Exchange report - Student at KI
Home university: Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Study programme: Global Health (Master's)
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Spring semester 2016/2017
Name: Alejandra Almeida Velasco
Email address:


One of the reasons I decided to study at Karolinska Institutet was the possibility to do part of the course abroad, and I really wanted to travel and explore other places. Once I was enrolled at KI, going to India became an opportunity for me. Making the decision to go to India did not take me a long time. I have to admit that I was quite nervous, because I have never been in a country, in many ways, so different from mine and which such poverty. Anyway, everything got settle, I had a supervisor from India who would help me with the thesis. My supervisor is an associate professor of the TATA Institute; a well-known university in India (, for this reason I was capable to enjoy being a student from this university. TATA institute is located in Mumbai, India. Mumbai is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra and the most populated city in India. The city has some places that can be visit to relax, one is to go near the sea. There are also national parks not very far from Mumbai that are fun to visit.

In order to go to the TATA institute I was required to send some papers. First, I send general information about me, and about the university (Karolinska). I also had to send a proposal to justify why I choose the theme I chose for my thesis (Menstrual Hygiene Management).  At the same time I was arranging my visa, buying the plane tickets, and finding a place to stay in India. I did not get vaccinated; to enter to India you do not have to present any confirmation of vaccination. However, I recommend to get the proper vaccines, usually the vaccines that are needed are hepatitis A and B, and tetanus, some people also recommend to get prophylactic treatment against malaria. 

Arrival and registration

I arrived the 9th of February 2017 in Delhi India. I arrived here because I wanted to spend some time getting to know the capital and also because the Taj Mahal is close by, so I wanted to go (Taj Mahal is in Agra and it closes on Friday). At Delhi I met a friend also from Mexico, like me. We got at Delhi at 2 am, very late. I highly recommend to arrive earlier so it is easier and safer to move. I am not saying that it is dangerous but it is better to be prepare, especially if it is your first time.  It is very important before going to India to have some photos of you with you, as in many parts people will require to see your visa and to keep a photo of you. It is also a good idea, that as soon as you arrive you get an Indian telephone number, there are some companies but I recommend to get Vodafone.  Also, it is useful to have in your phone “Uber” and/or “Ola”, both are applications to hire safe taxis. Always carry some cash with you as in many places they will not take cards. 


Living in India is rather cheap. The price for the regular dormitories in TATA institute (share with two more people) is 500 rupees (it used to be 300 rupees) per day, plus a fee that is charged in order to have access to internet. They also offer three meals at 35 rupees each of it. If you what to travel, you can use the trains. Trains are very well connected and very cheap (traveling in first or second class is comfortable but more expensive), make sure you book it in advance to make sure you have a place. You can also get plane tickets at a very reasonable price.  Food is quite cheap, avoid eating in the street. It is very important to make sure that you always drink water from a bottle or purifier container, to avoid getting sick. I did not get sick while I was in India, but its important to play safe. 


Getting a place to stay was not difficult, mainly because the TATA institute offers accommodation to students at a very reasonable price. In order to get a place you have to write and email to Jennifer Mujawar ( telling her that you plan to study there and would like to have a room to stay. After this TATA will send you more information of what needs to be done. The hostel TATA University offers it’s comfy, and it has all you need: cloths cleaning, place to eat, library, internet, ATM machine, gym, yoga classes and it is very safe.  

Studies in general

In general, I had a great time at India and I was very happy at TATA institute. My supervisor was great and guide me with a lot of things. I also made very good friends in the campus. Studying in India for three months was a great learning experience. It exposed me to a civilization that it’s very different from mine (Mexican), these made me think and question many things. I had never seen such poverty and pollution. Moreover, the Indian culture it’s very rich, its amazing the way the dress, all the religions (most of the population practice Hinduism, follow by Muslims and Catholics), all the people that live in there. Everywhere you see many temples, in most parts of India people do not eat cow meat, and there are other places where they are completely vegetarian. 

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 2 at KI
I apply for the second semester to go to India. I stayed there for three months doing my thesis on Menstrual Hygiene Management, a very relevant topic in a context such as India with many taboos around topics like mine. I learned a lot about how to do a thesis; my supervisor was great, very well prepared and though me a lot of important and useful things to improve my writing skills.  

Language and Culture

Another challenge is that India has so many different languages, however you can communicate with many people in English. As I said, every minute in India is a constant learning and questioning of oneself. 

Leisure time and social activities

If you have some free time, I recommend you to travel a bit around India. Choose one area you what to explore and try to enjoy it, do not try to cover the whole country because it will be impossible. For my Varanassi it’s a most (, one of the oldest cities on earth. 


India has been in many ways one of the most challenging and beautiful experiences I have had in my life. I have to say that it is not an easy country, but if you are ready and prepare to do everything then I recommend you to visit India.  Going first to Sweden and then to India, and studying with people from around the globe, it’s been a great life lesson and definitely these experiences will impact in the way I work and see the world.