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 2016/2017
Name: Cindy Xie
Email address:

Arrival and registration

Instructions on how to check-in and obtain the keys to my accommodation were sent to me by email. It was a very easy process and I was very pleased with my room in Vårberg.


The introduction day took place at the Solna Campus, which is north of Stockholm city centre, so it took us quite a while to get there from Vårberg using the metro and bus. In a new city, I was worried about getting lost or not finding the lecture hall, but luckily I was able to travel as a group with other new exchange students who were living in the same accommodation complex as me. During the day, we were introduced to KI and to Swedish culture through a series of fun and informative talks. It was a great chance to meet all the new exchange students studying different courses and from different countries during the copious ‘fika’ breaks and the evening social in the student union.


As I was enrolling on a course where I would be in contact with patients, it was necessary to have an MRSA test at the Student Health Centre. It was a quick appointment, where I was also given details on how to contact a doctor should I need to during my stay in Sweden.


I decided to apply for student accommodation through the University Accommodation Center, placing Vårberg as my first choice as it was the closest to the Flemingsberg campus, where the dental hospital is situated (30 minutes by bus). Even though it is further from the city centre compare to other accommodations, I found that it was still very easy to get into Stockholm city thanks to the metro station a mere 10 minute walk away.

I was very pleased with my room in Vårberg accomodation, which featured a private bathroom and kitchenette. Vårberg accommodation also boasts a games room (pool table, table football, darts board), living room with TV and balcony area on each floor. The communication with the service coordinator at Vårberg was great, as she had her office within the accommodation itself so that I could easily contact her about any problems/queries concerning my room. I could also contact her through email too if she was not in her office.

Unfortunately, starting from the academic year 2017/18, students at KI will no longer be able to apply for accommodation at Vårberg, but instead will be able to apply for KI Residence Flemingsberg (which is situated even closer to uni!). 

Leisure time and social activities

The university society 'Global Friends' organised plenty of events for both KI and exchange students to attend, so that it was possible to meet people from different countries studying different courses. Within the dental school, there were pub socials at the pub around once a week, which was great for getting to know the other dental students. At my university accommodation, there was a common living room and kitchen where all the residents could hang out, and we even held parties around once a month. Overall, I found that I was never short of opportunities to meet new people and make friends during my time at KI! 

Vivid festival


At my home university, it is a requirement for 4th year dental students to complete either a 2 week elective placement in a country of our choice or a 3 month Erasmus Exchange programme at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. Making this decision was easy for me, and I chose the latter with no hesitation. 


From a personal perspective, I chose to go on exchange because I wanted to challenge myself by living in a country where I did not know anyone, did not speak the language and have never visited before. I believed that over a few months, I would be able to immerse myself in a new and exciting culture, meet new people and gain a sense of independence. Talking to older students who had also completed this exchange and attending informative talks about electives/exchanges given at my home university cemented my desire to study abroad.


From a dental perspective, learning that the Nobel Prize in Medicine is awarded by the Nobel Assembly at KI and about the technologies that the dental students are exposed to, such as CEREC, confirmed that I would be studying at a prestigious university where I would be able to learn to use different dental techniques and tools not taught at my home university. In addition, amalgam is being used less and less in dentistry as a restorative material and I knew that I would be using the main alternative material (composite resin) at KI a lot as amalgam has already been banned in Sweden, and therefore I would be able to improve my technique. 

Courses during the exchange period

ETL002 : Child and Adolescent Dentistry - Odontology
The paediatric and orthodontic tutors were fantastic, and I managed to improve my skills in these areas of dentistry through treating my own patients. We saw paediatric patients once a week and orthodontic patients around once every two weeks. Under the supervision of the tutors and the help of our Swedish clinical partner (who aided with the language barrier), I was able to carry out dental treatments on children. My home university required that I carry out a written project on an area of dentistry of my choice during my time as an exchange student, and the paediatric tutor that I approached for help with this was great and gave me lots of resources. I noticed was that in orthodontic clinics at KI, the Swedish students were expected to carry out the orthodontic treatment, not just carry out orthodontic assessments like we do at my home university, which was great for my learning.
ETL001 : Comprehensive Care - with subject specific courses
We were given a list of English-speaking adult patients to treat after completion of 'preklin'. The patient treatment clinics ran in a similar fashion to those at my home university except that we were not marked for every aspect of the treatment we had carried out. I liked the fact that at KI we could request the help of a tutor via the computer, instead of having to leave our patient mid-treatment and seek an available tutor.


I had a fantastic time at KI and I would thoroughly recommend this exchange to any other dental students considering it. I did not find that I fell behind academically upon returning to my home university. These are the main pros and cons of the exchange for me:

Main pros: living in the beautiful city of Stockholm, learning about and using dental technologies not taught at my home university, opportunities to meet people and make new friends, challenging myself and gaining a sense of independence by living away from home

Main cons: Stockholm can be an expensive city, cold weather (can be a pro or con), the need to continue studying throughout the exchange period so that I was ready to sit my final exams upon returning to my home university

Language and Culture

I did not participate in any Swedish Language courses. I used a language learning website to learn basic Swedish words to help me get around easily during my exchange. I also picked up a lot of Swedish dental vocabulary during my time at KI!

Studies in general

I enjoyed my time studying at KI immensely. The dental hospital, situated in Campus Flemingsberg, is a large modern building with copious study areas, a library and a canteen as well as dental clinics. I was assigned to one of the 8th semester (4th year) clinical groups and followed the same timetable as them. This included adult patient treatment clinics, child patient treatment clinics, orthodontic clinics and orofacial pain and jaw function clinics. We were exempt from attending lectures because they were mostly delivered in Swedish. Instead I used this free time to explore the city and prepare for my upcoming final exams back at my home university.

During the first few weeks, we were placed in 'preklin' and had to show that we were capable of performing certain dental procedures and treatments on phantom heads prior to being able to treat patients. The receptionist was fantastic, ensuring that all the adult patients that I was assigned to treat could speak English so that communication would be easier for me. 

The dental tutors at KI were all very friendly and welcoming towards us exchange students and taught classes in English for our benefit. We were also shown how to use dental technologies that I have not, and will not, come across at my home university at undergraduate level. This includes CEREC, WaveOne and The Wand (painless local anaesthetic administration technique). I am very grateful for this, as I believe that the skills I have learnt will prove useful in my future career.