Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: Universidad de Chile
Study programme: Public Health Sciences (Master's)
Exchange programme: Linnaeus-Palme
Semester: Spring semester 2009/2010
Name: Cecilia Orellana
Email address:

Arrival and registration

My trip was very pleasant, which I now consider very important when it comes to facing such a long flight. It took me 3 planes and 25 hours to get to my final destination, Stockholm. Once I got there, my global friend was there holding a sign with my name, and then we took a bus to my room because she had already picked up my keys. At this point I must say that the change from my hot January summer to that cold and snowy Swedish winter was really extreme. Later they told me it was one of the coldest winters in 2 decades or something, so it’s very important to be prepared when you come from a warm country like mine.


Later during that first week, I also got help from people from Global friends in different ways, like picking up the check with the scholarship money, going to the bank, learning how to get to school to attend classes, how to use the buses and the subway, how to get the special transportation card, getting a cell phone, etc. They were all extremely nice and helpful.


I applied for housing via UAC by filling the forms online because I was recommended to by the student coordinator. I must say I was very well informed about the different choices of accommodation that were available because I had two friends who went to Sweden as part of the same exchange program. Therefore, I knew what I wanted, and I especially knew what to expect. I stayed in a room in a corridor with a private bathroom and a common kitchen. The experience of staying in a corridor was pretty special and unique, and I met people from different countries, with different habits, senses of humor, and rules of behavior in general. This coexistence was not always pleasant, which is only normal when you get to spend a lot of time with a very heterogeneous group of people, but we had really great moments and I got to learn a lot about their culture.


My room was very simply furnished, but it had all I needed to be comfortable: a bed, a mattress, a desk with a chair, a bookshelf and a closet. The bathroom was private and it had a toilet, shower and a towel dryer.

Leisure time and social activities

“Global friends” were always organizing all kinds of fun activities for the exchange people, such as dinners, ice skating, jazz brunches, etc. It was a very good way to meet new people from all over the world, talking about our different realities back home and about what life in Sweden feels like. But I must confess that people from Sweden are a bit distant and cold, or at least that’s what they show, so it’s difficult to make friends with them because they are not that open to meet new people. This might be a tough statement, but I might be influenced by the fact I come from a Latin-American country and we tend to be more expressive, affectionate and definitely louder. In general I made good friends from the exchange group, from my classes and also one or two Swedish friends.


When I was a student in the Masters of Public Health Sciences program at my home university, Universidad de Chile, I decided to apply for the opportunity to be an exchange student. I wanted to get in touch with a different reality, a reality beyond everything that was familiar to me in terms of academic and cultural knowledge.


Once I was chosen, I got in touch with the International student coordinator, and I was able to solve every little question or detail that was popping up in my mind. The international student coordinator helped me with the million details (plane tickets, accommodation, among others) that I needed to take care of in the best way possible. And not only was this person a big help, but the student who contacted me through the “Global friends” organization, which is a group of students who are volunteers willing to help exchange students with important information about arrival (which can be a very scary moment), was a big help too.

Courses during the exchange period

F2XX04 : HEP - Applied health economics
F2XX03 : HEP - Econometrics and computer programme
FHEP01 : HEP - Health Policy
F2XX01 : HEP - Microeconomics
F2XX02 : HEP - Theory in health economics


In conclusion, this exchange experience was very good for me, considering the academic activities and the social ones. The organization at every step was flawless and I felt very good in general. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank both the student coordinator from KI and the coordinator of International Relations at my home university for giving me such a tremendous opportunity, which will always be an important milestone in my life.

Language and Culture

There are 2 main aspects when it comes to talking about language: English and Swedish. When I mention English, it’s because it was the language that allowed me to have any kind of communication with the outside world because I was coming from a Spanish speaking country, and because I arrived not knowing a single word of Swedish. English was the only tool I had to communicate with my classmates, teachers, people at the supermarket, and, well, basically everyone. At the end of the trip I got to say I feel that I improved my skills in this matter which made me really happy.


Karolinska gives every exchange student the opportunity to attend a Swedish course for a period of 6 weeks. Even though the classes were kind of late, it was the middle of winter and it got dark at 3 pm, I really enjoyed going there and I would have continued the courses if I could have. It was really helpful to learn basic stuff that made me feel less awkward when facing the daily life: I’m positive that just learning how to say “hello” or “thank you” in a foreign country can make you look grateful and nice, not to mention buying salt instead of flour at the supermarket!

Studies in general

When it comes to the facilities, I must say everything is nice and comfortable: the classrooms, library, offices, etc. In terms of academic activities, it was a big change the way lectures are given in KI. To clarify, the number of hours inside the classroom was very few compared to the rhythm I was used to. We had a number of hours considered as “individual study”, which I must say I didn’t consider much of at the beginning, until it was time for the first examination, which caught me totally off guard. After that, I learned how to balance my time for study and my time for other activities.


Even though I learned some new stuff, I’m not sure I’m fully satisfied with the level of education we were getting in the masters program. This was not only an issue for me at the time, but also for my classmates, who constantly discussed about the need for better classes, more material to work with, more lecture hours, etc.


One of the things I liked the most was meeting people from all over the world. I met people from countries I never imagined like Iran, Canada, Uganda, Kenya, Lithuania, Portugal, Germany, Pakistan, etc. and others that are more familiar to me, like Peru and Honduras. This gave me a new perspective about the topics we discussed as part of the classes, and also about life in general, which I think is one of the most satisfying things about the exchange experience as a whole.