Exchange report - Student at KI
Home university: Monash University
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Spring semester 2018/2019
Name: Evelin Väljaots
Email address:


I chose to go on exchange because Karolinska has so many partner universities and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit another country and stay for a longer period of time. I knew I wanted to go outside of Europe because as I said this was the perfect opportunity and then why not go as far as possible. I chose Australia partly because it is so far away but also because the main language is English and they have multiple great universities. Furthermore, Australian universities focus more on Microbiology and that is the field I am interested in. Monash university was my top choice because they have a very good Microbiology department. Applying to go on exchange was quite easy and once I was notified that I had been nominated to go to Monash University there was a long period of time where I had to do nothing as the deadline for applying to Monash was in October and I had been notified in March. In the end of August I emailed the exchange coordinator and she then nominated me to Monash after which I received the application form and instructions. This application took a bit longer but I got it done a couple weeks before the deadline. The instructions were very clear and I had no issues. I was required to send in my grade transcript, a document from the exchange coordinator confirming that I was enrolled at KI and a copy of my passport. It was very clear how and where to send to application. It was not required that I was vaccinated. 

Arrival and registration

We finished our final course on the 17th of January and we were expected to start at the labs on the 21st of January or at the latest on the 28th so a maximum of a week and a half after the end of the previous course. Since Monash has different semesters, technically I was supposed to start the course I was enrolled in at Monash in March. This, obviously didn't work so I emailed the coordinator at Monash and she was very helpful and I was able to start on the 28th of January at the lab. I arrived on the 21st so that gave me time to get used to Melbourne and do some necessary things like open a bank account (strongly recommend doing this as it is very easy) and get a SIM card. Monash was also kind enough to have a car pick me up at the airport which made my life a lot easier as I had just traveled for around 35 hours and was very tired. 
The lab group I joined was also very helpful and my supervisor made me feel very welcomed. In the beginning there were some safety papers and online courses I had to do but it took very little time. Overall my arrival was very easy and I transitioned into working at the lab with relative ease. Everyone was very helpful. I must also say that I had a friend who live in Melbourne so when I got there, for a week and a half I lived with her so that made things a lot easier.  


Overall I would say that life in general as in food and drinks are cheaper than in Stockholm. For example while in Stockholm I went out to eat at an actual restaurant maybe 7 times in 2,5 years. In Melbourne I did so a couple of times a month. Also the transport is more expensive than in Stockholm so I highly recommend getting a concession card and to do that you need to get a paper from Monash saying that you are a student. There are no fees that we have to pay to attend Monash however the visa to go to Australia costs around 350€ which is quite expensive. Luckily students from Sweden don't have to pay for health insurance as Sweden provides it for us. I received the confirmation that I was accepted to Monash in the second half of November so that meant the tickets to Melbourne were probably more expensive then they would've been in for example September. I received a grant from KI that covered around 70% of the price of the tickets.This also meant that I applied for the visa quite late, but luckily it only takes around a week to get the visa. Also I was not required to get a medical check up in order to get the visa. 


I did not have accommodation arranged when I arrived but I did have a friend there so I stayed with her for a week and a half. I looked for rooms on Facebook and also a site called Flatmates. Essentially if you google rooms for rent, sites will pop up. Monash does offer dorm rooms on campus however the price is much more expensive than in Stockholm and I was going to a campus that was far away from the city and I wanted to live closer so I chose not to live in a dorm. It was relatively easy for me to find a room, I only went to see one and loved it and then moved in 4 days after seeing it. However I know that some people had a more difficult time. Generally the standard cost of a room is more expensive than in Stockholm. I would recommend  finding something earlier than I did however you can always stay at a hostel or hotel while looking for a room. Unfortunately since I arrived before all the other exchange students, I could not wait until offers popped up about finding roommates. I lived about 25 minutes away from the campus and about 40 minutes away from the city. 

Studies in general

As I said I was enrolled in a course at Monash that was similar to the one we have at KI with a couple additional assessments. I had two seminars, had to send in my introduction and then the final report. All of these were very helpful in keeping me on track and provided great feedback. I would say based on how on track I was compared to people at KI, that having more assessments is better. During the assessments, I received very helpful feedback from both the examiners and my lab group. I loved my lab group and found my supervisors to be very helpful and everyone in the lab group to be helpful as well. 

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 6 at KI
I only took one course and it only had the assessments. Generally I was in the lab and only had contact with the examiners during the assessments. As I said before, I liked the course. 

Language and Culture

Since I studied at KI in English, the switch was not difficult at all. However when it came to writing, there was a slight difference between the feedback I received from Monash or labmates and the feedback from KI since the people in Asutraia are native speakers and know a bit more. Generally it was very useful because it made me a better writer. They do offer language courses, but I did not need them. Generally Australians are much more open than Swedish people but there weren't any cultural clashes that I can recall. It does take some time to get used to the Australian English. 

Leisure time and social activities

There were a lot of opportunities for social activities however, since the semester started later for everyone else, there wasn't really anything happening in the beginning. Later it was also difficult to partake in some because I had to be in the lab and events happened during that time. I would say that if you really want to get involved, there are many opportunities. The campus I was on, Clayton, was very big and nice. It was about 50 minutes away from the city by train. Melbourne in general is very big and I really liked it. I would say that city had a very chill vibe and is actually really pretty. However I am used to more nature so by the end I really wanted to get out of the city which is a bit difficult to do without a car since the city is so big. I arrived in January which is summer so it was relatively hot from January to end of March (25-35 degrees) however April got chillier and May was quite cold (12-5 degrees) so I suggest bringing a warmer coat. 


Generally I loved my exchange. It was good being so far away since I had no one there other than my friend so often I had to do things alone and I think it made me more independent. I think I learned a lot about working in a lab and the field of virology. I think this experience gave me a better idea about what my future possibilities are. Generally everyone I met was nice and I had a lot of fun while also learning a lot.