Exchange report - Student at KI
Home university: The University of New South Wales
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Spring semester 2016/2017


I chose to go on exchange because I love to travel and this felt like an amazing opportunity to explore a country that is quite literally on the other side of the world. I knew right away I wanted to go to Sydney, Australia. Out of the two choices available UNSW simply felt like the best fit for me. There were a few initial difficulties, after I had gotten nominated KI found out that UNSW requested more money, and I was informed that I was most likely not going to be able to go there. At this point other exchange spots had already been taken and so I thought there was no chance of me going anymore. I struggled to get enough information from KI, which could be due to them not having experienced something like that before. Luckily KI managed to get the funding and I was told I could in fact go! 

Once KI had managed to sort everything out on their end it was time to apply for UNSW. They have a good website that shows you how to apply and what the steps in the process are. It took quite some time to fill out the application, they want lots of information about your grades etc but it was all online and easy to do. When this process had gotten started I was contacted by UNSWs representative who was very helpful and answered any questions. Two separate payments had to be made and documents had to be uploaded (grades etc) but there were not any difficulties with this.

It is important to apply for your VISA very early on as it can take quite some time to get approved and the process is pretty extensive. However, it was not very difficult and could all be done online by creating an account. (

Arrival and registration

Because of the seasons being opposite in Australia the students do not start until about end of February, luckily I was able to speak with my supervisor about starting work on my thesis already in the end of January so that I would have enough time to finish. Because of this the universities introductory week was not until February, however we did have an intro meeting at the exchange office for incoming students, which was very helpful. The introductory week itself was a lot of fun, I highly recommend going! 


Living in Australia is very expensive, but living in Sweden prepares you relatively well for this! The biggest expense is accommodation so having a roommate is a nice way of making it a bit less costly. The big grocery stores like Coles are roughly as expensive as Swedish Ica, however there are a few cheaper alternatives like Aldi. The university has a bunch of different organisations and clubs that have events with free food, so if you keep an eye out you can get several free meals a week! Another large expense for me was public transportation. You get an Opal card which can be used for all public transportation (such as buses, subways and ferries) and you top it up with money and pay every time you get on a bus etc. Something that was extremely disappointing is that as an international or exchange student they do not allow you to get the student Opal card. I found this very frustrating since it is quite expensive and the student card allows you to pay half price. There is a lot of housing around campus so a very easy way to keep this cost down is to simply find housing close to campus.  


I found it very difficult to find accommodation. This was mainly because me and another student from Karolinska were looking for accommodation together (if you are willing to share apartment with others already living in Australia it is a lot easier). Also most leases are a minimum of 6 months, and I was only there for 4 months. I looked at and
The best advice I can give is to give yourself as much time as possible to find accommodation. It will most likely take a lot longer than you'd think and even though it may seem impossible at times you simply cant give up. UNSW has lots of student housing but unfortunately I was not in Australia long enough to stay in any of those. That felt like a real shame since it would have been a lot of fun to stay on campus. My apartment was located about 10 minutes from campus and 10 minutes from central Sydney so it was the perfect location for me. 

Studies in general

I found my supervisor by going on the schools website and looking at their research portal. There I was able to search for certain fields of research and read what current projects they were working on. Once I found my supervisor I contacted her through email (all the contact information was all available on the website) and explained that I was a student at KI and I was very interested in her research!

My project was done in an office environment and so it was not comparable to anything I had done previously at KI. It was in the field of neuroscience and psychiatry and I worked mainly with MRI scans in an advanced computer program. It required learning a lot of new skills and was initially difficult. My supervisor was quite busy and I only had contact with her about once a week. I think she was quite strict by Australian standards but she was very good at her job and gave great feedback for my final report. However, since I did not see her very often I had most of my contact with my co-supervisor and so when it came down to looking over my report it took awhile before she remembered to do it. A good tip is to give your supervisor plenty of time to look over your report, especially if they are very busy with their own work. That way it will be less stressful when it comes to the deadline. When speaking to my friends that were in other countries I realised that the experience of doing a research project is pretty similar regardless of what country you are in. We all experienced the same kinds of problems and concerns regarding getting in contact with supervisors and meeting deadlines etc. However I really loved Australia and the people there and so being in this country while doing my project was really motivating because it made going to work a lot more fun! When I do future research projects I would love to be abroad as well. I think you should always take the opportunity to travel when it is presented to you!

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 1 at KI
I did not take any courses during my exchange. 

Language and Culture

Since they speak English in Australia and the program is taught in English at Karolinska there were no difficulties with this. I would say the cultures are quite similar however the stereotype of Australians being very "laidback" is true, definitely a bit more so than in Sweden. It was very easy making friends with new people and everyone was very welcoming. 

Leisure time and social activities

There are lots and lots of activities and societies you can join and events you can take part in, much more than in Sweden. This could partly be due to the fact that UNSW has roughly 53 000 students(!) so it is a massive university, and that uni culture is different in Australia. I really liked all the different organisations and I wish it was more like that at Karolinska. It makes it very easy to meet new people and if you go on exchange here alone you will have no problems finding new friends!


I think doing an exchange is a great thing. You get to experience new cultures and environments and step outside your comfort zone. It allows you to grow both socially and academically, and it's a lot of fun!