Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: Universiteit Leiden
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: Erasmus
Semester: Autumn semester 2011/2012
Name: Britt van de Ven
Email address:

Arrival and registration

When I arrived in Stockholm I was overwhelmed by the idea of getting to stay and study here for 5 months. Unfortunately, Global Friends couldn't arrange anyone to pick me up when I arrived, but with a map and some common sense I was able to pick up the keys and find my room by myself. The following days of introduction were really usefull. It was nice to get to know some people that were in the same situation as I was and it was great to talk with people from all over the world. Funny though, to discover how different we all are!

I haven't been in contact with the student health centre, but when I needed help, I went immediately to the 'cityakuten'. This because I already had a reference letter and because I had already been under treatment in the Netherlands. The doctors at this centre are something between GPs and specialists and they helped me out immediately. 


Because my home-university and Karolinska Institutet have an arranged exchange, almost everything was settled already. I only had to apply for a room at the UAC, a very easy procedure. The room that I got a Strix was large enough and had a tiny bathroom included. This was nice, because I wasn't used to have a bathroom for myself. The kitchen, however, was shared and the entire corridor would often meet there for dinners. In comparison to what I've heard from the Swedish students, we paid very little for the space we got. 

Leisure time and social activities

During my stay in Sweden I went to a few of the activities of the global friends. It was really fun and a good way to get to know more people from all over the world. Also, I learned to speak a bit Swedish, which made communication with our classmates more fun. The lessons in itself however, were not sufficient to really have a conversation in Swedish. Last but not least, I also took part in a guitar course, which was offered by the same organisation that offered the Swedish course.


Leiden University has an annual exchange programme with Karolinska Institutet. In the first year of our study Biomedicine, we can apply for a semester in Stockholm in the second year. Since it has always been one of my dreams to study abroad, I was very glad to be accepted (after I've gained all credits of my first year).  Both KI and my home-university gave a lot of information about the exchange. Also, the mobility grant and my room were arranged rather quickly. Another thing I found very usefull, was the information provided by the students that went to Stockholm previously. 

Courses during the exchange period

BIOX05 : BACH - Infection and Immunity
The infection and immunity course was characterized by a lot of lectures. Most of them were very clear, but especially the bacteriology part was kind of chaotic, which made it difficult to estimate whether something was important to learn for the exam. Also the labwork during this course was quite poor. Long days were scheduled, whereas we often were finished a lot earlier, because the manual already included every step we had to perform. The exam itself was a good representation of the stuff we had in the lectures..
BIOX06 : BACH - Integrative Physiology
The integrative physiology course was very well organized. Unfortunately, our book was way too extensive in the amount of information it offered, and the lecturers often didn't spend to much time on telling us what was most important to know, so we had to figure that out by ourselves. Funny fact: a lot of Swedish people liked our book better than theirs. The lab performed during this course was really nice, it really exemplified what we've been told in the lectures, something that really helped me to understand the topics. The exam was also good, but had a fair amount of really detailed questions in it, which were hard to answer, even if you've attended all the lectures and read the entire book.


I've had a great time studying at Karolinska Institutet and I'm still very happen that I've been given this opportunity. I think this exchange not only teached me a lot on academic level, but I've also experienced how it is to work with people from different cultures and with different views on life. It has also been a boost for my social skills and my English. To anyone who's in doubt to study abroad, I would definitely recommend it, for it has been one of the best experiences of my life!

Language and Culture

During my stay in Sweden I've attended a beginners language course. However, since Dutch and Swedish resembles eachother a lot, it wasn't much of a challenge for me to learn the basic principles. Also, it was too bad that the level was too low to actually teach me how to have a proper conversation. My reading and speaking skills, however, did improve!

Studies in general

At first, it was very difficult for me to get used to studying the Swedish way. This, because compared with my study in the Netherlands, we had a lot more lectures and less seminars. This basically meant that the first real questions were asked on your exam. However, the lectures -in general- were sufficient to be able to pass the exam. Some lecturers were really good, but others had real chaotic presentations. I guess that will never change, no matter in what country you'll study. What I found very pleasant myself, was that sometimes the lecture slides were handed out in advance, so that you could make notes on the slides themselves. The labwork was quite simple, we got a manual with basically all information and steps that we had to perform. Afterwards, we had to write labreports which contained the same information. To me, this seemed quite useless. I was already used to think and calculate myself, just like I'm supposed to do at my home university. However, even though the studying and examinating methods were quite different (we didn't have open book exams at Karolinska Institutet, so we had to learn a lot of details by heart), I really enjoyed studying here.