Exchange report - incoming students
Utsikt över Otago Peninsula från toppen av Mt Cargill
Home university: National University of Singapore
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Spring semester 2016/2017
Name: Nicole Ann Gunn
Email address:

Arrival and registration

I had signed up for the KI pickup service and my pickup buddy was really accommodating, friendly and helpful! I arrived on the day when Stockholm was experiencing one of the coldest winter night and my buddy went above and beyond but also helped me with pushing my luggages all the way from the TCentralen to my KI housing in Vårberg (through thick layers of snow, not less!). This pickup service is really helpful especially if you are arriving in winter when it gets dark really early and you have lots of belongings to carry on your own!

Introduction Day was a really nice orientation to Sweden, its culture (Fika, Sun-loving Swedes, lagom), and meeting other exchange students! It helped me to understand what to expect in my coming months of exchange and I could easily adapt to the Swedish lifestyle and settle down! 

Only gripe was that we couldn't get our KI student card as the photobooth wasn't operating and we had to check back every day.


My first two choices were Pax and Strix as they were closest to the Solna campus where most of my courses were held. Unfortunately those two KI housing were quickly taken up and I got my third choice Vårberg. However, my disappointment was short-lived as it turned out be an amazing accommodation! Vårberg has the biggest room, bathroom and common kitchen amongst the KI Housing for a single person. Furthermore, it has a common living room, a billiards and foosballs room that was not available in most other KI Housing options. I felt that having a big kitchen and living room facilitated lots of social interactions with my fellow dorm mates. We held several potlucks and movie nights and I have made many wonderful friendships from them!

Unfortunately Vårberg is ending its contract with KI housing on August 2017, but the other KI housing will be just as good as it is the people that makes your exchange memorable. Even with less space, I have friends who still hold potlucks with the space they have or organise movie nights in their rooms. Vårberg, Pax, Strix and Jagargatan all also have a nearby park and river where you can have a really scenic walk or run! It is especially beautiful when spring arrives! 

Leisure time and social activities

On the first day of class, we were warmly greeted by our fellow classmates who were so friendly and welcoming! We are a small class of 40 students which allowed us exchange students to get to know almost everyone in class and also led to us making many good friends from all over the world like Serbia, Estonia, Peru, Hungary, Germany and not just Swedes. Our classmates would often invite us to join them for lunch at the school restaurant, for BBQs, class outings and home visits! Shoutout to the amazing Biomedicine class of 17/18!!

I also signed up for a Medicinska Föreningen membership which I entitled me to discounts or free entry to MF- or Global Friends-organised events. Although it wasn't a free membership, I could make my money worth by attending a few free events such as Mini Golf and Laser Tag with Global Friends! I also attended a Cooking at KI session which only MF-members could attend although at a small cost of a meal, it was also worth the experience of learning how to cook a new cuisine! Through these events, you could meet other exchange students and some Swedes.

Nonetheless even if you wasn't an MF member, KI also organises a Coffee Hour (or Sweden likes to call it Fika) every Thursday on campus! So you still had a chance to get to interact with KI students of all disciplines while having a coffee and a snack!

I also made a few Swedish friends who are just so nice and friendly! If I was craving for a particular Asian food, I could ask my Swedish friends for recommendations to get my fix. If I want to try out a new activity, they would also bring us out to try it! I am really fortunate to have made good friends out from this exchange!


I really wanted to go on exchange to learn in a different education system because I felt that I needed to learn in a global perspective with students and teachers from other parts of the world. Not just that, I am open to embracing a new culture and to discover that there was more than just IKEA and meatballs in Sweden (and it was discovered to be a whole new world!). Furthermore, many Swedes are fluent in English and I had no worries about communication barriers and believe that I wouldn't be lost in translation!

KI was my first choice as I have heard raving reviews from previous exchange students from my home university. I did my research on KI and was impressed by what I found. KI being one of the top medical universities in the world and offering Biomedicine courses that were clinically relevant affirmed my decision to choose KI. 

I could easily find the syllabus of the Biomedicine courses from the KI website and knew what to expect which was useful as I have to map the courses to those in my home university.

Courses during the exchange period

BIOX07 : BACH - Neuroscience
We covered a lot of content - the main gist of every chapter in the recommended Neuroscience textbook - in a short duration which amazed me! This was also the most taxing course this semester because we had a group oral exam almost weekly or every fortnight to "test" us on the whole week's worth of lectures. It was initially stressful at first because we had to spend every day studying but the oral exam turned out to be really manageable and something that wasn't worth the worry because we only had to answer 1-2 questions. Even if we couldn't answer them, the teachers were forgiving and we will still be given a chance to answer another question so that we could pass. In hindsight, this weekly oral exams help to prepare us for our final exam as we would not have done last minute cramming. Overall, a really informative introduction to neuroscience that I wanted to learn!
BIOX08 : BACH - Tissue Biology
This was a histology course where we learnt how to identify the origin of the tissue and types of cells present in the specific tissue. It gets a bit lengthy during lab sessions as we would have to stare at images of tissue samples for a few hours but it is overall a useful course if you are planning to pursue a research project where you have to work with several different tissue samples. Also a useful skill in the diagnostic of diseases as you can identify abnormalities that defines a tissue cancerous or if the patient has a certain disease.
BIOX09 : BACH - Pharmacology and Toxicology
I had anticipated we would learn a lot of drug names and be expected to know them all. Luckily, we didn’t had to know ALL the drug names but rather a few important ones and the general class of drugs and their mechanism of action which was fair and acceptable. The highlight of this course was the lab sessions where we get to be experimental participants and be asked to take a certain drug and to identify which of our classmates got the drug or the placebo. The labs were really fun and helped us to remember these drugs better! There were also group seminars that were really useful in clarifying our doubts with our tutors.
BIOX10 : BACH - Biostatistics
This course was solely taught by one Professor and he was just amazing as a teacher who taught us in such a clear, concise and entertaining manner. We first had lectures in the morning followed by a practical lesson using R program after lunch. I felt this way of teaching was really practical in this day and age when we use computers to perform statistical tests based on data obtained from research experiments. In addition, our examination was also based on how we perform such statistical tests using the R program which is better than conventional exams of just memorising formulae and working by hand to calculate.


I generally had very positive experience here in KI and Stockholm that even the erratic weather (Sunny one day, Snow and hail the next day, next day it is warm again, the day after the temperature drops to 4 degree Celsius!) during spring didn't matter! 

Language and Culture

No I did not participate in any Swedish language course as it was a weekly commitment.

Studies in general

I was really impressed by courses' contents, the teaching methodology, the teachers and their expectations of us students and also how examinations were conducted.

For most of the courses I took, I was amazed by how much content we were taught and learnt over a short timespan. I felt we covered a wide breadth of sufficient depth that was just enough for us to know and stay relevant in the knowledge of biomedicine and as a future researcher.

For some courses, we had group seminars with tutors which really helped bridged the knowledge gaps or questions we had from the lectures. In addition, through explaining the concepts to our classmates, it also allowed us to learn better and cleared misconceptions.

I was also fortunate to have teachers who are not only good at their own research but could teach us in a clear and enlightening way. They do not impose on us to know everything but to takeaway the key concepts and information. In NUS, we often have to memorise huge amounts of content and sometimes I feel that not everything is useful or will become redundant in due time. KI does not expect students to be just purely rote learners which is a stark difference to what is expected in the education system in Singapore.

I also really like the fact that the exams were rather chill. For some courses, besides the final written examinations, we also had group oral exams (which is a rare form of assessment in NUS) which were more like group seminars where we each take turn to answer a question posed to each student. During the oral exam, even if we were unsure of the answer, we could clarify what we do not know and be given a "second chance" to answer another question that you are able to answer. So I felt this rather "forgiving" exam does not put down students who are slow learners/students that are preoccupied with many other commitments.

In addition, for our final written examinations we were given ample time from 9am to 1pm. I really like that we had sufficient time to think through and formulate our answers than simply just writing the first thing that comes to mind - a problem faced when we lack time in examinations in NUS. 

Another difference between NUS and KI is that KI does not have webcasts for their lectures so if you missed a lecture, at best could only find out what was taught through classmates. It can be rather inconvenient if you had no choice to miss a lecture and can only catch up by borrowing notes from your classmates.