Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: Barts & The London School of Medicine & Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London
Study programme: Dentistry
Exchange programme: Erasmus
Semester: Spring semester 2013/2014
Name: Rosie Pritchett
Email address: ha11293@qmul.ac.uk

Arrival and registration

Karolinska Institute offers a meet and greet service for incoming exchange students arranged by 'Global Friends' - a student-led international student society. On arriving at the airport we took a bus to T-Centralen where we had arranged to meet our student. We ended up waiting for a couple of hours as one of the international students flight was delayed. However, it was useful meeting a Swedish student as they helped us get the correct travel card and then took us to our accommodation, whilst answering any questions we had on the way. There is a 3-month travel card available which at the time was 1500SEK (~¬£150) which allows travel on all underground, buses etc and is definitely worth getting. It takes a few days to get a KI student card which is needed for student travel. However, it is possible to buy a student travel card and then get the student card later. 

Acommendation

I applied for housing through the University Accommodation service which offers places in halls of residence in various different locations. Previous years had all chosen to stay at Pax, which is modern with large rooms and en suite north of Central Stockholm and near to the Karolinska main campus. We decided to stay at Jagargatan, this has smaller rooms and shared bathrooms and although the cheapest, is in a lively location on the island of Sodermalm. Sodermalm is slightly south of Stockholm central and has a variety of shops and bars. The nearest train station is Stockholm Sodra, which reaches Flemingsberg (for the dental school) in around 15 minutes with no changes. This is useful for the 8.30am starts on clinic. Jagargatan has a lot of character and appears to be an old part of the adjacent hospital, there were plenty of showers/toilets for sharing and the kitchen was a good size. 

Leisure time and social activities

Global Friends organizes a lot of events for Erasmus students. I went to the welcome party, a boat trip and salsa dancing lessons. There is definitely plenty to do and lots of other Erasmus students to meet. There were also other Erasmus students staying at the same halls of residence who were studying different courses which was a good chance to meet non-dentistry people. I went on two large group trips, one to Riga, Latvia and the other to Tallinn, Estonia. We also went on a trip up to Abisko national park in the Arctic Circle to try some cross-country skiing and see the Northern Lights. I would definitely recommend a trip up North, it requires some forward planning as there are only a few hostels which tend to book up quickly. 

Stockholm itself has lots of different museums and galleries. We were invited to the City Hall, where the Nobel Prize's are given out, for a welcome from the Mayor followed by dinner. Gamla Stan (the Old Town) has an interesting Nobel Museum and the royal palace, as well as being an intriguing place just to wander around. There is lots of green space, and a short underground journey takes you to Skogskrkog√•rden, which is a UNESCO world heritage graveyard. 


Pre-departure

At our home University, all 4th year dental students spend a period of time on an elective placement, this is usually 2 weeks at the end of July. We were also offered to apply for  a 3 month placement at the Karolinska Institute. I valued the opportunity to spend an extended period of time abroad, offering a chance to visit a country I had never been to before and escape the hustle of London.The few months before leaving were quite hectic, we finished third year exams in November and then had a few different tests scheduled before leaving, which we would be missing in the spring term. Never having been to Sweden or any of the other Scandinavian countries before, I wasn't sure what to expect. However, as Karolinska has such a strong international reputation I wasn't worried about the quality of the exchange. Previous students on the exchange all had a good time and weren't held back academically when returning home.  

Courses during the exchange period

ETL001 : Comprehensive Care - with subject specific courses
At KI, similar to London, the year is split into smaller clinical groups. We joined group 5 and followed their timetable for clinics. As lectures are in Swedish, we didn't attend these and were able to book extra clinics if they were available. The clinic layout is similar to London, except that there are five areas (A,B,C,D,E) where different treatments take place, for example, prosthetic treatment was carried out in E section. The main clinic is 'Vux' (Adult), I had 8 patients who I saw over the 3 months. There is a bank of English-speaking patients kept for the Erasmus students so there is no problem with communication. The tutors and nursing staff all speak English and are very helpful. I also attended TMD clinics, learning the theory of temporo-mandibular disorders and examination protocol before carrying out examinations on TMD patients. There are some differences between Sweden and London, firstly, implants are available on the Swedish health service so these are much more common, patients within the university are commonly treatment planned for implants. Although the Swedish students don't carry out the treatment, they can observe the patient while they are receiving it and carry out the rest of the treatment plan. The students also perform periodontal surgery and use rotary endodontics. Cerec CAD/CAM is available for extracoronal restorations. After carrying out a crown prep, an impression is taken which is then scanned. A crown can then be designed and milled in-house before being tried-in, sintered and cemented.
ETL002 : Child and Adolescent Dentistry - Odontology
There are paeds sessions around once a week and ortho around once a fortnight. In paeds, exchange students are paired with a Swedish student and two patients are seen each session. This is necessary as many of the younger patients can't, or don't feel comfortable, speaking in English. It was interesting to use CariSolv to detect caries during cavity preparation, otherwise most techniques are similar to London. The students see their own ortho patients, this meant I was able to place a bonded retainer and fit an Essix retainer, as well as carrying out orthodontic assessments.

Summary

I would thoroughly recommend at Dental exchange to KI. The clinical experience was exceptional and I appreciated the chance to visit Sweden and other nearby countries. I arrived in January which was cold, but wear a warm coat and boots and its not a problem as in-doors is always well heated. Sweden can also be expensive so be careful with budgeting. It is not particularly feasible to eat in restaurants, as these are usually much more expensive than in the UK. 

Language and Culture

Sweden is a hard place to learn the language solely because everyone there is able to speak English. There was a formal language course available which was one or two evenings a week and fairly inexpensive. However, there were also more informal language sessions once a week held by a KI student which were free and conversational based. These were good to attend to learn some vocab and basic expressions. Each session a different person was assigned to bring 'fika' (usually cake/biscuits) so we had a break with coffee in the middle of the class, which was good to chat to others and a nice break after a long day at clinic. 

Studies in general

At KI, students are split into different clinic groups as in London, we joined Group 5 which means we were timetabled for their clinic sessions (adult and paeds/ortho), as well as TMD clinics and lectures. As the lectures are in Swedish, we could spend that time with extra sessions on clinic. There is a bank of English-speaking patients for the Erasmus students, so communication is not a problem, all the students and staff also speak English. As lectures are not attended, the only theory learning is during clinic-time, we also had to catch up on the lectures missed in London whilst we were away. The notes system is all computerized on a program called 'Opus', although this is in Swedish it doesn't take too long to get the hang of it, as there are a lot of universal symbols. After each appointment, you write your notes on the computer in English, and then the clinical tutor will write a short summary underneath in Swedish. The tutors, nursing staff and other students are all very friendly and happy to help.