Exchange report - incoming students
Westmead Hospital i västra Sydney
Home university: University of Minnesota
Study programme: Medicine
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Autumn semester 2013/2014
Name: Claire Knodell
Email address:

Arrival and registration

My arrival arrangements were without incident.  I had help from a Swede to get me to where I was staying.  Some of the different housing options can be complex to navigate on your own.  I would recommend checking with the Global Friends program that pairs international exchange students with a Swedish host student for some assistance to facilitate your arrival.


I applied for housing through the University Accommodation Center and stayed at Jägargatan 20.  It was a simple dorm-like complex that had a private room with a bed, desk, and sink, but shared bathrooms and kitchen.  I only stayed for a short time so I was fine with this accommodation -- I would suggest something more comfortable for longer stays.  The website for KI housing is very easy to navigate and everyone in the office answers emails with requests (such as changing the dates you require housing) with surprising speed.  The housing I chose was very affordable for Stockholm and was located just a short distance from the Stockholm södra station which meant public transportation was easily accessible.       

Leisure time and social activities

Even though I was only in Stockholm for a few weeks, I had a wonderful stay there!  My rotation took place in the winter so I was able to enjoy the Christmas market in Gamla Stan and of course the cold weather provided many opportunities for fika to warm up.  Stockholm is filled with wonderful things to do and I would recommend exploring the museums -- they are even free some nights.  

I made friends with the students in my class, so I did not actually have time to participate in any of the Global Friends sponsored events.  I was very impressed with all of the emails about the neat outings they organize.  I knew the option was there and I appreciated that.  I did have a Swedish host student who was very helpful preparing for my stay and providing me with all kinds of information.  I also had Swedish friends from before who occupied most of my time with a number of social gatherings as well.      
Whithaven beach i Whitsundays


I studied at Karolinska because I wanted to see firsthand how the Swedish healthcare system functions at such a top level year after year.  I thought an exchange program would be a great way to get an in-depth look at Sweden's successful model of healthcare delivery and the medical professionals behind it.  Overall, I was very impressed!  

My home university participates in an exchange with Karolinska; the program is well established and the application process, exchange confirmation, and pre-trip information were all very simple and went smoothly.  No vaccinations or additional information were required during the application process or upon my arrival.        

Courses during the exchange period

DVKX01 : Medical Development in Europe
During my exchange at Karolinska Institute, I participated in an elective course entitled "Medical Development in Sweden and Europe." The course was split into 3 parts. As a class, we examined the health care systems in Sweden, Poland, and Italy by traveling to each country as a group. In Stockholm we focused on Cardiology and Nephrology. In Krakow we explored Cardiac Surgery and Pediatrics. In Cagliari we looked into genetic diseases and Obstetrics/Gynecology. The course featured a mix of theoretical lectures, current research presentations, group discussions, clinical cases, overviews of the public health situation in each country, tours of hospitals, and observed patient interactions. There was a lot of variety. It was not a typical clinical rotation in America, but I learned a plethora of information about public health and healthcare delivery in different environments and using different resources. There were clinical pearls to be gathered on the way as well. The final exam is a group presentation given on the last day of the course. Dr. Hans Gyllenhammar is the course director and he does a fantastic job. He oversees the course both in Sweden and abroad as he travels with the class. He emails students before the course begins with a syllabus, useful travel advice, and the course schedule. I really appreciated how organized and prepared he was as a course instructor. I would not change anything about this course and I hope it remains available to students for years to come.


If you have the chance to undertake an exchange at Karolinska, do it.  The whole experience is a wonderful opportunity to explore medicine in a different country and gain a more global perspective.  I enjoyed learning about the differences and similarities between the US and Swedish healthcare systems as well as the Polish and Italian systems which were discussed in my particular course.  I am truly grateful for this opportunity and would highly recommend it to other students seeking an international elective to enrich their medical education.    
Nyår i Sydney

Language and Culture

I did not participate, but I was aware of my options for language instruction.  

Studies in general

The study environment was great for me at KI.  I did not experience many of the typical challenges of American exchange students in Sweden because I chose a course entitled "Medical Development in Sweden and Europe" which was conducted entirely in English.  This course was a mix of public health, theoretical lectures, group discussions, case studies, and clinical visits.  Sweden, in contrast to the US, has a very flat medical hierarchy.  It was really interesting to see how the various members of the medical team interact and work together for the best possible care for their patients.