Exchange report - Student at KI
Home university: Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH Zürich)
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: Erasmus
Semester: Spring semester 2017/2018


The main reasons why I wanted to go for exchange studies was that I wanted to gain professional experiences in a different environment and to gain new experiences on a personal level by traveling and getting to know people in a new country. I wanted to go to ETH in Zürich due to the good reputation of the university, for the amazing nature surrounding Zürich and also I liked the thought of being able to travel back to Sweden easily if I wanted to. The information gained from KI in regard to possibilities for exchange studies was a bit unclear. For example did I not know until the last minute that my first choice of university was not available anymore and which lead to that I had to rethink everything after already taking this big decision. In this case the information on the presentation held and the material that we got was not updated which caused this situation. In addition, it was very hard to grasp what needed to be done and when during the application process. I got very good help when asking for it but it would be great if this was made clearer from the beginning. After I got accepted to my university of choice however the information was much more clear. The information from ETH has been very clear and easy to follow generally and I got very good help with everything administrative while in Zürich as well. The only special thing to consider when studying at ETH (if longer than three months) is to apply for a special kind of citizenship. However, this you will get very clear information about from the exchange office when you arrive. 

Arrival and registration

I was conducting my bachelor’s thesis in a laboratory at ETH, hence I did not take any courses and have no input on that. However, I was offered a introduction course in German for beginners, which I did not attend due to personal reasons. At ETH and at the University of Zürich there is a lot of different student organisations and associations, these you can read all about in the “exchange student manual” given to you from the exchange office upon arrival. 


Switzerland is a very expensive country, especially if you are not used to Scandinavian prices already. But, compared to Stockholm, the prices is not so much higher. Some special things, such as coffee for example is more expensive, but fruits such as bananas are cheaper (at the supermarket). My advice on keeping your costs down would be to bring some tupperware boxes from home and make food yourself instead of eating out. If you shop your food at Lidl or Aldi the food prices are quite low while the restaurant are expensive. With the exception for the mensa (University restaurants) where you have a great discount as a student. Another tip is to get a bike, you save money if you do not have to go with public transport and also it is a great way of getting to know the city and its surroundings.  


I got my accomodation by asking my supervisor to ask around in the laboratory where I would work. I quickly got two offers and ended up getting a great deal on a room in a house very close to the laboratory. The standard of the accommodation was great and the cost was 400 CHF per month (this was a very cheap price due to that the landlady gave me a discount because I am a student). I was living together with two other people in a house so I shared bathroom and kitchen. However, I decided to also try another part of the city and moved to a new apartment shared with two students (also this through a contact at the lab), this room costed me 660 CHF per month. Due to that Zürich is quite small the accessibility to both campus and hospitals is generally good hence wherever you live you will manage to get around easily.
(information from ETH Zurich for international students)
(student whiteboard for apartments and other things – unfortunately mostly in German)
(the biggest real estate portal in Switzerland)

Studies in general

I conducted my bachelor’s thesis during the spring period (January to May) without taking any courses at ETH and can therefore not comment on the courses provided. Moreover, my experience at ETH is fully with the laboratory group I conducted my thesis in and I could therefore not give a view on ETH in general in that matter. 

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 6 at KI
I conducted my Bachelor's thesis so I have no comments on these questions.  

Language and Culture

I spent my time in a specific group at at laboratory so my experience would not reflect directly on ETH or Switzerland in general. But my experience was that the laboratory environment is similar to Sweden. Compared to for example Germany where I spent two months during a summer project Switzerland seems much more relaxed and keen on making the scientists and staff feel good. We had something similar to Swedish “fika” every day at 10.00 and we also went on a ski trip for some days. My supervisors and also my colleagues were extremely helpful, welcoming and curios. Due to this I did not really experience any big culture differences except for the language (but everyone spoke very good english).

Leisure time and social activities

There is activities arranged both by the university and by exchange students themselves. There is different facebook pages and web pages depending on interest that you will get from the exchange office upon arrival. Moreover, there is a fantastic thing called ASVZ which give you as an exchange student access to classes, events and exhibitions within multiple sports, for free (actually 30 CHF per term but this is covered within the exchange programme fee that you do not have to pay). This is provided to all students studying in Zürich. I was lucky to find a very nice lab group, which also lead to that I spent most my time with fellow students and colleagues from the lab. But in general I felt that students was easy to befriend. The city campus that I went to is located very central in Zürich on a hill, which also mean that it is a great view on Zürich directly from campus. At campus you can also find different student priced restaurants, coffee shops and bars. Parts of the city is very old with lovely architecture, but what I appreciated the most is the river going through and the lake the city is built next to. During the summer you can windsurf, swim and or just take part of the great atmosphere. If you would like to see more of Switzerland they have trains going everywhere. And if you like me stay for a shorter time (4 months) and do not buy a half tax card (you will understand what this is when you are here) then I would recommend to look for cheaper tickets at the SBB website. This one I used some times which give you access to all trains/buses/boats within the whole country for one day, and the sooner you buy it, the cheaper it is:


My exchange at ETH in Zürich will most definitely influence my future in multiple ways. For example, I learned a lot about Switzerland as a country, which makes me reflect about pros and cons about living in Sweden. This includes our tax system, childcare and healthcare. Moreover, I learned a lot working with new people in a new lab with new techniques. This build up my confidence in a lab and as a researcher. Also I have gained a lot of good advice from senior colleagues as well as valuable contacts for my future. In addition I think in general it is good to sometimes break your everyday routines and get out of your comfort zone to develop on a personal level (maybe to find a new sport or a new interest) as well as a future researcher (new ideas and perspectives).