Exchange report - Student at KI
Home university: Universiteit Leiden
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: Erasmus
Semester: Autumn semester 2018/2019


I have always been interested in going abroad in order to gain new experiences as well as to develop as a person. I thought that going on exchange is the perfect opportunity to do just that since you have a goal with your trip and it is easier to meet new people since you will have classmates. I had never been to the Netherlands before and thought that it would be a great experience to explore a new country. I had also talked to the dutch exchange students that were here at KI which made me even more interested. I also thought that it would be a good way to experience another way of learning as the teaching techniques are a bit different in Leiden.

The information about the exchange was however quite inadequate because it was not clear if we would be able to go until very late during the semester due to changes in the program. This made it quite stressful to fill in all the papers for the application. 

Arrival and registration

A week before the actual course start an event called the OWL week is organized. This is an orientation week for all new international students with a lot of different activities. The OWL week was a great way to meet people and to get to know both the university and Leiden as a city. During the week we had one day at our faculty where we were guided around the building, which made it easier to find my way the first day of classes. During the week, amongst others, a pub crawl, a canal tour and an info market were also organized. The info market was a great opportunity to learn about the different organizations that are active around the university. We also got an "introduction course" from older students about the study techniques they used because some courses are more work group based than lecture based compared to KI. During this course we also went through a "typical" exam which was helpful. 


The prices in the Netherlands were often the same or cheaper than in Sweden so the finance was no problem. For me I had to pay a bit of a higher rent which I heard is quite common in general but I believe that compared to Stockholm the housing prices are relatively similar. One great thing is that it is possible to bike everywhere in Leiden so a lot of money can be saved on not using public transports. I was lucky enough to borrow a bike for free but there are also a lot of places where you can rent a bike without it costing too much. 


I was lucky enough to be able to rent a studio from an acquainted for most of my time. The studio was really fresh and very close to the LUMC (the university and hospital). However for the last two weeks I had to find somewhere else to live but I just wrote a post in a facebook group called housing in Leiden and got a lot of people responding to me. This house was further away from the university, but still pithing biking distance, and I shared it with five other people but it was still clean and a good environment. 

I have heard from other people that it have been harder for them to find housing so I would suggest to start looking for it as early as possible. If you do not have anywhere to live the first week of school the OWL week offers you to sleep in a gym hall so you still have some time to look for an accommodation. 

The university also offers to help with finding housing however this costs about 350€ and you are still not guaranteed a place to live so for me this was not worth it.

Studies in general

I thought that the level of difficulty of the content was similar to KI however the tempo was higher and there were more tasks to complete during the courses which required more responsibility from the students side. The courses in the beginning were more workgroup based than lecture based meaning that we had one general lecture about the whole topic and then we have to study and learn the details by ourselves. I think this is quite different from KI were I am more used to having a lot of lectures covering most on the information that we should learn. However the two last courses involved more lectures and were in that way more similar to the way of teaching at KI. All courses also included practical parts such as labs. The labs were quite similar to the KI ones and a good opportunity to gain more knowledge about the topic you study.

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 3 at KI
Immunology: This course was very well structured. We had fewer lectures which generally explained the different topics and then we had workgroups where we together with other students and a teacher discussed questions that we prepared before. This method of learning was great because you learnt a lot by preparing for the workgroups. My workgroup teacher was also very good at explaining difficult topics. The difficulty of the course was similar to KI courses, however something different was that it had an open book exam.

Infectious agents and Immunity: This course was a bit less well structured and it was sometimes difficult to know what was important for the exam and what was not. However most students felt this way and made their opinions heard to the course leader who tried to adjust it. We had a mini project that you choose depending on which topic you found the most interesting and then performed lab work within that topic which you then presented to the rest of the class. The difficulty of the course was similar to KI courses as well as the exam.

Introduction to Neuroscience: This course was very interesting, both the theoretical parts and the more practical parts. For the practical parts we got to perform experiments about our senses, watch a dissection of a brain as well as try by ourselves. I felt like the difficulty of the lectures were similar to KI but the exam was quite confusing and a lot of questions were very different from a KI exam making it more difficult to be prepared.

Design and Analysis of Biomedical Studies: This was the first year that this course was given in English and thus a few things, including the whole manual of a lab, were not translated into English which complicated the course a bit. Furthermore the Dutch students already had a statistics course the year before while we had not and it was presumed that we had some knowledge that we did not have. We were given a short introduction course however it was still difficult to keep up sometimes. The computer labs were especially difficult since all the Dutch students were already used to working in the program, SPSS, while we had never used it before. The exam was however representative of the information taught in the course.

Communication in Science for Exchange students: This course was given in order to improve our communication skills. We got to both write a lab report as well as give a presentation. The course was very well integrated into the other courses so that the topics were relevant to the other courses. It was not a lot of extra work and a great way to improve both writing and presentation skills.

Biomedical Academic Scientific Training for Exchange students: This course was given to broader the knowledge about how it is to do a PhD. We got to interview PhD students as well as their supervisors and then write a report about what we found out as well as do a presentation. This course was quite time consuming and it did not feel like we gained very much knowledge during it, but it was still fun to get to hear about how it is to do a PhD in another country than Sweden.

Language and Culture

Most often the language during the lectures was not a problem, however some lecturers would begin their lecture in Dutch until we international students asked them to switch to English. The last course we took, DABS, had a few presentations that were not translated into English, which made it quite difficult to follow. We also had one lab where the whole lab compendium was in Dutch but luckily I was working with some Dutch students that could translate for me. 
The culture in the Netherlands is quite similar to in Sweden so I did not experience any culture clashes. I think that the Dutch are a nice people and very willing to help if you ever have any problems or trouble figuring out how something works. The Dutch are also good in English so it was easy to communicate to everyone.

Leisure time and social activities

There were events organized for international students by different organizations such as Lisco which is a part of the student association and by Leiden United which is another organization for international students. Lisco did not do that much during my time in Leiden since the board did not come together until very late but I went to quite a lot of Leiden United's events such as dinners, karaoke and game nights. Leiden also has a quite a lot of pubs where a lot of students hang out so I would go there with my friends. Additionally Amsterdam is only a 40 min train ride from Leiden and there are a lot of things to do such as visit museums, shopping or go on boat rides. 


I am very happy that I went on this exchange. I feel like I have been able to develop as a person both by experiencing a different way of studying but also by moving to a new country and everything that that includes. I believe that I have become a more open person and it has made me better at approaching new people since I barely new anyone when I move there.