Reserapport - KI-student
Lärosäte: King's College London
Utbildningsprogram: Biomedicin
Utbytesprogram: Erasmus
Termin: Hösttermin 21/22
Namn: Julia Andersson

Innan avresa

One of the reasons I chose KI was because of the opportunity to do an exchange. I chose KCL as I have always wanted to live for a while in London, and with Brexit an exchange is the easiest way to do so (you do not need to apply for a visa when staying less than 6 months). I think the information from KI’s side was good in the nomination process, but I was still a bit surprised at how much you have to do once you are nominated. Finding a supervisor was not too hard, however the application process to the university was quite complicated. There were some misunderstandings on King’s part, as to what I was going to do at the university (they thought I was taking courses but I was doing my thesis there), and they asked for specific documents to be filled out for language proficiency etc. I was not really prepared for the time it took to apply to the university, so I suggest to start early. There was also some issues with my enrolment to KCL, so when I left Sweden I was still not enrolled at the university and could not take some mandatory courses. Although this was sorted in the end, KCL was not very good at keeping me informed about what I should do. 

Ankomst och registrering

I arrived around 4 days before my first day at the lab, which I think was enough. There were no activities or campus tours organised for exchange students that came to do a research project at KCL so I simply arranged for a meeting with my supervisor for the first day. It took another 2 weeks for me to be enrolled, so in the beginning I could not get a student card, which was annoying as I had to call my my supervisor anytime I wanted to enter the building. Once I was enrolled, there were some mandatory courses I had to do online for lab and fire safety. My supervisor also arranged for a safety tour around the lab. 


As most people know, London is expensive. Besides accommodation, public transport was also very expensive. As a student though, you can apply for an 18+ student oyster photocard, which gives a 30% discount. And since I lived in zone 2, I only had to buy a card for zone 1 and 2. I did not really notice that groceries would be more expensive than in Sweden, and sushi (although not the best) was cheaper. A friend also gave me the tip of buying a subscription at Pret a manger, which is a coffee shop franchise with stores all over London. The subscription costs 25 pounds per month and gives you 5 drinks per day. This was really worth it for me, since I would get at least one coffee from there per day, and there are at least 4 shops within walking distance from Guy’s campus. With the student card you could also get discounts to certain tourist attractions and also at some lunch restaurants such as Wasabi. 


I found my accommodation through Airbnb, which is probably the easiest way when staying for only four months. It was a flat share in Limehouse right by Thames, which is a calm and nice area.  The flat was in an okay condition, with a modern bathroom and kitchen, however as these were shared by 4 people they were not always the tidiest, although a cleaner would come every two weeks. The agency rented out the living room as a bedroom, which I have heard is quite common, so there was no place to eat and hang out. The room I was renting was very small for the price I was paying, but the view was nice and it was in zone 2 and only 5 minutes with the DLR to Bank station which was close to campus. I am sure it would be cheaper to stay a bit further from central London. 

Studier allmänt

I did not take any courses at KCL, so I cannot really comment on the education. However, the lab environment was a bit different from KI. I would say that it is slightly more formal, as you address people by their title. With that said, my supervisors were always very nice. Unlike the labs at KI, there are no common areas for eating lunch, everyone just ate at their desks. There was also no common area with desks were you could sit and write. Project students did not get their own desks, so most of the time I just sat in the library when I was doing writing. There are several computer rooms at Guy’s campus so I could always get a computer. Otherwise, the lab facilities were quite similar to the ones I have been in at KI.  

Guy's campus

Kurser under utbytet

Kurser motsvarande termin 6 på KI

I did my exchange during my degree project, so I did not have to transfer any credits. I got to try out many different techniques for studying protein structure and interaction, and I learned a lot. My supervisors were very used to having students at the lab and were great teachers. The requirements for the bachelor thesis report at KCL is quite different from KI. This did not really affect me since I was writing the report according to KI’s guidelines, although since my supervisors were used to KCL’s guidelines it was a bit hard for them to give feedback on certain parts. 

Protein crystals!!!

Språk och kultur

As I went to an english speaking country, there was never any issues with the language since the biomedicine program is given in english at KI. I did not find the culture to be all that different either. People are very friendly and I realised early on how important it is to be polite. The cashier and the person taking your coffee order will always ask “are you alright?” and in the beginning I always stuttered a reply. You also get approached a lot more by strangers. The person sitting next to you on the train or in the park might start a conversation. One big difference is that strikes are very common in the UK. Different parts of the public transport was on strike several times during my time there, so it is important to keep track of when these will happen so you know how you can get to campus etc. During my first few weeks there, my supervisor was alos on strike for parts of the day. 

And as I commented on earlier, the lab culture was a bit more formal than what I am used to at KI. 

Fritid och sociala aktivteter

Erasmus students coming to KCL for a research project are not really involved in the erasmus activities and so I did not meet any other erasmus students. Luckily there were other project students in the lab that I made friends with. I am sure there are activities to take part of as well but I did not. 

There is a lot to do and discover in London. At Guy’s campus, King’s students can go to Gordon Museum of Pathology in the Hodging building for free. The museum is not open to the public and has thousands of human specimens at display. It is somewhat unpleasant but mostly very interesting. Close to campus you have Borough market, which is a food market that has been around for a long time. Soho and Marylebone are the best areas for shopping and eating in my opinion. There are a lot of good second hand shops and I would definitely recommend going to Daunt Books which is a beautiful book store. When the weather is nice, both Regents park and Hyde park have beautiful rose gardens. I would also definitely recommend taking the tube out to Kew Gardens where you have several botanic gardens. 

Daunt Books


Overall, I am happy I went on an exchange. Although it was not the typical Erasmus experience, since I did not take any courses, I got to meet a lot of new people and discover a new place. It was sometimes a bit stressful being in a new place while doing my thesis project, but it was nonetheless a great experience. It feels very cool to have done my thesis project in the field of structural biology at King's, where Rosalind Franklin worked when Photo 51 was taken which led to the discovery of the DNA double helix structure. I learned a lot during my time at King's, gained valuable contacts and learned about the lab culture in another country which I believe will be useful for my future career. This experience has made me eager to do other projects abroad in the future.