Exchange report - Student at KI
Home university: University of Dublin - Trinity College Dublin
Study programme: Biomedicine (Master's)
Exchange programme: Erasmus
Semester: Autumn semester 2016/2017
Name: Sigrun Stulz
Email address:


Nice and welcoming people, a commonly spoken national language and top-ranked universities – what’s not to like about the possibility of studying abroad in Ireland? I had always played with the thought of studying in the UK or Ireland and a half-year Erasmus exchange gave me the perfect opportunity to test the waters and get to know a new country. As the departure date came closer it became more and more apparent that organizing the exchange wasn’t always easy – in particular finding a research project was quite challenging since many PIs required me to be registered at Trinity before agreeing to host me for a project. Unfortunately, project proposals at KI had to be handed in before Trinity made a final decision about accepting me, so some creative solutions were required but finally, everything was arranged to everyone’s satisfaction and I was ready for departure.

Arrival and registration

Trinity College Dublin usually starts the exchange period with a one day kick-off event including lectures, tours of the campus and much more! The same day, the different societies and clubs of Trinity will usually have a fair at the main campus and that’s definitely a great place to go! Nevertheless, in the first few weeks I was a bit lost since as a Master’s student who was going abroad mostly to conduct a research project I fell between two stools – I wasn’t a typical Erasmus student but also not a visiting researcher. The information given to exchange students mostly pertains to undergrad student taking classes so sometimes I had to find my own way through the jungle of university administration. That was made much easier thanks to many helpful people in the administration as well as great Erasmus coordinators and PIs. Additionally, there’s also an organization called S2S (Student to Student) which will assign two Irish student mentors to a group of exchange students. My mentors sent us tips and pointers about Dublin and Ireland each week and we met them for beers, food or to visit tourist attractions on a regular basis. This group of exchange students also became a tight group of friends and we spent a lot of time discovering Dublin together - for an instance visiting Trinity College's famous library.


Generally speaking, Dublin is a bit cheaper than Stockholm but not by that much. Alcohol and dining out tends to be cheaper but accommodation is usually just as expensive at it is in Stockholm. After the first month in Ireland I ended up cutting my living costs quite a bit by always bringing lunch from home instead of – as many Irish people do – getting ‘lunch deals’ (usually a sandwich, a soft drink and a packet of crisps) from shops nearby. Public transport is another major cost which you probably won’t able to circumvent – expect to spend about 80 euros per month for public transport, even if you’re just catching the bus to get to work / university.


Trinity College does not offer accommodation to Erasmus students but students can request accommodation at the nearby Griffith college – but keep in mind that even for the steep prices bed rooms are usually shared with a second student. A variety of online platforms offer alternatives for private accommodation, which is what most of Erasmus students end up relying on – often families whose kids have moved out and are renting out the spare room. Even then, expect to pay at least 400 Euros a month.

Studies in general

Generally speaking, the classes I've visited were very well taught and also very strictly organized. In terms of teaching methods most of them were quite conventional, with quite a lot of lectures and rather few group assignments or similar. Keep in mind that some courses in Ireland are set up in a style that you might know from England or the US – meaning that you’re often required to do extensive out-of-class reading on which you will be tested. Quite a few classes additionally require writing essays in the style of mini-reviews which I quite enjoyed because it gave me the opportunity to read up on well-defined topics and form my own opinion on them. Additionally, all professors I've been in contact with were very happy to help students who struggled with the reading or assignments outside of class.

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 5 at KI
During my time at Trinity, I took two courses with 5 ECTS each while also performing a 16 ECTS research project and 5 ECTS remote courses from KI. Information about classes at Trintiy is not always easy to find but, like in Ireland in general, that issue is compensated for by the friendliness and helpfulness of the locals. The course selection is somewhat limited since the idea is to choose classes from the Master in Molecular Medicine  - picking other classes requires special permission and is often not possible due to administrative hurdles. Nevertheless, I got to attend two very interesting courses – Human Genetics and Tumour Immunology.
Human Genetics was a course also well suited to people without much of a background in genetics and focused quite a lot on human evolution with some fascinating lectures from great professors in this field. The lectures were spread throughout the semester, whereas my second course, Tumour Immunology, was a two-week block class. Tumour Immunology was a joint class for students from the Master's of Translational Oncology and Immunology and therefore offered a good introduction for beginners into both immunology and oncology. The more advanced part of the courses focused a lot of cutting-edge research both on the molecular level and in clinical trials which was a great mix for me.
In addition to those lasses, I carried out a 16 ECTS research project at the institute for Molecular Medicine which was conveniently situated at St. James’s Hospital (not the main campus) where also all of my courses took place. That unfortunately meant that many seminars, poster presentations etc. required a 40 minute bus ride to the main campus but also came quite the bonus of a small but tight-knit community of researchers as St. James’s.

Language and Culture

Considering that Ireland is actually situated quite far north I expected the Irish to be similar to Scandinavians – which is far from true. Irish people and even Dubliners (which are considered somewhat rude and aloof among Irish people) will often start random conversations with strangers and are generally extremely welcoming. ‘The more the merrier’ seems to be a bit of an Irish motto so especially as an exchange student don’t be surprised to be invited to birthday celebrations of friends’ friends, Christmas dinners of other lab groups on your floor and pub nights with neighbors that you’ve said ‘hello’ to twice.
If you want to quickly find your footing in Ireland there’s just a few things to keep in mind: Ireland is not part of England or the UK and Irish people will not appreciate it if you think it is! Tea and scones have the same status as Fika in Sweden, so don’t skip it if you want to make friends. There’s two widely played Irish sports – Gaelic football and hurling – and they’re quite fascinating so if you have the time, watch a few matches in a pub, Irish people will be eager to explain rules and which club is the best! And lastly, Ireland is more than Dublin – long distance buses go frequently to major cities in Ireland and they're all worth the trip!

Leisure time and social activities

Finding friends in Ireland usually isn't hard and Trinity also provides quite a lot of opportunities for mingling with locals and other exchange students. A good tip for Trinity students is joining one of the main societies – clubs which unite students with common interests in subjects from hiking to Judo to SciFi. Joining a society usually doesn’t cost more than 10 euros and you’ll get invited to a variety of events, depending on the purpose of the society. Additionally, there is the S2S mentorship program as well as the 'international room' where a variety of activities will be hosted during the year, including get-togethers for students who are new to Dublin.

Also outside of university, Irish people are relatively easy to get to know and the lack of language barrier is nice! Pub nights with friends and colleagues are also definitely a great place to get to know new people.


Altogether, I’ve really enjoyed my time in Dublin – Ireland is quite an exceptional country and I had a great time there mostly thanks to the friendliness of the many Irish people I’ve had the pleasure of encountering. Making new friends and finding ways to pass the time was never an issue and Trinity College has definitely a lot to offer in terms of both research and education for biomedical students. When it comes to the more professional side of my exchange, I've had the possibility of studying fields which are not taught in my Master's program at KI and also got to know the research culture and opportunities in a new country. It's definitely a good experience to add to my CV, showing flexibility and adaptability, and will hopefully help me in my further career.