you might get their attention

- Banana tree: A bit all over the place, but next to Princi. Really nice Asian food inspired by Vietnam and Thailand. Must eat! They also have happy hours where you can get a jug half off! (try their pad thai and different salads, they’re delicious!)

- Sushi Café (555 Battersea Park Rd, Clapham) A really nice sushi buffet which I visited a bit too many times… It costs around 17 pounds to do the all you can eat, where you get a sort of menu to the table and you have to tick in what you want to order. Really nice, you have 1.5 hours so plenty enough time to get so full you practically don’t want to live anymore after since you’ve stuffed yourself so full you think you’re going to burst (done it 1000 times, totally worth it apparently since it happens all the time)


Making a reservation:

 - Sushi Salsa (3A, Camden Warf, Jamestown Rd) The same concept as Sushi café, a bit more expensive but somewhat cooler atmosphere. Would recommend!

- Breakfast club. I went to the one in Angel, like, don’t even try the one in Soho, it’s crazy there, people queue for hours! But it depends on what time you go. They serve breakfast, and that’s pretty much it. But it’s GREAT!

- Polpetto (11 Berwick St, Soho) Really nice food, but small portions, so don’t think that you’ve found a real pearl of a place where you can eat for nothing and get super full. Maybe it’s just me, I love food too much! Try the crab chilli linguine and grilled squid, you won’t be disappointed!

- Doudou (6 Kentish Town Road, Camden) Literally the best Asian buffet, because it is fully vegan and super tasty and delicious!! And cheap, don’t forget cheap, around 7 pounds during weekends and red days, and like 6 pounds during usual weekdays.

- Salsa! (96 Charing Cross Rd). I actually went here with my classmates after the hellish exam GOC (proud survivor btw) and we had the most amazing time. A part from sucking at dancing salsa, we drank amazingly cheap shot plates with funny flavors (like chili and bubblegum), and the best drink ever called Soleros. If you’re lucky, you have time to go there before 8 pm, they have half off drinks between 5 and 8 pm! Do it 

Travel destinations 

This is very much shaded by my love to series and books, and also my love for drinks and food.

- Cardiff. Allons-y! If you’re a real dorky Doctor Who fan, you just have to go to Cardiff. Go with national rail with bus, takes tops like 3 hours to get there, and then go to the Doctor who experience. However, I think it is actually moving soon, might disappear for good, but Cardiff is really a pearl! Lab22, a super nice bar is worth visiting, with cool drinks.

Doctor who experience:

- Southampton – This place is awesome. I was there for one day and I spent the whole time finishing the Fellowship Quest at the Hobbit pub (which I did not manage unfortunately, due to the amount of liquid). If you are a Lord of the Rings fan, you should really go to this place! Cheap drinks and the challenge where you drink 12 drinks. Do not try to finish them all in one stay (which I tried), it is more likely your kidney is going to implode than that the liver is going to go crazy, due to the amounts of liquids!

If you miss home, you can also visit their IKEA which is close to the bus station. That IKEA is super nice, and I found bonsai trees for 80 pence!!

The Hobbit pub:

- Cambridge. This is a beautiful town with many nice pubs, and you can go punting! If you want to go to a pretty historical pub, go for the Eagle where Watson and Crick ate lunch and drew up a list of the 20 canonical amino acids, during their years active at Cambridge. Cambridge also has a nice botanical garden (as far as I remember from when I was there 2006) that could be worth visiting. Also, don’t forget to drink the famous Pimm’s cup, a drink with fresh fruit! Kind of the English version of a Spanish sangria!

The Eagle:

Punting info:

Botanical garden:

- Oxford. To be honest, this has never been a town of my particular interest, but it has a very nice architecture, just like Cambridge. 


Otherwise, what can you do? 

- Walk along the Thames
- Stroll around in Camden
- Go to Brixton
- Visit Kew Gardens (a super nice botanical garden!)
- Go to the harry potter theatre (if you manage to get tickets, I did about two years in advance)
- Go to other theatre plays

Some fun in London


This was my second exchange semester, and oh how different they were. 

I think it is important to experience exchanges yourself, and not only through other people's stories and experiences. What really makes me angry sometimes is how people base their opinions on other people's experiences and stereotypical views. It is time to find out for yourself how things work and are in other cultures, and expand your views. It is great to tell others about your experiences, but also encourage others to find out for themselves how things are.

Putting yourself in other conditions than the one you are used to makes you grow as a person and also as a professional. 
From my first exchange in Leiden, I learned how to be independent, and also how to structure my study time. After those four months, I knew exactly what I was made of, and how to plan my time efficiently. 

After the exchange in London, I learned how to live together with someone in a completely different country, having one room to share, and try not to get on each other's nerves. I also taught myself, and got taught by my lab how to work independently, and also to see what I could have done differently. I was always questioning myself and what I was doing, which was a way to learn. However, sometimes it is easy to be too hard on yourself. 

It is important to remember that you are going abroad to learn. Research is a vicious field with a lot of competitors and hard feelings, but it does not have to start now. Your bachelor's project is the introduction to independent lab work. It does not have to end up in a publication or to revolutionise the world of science, so do not require too much of yourself.

All experiences affect you in a way, but some leave a greater impact on your life. Going abroad is definitely one of the greatest experiences you can get! Both for your personal gain, and for your professional. You will see many different educational systems or work ethics and environments. Make use of this and try to make every place you come to greater. Give your perspective on things, share your experiences, and make your future work or study environments better!

You are never going to regret going, and you will gain so much trough expanding your comfort zone!!
London is a diverse city with loads to do!