Exchange report - Student at KI
Trinity campus
Home university: University of Dublin - Trinity College Dublin
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: Erasmus
Semester: Spring semester 2017/2018
Name: Felicia Jennysdotter Olofsgård
Email address:


I have gone on exchange before during my third term and though it was challenging at times, I very much enjoyed it, therefore, I was keen to go on another exchange for my last term. It's thrilling to go to a new country and exchange allows you to meet a lot of new people. Also from a professional aspect , it's good to have connections around the world and also get used to how people work and study in other countries. The reason I choose Trinity and Dublin is because I wanted something inside the EU since it would simplify the application process (don't need a student VISA), and I had heard many good things about Ireland and Dublin, for example, how friendly the people are and how beautiful the nature is. I also saw it as an advantage that I was going to an English speaking country since even though I enjoy being surrounded by other languages and learning other languages, 5 months isn't enough time for a slow learner like me to learn another language and knowing the language that you hear all around you makes it easier to really feel part of the culture. Trinity College Dublin has a good reputation and a large biomedical section. It also offered to help students to find a project for their bachelor thesis which considerably lessened the stress of applying for exchange.

Applying to get the nominations from KI was quite straight forward, you only needed to follow the instructions and remember to send it in time (which was quite early, already in February). My class was in lucky since we all had quite different opinions of where we wanted to go so for most places there were not more than 1 or 2 who applied so most people got their first choice. 

It was slightly more tricky to apply to Trinity. Once I had been nominated by KI, I got an email from Trinity explaining how to apply. You had to both email and physically mail the application to Trinity. Apparently the email was directed towards students starting in the fall and not in the spring as I was, so I sent my application a few months too early, however, it worked out anyways. I then had to find a project for my bachelor thesis. One of the people in charge of biomedical students provided me a list of 6 projects which I was to rank from the project I most wanted to the project I least wanted. This was a lot easier than what a lot of my classmates I had to go through as they had to find a supervisor on their own. I ranked them and then was asked to contact the Erasmus coordinator who would help me get in contact with the labs and see if I could get a spot there. I contacted the Erasmus coordinator, however, it was during the summer so I did not expect a reply until later, after 2 months I tried again and after another 2 months, I called her. The Erasmus coordinator was unsure what to do so I ended up contacting the labs myself and after about a day, the PI of the project I most wanted, responded and said I could do an internship at their lab. 

I was not required to bring any specific certificate. 

A park in Dublin

Arrival and registration

There was an introduction week for international students one week before arriving, however, the Molecular Medicine test at KI was on the Friday before the term started so I couldn't attend. I would recommend for whoever that can go to go since it's usually a good way of meeting other international students that become your friends. There was a mentor programme connected to the international week where one Trinity student meets with a small group of international students. Since I missed the introduction week I missed this, however, even if you miss introduction week it might be possible to get a Trinity student as a mentor if you ask for it. 

I did my bachelor thesis at Trinity and therefore it was a somewhat different start of the term than I would imagine students who attend courses have. The first thing I did was attend a lab meeting (that we had every Monday) where I got to meet all the members of the lab including the 3 other students. My supervisor then showed me around the lab and told me a little about the work they were doing. Everyone was very welcoming.

I also had to collect my student card. I applied for it before I got to Ireland and then picked it up at the administration desk at a specific time which I was given. It took only about 10 minutes to get. The student card allowed access into the building I was working at. 
A house in Howth, a coastal suburb of Dublin


I took CSN loans to cover the costs of living in Dublin. I also had a little bit of money saved up. I would say receiving the normal CSN loan definitely covers your living expenses in Dublin. The most costly thing about Dublin is the price of rent. Dublin is having a housing crisis and therefore rent can be even more expensive than Stockholm so you have to take that into account when planning your budget. Otherwise the prices are quite similar to Stockholm, maybe a bit cheaper. Public transportation can cost a bit though if you have to take it everyday since there aren't really monthly cards like with SL, instead you pay for each fare. 

Tesco is a large grocery store I sometimes bought from, but Lidl is a bit cheaper. All the normal clothing stores are present in Dublin including H&M and Zara. Henry street is the big shopping street on the north side of the river while Grafton street is the more high-end shopping street in the south. 
A standard advice for keeping costs down is buy groceries and make your food at home. If possible live close enough so you can bike or walk to school though of course that could be difficult to arrange. Your student card can give you discounts on certain things so keep an eye on that.
Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin


When I went, Trinity did not offer any student accommodation for incoming students since all the housing had already been given to students during the autumn term. I was given the name of a housing company specifically for international students by the KI student who went to Trinity last year. The organisation is called International Student Accommodations ( I contacted them about 4 months before I was to leave for Dublin and they replied quite quickly with a few options of apartments or houses which is shared by a group of students. I stayed on North Circular road which is roughly 30 minutes walking away from Trinity and 20 minutes from the river Liffey which is the centerpoint of the city. I lived with 8 other exchange students, many who arrived roughly the same time as I did. I shared a bedroom with one other roommate and 2 bathrooms and a kitchen with the 8 other students. There were both pros and cons about renting a room from ISA.

For the pros, it was quite easy to get a room from ISA if you contact them far enough in advance. You can order an airport shuttle from them which drops you off right at the door (though it's quite expensive). It was very nice living with other exchange students, those were the people I most socialized with and we got along very well. I was very lucky and got a roommate who I became close friends with and we ended doing quite a few trips together around Ireland (and Scotland). The location was good, I walked to almost everything (though sometimes that required 50 minute walks) and we had a shopping market and hospital really near us.   

There were quite a few cons. The house I stayed in was quite old and rundown and was not thoroughly cleaned. There was odd stains on the walls and the furniture (including the beds) were very old. Because of this, some of the appliances would break. The washing machine door was broken for a month, the shower leaked, and the heating situation was problematic for some of the rooms. The rent was expensive (though unfortunately Dublin rent in general is quite expensive), it was 570€ per month if you shared a bedroom and 800€ per month if you got your own bedroom. I was supposed to live in another house but 5 days before I was to leave for Dublin, they emailed me and said that something had come up and that I had to live in another house on the other side of the river. I ended up being content with the change in housing since I liked the people I lived with, however, it was stressful for it to come up so close to arriving. The neighborhood close to North Circular Road has it's charm, but is not the most well to do neighborhood and there were many reports of house robberies in the area, luckily we were not affected by this. The worst thing to happen in the house was that a bunting came down in my bedroom. It was made of plaster, but was almost as hard as cement and I would definitely have ended up in the hospital if my roommate and I hadn't noticed the large crack in the ceiling and moved my bed. Nobody got hurt and they fixed it pretty quickly. We weren't offered any type of compensation or another place to stay while they fixed it.

When I stayed in Dublin, the housing crisis was very obvious. The rent could be higher than Stockholm and it was quite hard to find accommodation. Unfortunately there is not a lot of rules and regulations which protects the rights of the person renting the property. Therefore, you have to be careful of scammers and look for housing well in advance (though I know people who managed to get housing one week before coming to Dublin so it's not impossible to get something on short notice either). To summarize my housing experience, I don't regret living where I lived since I met such wonderful people and it creates quite a unique atmosphere to live with only other international students close to the center of the city, however, there were a lot of faults with the house and sometimes with how ISA acted.  
My house in Dublin

Studies in general

Since I did my bachelor thesis at Trinity, I didn't attend any courses. I was in the lab full time. Due to it being my first time working on a project in a professional lab environment it was very different than previous semesters in the Biomedicine programme. My lab had a PI, a few post docs, and a few graduate and undergraduate students, both Irish and international students. We worked with microglial cells so it was a mix of neuroscience and immunology which I found very interesting, especially their connection to neurodegenerative diseases. For the bachelor thesis, you are supposed to be in the lab 40 hours a week. In the beginning of the term, I worked quite regularly between 9:00/9:30 to 17:00, but the hours increased as the deadline approached. As a student I was not allowed to work in the lab once all the supervisors (mostly postdocs) went home so the extra hours were mostly spent working on writing the essay. The work environment was professional and the people in my lab were friendly and helpful. I worked closely with my main supervisor who was a postdoc. She helped me a lot and taught me many new lab techniques and helped structure my writing. I helped her out on her projects and she helped me a lot with mine. Both she, and my PI, as well as my mentor at KI proofread my writing and gave me a lot of feedback.  For my writing I had to read quite a few articles to get enough background information and I had to rewrite different parts of my thesis multiple times to get the structure correct. At times, especially when the deadline for handing in my thesis was approaching, it was very stressful, but not all the time and I learned a lot during my 5 months there. It was a bit of getting used to working with animals. I don't have a certificate in animal handling so I was not allowed to directly work with the animals, but I saw when my supervisor sacrificed mice. We did a lot of different standard lab techniques which are used in labs all over the world. Since I haven't done any big independent projects in Sweden, I can't compare the lab environment at Trinity to Sweden, but I would guess it's quite similar.  
Trinity's beautiful campus

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 6 at KI
Since I was only active in the lab and did not participate in any courses, I wrote my impressions of working in the lab to gather data for my bachelor thesis in the "Studies" section.
The Geology building in Trinity's campus

Language and Culture

One of the reasons I choose to study in Ireland was because the main language was English. I enjoy hearing other languages, however, I am not very quick at learning them so 5 months is not enough time to learn a new language for me. Knowing the language can make it a lot easier to be part of the culture of a country. Since Biomedicine is taught in English, it was not a problem to do my internship in English. The Irish, of course, have their own unique accent in English. It is a charming accent, though there were a few times when the accent was so thick that it was hard to understand. Irish or Irish Gaelic is the other official language of Ireland and you will see a lot of signs and official documents in both English and Irish. Everyone is taught at least a bit of Irish in school, but only around 5% of the population use it on a daily basis. It is mostly on the west coast and the Aran islands where people speak it as their mother tongue. Pretty much everyone speaks English though so you don't have to be worried that you won't be understood.  

The Irish are a lively people and have a fascinating culture. The Irish music is known world over and is one of my favorite types of music. You can hear both modern and old fashion Irish music in many of the pubs all over the country. There are a lot of pubs everywhere you go and they are seen as the main place for socializing. Dublin has a lot of free museums and there are many cultural happenings going on all throughout the year. 

I did not really notice any cultural clashes between Ireland and Sweden. In some regards the Irish are more conservative and, especially in the past, been strongly impacted by Catholicism. In recent years, Ireland has gone though a major change and have become more progressive. Divorce was allowed first in 1995, but now marriage between same sex couples are allowed, and they just had a referendum about legalizing abortion when I was there with a majority voting to legalize it.  

Ireland has long and rich history and have gone through many different eras, including British rule which lasted for roughly 800 years. I would recommend doing the Free Walking Tours in Dublin. There is one for the south side and one for the north side. During the north side tour the guide talks mainly about the 1916 rebellion and Irish independence. 
On the west coast, close to Dingle

Leisure time and social activities

As I mentioned a bit in the "Language and Culture" section, Dublin is a lively city with a lot happening all of the time. It is built around the river Liffey which divides the north side and the south side of Dublin. The south side is seen as more posh and has most of the historical buildings while the north side is seen as having a more of a working class culture and some of it's areas are very international. There is also a large suburban area. In the inner city there are many museums. The National Museums of Ireland which include the Archaeology museum, the Natural History museum, and the Decorative Arts and History museum are all free. I would also recommend The Little Museum of Dublin. You have to pay a small fare to get in, but the guided tour is very good. There is also a nice free photographic gallery in Temple Bar. There are quite a few parks. Phoenix park in the west is the largest and have wild deer and forests, but also training fields. It is a great place to go for a run. The Botanical Gardens in the north are very beautiful. There is also St Stephens Green where many people go to have picnic when the weather is nice. There are pubs everywhere and most of them have a steady crowd. Some pubs like The Cobblestones, have live traditional music sessions. There are also many cafes and restaurants especially in the area a bit south of Temple bar. Temple bar is the main tourist site and is charming, however, it is very touristic and most students are there very rarely. Smithfield in the northwest is a cool up and coming neighborhood with nice coffee places and an alternative cinema called the The Lighthouse Cinema. The area around Trinity is in general pretty and historical. The weather isn't the best, the winter is quite mild compared to Swedish winters. but unfortunately it doesn't really get hot in the summer. It is a much more moderate climate with quite a lot of rain. 

Dublin has beautiful coastal suburbs. Howth is a popular tourist destination and has a lovely hike close to the ocean. Hiking between Greystone and Bray is also popular and I would recommend visiting the town of Dun Laoghaire just by the sea. You can reach all of these places with the local commuter train, the DART. It only takes 20min or 30min from the main central stations. 

Trinity has many organisations and societies which are possible to join. The Hiking society, for example, takes you to different hiking destinations in Ireland (usually close to Dublin) for a small fee. Rugby and cricket are played regularly on the fields of the college and the university has many sport teams you can join. Trinity also hosts formal dinners throughout the year, but it can be very expensive and you have to keep a lookout for when the tickets are sold. There are also smaller social events which are happening through out the year. The largest social event of the year at Trinity occurs usually in April, The Trinity Ball. For that night the campus gets closed off and only the people with a ticket are allowed in. Multiple stages are set up all around the campus and everyone dresses up in formal dresses and suits. Throughout the night there are many different bands playing on the different stages. This year George Ezra was playing on the main stage. Unfortunately I didn't get a ticket. Everyone wants a ticket so they are hard to get and you will probably have to wait in line for hours to get them. So if you really want to go, prepare yourself in advance! Since I was working in the lab the entire term, I did not have the same exposure to the student life as someone who would do courses at Trinity. I became friends with the students in the lab and I was lucky with my housing and got most of my friends through there or through trips I had done around Ireland. The campus of Trinity is beautiful and students can go in to the Old Library for free and bring three guests. It's one of Dublin's most popular tourist attractions. 

I traveled around Ireland during some of my weekends, mostly with people from my house. Bus Éireann is the main bus company in Ireland. They are not too expensive and cover a lot of Ireland. You can also take the train which is usually more expensive, but takes a shorter time. I traveled to the West Coast on a few different occasions. It's stunning, especially by The Wild Atlantic Way. I went to the picturesque town of Dingle by the water and also visited the tiny village of Annascaul. I took a guided bus tour around the Ring of Kerry and visited Killarney. Guided bus trips can be an easy quite cheap way of visiting different places, however, you have very little freedom so if it's possible to go on your own, I would recommend going on your own (preferably with some friends). Kilkenny is a quaint medieval town which you could visit as a day trip with a large castle. Galway is very charming and you have to visit the Cliffs of Moher. The Aran islands are very unique and can offer you a chance of hearing Irish spoken naturally by people who have it as a mother tongue. I never made it to Northern Ireland, but Belfast is only roughly 3 hours from Dublin and the Giant Causeways are a major tourist attraction. 


I think it was an extremely stimulating experience. I learned a lot, both in the terms of lab techniques and how a professional lab environment works, but also how to make a home for myself in a foreign place without knowing anyone beforehand. I am happy that I went on exchange and that I choose Dublin and Trinity. There were definitely times which were very tough, when the stress was very high, but it was worth it in the end and I produced a bachelor thesis I could be proud of as well as made many important connections for future endeavors. The people in my lab were all hard working and good scientists and I learned a lot from them. Some of the people I met in the house I was living in, as well as elsewhere, I hope to keep as friends for a long time to come. If it is possible I would recommend for everyone to go on an exchange at least once. 
Dun Laoghaire