Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: Universidad Austral
Study programme: Medicine
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Spring semester 2011/2012
Name: Matias Lopez Avecilla
Email address: matias_lopezavecilla@hotmail.com

Arrival and registration

Before leaving my home country I was already in touch with my head supervisor Dr. Carl-Fredrik Wahlgren who suggested a time and place to meet for the introduction day. With this he gave me very detailed instructions on how to get to the meeting place, his office obviously, and some information I had to know before starting my studies there. The most important one was the compelling MRSA screening test that usually takes a week before knowing the results. This test is done in the student health center. So as I arrived one week early to Stockholm, I decided to do the test as soon as possible to have the results ready when I had to start. I didn't know back then that an appointment was needed so I just went to the student health center located in KI campus in the library building. The nurse was very helpful and did the test even though I didn't have the appointment. The results were mailed to me the same day I started my rotation.

Acommendation

I stayed at the Solna apartment complex located near both the Karolinska Institutet and the Hospital. The housing was very cheap, knowing how expesive Stockholm can be.  My room had internet but only through Ethernet, not wifi. A good sized cupboard and a very nice desk with two chairs. The rest of the room was very good, with a nice bathroom with very good water pressure and nice temperature.  The bed was the only thing that I could criticize as it was a bit old and used. The kitchen was shared with the rest of the floor. The UAC suggest that you take your own kitchen supplies but apart from a  piece of cloth to dry things up everything else is in the kitchen as community stuff.

The arrangements with the UAC were done before I left for Stockholm. I filled an online form and waited for their response, that in my opinion took long enough. I send my form almost 2 months before leaving and the response came almost 2 weeks before leaving, It could have been very difficult for me to find other accommodations if my request was rejected for lack of space. All in all,  i was very pleased with the accomodations because of its price, location (near the hospital) and because it had everything that I neded.

Leisure time and social activities

Social events an every day thing in Stockholm. One can be surprise with free concerts, dance lessons and other things during the day or night. Apart from this there are lots of things to do in this beautiful city. The parks are amazing and full of young people. They have amazing museums as well as the Natural History Museum and the Vasa museum. And nights are full of fun too and for everyone. If you like going out for a drink and listening to live bands, or going to watch a football match in a bar or just walk around and enjoy the beautiful city at night.

Pre-departure

My decision to study abroad was related to my wish to know how medicine was practice in a different country. My university has connections with some universities around the world, one being with the Karolinska Institutet. Knowing that the Swedish healthcare system is considered excellent and that I had the opportunity to attend to the Karolinska university hospital, one of the best hospitals in Sweden, I decided to take advantage of that and apply to KI. I was able to apply for a four week clinical rotation in the dermatology department in the karolinska University Hospital. Even though I am planning to continue my studies specializing in cardiology, i was very grateful to be given such a unique opportunity.

The information given by both Ki and my university was that the exchange studies were english based. In spite of this, most of the interactions with patients were in swedish and latter explained to me in english by the doctor. Maybe i was not so much ill-informed but hope to get more patient interaction. Everything else went as explained either by KI or by my own University.

I was not required to take any vaccine additional to the ones i already received, although I wasn't required to take any certificate either. 

Courses during the exchange period

ELA001 : Dermatology and Venereology 1
My course of Dermatology and Venerology was thoroughly planned before hand and explained to me the first day. It was done in a certain way as to give me time to spare to be dedicated either studying or just getting to know the city. My activities were to follow one of the staff dermatologists during the daily activities, mostly outpatient consultations. I was able in various occasions to do punch biopsies and excisional biopsies as well. The level of the rotation impressed me and I was glad the doctors who I was with took the time to explained every case fully. The idea to keep a logbook with the most relevant information of every patient encountered gives you the opportunity to fully exploit the clinical rotation as it makes you want to know more of the patient and its disease. I was very satisfy with the level and quality of the clinical rotation.

Summary

My experience in Stockholm was amazing. The city is really beautiful with the lovely Gambla Stan (or Old Town), the amazing Djurg√•rden and the colorful buildings all around town that makes this city an excellent city for walking and enjoying it. This together with the fact that I still think there are no unkind people living in that city, everybody literally will go out of their own way to help at the most amazing extent from their part in every problem one can have.
On the other hand, my clinical rotation in the Karolinska Hospital was as good as the city itself. The hole month was incredible organized before hand leaving me plenty of free time not only for studying but also to get to know the city and even could catch a cruise and visit Helsinki. The doctors who I followed during my rotation took every time they could spare to teach me, answering my questions and explaining me when the patients talked in Swedish. Never the less, my contact with patients was not what I expected as most of the patients spoke in Swedish which made it difficult for me to communicate. In spite of this, as it was mentioned the staff doctors took the time to explained every patient fully. This is why I would definitely recommend my friends to choose Karolinska Institute for their exchange studies.

Language and Culture

I didn't participate in any Swedish language courses mainly because of lack of time, as I only was in Stockholm one month.

Studies in general

During my clinical rotation I attended the department of dermatology in the Karolinska Hospital. The first day of my rotation I was introduce to some of the stuff and told how my rotation was going to be. In fact i was given a time table with everything planned before hand in such a way I was able to have time to study and get to know the city. My supervisor and the rest of the stuff were really helpful explaining everything and answering all my questions. They also let me do small procedures like taking skin biopsies explaining me how they were done and supervising me. I was glad to have the opportunity to get to know Swedish culture and how medicine works in Sweden through them. Although the language was almost every time a big obstacle when in front of a patient every doctor of the staff took the time to explained to me thoroughly everything. Despite this, the meetings before lunch where the most difficult patients were discuss, most of them where done in Swedish and I wasn't able to exploit it fully. Never the less, I was really glad that everyone was so helpful and continuously got out of their own way to help me in everything i needed.