Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Study programme: Medicine
Exchange programme: Erasmus
Semester: Autumn and spring semester 2017/2018
Name: Bogdana Kovalchuk
Email address:

Arrival and registration

KI offers a pick-up service for your arrival. It is usually a student, who will explain the public transport to you and help you finding your place of accommodation. To my mind a very welcoming and helpful offer. Besides, the introduction days are a nice event to meet some new friends and get to know your new place. But no need to worry if you can not participate – there will be other opportunities, too.

A little hint for health care professionals: you will be asked for a MRSA-test before starting in clinics. It needs to be done in KI, but you can think about checking at home before you leave.


I can strongly recommend KI housing and Jägargatan 20! Well, in case you think sharing bathroom, kitchen and living room is a good way to meet interesting people from all around the world. If you prefer some more privacy, you should probably pick another place, but KI housing has a lot of different offers here. One can apply online and unfortunately you will get the acceptance only 2 months in advance, so be in time! Finding a private housing is difficult in Stockholm – in most cases you will need to subrent a room (“inneboende”).

Leisure time and social activities

First ofall, yes, makingSwedish friendsis not easy. However,thisis not becauseSwedish areshyand introvert, as the stereotype says, but becausetheyusuallyalreadyhavetheirstablesocial lifein Stockholm. Many ofthemhavechildrenalready. Andto be honest: howmanyErasmus students didyouhaveamongyourcloserfriendsat home? Probablyyouwill mostlyhang out withotherexchangestudents and maybemeetwithsomeSwedish a fewtimes. Therearemanyinternational events at KI: coffeehour, the buddyprogramme, international cooking, city tours, dancingclasses, Julboard(Christmas table) … just to namesomeofthem. MF (Medicinska föreningen) and Global friendsoffer frequent opportunitiesto meetnew people. Youcanbecomea memberofMF and thenjoinfor free, usually. If youdo not like biggroupsI canrecommendgoing to someactivitiesin the beginningand thentomeetupwiththe peopleyoulikedin person – you’llneedto try some“fika” anyway😉. And therearea lotofsightsto seeinStockholm. Places I canrecommend: Vasamuseet (must do!), Free walkingtours (eachofthem), Stadtshuset, SödemalmwithMontelliusvägen, Hermans (vegan restaurant withstudent discount), vetekatten (café) … Besides, youcanalso joinotherorganiationsapart from university– youwill be welcomeanywhere.


For medical students good practical training is an essential part of studies. As Sweden is known for its low hierarchies and praxis-oriented teaching, I followed the advice of Erasmus students, who had been here before and were very satisfied with the programme.

Among all the universities in Sweden KI is probably the most popular one, offering a rich number of courses, conferences, scientific workshops and trainings. It is very international and used to hosting exchange students, therefore there are many events and offers of help in the beginning, which makes you feel at home quite quickly. A lot information is available on KI’s homepage and the rest you receive during the introduction week. If you have come so far to find this report, you have probably clicked through all the important information, too 😉. If you like, you can check out some facebook groups before you arrive: KI students, Medicinska Föreningen, Global friends …

If you own a long-term residency in an EU country not being an EU-citizen, you will need to apply for a study-visa. There are slight differences between different titles of long-term residency – so be careful and double check with the migration office in case of doubt.

Personally, the reason why I chose KI was my interest in science, KI’s good reputation and finally that I wanted to try capital-life (with Stockholm being the perfect size: not too big and not too small for a nature-loving girl like me).

Courses during the exchange period

D8XX01 : Clinical Medicine - Surgery
please see above
D9XX01 : Clinical Medicine - Neuro, Senses and Psyche
please see above


Going abroad in general is a worthy experience to make, in terms of language, intercultural exchange and personal development. Maybe the latter sounds a little pathetic and hard to imagine beforehand. Maybe it’s mostly about learning to manage unexpected situations, gaining self-confidence and learning more about yourself when comparing other peoples’ views and habits to your own ones. You will see, a year abroad will enrich you with new ideas and ways of thinking and a more open mind towards views you did not meet before.

Language and Culture

I had been studying Swedish before I came to Sweden, which was a good decision, as one can participate more in clinical routine and daily life. Of course, most Swedish speak English fluently (what they don’t believe themselves by the way, but they do), so you will get along without any Swedish knowledge, too. But KI offers language courses (at BBI) for each level of knowledge, which I absolutely can recommend! There are intensive weekend courses and weekly courses lasting over a whole term. I took the latter one, as this gives you more continuous practice. If you do not plan to speak Swedish anyway and just need some basics for going by bus and grocery shopping, you can do the crash course during the introduction week. To continue, there are even courses at SFI, but the level in BBI is much higher, as you only meet motivated students there.

Studies in general


As expected I found the Swedish study environment very practice oriented and student friendly. The teachers seem to be more down-to-earth and I always felt welcome to ask questions and try some investigations/ interventions on my own. For me the combination of theory and practice was just perfect, as I could gain routine in the important skills, remember theory by the practical cases I had seen and read more extensively about topics I was especially interested in. Nonetheless some students complained it was too little theory for them. So, I conclude it probably depends on what type of learner you are if you like it or not. What I experienced as a difference in comparison to my home university is, that people call each other by first name. This leads to a closer relationship between students and teachers and a more comfortable open-minded learning atmosphere, I liked a lot.

Another difference in contrast to my home university is the examination system. Here we had exams with open questions requiring differential thinking and explaining your thoughts. One exam was even oral. To my mind students learn a lot more with such exams and its much fairer than multiple choice questions, we have at home.


 I started my first term with the international surgery course in Huddinge hospital. Despite the long travel distance this course was fantastic! It is praiseworthy that Karolinska offers a course in English, thus connecting medical students all over the world and making us critically questioning differences in our health care systems. Even the Swedish students do profit from learning the English terminology. It was a pity, that we were only 6 exchange students in the class, the teachers named, there used to be way more in the years before. About the content I like the KUA most (a ward ran by students of various specialties), where we could practice team work and taking over responsibility for our own patients. With this experience in mind I am not scared of future shifts anymore 😉. In general, Swedish students get more responsibility than we do at home, which means that sometimes you will feel overloaded, but you will become better every day. Though, in the beginning it would have been nice for us international students to get more guidance, as we did not have the same skills the Swedish students had yet.

In general, I spent more time in the hospital than I do at home. Also, we did some night shifts, which I liked.

During the second term I was attending the courses of Ophthalmology, ENT, Neurology and Psychiatry (term 9 in Stockholm). Like in surgery, there was a lot of practice and seminars. Those courses are available in Swedish only, but I can absolutely recommend learning Swedish and taking them, as speaking Swedish enables you to see own patients, take own notes in the clinic system and brings you closer to patients, doctors and your classmates. In Ophthalmology and ENT there is some skills training and patient appointments in small groups together with a supervisor. In Neurology there are supervised appointments, where you get a patient on your own and then present him or her to your groupmates and your supervisor. Also, you will have some ward rotations and a late shift at the emergency room. Psychiatry starts with two weeks of lectures followed by 4 weeks of ward rotations. Unfortunately, there you will be mostly listening and watching but some patients can be interviewed by students and it is really astonishing, what kind of life stories people can tell. If you are lucky you will spend some time in the MAK (mobile acute team), where you’ll be able to visit patients at home, too. Very worth participating are the interview trainings, where one of you will be the patient and one of you the physician and the third will give some feedback. It is really fun to try to see the world from the patient’s point of view.