Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: Universiteit Leiden
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: Erasmus
Semester: Spring semester 2012/2013
Name: Jimita Toraskar
Email address:

Arrival and registration

As dramatic as it could get, I had missed my flight to Stockholm in the middle of shivering winter. However, a KI medicine student who was appointed by university to pick me up in Stockholm coordinated with me smoothly and helped me overcome the panic situation. He also guided me through the SL card travel procedure. On arrival, I received a warm reception at city hall in Stockholm where I got chance to interact with students from KTH and SU. Having been away from my native land (India) for more than a year at a stretch, my medicines to tackle migraine were out of stock right when I needed them most. I got in touch with student healthcare and they guided me across and I got help from nearby pharmacy.


My housing was arranged thought UAC. To my surprise, I had a comfortable  room  with amazing view at ninth floor. The common kitchen had all the necessary facilities (from a toaster to microwave-oven) There was a grocery store just 2 mins from my housing, which is open till late evening. Cost of living in Stockholm is higher than Leiden. The funding that I received from my host institution were just sufficient for 4 months. I did not consider the monthly expense of SL travel card before applying for Erasmus grant. SL card provided quick transport using bus, metro or pendeltag train throughout the big city. It is an expense that all students coming to Stockholm should consider in their budget. 

Leisure time and social activities

I attended a Swedish cultural night at Karolinska and thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoyed Walpurgis celebrations at Skansen and also joined the vegetarian group in Stockholm. It was such a wonderful international cultural exposure. My day used to start with Swedish, German and Spanish supervisors at lab , lunch with new KI friends from Greece and turkey, then interaction with British , Russian and Chinese friends for my course project and in evening cooking  dinner together with Ethiopian and thai friends. However, there were a few student organizations which I was not aware about initially. I would recommend KI to help student organizations with a database of exchange students , so that they can update us with upcoming events and their activities. It was a bit difficult to gather information about upcoming events by looking at scattered posters in campus


Being an international student in Europe I am always looking forward to learn under different education systems in different countries. Erasmus exchange program gives you this opportunity to learn at different universities in EU. I wanted to do 6 months research internship in Pharmacology field and so I  mailed my CV to the department at KI. Unlike, few other labs where most of the student mail applications for internship go unseen, unless provided strong recommendations. I was given an opportunity to learn at pharmacology lab after a personal skype interview with my future supervisors based on my application. Once I found a position in lab, I applied for exchange in Biomedicine at KI. Later I also read online about the world academic position of KI in field of Pharmacology and it added to my excitement. Leiden University provided with all necessary information and document work at right time. I did not have the need to take any pre –arrival vaccines.

Courses during the exchange period

2EE066 : MAS-Biomedical project for exchange students
I attended the course Science to Business-Concepts in Biotechnology at SSES in KI. It was a different course compared to all then other business courses I had done before. This course gave me an opportunity to reflect, analyse and learn to have a better perspective of the field from personal experience of professionals and issues in Biotechnology. I learnt that there is a need to innovate mindsets, business models, managerial practices and geopolitical perspectives. The world is facing a host of healthcare crisis: we need countless effective innovations to provide good quality healthcare at acceptable cost. Science to Business is possible through effective collaborative research, licensing and startups. The knowledge and technology available in universities and public laboratories must be geared up by firms, in order to create new potential and jobs. As a master student, I was unsure of selecting right future career option. During this course, we got an introduction of the education background of all the presenters. An overview of their career journey has facilitated my career decision. I could note that all lectures took up the career that they were most interested in and which would provide them pleasure of job satisfaction. I think it would also be nice to introduce a few more precise concept based theoretical lectures next time. I suggest including lectures based on different ‘strategy tools’ to deal better with assigned business project assignments. On the other hand, My thesis project introduced me to new invitro study methods and new applications of the lab techniques I knew before. As a lab , we also had an outing at Haga park playing Branball. All expectations regarding this research project could easily be full filled because my supervisors often interacted with me to know my feedback and shared their opinions.


Overall, I am very pleased with my exchange experience at KI. It has even motivated me towards applying for PhD in near future. I learnt more than I expected. 

Language and Culture

I did enroll for basic Swedish course offered by KI. I used to go regularly for Swedish lessons at Odenplan and was really interested in learning the language more. However, soon time started clashing with another course that I had opted for. Unfortunately, I could not attend the last 3 lessons of the course.  In my opinion it would be convenient and exciting for student to enroll for intense Swedish lessons for a week or two instead of stretching it over months (4 hours a week). Many of my friends who were with me also had to leave the course abruptly because they had to leave back to their home country. Overall, I liked the course content they provided. 

Studies in general

I had 3 supervisors for my project and within no time we established a wonderful coordination to work. Having 3 sub-projects in my internship, I always had one of the supervisor monitoring my work and giving me the chance to learn something new every possible day. Initial days when I was late to reach lab, they email me with concern asking , if my health was good and if I needed anything to get used to this city. I was truly touched and motivated to work by this gesture. They had patience to let me understand my research project with time, they were open to discussions about my ideas towards the project. My first research project at Leiden help me adjust to the research environment and my second project at Karolinska help me sharpen my lab skills. I love the Swedish tradition of Fika. It’s a wonderful way to know other people in lab and their work. ‘It’s easy to become friends over a cup of coffee and some cake :)