Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Study programme: Public Health Sciences (Master's)
Exchange programme: Linnaeus-Palme
Semester: Spring semester 2012/2013
Email address:

Arrival and registration

Arrival Arrangements 

Thanks to the International Students' Coordinator, I was linked to the KI Housing team ( . A student was made available to pick me up from the airport and guide me to my hostel. Although, he rather  picked me from the Central Station, he was very welcoming and provided me some tips to quickly adjust to the Swedish Cold ! 

On the very next day, I met the International Students' Coordinator who had all the paper work ready. A KI email account was already in place for me. Other important documents were handed over. She helped me in getting a Library card issued the very same day. She guided me to my class where I was introduced to everyone. It was a very nice experience as everyone seemed very welcoming and friendly, including the faculty. 

The very next day, she helped me get my scholarship money and accompanied me to the bank to open an account. 



UAC ( provided me all the support required for housing in a new country. The housing was booked even before I arrived in Stockholm and thank fully, time given for submitting the deposits were a good ten days. Organization of the keys, the room including cleanliness of the room was all well managed. I was intimated about the door codes and internet password before hand. The hostel was the cheapest accommodation available which helped me save a lot of money. It was next to a beautiful lake with a walking path and a beautiful bridge, making the views from the terrace breathtaking!

I liked the room, especially because I did not had to share it with any one. The kitchen was common and was very well resourced, with all the important things well placed. But I would rather preferred individual toilets instead of the shared ones as they were in my hostel.

Leisure time and social activities

Friends for Life!

I would like to express here that my experience with people in Sweden has been amazing. KI provided me an opportunity to get an exposure of people from all over the world. The class was truly international, with students belonging to Sweden, Finland, Greece, Germany, Spain and many more countries. This made the exchange experience truly 'Global'!

My visit to Sweden had a perfect start as I was invited to a Cultural evening being organized by 'Global Friends'  (, a students' body focusing especially on the international students at KI. I had registered online for the same from India and attended the cultural evening on the very first day of my arrival in the institute. A fun and exciting way of showing Sweden, with its food, dance style, the famous star shaped brown colored cookies and my personal favorite, the chocolate balls with coconut flakes. 

The classmates were very polite and friendly. They helped me understand the procedures of the library, like using the printer, getting the books issued and returned, using the online resources etc.  I also learned the art of 'Fika' a famous cultural practice, inevitable to survive the Scandinavian winter! We had outdoor picnics, class parties, group studies etc.

While the second course was going on, a dinner party was organized by all the classmates. Each person was supposed to bring some cuisine, specific to their country. So the party had food, ranging from Swedish to American and Greek to Indian. 

I was also invited to cook together with one of my Swedish friends at her home. Both of us cooked some delicious chicken with Indonesian curry, adding a twist to it with Indian spices! 

I was even invited by one of my Swedish friends to a family dinner in Uppsala. It was an amazing experience. The warmth and love with which the host family welcomed me, was heart melting. I had the valuable experience of a typical Swedish dinner. 

Before leaving Stockholm, I invited all my friends and classmates to an evening with Indian Dinner. More than 25 firneds showed up, with traditional Swedish gifts (I always wanted a red painted horse!) But the most touching was a Swedish flag hand made by a Greek friend, on which all the others wrote good bye messages for me. That is something I will cherish for life. 

My social experiences could go on and on but I think I should end here by saying that the twelve weeks of exchange programme at KI has had a life changing impact on me. 


Choosing KI 

My exchange program at KI was special for various reasons. I am a PhD student, at the stage of finalizing the methodology for my research. My doctoral work tries to look at the mental health of adolescents who are abused sexually as children. Thus, a course work, consisting of research methods for Health and epidemiology as the main focus, was appropriate for me. When an exchange program at KI was announced in my home university, it seemed like the most suitable option. The two courses 'Advanced Statistics for Epidemiology' and 'Collecting and Organizing Data' under the Public Health Sciences Epidemiology, promised to be highly useful courses for my PhD work and for a long term understanding of Quantitative Research in the area of Health.  Also, considering that KI is one of the most premium medical institutes of Europe, the option seemed even more lucrative. Added advantage was an exposure to Stockholm, the capital of Scandinavia. In my perception, exchange programs are meant to increase transaction of knowledge and culture between countries in the current scenario of rapid globalization and withering boundaries between nations. And the extremely unique cultures of India and Sweden made me even more tempted to apply for the program at KI. 

Tata Institute of Social Sciences : the Home University 

My institution assisted me at every step in understanding KI, Sweden, the courses and even my anxieties about going abroad! I was linked to the International Students' Coordinator at KI, a relationship I consider most beneficial throughout my twelve weeks at KI.  I was also connected to the KI students who were at that time studying at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) as part of an exchange. Those two students were very helpful in making me physically and mentally prepared for Sweden in February! The weather, appropriate clothing, the food, the courses, the style of examination, all this and much more, were topics of our long conversations. 

The International Student Coordinator at KI, was extremely sweet and frankly, highly patient (!) in answering all my questions, regarding the courses, project work, visa, tickets, arrival information, hostel arrangements and what not! Her prompt replies to all my emails helped in planning my trip smoothly


There were no vaccinations or any certificates required other than the acceptance letters from KI, sent to me by post when I was still in India.

Courses during the exchange period

4FH065 : EP-Advanced Statistics in Epidemiology
This course was very well planned with equal importance given to the computer lab exercises on SPSS every afternoon from 1 to 4 pm. The teachers were very approachable, and supportive at every step. I derived immense support from the faculty in the lab sessions, making me thoroughly grasp statistics and SPSS. Although, I feel that the information provided was too much for five weeks and the examination should not have followed the classes immediately. As I was new to the country and the teaching- learning paradigm at KI, I took some time to adjust and thus, could not keep up with the class from the very first day. Although, I picked up by the third week, but I still feel that some breaks between the classes and especially after the classes, before the examination, would have been better.
4FH044 : EP-Collecting and organizing data
The group assignments were a highlight of this course. The actual field based study, to help students understand the process of forming the tools, collecting and organizing data, the analysis of findings etc. was very beneficial and fun! Talking to Stockholers, on the roads, streets, parks etc., requesting them to fill up the questionnaire was not only helpful in understanding the data collection process, but even helped me get a glimpse of life in Stockholm outside the campus environment. I met people who were parents, lawyers, students, elderly , tourists, all having a different opinion about this beautiful city. Worth an experience! Among the classes, my personal favorite was the class on Ethics in Research. As my study involves children and sexual abuse, I had a keen interest in understanding the ethical issues this country gives precedence to, considering that its way ahead of India in the area of Child Rights. But, I do feel that the classes on designing the questionnaire were elementary and probably some more could have been added to that week's content. Also, as already mentioned, an introduction to SPSS, seemed like a repetition from the last course. Showing videos of other universities on entering Data were also not very well taken.



I do not think there is the need to say any thing more but I would just like to add that these twelve weeks in Stockholm were very less to know the education better. As the exchange was for twelve weeks, I could attend only two courses (10 weeks each). If it would have been for 15-17 weeks, I could have attended another course, which I really wanted to.  Also, according to me,  the course content on 'Collecting and Organizing Data' needs a revision. 

Also, the examination procedure should be a little relaxed for the students.

Otherwise, as I have said, the experience will be cherished for a lifetime! 


Language and Culture

I wish I could, but I did not attend any Swedish Language courses in Sweden. All I know is TACK! TACK! 

Studies in general

Studies at KI as compared to TISS

The KI study environment is very different from my home university. One important reason could be the basic essence of education. From my experiences with the Masters in Public Health Sciences Epidemiology courses, I can take this opportunity to congratulate the KI course coordinators for formulating the courses in a way that give students, the opportunity to apply their knowledge in the real world.  Practical application of the matter taught was given as much importance as the classroom lectures. This was a welcome change. Also the classroom environment was very peaceful (a Swedish trait I guess!) yet interactive. 

The Classes

Also, group work among classmates was an integral part of the courses and proved not only more knowledge generating but also more fun. Group Assignments is an inevitable part of the TISS course curriculum as well. Thus, accustoming to that method came naturally. I must say that the students were extremely supportive towards me in all the group assignments. I was even invited for home study sessions by friends. The class was always available to help me wherever I got stuck. Considering that the class was truly international, with students from all over the world, the group discussions used to be an eye opener. For example, designing a questionnaire for assessing the socio-demographic profile of respondents, an Indian might see the need to ask 'marital status' extremely important whereas a Swedish would see that institution, not as essential in ascertaining one's demography. This shows how the cultural differences bring variation, generating new dimensions to the class. When comparing with my home institute I must say, that the Indian classroom settings are a little more thought provoking than the KI classroom settings, but the organization and management of the courses in KI was unique. Also, a global perspective towards Epidemiology (visible through the health problems discussed and examples given) is worth noticing. 

The Faculty and the Teaching Methodology

I would take this opportunity to congratulate the teachers, especially of the course 'Advanced Statistics in Epidemiology', who were present constantly to answer the queries of the students. Not only were they well prepared to teach theory in the class, but provided their assistance in practical applications of Statistics via SPSS. Those computer lab sessions proved highly beneficial for me. The faculty deserves applause for making the students learn to apply concepts themselves. A detailed guide to do computer activities after each class shows the effort put in by the teachers to the course and I truly admire them for that. Although I do feel that showing videos of  'How to use SPSS' , as done in the other course 'Collecting and Organizing Data' should not be the preferred way of teaching. Also the SPSS applications were repetitive between the two courses. 

Miscellaneous activities

Through KI, I got  the opportunity to attend a Conference on Global Health organized in association with WHO. The Key Note Lecture on the future challenges for Global Health, is by one of the leading academicians of Sweden and the world. His presentation on the disease spectrum, post Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) scenario, was inspirational. 

As I am  a PhD student, my doctoral work is never out of mind. After the classes I used to be in library, accessing online journals, books and reports, which could help my doctoral work. The KI library was highly equipped in that regard and I benefited a lot from it.