Exchange report - Student at KI
Home university: University of Calgary, Hotchkiss Brain Institute
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Spring semester 2017/2018
Name: Adrian Söderholm
Email address: adrian.soderholm@gmail.com

Pre-departure

I chose to go on an exchange period as I thought that it would be a great opportunity for me to get some new experiences and to see how it is to live and study in another country. I specifically applied and ventured to Canada as I had never been to North America and had heard of their sociable and welcoming culture. Originally, I applied for the University of Toronto, but as they decided to end the exchange agreement they had with KI (at least for bachelor students) I went to the University of Calgary (U of C) instead, which I am very happy that I did now afterwards. The people at U of C and Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) were very helpful when it came to providing information regarding the exchange. For example, I got the names of professors and lab groups that would probably be interested in taking students and who had previous experience with supervising bachelor and exchange students. However, as the labs they recommended were mostly focused on neuroscience I decided to do my bachelor’s thesis with a lab group that I looked up and contacted myself (which was more focused on research within immunology, i.e. my area of interest).


For Canada and U of C, no vaccinations were required. As the exchange is under 6 months you only need to get an eTA (electronic travel authorization), not a student visa. I personally got a student visa just to be sure that there weren’t going to be any problems, but that was really just unnecessary. Be sure to also have important documents such as the acceptance letter from U of C when flying to Canada, they will probably not ask for it at the airport in Canada but if you are making a stop before, e.g. in Germany, they might ask for them there.

Arrival and registration

I flew to Canada as soon as I had done my last exam at KI and arrived in Calgary around January 16, about two weeks after the semester had started for the students at U of C. This unfortunately meant that I missed the introduction/welcoming weeks. However, all the clubs and societies were still open for registration and if you wanted to find out more they had representatives for all clubs in the MacEwan Student Centre for at least another week after I arrived.

Economy

I applied for housing at the University and lived on campus in a two-bedroom apartment in Aurora Hall, which cost about 6000kr/month. This was a bit more expensive than other options you could find but I found it quite nice to live on campus and to have a fellow student as roommate. As I did not take any courses whilst doing my project I found it quite helpful to have a roomie through whom I could meet lots of other students and friends.


For students at U of C it was mandatory to pay for a public transport chip which is put on your student card. This will allow you to travel with the bus and train how much you like and is quite cheap if you often use the public transport. Almost all students also pay for being able to use all the sport facilities (which are big and awesome; they have swimming pools, squash courts, gyms, etc.). I did not have to pay for this as no costs should be involved in exchange studies arranged by KI, but I was still able to use these facilities almost until the end when they suddenly told me that I had to pay if I wanted to continue to use the facilities. I do not know if you should/must pay for this and advise you to ask the administrators at KI and U of C.