Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: University of Dublin - Trinity College Dublin
Study programme: Physiotherapy
Exchange programme: Erasmus
Semester: Autumn semester 2010/2011

Arrival and registration


I joined the global friends group. Global friends assign a Swedish student to act as a host for each exchange student. My global friend host contacted me before I arrived in Sweden and organised to pick up my accommodation keys and met me from the bus and bring me to my accommodation. This was such a relief as I arrived into  Stockholm very late and I was not familar with the city as I had never been here before.


Introduction Day:

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the introduction day but I contacted the international co-ordinator and she was extremely helpful. She organised a seperate meeting with myself and two other exchange physiotherapy students shortly after we arrived in Sweden. She went through all the practical information required e.g. how to get our student cards, library cards and enrolled us in a beginners Swedish Language course. She also provided general information about Stockholm and different things to do during our stay here.


The international co-ordinator also arranged a meeting for us with one of the Lecturers in the Physiotherapy Division at KI. She gave us a tour of the department and talked to us about our different rotations and how we were going to be assessed.


So considering I missed the introduction day I don't think I was at anymore of a disadvantage to those who attended the meeting.


Contact with Student Health Centre

KI had scheduled a drop in time in the health centre to get tested for MRSA but I was unable to attend. I emailed the health centre and arranged a different time instead. There was no difficulty or problem with this.



UAC Accommodation:

I applied for accommodation via UAC as advised by KI. I had no previous experience in Stockholm so had no idea where would be the most appropriate place to get accommodation. It was simple to apply just had to fill out an application online. I applied for Pax as my first choice and Strix as my second choice. During the summer I received an accommodation offer for Pax and I accepted via email. No deposit or money was required before arrival.


Impression of the Housing:

The accommodation was sufficient for a short period of time i.e. 3 months. I don't know had I been staying for a longer period would I have the same opinion. In Pax accommodation everyone has there own bedroom with en-suite and share a communal kitchen with 11 others. The bedrooms are a nice size and include bed, desk, bookshelves, locker, table, 3 wardrobes and desk lamp. The bathroom is also reasonable size with a good shower.


The greatest issue that I had with the accommodation was the communal kitchen. Compared to the other students living in Pax I think I was unfortunate with the floor which I was on. In many of the other rooms on my corridor there were 2-3 people sharing one room. This is not a problem until it comes to sharing a kitchen..... As you can imagine intead of 11 people sharing a kitchen it was more like 20-25 people at times! Also I had issues with the cleanliness of the kitchen. People didn't clean up after themselves and left food sitting out for days. I tried to organising a corridor meeting to discuss cleaning but it wasn't very sucessful. This was the greatest drawback for me but perhaps I was just unfortunalte in most of the other floors this was not an issue and perhaps if I had been staying for 1 year I might of requested to change rooms.



Broadband internet is supplied by Tele2 an external company. You have to set it up as soon as you arrive and it takes a couple of days to get sorted. During my stay our floor also had quite a few difficulties with internet for about a period of 7-10days we had very limited access and often none! It was frustrating as during this time I was expected to do research and write a paper. But since it has been fixed I haven't had too many difficulties.


Cost of Housing:

The cost of housing compared to Irish student housing in Dublin is actually cheaper. Rent cost me around €330 a month which included bills and heating. This was considerably cheaper than rent I pay in Dublin in Ireland. The only additional expenditure was a once off payment to Tele2 for internet connection which worked out at around €40. There is a laundry room in the basement which is free of charge you just need to book it in advance and for each booking you get 2 washing machines and 2 tumble dryers for a 2 hour period.

Leisure time and social activities

I was a member of the global friends group which organised a few events while during my stay in Sweden. We had a welcome dinner to meet all of the other exchange students which was very good as I met more students that were living in the same accommodation as myself and I probably wouldn't have met them only for the global friends dinner.  They also organised a night for us in cabins out in the Archipelgo which was great fun. We had dinner and drinks and had a lot of time to chat to each other and get to know one another. I would definitely recommend joining this group especially if your exchange programme mainly consists of clinical rotations it won't be as easy to meet other students. 

The only Swedish friend I made was my global friend representative. It was difficult to meet other Swedish students as none of them lived in my accommodation and I had no other opportunity to meet any. All of the friends I made in Sweden were other exchange students who lived in my accommodation or were part of the global friends group.


Why I chose to go on exchange:

I chose to go on exchange for a number of different reasons. I enjoy travelling and meeting new people and experiencing different cultures so the exchange programme really allows you to meet different people from all over the world. I also thought it would be a great opportunity professionally as I hope to work abroad when I graduate. There are very few job opportunities in Ireland so having some foreign work experience should be beneficial to me when I am looking for a job after I graduate.


Why I chose KI:

KI is renowned  for being one of the world's leading medical Universities for clinical medicine. My home institution has had an exchange programme set up with KI for a number of years and after speaking with students from previous years they all had very positive things to say about the exchange programme with KI.


Study abroad information:

The information provided by KI prior to the exchange was very thorough. I got a detailed information pack about what to expect for the duration of my studies in KI. Also I had regular email contact with the International Co-ordinator at KI, she answered any queries or questions that I had. Before starting the exchange I was in contact with my clincal rotation co-ordinators via email. They gave me a brief summary of the different areas that I would be working in and what conditions I would encounter on my different rotations.


The information provided by my home institution was not as thorough. I received all the necessary documentation which was required to be completed prior to departure e.g. learning agreement, charter for exchange studies and application for EU grant.


Vaccinations & medical certificates required:

I was not required to have any vaccinations or certificates. However in order to work in the hospitals in Sweden it is mandatory to get tested for MRSA. You can't begin your rotation until the results of the MRSA test have come back. The hospitals will not accept results from clinics in your home country so it is important to give yourself a few days before you are supposed to start your rotation in order to get tested. You can get the test in the student health centre in KI and it takes a few days before the results come back. 


Courses during the exchange period

SSVK13 : Literature Review
The Literature Review had to be submitted before the end of the 12 weeks. It had to be 2000 words and most include 10 articles from Medline. You were given the freedom to choose whatever topic you wanted which was good as it enabled me to chose a topic that I was really interested in. After submitting the review I met with the lecturer to discuss the reasons behind choosing the particular topic and how it will impact my clinical practise. She also provided me with some feedback and areas that could be improved. Literature Reviews are relevant to my degree as we have to complete one for our final year research project so I feel that this will definitely benefit me in my future studies.
1EE016 : Clinical rotation 2.1 for exchange students - physiotherapy
My clinical rotation was for 6 weeks in Danderyds Sjukhus in Traumatic Brain Injury. It was my first neurological rotation. The patients were all outpatients and were pretty advanced in their rehab and at high level. I performed full neuro assessments and designed individual treatment programmes for them. During the first week I mainly observed my supervisor but from week 2 onwards I had my own patient caseload. I got to see a lot of different things while on the rotation including Aichi, Qigong and body weight support treadmill training. I got to attend an education session about a new balance outcome measure the BESTest and learn how to assess a patient using the outcome measure. My supervisor then arranged for me to carry out this test on a patient following the education session which I found very beneficial as it allowed me to put what I had learned into practise. I think this will definaltey help me in my future clinical practise. I was given complete freedom in my design of treatment programmes and was encouraged to come up with new and innovative ideas. I think I really improved my treatment plans while on this rotation which was something I used to struggle with before this rotation. At the end of the 6 weeks I was assessed by my supervisor while performing a full neuro assessment. This rotation was relevant to my course as in Ireland a Neurological rotation is mandatory and has to be completed by all students.
1EE017 : Clinical rotation 1 for exchange students - physiotherapy
My second clinical rotation was in Rikscentrum Barnobesitas in Huddinge. I was on rotation here for 4 weeks. On this rotation I got to see a variety of paediatric specialties along with the obesity clinic including cystic fibrosis, cerebal palsy and other neurological and developmental disorders. In Rikscentrum a major component of patient treatment consisted of motivational interviewing but as I didn't speak Swedish I could only observe. However my supervisor allocated time before and after each session with a patient in order to discuss her plan and the outcome from the session. I was allowed to perform the exercise tests on the children and lead gym exercise classes along with pool classes. We were given freedom to design the classes in whatever way we wanted which was a really good experience as it was one of my first times to lead an exercise class. I think it gave me a lot more confidence in my own capabilities following these classes and I really enjoyed it. I got an opportunity to attend the Habilitering clinic for three days which I really enjoyed. I got to observe and participate in open gym sessions with children of all ages with cerebal palsy and other disabilities. I also got to attend an afternoon of pool sessions with these children which was so much fun. During my rotation I also got to meet the various members of the health care team working in Rikscentrum including dietician, psychologist and nurses. I learned more about their roles and what their responsibilities included. I got to meet the physiotherapist involved in the adult obesity clinic and she explained the differences between childhood and adult obesity and the differences in treatment approaches. I got to attend the MandoLean clinic for an afternoon which was very good. We learned all about how the device work and even got an opportunity to practise using it. I was given the chance to attend a lecture by Steven Blair on the topic of "Physical Exercise as Medicine". It was very relevant to my course and I found it extremely informative. We then gave a presentation about the lecture to our supervisors which helped us improve our presentation skills and research the topic in greater detail. I really enjoyed this rotation as I got to see a wide variety of things on a daily basis. My supervisor also dedicated a lot of her time to discuss different things with me during this rotation. As with the neurology rotation it is also mandatory for us to complete a paediatric one as part of our programme in Ireland. I think I had a better opportunity to see a wider variety of specialties while on this rotation in comparison to Ireland.


I had a brilliant time on this exchange programme and I would definitely recommend it to other students when I go home. There was nothing I would've changed about it and I will be very sad to leave Sweden. I have made friends and memories that will last a lifetime.

Language and Culture

Swedish Language Course:
I attended the 10 week programme. It was on once a week for 2.5hours. I think I might of found it more beneficial to have attended the 5 week course which was on twice a week as I probably would have learned more Swedish that way. The content of the course was not very practical which was disappointing there was a large emphasis on grammar and I would have preferred more emphasis on conversational Swedish. Also the classes were very long especially after a full day of work so it was difficult to maintain concentration throughout the class. During our course the teachers changed and some classes got cancelled which wasn't good for those of us only staying in Sweden for 12 weeks. In conclusion I think I have learned more Swedish from my supervisors on my clinical rotation than the language course.

Studies in general

Swedish Study Environment:
I think the Swedish students take their education and clinical rotations very seriously. They are a lot more focused professionally in comparison to Irish students. There were great library facilities available not only in the University but also in both of the hospitals which I worked in. I had access to a student computer in both hospitals which I worked at which allowed me to access research articles and look up different treatments and conditions in more detail. Self directed study was encouraged by my supervisors which I found beneficial.

Relationship between myself and my clinical supervisors:
I had a very good relationship with both of my supervisors from both clinical rotations. They contacted me prior to starting my rotation to give a little summary of the area which I would be working in which I thought was very good. They were extremely generous with their time and answered any questions that I had. As I had no Swedish they explained and translated patient notes for me which was quite time consuming for them but I rally appreciated it. Both of my supervisors were very approachable and I would not hesitate to discuss anything with them. I think having a good relationship with your supervisor is very important especially as an exchange student because a lot of things are different than what you're used to at home and you are more vulnerable being out of your comfort zone. 

Relationship between myself and patients:
Most of the patients were very obliging and spoke English and had no problem with being assessed and treated by a student. On my paediatric rotation it wasn't always possible for the younger children to speak English but there parents were extremely understanding and nearly always allowed me to sit in on assessments and even carry out some of the exercise tests.

Theory and Clinical Education:
On both rotations evidence based practise was emphasised which was similar to home. I saw many new treatment and assessment methods used while on rotations which my supervisors then took the time to explain the theory behind them and often provided current literature behind these treatments and assessments.

Similarities between KI and my home university:
In relation to the clinical rotations they are very similar between both universities. I got the same amount of freedom to assess and treat patients as I normally would at home. The supervisors were always close by in case I ran into any problems or difficulties. KI puts a big emphasis on research and has many studies and trials ongoing which is similar to my home university. The clinical rotation set up is similar each student is allocated a supervisor who links in with them and discusses their performance and grades them.

Differences between KI and my home university:
As most of my exchange programme was based on clinical rotations I can only speak in relation to this. The biggest difference between both universities was that in KI students are very much encouraged and all staff in the hospitals allocate a lot of time to speak with them and discuss different things with them. On both rotations I got to meet the various health care professionals and discuss their different roles. I was treated as an equal at all times and the various staff members invited me to sit with them during lunch which would never happen at home.

What was good :
I thought having 10 weeks of clinical rotation was very good as I got to see and learn a lot clinically during this period. The 2 weeks allocated to complete the literature was adequate and it was nice to have a break from the clinical rotations. I thought that the schedules provided by my supervisors on clinical rotation had the perfect balance between patient contact and time for self directed study.

What I learned:
I learned a lot of new assessment and treatment techniques which would not of being available to me at home including, Aichi, QiGong, body weight support treadmill training, various outcome measures and motivational interviewing. I got a great insight into the health care system in Sweden and the various roles of the different health care professionals.