Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: The University of Newcastle
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Autumn semester 2012/2013
Name: Boriana Stankova
Email address:

Arrival and registration

My arrival in Stockholm went quite smoothly. Because I arrived on a weekend, I couldn't get the pick up service but a friend of two of my Australian friends met me at T centralen and helped me with my luggage, gave me a little package which included a map of where my accommodation is, the university map and some other goodies and even met me for coffee that same day and showed me around Stockholm. So straight away I discovered the generous and friendly nature of Swedes :)

I was very glad that I arrived in time for the Introduction week and I especially loved the introductory swedish courses that were organised by KI, That's when I met most of the friends that I had for the rest of semester and it was also a nice way to learn more about the Swedish culture. The introduction days at the uni were also useful to get oriented around the uni and see where you'll be eating, studying, learning etc. The booklets that we were given were also very handy. I especially loved the booklets that we got about Swedish culture and food.  


I lived in Pax and I loved it there. For the price that it was it was great. You get your own very spacious furnished room and your own bathroom. The only thing that you have to share is the kitchen which even though it's with 8 other people, you get used to. It's close to the tunnelbahna, which you can't hear and it made commuting to uni and central Stockholm very quick and easy. It's also 5minutes walk to a beautiful lake which you can walk along endlessly and in summer/spring people even swim there (by winter people were skiing on it!). It's also very nice that Pax is full of international students so making friends is quite easy. 

Before leaving for Sweden, I was very stressed that my application for accommodation wouldn't get approved because I didn't hear anything until after I was already in Europe travelling. But it all worked out in the end.  

Leisure time and social activities

While I was at KI, I did rowing, tried salsaing, volunteered at MF pub and attended the Lucia Ball. These were all lots of fun but it would have been nicer if there were more student groups and more student events. 

I did make some Swedish friends that I met in my course and I also met a girl through Global Friends who was assigned to me. This however was organised quite late in the semester and so I pretty much knew all of the practical stuff that I needed to know about KI and Sweden but it's always nice to meet a new face. 


I had been wanting to go on exchange as soon as I first heard about it. As cliche as it sounds, it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity. When else would I be able to study with other students in a foreign country and experience a new culture whilst receiving money from my country and university? The only thing I had to decide was where to go. The countries that went with my degree were the US, UK, and Sweden. Four of my close friends chose Ireland and I knew that I would have an awesome time there but the reason I decided on Sweden was that I would be completely out of my comfort zone because I would be by myself and in a country where the main language was not English (although I soon found out that EVERYBODY speaks English her). I knew that it would be tough at first but that it would make it so much easier to make friends and it would be completely different from Australia. Another thing in favour of Sweden was that I had never been to Scandinavia and I love the snow. 

The actual application process was a little bit complicated but it was broken down into steps by my university which made it a lot easier and both my university and KI replied quite quickly whenever I had questions. The information that I was given had everything that I needed to know and I didn't really have to do that much of my own research. The only thing that was kind of stressful was the visa. But everyone has to do it and it always works out in the end so it's not something to be too stressed out about. 

Courses during the exchange period

BIOX06 : BACH - Integrative Physiology
Overall, I found the learning material interesting. While some lectures were presented really well and the lecture material was very clear, others were hard to follow and a bit unorganised. There were some lectures that it wasn't quite clear what it was that we had to actually learn for the exam. It might be just that I'm not used to that form of teaching. For some lectures I ended up going to the learning outcomes and studying from the text book instead of using the lecture slides. I did however really like the labs. It was really interesting for me to learn about physiology by doing instead of just from the text book. It made it a lot easier to understand. The course is definitely relevant to my degree as it gives an overview of all the processes of the body which is very important in research as you need to remember that things you're looking at under the microscope are a part of a larger system. I thought the exam was well set out. Not ridiculously hard and not too easy.
1BI011 : BACH-Molecular oncology and biostatistics
This was my favourite course that I have done at university. All of the lectures were really interesting and the lecturers were always very enthusiastic and tried to everything that we were learning relevant for us and our degree. I also really liked the group sessions that we had where we had to present information to our tutor on different cancers every couple of weeks. This was a really good way to learn about the different diseases, improve our presenting skills and practise working in a group. I also liked the labs and the tasks we had to do (including the fikas) but I thought that they could have been a bit more organised. There often seemed to be a lack of pipettes. I think that the examination was far too difficult. I think that the level of knowledge expected for a pass grade was too high. You were expected to know all of the lecture material and then also build on that by designing possible future treatments and ways to diagnose cancer. I think that this kind of thinking should be to distinguish between a B and a C not a F and and E.


I am so happy that I went on exchange and that I chose KI. I did so many things that I never could have done such as shake hands with Shinya Yamanaka. Sweden is an amazing country and I am definitely considering living there for a couple of years in the future.  

Language and Culture

I really enjoyed the Swedish language course. It was a great way to meet new people and learn more about the culture and language. The textbook that we received was also really helpful and fun to learn from. It was tough having lessons at night time but it's the only time that suits everyone and I'm glad that I persevered. 

Me and a couple of my friends loved learning Swedish so much that we continued lessons with a private tutor and met every week at a cafe. 

Studies in general

Even before I got to Sweden I was very interested to see how it would work, doing one subject at a time and my final conclusion is that I wish my studies were like that in Australia. Doing one subject at a time means that you can put all your energy into that one subject instead of thinking about multiple subjects at the same time and becoming confused. 

I really enjoyed that the courses that I chose had a large clinical aspect and lecturers often gave real life examples to show how the things that you are learning about have relevance. I also really like that there is a hospital on campus which my uni doesn't have and one of the courses that I did was actually in the hospital. Some days we even had patients come in and give talks about their disease. It was confronting but very interesting to see how the work we do one day will affect people. 

I also liked how much group work there is. We had group assignments and group presentations which I think is important as working in a team is something that everyone needs to practise. 

Some things that could be improved are the speed at which material such as lecture slides are uploaded onto pingpong and the organisation of the labs.