Exchange report - Student at KI
Irish flag with moon during daytime.
Home university: The University of Newcastle
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Autumn semester 2021/2022
Name: Alexander Stavrev
Email address:


An exchange seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore a new culture and academic environment. Initially, I was planning to go to the University of Newcastle but COVID-19 made that impossible. After many moments of despair and e-mails I finally got a an exchange nomination for Trinity College Dublin and the planning could begin. Due to this late nomination to TCD the information flow by them was quite restricted and things weren't always as easy as I would have liked. However, the international coordinator at KI was excellent in making things work out in the end. At the time, you could enter Ireland without vaccination certificates and all necessary certificates (travel insurance and English language proficiency) were provided by our international coordinator.
The last evening in Stockholm.

Arrival and registration

I arrived in Ireland two days before my first day in the lab, however things were rather calm for another week as the real work started in sync with the academic calendar at TCD. Luckily, there were lots of extracurricular activities (similar to committees at KI) that allowed for making new friends. Communicating with the Erasmus department at TCD was also easier once the academic term had started. And this was much needed as I had to register as an official TCD students in order to receive a student card that would allow me to enter by workplace. 
Dublin greets with a gray but magnificent sky.


I booked flights as soon as I knew I was going and managed to get them quite cheap. No vaccinations or visa were required but unfortunately living costs in Dublin are unusually high. 600 euros for rent and in addition to that, prepaid electricity of around 25 euros/week and public transport of around 20-25 euros a week - not very budget-friendly. Groceries were also more expensive than initially expected. There was a cafeteria on campus but it usually didn't offer very healthy options for lunch. The campus cafes on the other hand were great and had the cheapest (and very good) coffee in town - much needed during early mornings. The ccst for using the sports facilities at TCD was 80 euros/semester. However, the Erasmus stipend helped cover some of the costs.
Even though Dublin is expensive, there are many great spots with wonderful and cheap food!


My late nomination meant that finding accommodation would be especially troublesome as all of the TCD housing was already fully booked for the semester. Unfortunately, TCD wasn't very helpful regarding this topic and I spent the first two weeks living in a hostel before finally finding a tiny shared studio to stay for 600 euros/month. This place was around 25 minutes by bus from campus and unfortunately public transport in Dublin is not only expensive but also quite unreliable - so be sure to leave on time.

I recommend joining all housing groups on Facebook and checking out the advice regarding housing the the TCD Erasmus booklet as early as possible to try and organize something in advance. However, do not sign any contracts before you have seen your accommodation as scamming is common in Dublin. Check TCD housing options in advance for a chance to live on/near campus. 
This neighborhood is my new home for the next few months.

Studies in general

My relationship with PI, lab supervisors and other undergrad students was very good and together we could always find a solution to any problem that occured. However, the level of research/practical teaching seemed low compared to what I had been used to at KI. I learned a lot of practical skills for the lab that will be very useful for my future but I felt underwhelmed with the level of teaching in my lab at times. Shortly put, it made me appreciate the level of research and teaching at KI even more and was detrimental to my decision to stay in Stockholm in the future.
View from the lab bench on a double rainbow!

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 6 at KI
I did not partake in any course work as my degree project was carried out full-time in the lab. 

Language and Culture

Even though English is not my native language, KI has taught me a good level of academic English in the past few years. The Irish accent is sometimes hard to understand but usually it is not a problem. There were not real cultural borders but it was interesting to experience everyday life and a different work morale. 
If you ever struggle to understand something, Trinity has some amazing libraries with thousands of books. This is the Old Library and even though you can't borrow any books here, it is well worth a visit. On top of that it is free for Trinity students (+3 people you can bring).

Leisure time and social activities

Student social life is awesome at TCD, mainly due to the many different clubs and societies one can join. And of course, you can meet lots of new faces. I, for example, was part of the climbing society that offered sessions several times a week but there are definitely activities for every liking. Personally, I am not a huge fan of the city of Dublin. It is often dirty and very chaotic and I enjoyed the Irish nature much more. The international society at TCD offered great day/weekend trips to popular Irish destinations like Galway and the Cliffs of Moher. I also did an awesome Northern Ireland day trip (since it's just around the corner) to some popular destinations, which was organized by a travel agency. 

The Irish like to drink so there's plenty of pubs to choose from. And of course trying Guinness is a must (alongside a visit in the storehouse). Be aware that for legal reasons all nightlife shuts down at 3am. St. Patrick's Day celebrations were something special and resulted in a day of celebration, joy and (of course) drinking Guinness. 
One of many weekend trips to the wonderful coasts of Ireland. Be prepared for wind and weather!


Going on exchange teaches you a lot - personally and professionally. I did not really know what to expect from Dublin and in all honesty, after having spent 5 months there I would not want to live there forever.  Nonetheless, I am more than happy that I went on exchange since it helped me develop my lab skills and experience. Compared to KI, the level of teaching and research is without a doubt lower and it really made me appreciate studying at KI and living in a great city like Stockholm. It was also an extra factor why I decided to stay at KI for my future studies. 
Dublin has some amazing architecture and wonderful views alongside the river Liffey.