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


Ever since the beginning of the Biomedicine Bachelors program, I have been very keen on going on exchange. Out of all the choices of the different countries we could have gone to, Australia was the one that spoke to me the most. I was not quite sure on whether I wanted to do my exchange in Melbourne or Sydney, however after some research and asking family friends about the two different cities my choice was set. I was set on doing my exchange in Sydney, Australia. Looking at the two universities in Sydney, I decided to apply for University of New South Wales, as it has a good reputation. There was a webpage that I found on the homepage of UNSW that I used to search and contact professors/potential supervisors at UNSW. I contacted several professors way ahead of time since I was afraid that if I contacted them too late they would be too busy or would not have a research project ongoing during my stay in Sydney. I would recommend contacting several professors as I did, that way in case one falls through you have a back up. Once you have found a supervisor you can get started with the online application which can take some time to fill out since certain forms must get approved before continuing on to the next section. Your supervisor should email UNSW in regards to you and the student abroad research practicum program and they will then email you with instructions and access to the student online application portal. You create a profile log in, fill out an application and then submit it to the University. Once you get the letter of acceptance and confirmation of enrollment from the university you can then apply for a student visa. There are several different visas you can choose from, the one I would recommend is the student visa (subclass 500). It can take some time to get the student visa, the recommended time I believe is roughly 1 month, but it took roughly 2 weeks for me to get mine. So be sure that you have enough leeway from getting your visa to flying to Sydney. When you have gotten your visa you must upload it to the student application portal and register for the compulsory orientation session for when you arrive in Sydney. When purchasing a ticket to Sydney, I would recommend to fly with Emirates, as they offer flex plus tickets which do allow you change your date if needed for a small to nothing price and allow more weight than the usual amount. The flight was long, however, good and comfortable as they offered a good selection of food and movies to choose from. When packing for Australia, be sure to check what is allowed to be brought in and brought back on their government webpage.

Arrival and registration

Arriving in Sydney, finding accommodation can be tough since UNSW doesn’t provide it. The best bet is to find a place before arriving in Sydney through the webpage or to stay at a hotel/hostel and look for your own accommodation once there. I would suggest to arrive in Sydney at least a week before starting your research that way you can spend all your time on finding a place to live. Before arriving, you book a date with an international student counselor at UNSW as you first day of enrollment. The counselor goes through information about the university, public transportation, where you can get your student card, and other information about Sydney in general.


Australia is not a cheap country, however coming from Sweden where living expenses is quite high, it isn’t as bad as it would be coming from another country. The most expensive part of living in Australia is living expenses such as paying rent, phone, electricity, and internet. All of those together can equal a great deal of money spent depending on where you live, how much electricity you use and how cheap of a plan you want for your phone and internet. You can get good deals with the certain plans but keep in mind that they can charge extra fees such as a set-up fee or a cancellation fee. Food can be expensive from time to time especially eating out at restaurants or at school, which most students do. Usually though, the grocery store offers good sales that should definitely be taken up on. You can save some money by bringing lunch instead of purchasing, but keep in mind that there are not as many microwaves on the UNSW campus as there are at Karolinska. Public transportation is costly since you cannot buy a months worth of travelling like you can in Stockholm. You must top up your card with sufficient funds to get you from place to place and make sure to tap off when you get off otherwise you will be charged a full day’s worth of travelling. Living only about 15-20 minutes away from UNSW campus it costed roughly $5 AUD a day traveling to campus and back. All in all, it adds up to a good amount taking the bus/train 5 times a week for 6 months. They do have different types of bus cards such as a student card, a senior card, child’s card etc. However, being an exchange student I was not eligible for the student card and had to purchase a regular bus card. Your best bet to try and save money with public transportation, is to get a bike and bike to campus every day.


Unfortunately as mentioned earlier UNSW did not provide any aid or help in my situation for accommodation and I needed to find a place to live on my own. Finding accommodation in Sydney provided to be very difficult. You can either rent through someone found on which would be like renting from or you can rent a place through real estate companies. Renting a place found through may be easier to find and more flexible with the dates but cannot always be as reliable in case of an emergency occurs. Renting through a real estate company in Sydney however, is more difficult since you have a set contract of either 6 months or 1 year, you have to fill out an application to rent the place and also you have compete with the masses, and it is the tenant that picks the person they want to rent the place to. A great place to live that is close to the UNSW campus is Zetland. It is a very quiet place, dog friendly, close to town as well, and has all that you really need from a cafe to grocery store to a gym. There is a lot of ongoing constructions in Sydney which does affect the traffic there, in a bad way. According to my experience, most of the buses were late and not on time which made it difficult for me to get somewhere at a specific time. During rush hour traffic gets pretty much horrendous and can delay your trip up to an hour or longer. Also during rush hour either in the morning or later in the day, be prepared for the buses to be packed with people or for a bus to drive past the bus stop without stopping due to the bus being completely full.

Studies in general

I spent all my time in a lab setting since I was on research practicum exchange and had no courses on the side. The facilities at UNSW were very nice and up to date in technology. The professors and staff were all very nice and relaxed yet helpful. I enjoyed my time in the lab mostly in part due to my supervisor and project.

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 1 at KI

Had no courses.

Language and Culture

With English being the main spoken language in Australia it made it very easy for me to communicate and ask for help if needed. The people there are very friendly and if you are in need of help in a situation they would gladly try and help in any way possible. The only hard part that took getting used to is the left-hand side traffic, which takes a while to get used to and the slang Australians use. Most of the time, people aren’t very punctual however very patient.

Leisure time and social activities

With Sydney being such a huge and beautiful city, there was a lot to do during the weekends. From visiting different museums to eating in different parts of town to going to the beach. UNSW also had a wide variety of different clubs you could be part of that usually had activities or meetings quite frequently. During ‘O week’, which is right before university begins, all the clubs set up stands telling you what they have to offer and what their club is all about. ‘O week’ is a must as you can meet a lot of people and learn what Australians like to do during their own free time. There are a lot of sports clubs you can join as well as other types of clubs that are more in connection to your major or research area. Going to Australia, it is all about enjoying all the different beaches in Sydney. Coogee beach, being close to the UNSW campus is a decently popular beach where you can relax and get food at the Coogee Pavillion. However, Manly beach is one of the most popular beaches/attractions to see and I recommend visiting it. You have to take a ferry from Circular Quay but it is only a 20-minute boat trip. If you are feeling home sick, by Manly beach there is a Swedish café where you can fika and feel more at home. Moving away from the coast and going more inland, there is Blue Mountains which have amazing hikes to enjoy and sites to see. There is also Featherdale Wildlife Park where you can pet and feed wild kangaroos’/wallabies, hold koalas, and see other typical Australian wildlife. Living in Sydney, I learned that rugby is their biggest sport over there. Rugby can literally be everything to some Australians, as they watch almost every game that is played throughout the week. Seeing a professional rugby match is a must while in Sydney, there are a bunch of different teams throughout the different districts in Sydney and depending on where you live you that’s the team you should root for. Prices aren’t that expensive and you really experience what rugby is all about while enjoying some typical Aussie snacks and drinks. I would recommend travelling as much as possible when in Sydney and visit the different cities such as Melbourne, Cairns, and even the capital Canberra. Your best bet to really enjoy it, is to travel either before starting your project work or afterwards to get all that you can out of it, not worrying about your research.


All in all, I really enjoyed my time in Sydney. I experienced a lot, made close friends and got do to a lot while I was there. Personally, I do think that this exchange has influenced me personally. Being on exchange gave me a different perspective being able to see how different cultures can be from one another and really make you break out of old habits. However, keep in mind that it is expensive and those expenses will rack up easily if you’re not careful with what you buy. Choosing the right supervisor and right project plays a major role in your time of enjoyment in Sydney and having a good one will make everything better but unfortunately also time fly by. I learned and experienced a lot in the time I was there and if I had the choice of doing it again, I would hands down no questions asked do it again.