Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: University of Otago
Study programme: Medicine
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Autumn and spring semester 2010/2011

Arrival and registration

Arriving in Sweden was easy for me because I had already been here and had some contacts. I didn't attend the  KI introduction day because I arrived at a different time. It was easy to get MRSA tests done at the student health centre. However there was a misunderstanding with my clinical superviser... I was waiting for an email with arrangements for the course, where to go, etc (I already had an email from the next course that was due to start in 2 months). When I still didn't have any instructions I managed to call him on the day I started. Then I discovered that I was the only exchange student on the infectious diseases course, and somewhat of a novelty! This was good in some ways, because nobody was tired of students. But some pre-organisation would have been appreciated.

Acommendation

I lived with my partner in his apartment. The standard of housing is very high here, and apartments are maintained at a comfortable temperature even when its -20 degrees outside!

Leisure time and social activities

I didn't join any organisations for exchange students. I met some Swedish students on both rotations. I think they're really friendly but the culture is also quite reserved so it would take an extra effort to make friends. It was great to do a clinical rotation with other exchange students.

Pre-departure

I decided to go on exchange because at medical school in New Zealand we only get one chance to go overseas to study, for 3 months in the final year. I chose Sweden because my partner is Swedish, and through searching online found that KI is a big medical university with a well organised exchange program. I found the KI website a bit difficult to navigate though. I couldn't find any information about the clinical rotations besides their titles! So I just picked things that seemed like they might be interesting, and crossed my fingers. The exchange coordinator was very friendly and waited for my application even though the mail was delayed. But I would have liked some more information about when I would be approved for exchange, because it took a few months and flights need to be booked early from my part of the world because they're quite expensive! I would also have appreciated some more information before I arrived on Swedish language courses (eg. dates), as I later discovered that the courses KI organises didn't run at the end of the year, and by that time some other courses at a different university were booked out.

Courses during the exchange period

ELA007 : Infectious diseases 1
This course was quite casual, as I have already explained. My assessment was to do a presentation of New Zealand! Advantages: highly specialised doctors to learn from (eg. "tuberculosis doctor", "tropical diseases doctor"), a variety of settings (eg. wards, emergency, outpatients), being the only student on the course. Disadvantages: not knowing about the course before I started, being the only student on the course.
ELAX21 : Internal Medicine - Emergency
There were 3 students on this course. We were instructed to create our own timetable, and had to do some night and weekend shifts. This meant that we could take the occasional weekday off though. Advantages: the biggest emergency department in Northern Europe, short and relevant theory sessions almost every day, a day with the ambulance. Disadvantages: evening and weekend shifts.

Summary

I had a great time at KI, and found most people to be very helpful and friendly. I would have preferred more information about the courses (expectations, hours, assessments) a few weeks before they started though. Also, in retrospect maybe I should have joined some student organisations. I'd recommend KI to anyone interested in highly developed medicine & surgery or research.

Language and Culture

Most patients (especially younger ones) speak English, and some of them will give the history in English, especially if you introduce yourself before they have seen the doctor. I already knew some basic Swedish when I arrived, which is definitely an advantage. Unfortunately there wasn't a Studiefr√§mjandet Swedish course on when I arrived, and the next one started too late. Magdalena Palmqvist helped me with this, and I ended up booking a course with Folkuniversitet. I recommend this university but I think its best to talk to the exchange coordinator before making any decisions.

Studies in general

I think studying as a med student in Sweden is quite similar to New Zealand. There is a combination of theory and clinical time, although they start clinical placements earlier in the degree than we do. Most staff are very friendly, and eager to explain things especially if you show an interest and ask questions. Students are expected to let people know what they would like to learn, and have a go at things (when time & language permit) rather than just observing all the time. The nurses are highly educated and many are specialised, so they're a useful resource. Most people are very polite, and introduce themselves to anyone in a room they don't know with a hand shake. That includes students, who are talked to on the same level.