Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: Universidad del Azuay
Study programme: Medicine
Exchange programme: Linnaeus-Palme
Semester: Autumn semester 2018/2019
Name: Nicole Elizabeth Villa Naula
Email address:

Arrival and registration

KI offers a pick-up service and if you apply someone will wait for at the central train station and help you get to your accommodation. I think having that service was amazing because I had no clue on how to get to my dorm, I have never been on a train, so everything was very new to me. I was assigned a student, and she was very nice to me, she helped me get to my dorm and gave me general advice that became very useful during my first week at Stockholm. The day after my arrival I went to KI for my Swedish lessons and I made a lot of friends, we walked around the campus and shared our arrival experiences with each other, it was a very good start. Introduction day at KI was awesome, there were a lot of students just like me, we were all very excited and at the same time very nervous because of how new all of it was to us, I believe having each other made us feel safe. We had a very warm welcome and after the introduction day I had a pretty clear idea of everything, and I knew that if I had any questions  there would always be someone to  help me. Since I was going to attend every day to a hospital I had to get checked for MRSA, the whole process was very simple, and the staff were professional. 


I got my accommodation trough KI Housing, the process to apply was very easy and the options available are great. I think it would have been a lot harder to rent any other place if I had to do it by myself. The prices for housing at KI were excellent, they aren’t as expensive as other places, and I think it´s an affordable option for students. After I checked the options available, I picked pax and strix because they seemed very good, they were close to KI and since you had a room and a bathroom for yourself you had more privacy. I was assigned to Pax and the building was perfect for me, the room had a lot of space, I had a big window, so the lighting was very good. I feel like the space was well distributed and that the room had everything I needed. When I arrived, the room was clean and in order, so I didn’t have any issues, even the internet set up was simple to do. Since there´s always students moving in and out of the building, I was able to buy an internet router in a very cheap price. As of the kitchen it had a good size, my floormates and I became friends so spending time together cooking and talking was one of the best parts of the day. As well we created a system to clean the kitchen, so each one of us had a day assigned and certain duties to complete. Our Kitchen was always clean and organized, and that’s because we all got along and we liked to keep everything neat, but in other floors I noticed that sometimes the kitchen was a  total disaster. The only problem we had was that when we arrived the last tenants had to leave the kitchen empty and clean and that was not the case, we  found a lot of expired food and the fridge was quite dirty, so the first day we all got together to clean and disinfect everything. Everything else ran smoothly and I really enjoyed my stay.

Leisure time and social activities

KI offers a lot in terms of social activities in and out of campus. Personally, I got a membership at Medicinska Föreningen and I got to attend to a lot of events and enjoyed time with people that shared the same interests as me. Also, I was enrolled with global friends at KI and since they had a buddy system, I met a swedish medical student who showed around the campus and around Stockholm. It was a great experience because we got to share about how medical school is in our countries and he taught me a lot about the Swedish culture. I went to every social event I could while on my exchange because in that way I could get out of my comfort zone and meet new people. It was a very interesting experience because we all came from different countries, so it was awesome to learn about other cultures. It was fun because we didn’t have much in common but after chatting for a couple hours all of us got to know each other and we became close friends. Nowadays I have friend all over the world and if I ever travel to their countries, I know they will be there for me. We helped each other out in a lot of ways, some of us had been in Stockholm for a longer time so they had a lot of good advice. I made good friends during my exchange and up until this day we keep in touch. 


My name is Nicole Villa, I am an ecuadorian medical student and on my fifth year of medical school, I was very fortunate to be chosen to be a part of a student exchange to Karolinska Institutet. I had always dreamed of going to another country and when I heard about Karolinska I knew I had to apply. I did a lot of research and learned that Sweden is a country that has a lot of medical discoveries, and Karolinska is involved in a lot of research projects. Another thing that I was very happy to find out was that karolinska is a university that had a lot of students from different parts of the world. So I applied and hoped for the best, I cannot put into words the feelings I had when I heard that I was accepted. KI had a lot of information on  their website on how the exchange was going to be and that cleared all my doubts. On the other hand my international coordinator was always willing to help me and  that made the process a lot easier, because sadly I didn't get much information from my home university.  

Courses during the exchange period

ELAX16 : Obstetrics and Gynaecology
I did a two-month course in obstetrics and gynecology. It was a very good experience I think the course was very well done and had an excellent organization. The theoretical classes were very good and helped us a lot during our rotation in the hospital. Several of the lectures were with clinical cases, which were sent to us in advance so that we could study the subject and analyze the case properly. I think that this way of learning based on clinical cases is very good since it makes us put into practice skills that we will use in the future when we become doctors. The lectures around clinical cases were guided by a doctor who helped us organize our ideas and led us towards a diagnosis. The teachers were very good and although we sometimes found it difficult to use medical terms in English, they were patient with us and helped us express our ideas. Something that would have been interesting would have been that on a weekly basis a student would share something about a clinical case that seemed interesting to him or her, that way we would have covered more topics. I thought the examination format was very good because it was based on research and while preparing for it I learned a lot.
ELAXX6 : Surgery 1
I spent a month doing the course in surgery, in my opinion, it was very short I didn't get to learn as much as I would have wanted. We didn't have many lectures and we didn't know what subjects to study. As we know surgery is a very practical area and it would have been better if they allowed us to participate more in the surgeries since most of the time we only got to watch the surgery. Something very good was that in this rotation we had access to the Advanced Medical Simulation and Training center and there we were able to practice sutures and other procedures. The rotation was divided into three areas, anesthesiology, urology, and vascular surgery. Anesthesiology and urology were the best areas, in them I learned a lot and doctors put more interest in teaching, so at the end of the rotation I really liked those areas very much and I would even consider them as a future specialty.


This was the best experience that I have ever had in my life not only as a student but as a person. I just want to say  a huge ´´Thank You´´ to Karolinska Institutet and to Sweden.  The hardest part was to say goodbye and even as I write this words tears are falling from my eyes because of all the wonderful memories I have from my exchange. I learned so much, and I made friends that became my family and I will cherish them forever. I never wanted it to end, and I would love to do a master at KI in the future. I just fell in love with everything, so if anyone ever gets the chance to be a part of a program at KI  don't even think twice it will be the best thing you´ll ever do. A part of me stayed at Stockholm, it always be my second home and I hope to go back soon.

Language and Culture

I participated in the Swedish language course with KI and BBi Communication. I was on the intensive course before my clinical rotation began. I really enjoyed the lessons; the teacher was very nice, and she spoke perfect Spanish so if there was anything, I didn’t know in English I could just ask her on my native tongue. The system that they had to organize the lessons is very good, because they made groups of students that were on the same level and that spoke similar languages. For instance, I speak Spanish, but I had classmates that spoke Italian, and for me it was very easy to understand their language. Of course, we all spoke English so if everything else failed we had common ground. I think that the course was very short, and I didn’t get to learn as much as I wished. But the few things that I learned were extremely useful during my stay. Swedish is a very hard language like no other I have ever learned before, so I believe you need to invest more time for it to sync into your brain. I think the learning system during class was fun and it made it a bit easier for us to learn the language, and even today I still remember a lot of what I learned during those days. It definitely leaves you wanting to learn more and if I ever go back to Sweden I would love to continue learning the language.

Studies in general

I attended to two clinical rotations, one of them in gynecology and obstetrics and the other in surgery. I felt that the teaching environment was the best that I have ever experienced in my life. Teachers were interested, not only in the subject but they showed interest in us and in our learning process. In my country the relationship between teacher and student is not so great, because the teacher is always above you, and as a student you don’t feel comfortable to ask questions or if you want to make a comment on the lecture you feel like it might upset the teacher so you never really want to participate. During clinical rotations in my country a lot of doctors ignore you and they don’t want to invest time teaching, so you just follow them around the hospital, and you don’t get the chance to participate during rounds. That was very different in Sweden, I felt safe with my teachers, I could ask them anything and they were always there to clear my doubts. Even though all the teachers were doctors they treated us as if we were on a same level, so we wouldn’t feel inferior to them. They talked to us as if we were colleagues and that increased our confidence as future doctors. During the lectures we all had the chance to participate and interact with the teacher, even when some of my friends or I had trouble using medical terms in English they were quite patient with us. I did my clinical rotations at SOS and the doctors that I was with were very nice and polite to me. It was very hard to communicate with the patients because I don’t speak Swedish, and that made it hard for me to participate, but the doctors always helped with translation so I wouldn’t feel left out.