Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: Monash University
Study programme: Medicine
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Spring semester 2016/2017
Name: Annie Girdwood
Email address:

Arrival and registration

It was very exciting to arrive in Stockholm. I took advantage of the KI arrival service (where a student comes to meet you at Central Station), and I thought this was a really great idea. It was so nice to not feel completely lost and confused in the station and while going home, to have someone help me buy a sim card and pick up my key in advance for me! 

The introduction day was great. The cultural education session was interesting and proved to be quite useful in understanding cultural aspects of my new home. We were generously provided with lunch and morning tea. 

The visit to the student health centre for the MRSA screening was well coordinated and efficient. I was easily able to contact my international coordinator for advice on any queries I had about starting my courses. 


I applied for housing through the University Accommodation Center. The application portal was simple and easy to use. I found out whether my preferred accommodation choice had been accepted about 1 month before I departed. I stayed in Pax and I really enjoyed my stay. The room was large and had good light from 2 windows. I really liked the area too. There is a lovely animal nursery and some stables just behind the apartment buildings by the water and some nice tracks for running. 

The cost was not cheap but it was reasonable and affordable. I had heard it is is very hard to find an apartment in Stockholm, and I was more than happy to live in shared student accommodation.

Leisure time and social activities

There were many social activities organised by the student body at KI. I attended only a couple because I found I had met people and made friends through other means and wanted to explore the city in my own time and manner. The small cohort sizes in my courses definitely lent themselves to making connections easily. I liked that the international course (in Reproduction & Development) was made up of half Swedish students, half international students. So I studied alongside and made friends with Swedes, but I also made Swedish friends outside of KI and the university. At the start of the paediatrics course, the coordinators took us out to dinner and also took us on a sauna trip, and this was a lovely way to get to know the class and a bit of Swedish culture!


I was very excited when I found out I was one of 2 students chosen from my university to go on exchange to Karolinska Institutet. I was really keen to live overseas for an extended period and be able to explore a different country and its culture while studying. The information from KI before I departed was adequate and helpful. The website is very useful and organising housing was surprisingly easy! I also asked the students who had gone the previous year a lot of questions, like how early you should arrive before the introduction day, and so forth.

I did not require any additional vaccinations. I only had to get a MRSA screening test during the introduction days, and this was simple and well organised. 

For placement in the hospital, you have to get a hospital ID made before the placement begins. I would recommend booking an appointment for this at least a week in advance because the appointments fill up and it is a shame to miss introductory lectures because of this! 

Courses during the exchange period

D10X01 : Clinical Medicine - emphasis on reproduction and development
I loved the courses in paediatrics and obstetrics & gynaecology. I thought the teaching was great, with lots of opportunity to practice history taking, examine women and children and observe births and procedures. I really liked having a small course and being really familiar and friendly with our teachers. I felt the content was well covered, with time in the most important subspecialties of paediatrics (although perhaps there could be more time on the general paediatrics ward) and plenty of time at the delivery ward and in the gynaecology and antenatal clinics. The course was flexible for our needs, with opportunity to spend more time in the emergency department for paediatrics and the delivery ward or theatre for O&G. I felt I had a good understanding of the most important topics after the course. The content was relevant and generally well covered, although I did feel that the depth of knowledge required was less than what I am used to at home. The exams were also different - instead of long, complicated multiple choice the exams were short-answer only. This was actually great practice and a good way to really solidify knowledge that I will need at the end of the year when these courses are examined for my degree at home.
ELA005 : Internal Medicine 1
I chose the Internal Medicine rotation because I wanted to refresh my knowledge and am interested in a medical specialty in the future. I thought the division of time between the intensive care, cardiology, medical wards and emergency department was good. I found the time in the emergency department to be most interesting and useful. There were 2 seminars during the 4 week course, and I thought perhaps there could have been more teaching built into the course, especially since the afternoons on the wards mostly involved administrative tasks. This did give me time to do my own private study though, which I was grateful for. The examination was in the form of a case presentation to a senior consultant who then asked some questions. I think this was a good and reasonable way to examine the students. Perhaps there could be a clinical/practical exam too though (I always find I learn a lot from these!)


I loved my time in Stockholm on exchange at KI. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to live abroad for 6 months and study medicine in the context of a different health system, culture and continent! I think Sweden and KI was a wonderful place to do exchange and it was refreshing to not only learn about medicine but also the values and way of life of the country I studied in. 

Language and Culture

I participated in the 10 week Swedish course offered for free by the university. I thought the course was great. The teacher was really engaging, we received books free of charge and it was definitely very useful for my Swedish knowledge. 
Besides the course though, I found that I picked up a lot of Swedish during my time on exchange. I found that being able to speak German was very helpful for learning Swedish, and after a couple of weeks in one department of the hospital I knew all the most important terms to be able to follow a consultation (together with the basics such as numbers, times etc. that I learnt in the Swedish course). I found it really rewarding to understand Swedish, particularly by the end of my time here. It felt great to be able to understand the conversation between doctor and patient or within the team. Of course, you can get by without knowing a word of Swedish, but there will be things you will miss e.g. how the doctor phrases his questions, the exact way the patient expresses his presenting complaint, and other details. 
I would definitely recommend taking advantage of the great service KI provides with the language courses!

Studies in general

I enjoyed my courses at KI very much. Because of the small cohort in my courses, I felt I really got to know my teachers and peers, which was a lovely change from the large cohort and varying teachers at my home university. I felt well supported by my teachers and the administrative staff. 
The teaching environment in the hospitals was also different. There was barely any sign of the hierarchal structure and medical student intimidation I am used to at home. Instead, everyone was addressed by first name - even senior consultants. I felt welcome and generally received good teaching from the doctors.  
I thought there was a good ratio between time on the wards and formal teaching e.g. seminars. I enjoyed time on the ward and found that doctors were very happy to either translate or consistently ask patients if they were happy to speak English. I found I picked up a lot of helpful Swedish vocabulary quickly, too. 
Unfortunately the course syllabus was only in Swedish on the KI syllabus library, but I felt quite comfortable with the content and exam expectations by using the English content guide provided and asking my course coordinators for guidance. 
Ping Pong, the online course portal, was often very difficult to navigate, but this was being re-designed at the time so it will hopefully be improved for future courses.