Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: Universiteit Leiden
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: Erasmus
Semester: Autumn semester 2016/2017
Name: Sophie van Bakel
Email address:

Arrival and registration

After my arrival in Stockholm I had a little bit of trouble getting my keys as I confused the KI university building with the hospital. After knowing where I had to go I experienced no further problems and it was easy to find my way to the accommodation. The introduction days at Karolinska were nice as they made you feel welcome and they helped in finding your way on campus.


I was very pleased with the KI housing facilities. It was easy to apply for housing, and I got a very comfortable and affordable room in Pax, close to the city centre and KI, especially if I would compare my room to the one's other international students had (who studied at Stockholm university or KTH) as many of them had to find a room by themselves and ended up in a more expensive room from where they had to travel longer.

Leisure time and social activities

I attended many events for international students, both from ESN as well as from Medicinska Foreningen and Global Friends. These events provide a really easy way to get to know new people in an informal  way. Moreover, I recommend other foreign students to look for other opportunities to meet new people (for example a sports union). As we did not really get much information on sports unions in Stockholm (even though there are many), it is useful to check this before you arrive in Sweden. I tried hockey at Mesaicos (I didn't become a member though) and I became a member of Akademiska Roddforeningen (ARF), which is a rowing club for students, teachers and employees from all universities in Stockholm. I would have liked a membership at the gym, but unfortunately this would have been very expensive for 4 months as you need a Swedish personal number to subscribe, or you need to pay a full-year membership. KI has a free gym for students. As this was located at campus Huddinge (60 minutes traveling from where I lived) I did not go there many times.


Every year, 10 2nd year Bachelor's students in Biomedicine are selected by Leiden University to go on an exchange in Stockholm. To me it seemed like a great opportunity to discover a new city and a new country, get acquainted to a another university than the one you are used to, meet different people and make new friends. Moreover, the fact that Karolinska Institutet is one of the best medical universities in the world appealed to me. When I heard I was selected I was really happy, though it also made me nervous. Before I went to Sweden I still lived with my parents and I was wondering how I would experience living by myself in a foreign country without my friends and family. Luckily, the information we got from KI and Leiden University (both digital information and information given by the international coordinators) was very comprehensive and useful which made me feel well-prepared. 

Courses during the exchange period

BIOX05 : BACH - Infection and Immunity
I attended two courses: Infectious and Immunity (15 ECTS) and Integrative Physiology (15 ECTS). My first course was about the immune system and infectious agents. The course had a clear structure (innate immune system – adaptive immune system – virology, bacteriology, parasitology – vaccines) and we also did laboratory work that contributed to your understanding of the content of the course. Integrative Physiology covered many different organs (e.g. heart, lungs, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, autonomous nervous system, endocrine organs).
BIOX06 : BACH - Integrative Physiology
In both courses I learnt a lot and both were relevant for my degree. In my opinion, the quality of both courses was high, though less high than in Leiden. Sometimes I had the impression that there were a lot of basic facts we had to learn at KI which made us have less time to really apply the subject matter. This was also seen by the fact that we were not allowed to bring our books to the exam (in Leiden we are used to bringing books to the exam – in the exam we get challenging questions that test whether you understood everything and whether you can apply your knowledge instead of reproducing it.)


Looking back, I have had a great time at KI. I made a lot of friends: the activities from ESN, MF and Global Friends helped me to get to know many people. Attending ARF and joining a Dutch rowing team also resulted in new friends, and, very important: the Swedish Biomed students at KI were very open and interested in international students. I have made many Swedish friends (some of them also visited the Netherlands) and I will never forget this experience.

Language and Culture

I participated in an intensive language course provided by KI, which lasted 3 days (9.00-15.00). I really liked the course and I did learn some basic Swedish (A1 level) but I would really recommend people that are interested in learning Swedish to take a language course that lasts longer (I've heard of another, 10-week language course) as we did not really have the chance to repeat the things we learnt and therefore our understanding of the Swedish language was very basic.

Studies in general

The content of my studies at KI were the same as in Leiden (i.e. I had the same subjects). However, the approach was a bit different: at KI we had more lectures, in Leiden we were used to a lot of seminars. The lectures were of good quality and had a clear structure. There were also assignments for groups or pairs in which you had to give a presentation for example. This was comparable to my home university.  However, I would have liked more seminars with challenging questions to discuss the course material. The lab practicals were very interesting and well accompanied. Moreover, it was very easy to talk to teachers in an informal manner: during lectures teachers encouraged us to ask questions and if you would send an email to a teacher, you would get a reply within 2 days.