Exchange report - Student at KI
Home university: Universiteit Leiden
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: Erasmus
Semester: Autumn semester 2017/2018
Name: Mattias Ståhl
Email address:


I decided to go on an exchange to Leiden mainly because of two reasons; firstly because i wanted to experience the culture and make new international contacts, and secondly because i wanted to experience an other school system and way of learning. For this semester, Leiden was the only option, so there was more a question of going/not going rather than where to go. To be honest, I did not know much about Leiden Univeristy before i applied, and it didn't rellay matter that much to me because it was the general experience I wanted. The whole process was very easy and we were very well informed to what we were supposed to do when applying and what we needed to bring - which was basically nothing since the Netherlands are part of Europe. 

Arrival and registration

The first week in Leiden that was compulsory was the introduction week, or at least some part of it was compulsory. The whole week was filled with fun activities to get to know your future course mates (in regards to exchange students) and to learn about the city of Leiden and the Dutch culture. I felt like the whole week was very well planned and cooridinated and we had lots of fun. Also if there was something you did not want to attend to you always had the option to do something else. The only thing about this week that i did find disappointing was that we did not get to meet our dutch class mates, so when starting the week after we didnt know anybody but the other international students, which created a gap between all internationals and dutch students. We did have a couple of extra courses for international students that was supposed to help us adjust to the new learning system and examination system. This i did appreciate to some extent, but i believe it did have focus on the wrong things. It was much about how to interpret the questions on the exam and how to answer them rather than how to adjust to the new learning system, which took a while and was pretty hard. The learning system is very different from the way at KI.


Visa, vaccinations and student union fees was nothing that was compulsory for us since we live in Europe, and the economy in the Netherlands are very similar to that of Sweden. Thus, there was no economical aspects that complicated my stay in Leiden. The only thing i can imagine being troublesome for other students is accomodation, which can be very expensive and hard to find in Leiden. Due to the scholarship from erasmus, flight tickets and other things needed for the trip was not an economical challenge. 


Me and some of my classmates looked for accommodation together for a while, but it was hard to find something subleased by private person for four students to rent together. We, eventually, found someone leasing an apartment via AirBnB, with whom we arranged a long-term contract. The cost for this was slightly above what most people pay for a room of their own in corridors etc, but the slightly more expensive apartment was worth it considering the privileges one has when one has his own apartment. 
My tip is, even if most apartments via AirBnB are expensive, some can perhaps arrange a long-term contract, and its always worth looking in to.  

Studies in general

At KI, we have a lot of lectures and interactions with our teachers. Most teachers and other bureaucratic people are very available and the whole education system is very well organized. On the contrary, Leiden felt very unstructured, uninformed and sloppy, quite frankly. 

The learning system, with a lot of seminars, or group discussions, were very helpful (at least for Immunology). I wish that this would be the case for all courses everywhere because the close interactions with a professional is priceless. It was, in the beginning, very hard to get used to their system where you basically do everything on your own. There are a lot of self studies, which is something i was never really any good at before, but now I am. So even if the system is less efficient compared to the way at KI, it taught me how to do things by myself in an efficient way and so far i feel like my time in Leiden have been good for my future studies. 

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 3 at KI
At the start, we had no idea what to do. We had a very short introductory lecture which did not tell us much because we didn't know the system. This lead to several hours trying to figure out how to use the mail and blackboard (pingpong equivalent) and what the things on the schedule actually meant. The content was very good, very straight forward and it followed the suggested literature. The exam was too short to answer all the questions the way i wanted, and i did write for three hours straight without pause. The seminars were so helpful and i wish we had more of them in all courses.

Infectious agents and immunity
First two weeks had very much useful information, but the three weeks after didn't really contribute much. There were two projects during the course which, according to me, was very hard, time consuming and pointless to the course. 
The exam was structured in an odd way and i did not agree at all with the final grading. 

Physiology, basic concepts I
Very much lectures with competent lecturers, which i appreciated very much. A bad thing was that we had 4 different course books, which contained somewhat the same information and i spent so much time reading it all when it was in fact only one book needed. The content of the course was very good, but i would say that in a school that rely that much on self studies, the page references should be flawless.

Physiology, basic concepts II
The most disappointing thing about this course was the indifferent course responsible person. I tried to contact him several times with different dilemmas (not only study-wise) and i was ignored several times and no times was spent trying to help me. I understand that he is probably a very busy man, but when i have a problem that can only be solved by the course responsible i expect that i will get help. 
Otherwise the content of the course was very satisfying.

The examinations of the Physiology courses was a complete disaster. The grammar and English in general of the people writing the exams was not great because there was several times where i had no idea what they were asking about (even if i knew the topic and actually the answer as well) 

BAST, CIS och Electrophysiology for exchange students
Everything i want to say about these courses is that they are worthless, but they are not. They were in fact very good and we learnd quite a lot. The only problem is that it was so incredibly time consuming and it interfered with the other courses too much. Enough to compromise exam results and other projects. This was the determining factor to why Leiden studies for exchange students was so hard. Except from the time thing, all of the courses was pretty well organized and informative.

Language and Culture

The university did offer language courses, but it cost quite a lot and the courses was in English so it was not necessary.
There was not a lot of cultural differences, we fitted in pretty well, actually.

Leisure time and social activities

Leiden is a student city, which made it very easy to meet new people and make friends. There was some activities arranged and sports teams were available for the ones interested, which was very nice. The city in general is very friendly and beautiful and it has everything you need within biking distance.


The time in Leiden have made me a much more independent student and i have learned a lot about myself and medicine. The school itself have not changed me that much, it's just another school. But the experience itself have made me realize qualities and flaws about myself i didn't know i had before, which subsequently makes it easier to evolve as a student, future employee and person. Going on exchange is something i would highly recommend everyone to do at least once if one has the chance, the experiences are priceless and you will make memories and friends for life.