Reserapport - KI-student
Lärosäte: Universiteit Leiden
Utbildningsprogram: Biomedicin
Utbytesprogram: Erasmus
Termin: Hösttermin 17/18
Namn: lisa liljefors

Innan avresa

Before arrival

I have always loved to travel and experience new things, and when I had the opportunity to do an exchange during the third semester I did not hesitate to apply. In the biomedical bachelor’s programme, we can only go on an exchange at Leiden University in the Netherlands and that is where I went. The information regarding the exchange was quite sparse and it was a bit of a haste to find the information and dates needed to apply, but it was definitely worth it. The exchange coordinator from KI was well at hand and ready to help with any questions we had over mail. The application procedure felt for both KI and Leiden University overlapped and felt quite tedious since there were a lot of forms to fill in which I personally felt was unnecessary since the exchange is established and we are supposed to do the same courses at KI as in Leiden. We did not hear much from the international coordinator at Leiden university either, but had to apply through the same webpage all expats apply through. However, it is a good experience for the next exchange I guess. Since the exchange is in The Netherlands, I do not think there is much to be afraid of, it is pretty similar to Sweden in terms of weather and culture. One thing I wish I knew was that they do not take visa or MasterCard at many places and money handling was difficult to get used to. Maybe it is a good idea to try to get a maestro card here in Sweden to use over there, because there are extra charges with normal cards. You should also try to find a house doctor close to where you will stay in case something happens because trying to get a time when you need it is a hassle, I even gave up trying and had a cough for 8 weeks because I had not gotten a house doctor when I first arrived. 

Ankomst och registrering


The first thing to do after arrival in my opinion is getting a OV card. This is a card used to use all trains, trams and busses in Holland. It can also be used to travel by train to bordering countries and is very useful. I arrived around 2 weeks before the course started because there was an introduction week which I wanted to participate in, and I wanted to see the town and my neighbourhood a bit before we started the course, but I do not think it is necessary because the town is pretty darn small. The OWL week or the introduction week was a lot of fun, you will be divided into groups and meet students from different courses and programmes from the university and have a lot of planned activities. However, since there are so many students, our introduction week was only for international students and no Dutch students. In the owl week your group will get two leaders who can help you out afterwards as well which was nice. Furthermore, international organisations such as ISN and the international committee are pretty big and host parties and events pretty regularly so that you can meet people from all over. Something I thought was lacking was information about how to get around campus, the campus map, train and bus applications and the fact that there are Facebook sites where people buy group tickets to different places for really cheap to ease the travels. 



Money-wise, it was quite similar to Sweden but the alcohol was cheaper and the cafeteria food was a lot cheaper (3-6 € for a meal). Although, the accommodation was pretty extensive, even if you got a student dorm room it was around 350€ and accommodation though school was 500-800€ per month for a student-apartment. I found an accommodation for me and three of my friends from KI and we payed 575 each per month. The easiest cost to keep down would probably be alcohol or food so meal prepping and bringing lunches are good. Jumbo and Albert Heijn are the cheaper food stores that are available all over. Lidl has some things cheaper but is usually quite sold out. Do not buy the Leidsepas, there are very few good offers and many overlap with the student offers. 



I found the housing for me and three other people coming from KI by contacting a lot of housing agencies, however, if you are not looking for a place for 4, I would recommend the Facebook group “Leiden housing” where many students sublet their dorms for about 300-500€, which is cheaper than the university’s housing offers. Or, you could try to contact the students coming to KI and see if they have a room you could rent. Many students come from another city and have student accommodation. 

Studier allmänt

Studies in general

The education system is completely different from here at KI, they have very few lectures, which are more like question time sessions with some overview of what you need to know and then there is a lot of self studying and reading. I think I have not read as much as I did over at Leiden. In my opinion, there is a lot of things to study and know for the workgroups which is unnecessary and will not come up on the test. I did not really like their grading system since it is 0-10, with decimals and 0-4,9 is fail, so they have 50 grades for fail… During the workgroups, you have to be participating and some teacher also put you on the spot. If you do not know the answer, they will make you feel very stupid which was not pleasant and made the atmosphere quite competitive in a negative way that I did not like either. However, you got to learn a lot from the sessions, or at least if you had a good teacher. The lecturers and workgroup teachers were very good at explaining things and seemed genuinely interested in their topics and had well structured and rehearsed material, something I cannot say about a lot of teachers at KI have had, which was a pleasant surprise. The overall tests and knowledge were the same as at KI, however, the passing grade is a bit higher than at KI. Since the daily workload is higher, I would only recommend you doing the exchange if you find it easy at KI with a lot of time for other things, because during the first week of the first course, I studied more than I do during a whole course at KI due to the different structure. 

Kurser under utbytet

Kurser motsvarande termin 3 på KI

courses during the exchange

I studied the third semester of the biomedical bachelor’s programme, so the courses we covered were immunity, infectious agents and physiology. They were structured a bit differently than at KI since the infectious agents and immunity were separated at Leiden but combined at KI. The immunology course was very interesting and fun, however, it was extreme amounts of self-study and I felt drained after the first course. The labs had a lot of aiding teachers so you could ask someone for help at any time unlike at KI. Since the exchange students left after Christmas but the semester ends in January, they added on three other courses parallel to the main courses which made the initial workload chock overwhelming. The extra courses were applied electrophysiology, biomedical academic scientific training and communication in science. The second course was in my opinion badly structured and would have been better to combine with the first course since they overlapped a lot. Although it had a lot of lab work and interesting in depth topics, it was difficult to know what to study for the test which was stressful. During the third course, all the extra courses and the main course had examinations or papers due within the same week, and it felt very badly planned with one of the most stressful weeks of my life. Many of the exchange students failed the first part of the physiology course so I deeply hope that they will change that for next year. The physiology course was also different from at KI since KI covered a broader area of subjects more shallowly, while at LU we studied the heart, vascular system, the kidneys and blood more in depth. Something I dislike about the grade converting is that we do not get any grades at all, we just get the credits for the courses taken and no grades... Eventhough passing the courses are almost as hard as getting a VG at KI, so I wish i could convert my grades. The applied electrophysiology course felt very unnecessary even though it was not very difficult, we had a last assignment where we had to write a paper of 3000-5000 words about a ECG related topic, which was due the same week as the physiology test and the first draft of biomedical academic scientific training interview of 5000 words and the communication in science paper of 3000 words... The biomedical academic scientific training was interetsing and gave a good overview of the life that might be ahead of us if we choose to pursue a PhD and all the factors contributing to it. Communication in science was in my oppinion pretty useless, it was mostly about having presentation and writing papers and it went though topics that were covered in high school and I did not gain anything from the course. 

Språk och kultur

Language and culture

Since we already do the programme in English and they do the courses in English during the semester we have the exchange, there was little problem with the language at school, however, many of the teachers begun their lessons asking if they should do it in English or Dutch… The Netherlands are one of the top English speaking languages so there was little problem getting around on English alone, however, many websites were only in Dutch. In general, there was little to no culture shock since the cultures are relatively similar to the culture in Sweden. However, something that I found odd was that everyone was eating sandwiches as lunch every day whilst a sandwich would be a snack in Sweden. They do a lot of celebrating of different holidays and they even build festival areas in the town to celebrate their liberation from Spain on the 3rd of October which was very interesting since we do not do things like that in Sweden. 

Fritid och sociala aktivteter

There were a lot of activities made for the exchange students, primarly the OWL week or introduction week and then the organisations ISN and international committee had weekly events for exchange students with everything from dances to dinners to parties. The school has a big sport center where they had a huge variety of sports from judo to poledance which was amazing. However, you have to plan your studies properly to have time to do things without having to stress last minute. It was easy to connect with other international students. Something that made the exchange less fun was that the local students in our class made very little effort to interact with us up until the last month of the course and since they start university at 18, they felt a bit childish in some social behaviours and it felt a bit like being back at high school which was a bit of a chock to me. The town itself is very small and cute. Every Saturday and Wednesday there is a food market with a lot of stalls with cheese, clothes and vegetables in the old town which was very cute and pleasant to walk around in. The houses are very pretty as well and during Christmas they build a skiing rink on the channels and a lot of small houses for a Christmas market. They even change the church bells to play Christmas carols during this time, it is wonderful.