Reserapport - utresande lärare
Lärosäte: University of Kwazulu-Natal
Utbildningsprogram: Optiker
Utbytesprogram: Linnaeus-Palme
Termin: Vårtermin 08/09
Antal dagar: 23
Namn: Alba Lucia Törnquist


We arranged accommodation ourselves before the trip. The previous teachers gave us good recommendations of the Bed & Breakfast where they stayed last year. We looked for other alternatives in price range and location and we concluded that this one had the best price for what they were offering. The reason we chose to stay at a B & B was because the university doesn't offer housing for teachers on campus. In order to decrease the cost for housing we decided to share the room. 


It’s a very well located B&B, about 15-20 minutes from the university and very close to restaurants, the beach and shopping malls. It is also located in a safe area. The staff was very firendly and helpful during 24 hours. Parking was not a problem, they have enough for all their guests. They also offer the possibility to use the kitchen facilities for warming up food and store food in the refrigerator. You can contact them at One can find several B & B in the Durban area. For more information: Here you can find information on other B&B based on the area.


The downside of the B&B was to communicate  with family in Sweden. There was no telephone in the rooms and when our family was calling the call was directed to the owners telephone, and at the moment of the call they could be in their private area at the B&B or away.


Our contact person at the UKZN picked us up at the B&B and showed us the way to the school. It was very easy to drive to school. We were well received by al the staff at the Optometry department at the University of Kwazulu Natal. Everyone showed us respect and appreciated the time and effort we put to be there. We also met the Head of the School of Physiotherapy, Sports Science and Optometry, who gave us the opportunity to use the gym facilities. Our schedules were ready from the first day, and they met our needs. Everyone put the effort to make our stay pleasant. The director of the program and part of the staf invited us for a farewell lunch.


Transportation needs to be done by a rented car. Price for rentals are similiar to Sweden. The living cost is less than in Sweden (gas, food, drinks, clothing, etc).

Språk och kultur

The main language of communication at the UKZN is English. I didn't have any inconvenient communicating neither with the staff nor with the students. 


In general,  I didn't experience any cultural shock coming also from a developing country. I identified several similarities in the ways of living and on how things looked around. Since it is a multicultural country I founded interesting aspects on those cultures we spent most of our time with,  the Zulu and the Indian culture. Very impressive how the Zulu people have been integrating to society preserving their traditions. The Indian culture, depending on which part of India their ancestors had come from is a society more or less dominated by men in which the woman's life spins around the well-being of the man.





Our contact person at the Department of Optometry was very helpful in giving us suggestions on how to spend our free time. We had some personal wishes and she helped us to achieved them. The head of the department and some members of the staff organized a very nice lunch at a rotating restaurant in the middle of the city. We visited the city a few times always with someones company, they wanted to decrease the risk of exposure to danger. For safety reasons, even though certain places were not that far to walk, they recommended to always take the car. Don't forget to lock the doors of the car while driving. We went to the mountains of Drakenberg for a one day tour and we walked all the way to the top where a local told the story of the Bushmen. We had the opportunity to visit a Zulu village and see and experience their culture. We went to a small safari trip outside Durban and we visited the crocodiles and in another occasion we went  to a game park about three hours drive from Durban looking for the big five. On Sundays one can visit the market by the beach in which one can buy handcrafts at very good prices or go to the horse stables on Friday after 19.00 for curiosities and handicrafts. During the weekends, one can eat a very nice brunch by the beach. We ate at restaurants every night, we were exposed to different types of dishes, like for example wild animals meat, and Indianindian food. The food is delicious and the prices very affordable.


When traveling to SA always keep in mind security, always ask for directions, if the place you want to visit or the roads that take you to that place are safe. The best way to move around is by car, public transportation is not an option. When booking the hotel / B&B ask about the internet access and the cost if it is not included in the price.

As a summary, the experience of traveling to SA, working at the university  and do things locals do make the trip worth it. This trip left wonderful and unforgettable moments that will last a life time. This is the type of experience that everyone should be part of if one have the possibility and desire of some adventure.

Annan verksamhet

As a LP coordinator some meetings were arrange with different members of the international office to discuss the situation of the exchange students at both institutions and to improve the different instances the students need to go through, like for example the application process, arrival, courses selection, examinations and departure. This took a great time of the non-teaching time. Also meetings with my and my contact person at the Optometry department, were arranged. In these meetings we went through the course description and content of every course the students from both institutions were going to participate in their next trip.

We had the opportunity to take part of a screening session at a primary health center located outside Durban in a low income community. Besides the students a clinical supervisor was present. By the time we arrived there were several patients waiting to be examined by the students. They were providing with full eye examinations. Later during the day we followed another group for eye screening in children. They were examining children from a town located 70 km. The examination the students performed were to detect any abnormal vision or  delays in the development of the visual functions.

I also had the opportunity to meet two teachers in the areas of my interest (Pediatrics and binocular vision and Ocular pathology and diagnostic techniques) and we discussed course development and examination criteria.


It is a very enriching experience to become part of the exchange program, from the personal, teaching and professional perspectives. You have the opportunity to interact with people with different cultural and educational backgrounds. You learn so much from their experiences and how they had come up with different solutions. The language when traveling to South Africa was not a barrier since the teaching language is English, they have other languages like Zulu and Afrikaans but is not commonly used at the universities. It is important to know in advance the areas one will be teaching, if you are going to take part of lectures, clinical sessions and/or seminars.


It is important to think about vaccinations before the trip. The Wasa vaccination center at Hötorget is a nice and friendly place and one can come in without making an appointment. The type of vaccines will depend if you are staying within the city or if you are going to rural areas, and one might need one or two doses.


When applying for the money it is important to fill in the "reseorder" and the "reseförskott" in order to receive the money in good time before the trip. Book the flight in advance in order to get a good price and also the hotel, one can run into availability problems.


There are only positive aspects from this experience, from the cultural, social and professional aspeces and as a teacher. The whole idea of being away in a completely new culture, in such a multi-ethnic society can only bring positive experiences.


I am planning to stay in contact with our host university by email with the staff, by sharing ideas and concepts, by developing new strategies of collaboration, by supporting the development of LP program between both institutions.


The international committee organized an international evening in which all students and some teachers were invited to participate. During this event my colleague  and myself had the opportunity to share our experience through a power point presentation.


Definitely, this experience as an exchange teacher had made a big impact in my life as a person and as a teacher. I've learn other ways on how to deal with the daily challenges, things that we take for granted because we live in a developed country.


The Optometry program at the UKZN is a four year program,with about XX students per year. It is a well established program and recognized in the entire country. They run about 6 parallel courses throughout the semester. Each member of the staff is responsible of a course (s), which means that is the only one preparing lectures. demonstrations, clinical training, and examinations. For clinical practices external examiners are invited. They are assigned a fixed day and time for their course. The rest of the days of the week are used for preparation of the course. By regulation, they have one day exclusively dedicated for doing research.



1. Clinical training sessions are conducted in a very similar was as at KI, they have external optometrist for support.

2. Teaching is given in a similar way, either using a power point format or over head projector, if needed.

3. They go out for screening to hospitals, while our students are doing some practice at the optic shops. The exposure is different but the purpose is the same, expose our students to other working conditions and patients.



1. How the courses are spread throughout the semester. At KI, even though we had modified to parallel instead of module system, we don't have courses that are running parallel for an entire semester.

2. All examinations are scheduled during a period of one or two weeks,

3. When doing a clinical practical examination, at UKZN they offer the possibility to the student to have a session prior and after the exam in which the teachers are giving feedback to the student in order to point out the strength and weaknesses of their skills.

4. KI offers more advanced technology and better equipped rooms for the students to learn and practice their skills.

5. The student at UKZN must buy all the hand held equipment that is needed to examine a patient.  


There is a hierarchical type of relationship between the students and the teachers. The student must address the teacher as Mr, Mrs, Ms and the last name of the teacher to show respect. The same goes for the patients.



During the first day after our arrival we finalized our schedules for the three weeks of our stay. I was responsible of lectures in the Pediatric and Binocular vision courses. I also participated in clinical training sessions and took part of  a screening day off-campus. I was part of two clinical feedback sessions, one prior and one after the clinical examination.These feedback sessions were very interesting because I could see the direct benefit the students were getting from it.

In average, the number of teaching hours per week was about 11, distributed in 1/3 in lecturing format and the rest in clinical training, clinics with patients and screening off campus.