Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: Syddansk Universitet
Study programme: Public Health Sciences (Master's)
Exchange programme: Erasmus
Semester: Autumn and spring semester 2010/2011

Arrival and registration

I only participated for the introduction day. It was mostly about Swedish culture and as a Dane it was quite irrelevant. I had no contact with the student health centre.


As I am quite picky regarding accommodation, so I did not apply for any student accommodation. I found my own flat in Hornstull through However, it took me a month (meanwhile I stayed at a friend's place) and it was very expensive (8000 SEK per month). 

Leisure time and social activities

I am not a huge fan of these exchange students activities and networks. So I did not participate in any of the Global friends activities. Instead I spend my "social time" with people I met in the courses and people I knew beforehand living in Stockholm. I definitely met some people who I believe I will keep in contact with for many years - including Swedish friends.  


The primary motivation to apply for semester abroad was to specialize in public health nutrition - combining my bachelor and master degree (nutrition and public health). I chose KI because they had courses which my home university did not offer. KI's medical degree has a good reputation in Denmark, so I had high expectations regarding the academic level. 

Even though my home university and KI did not have an exchange agreement, the application process was without complications. The international national coordinators were very helpful and useful - no complains about them. As a Danish citizen, neither vaccines or certificates was required (only bachelor degree and English skills). 

Courses during the exchange period

FPHN01 : PHN - Global Nutrition
The course was interesting. It focused more on community interventions and programmes, global nutrition actors rather than nutrition itself. The teaching with external lectures from all over the world was very good and inspiring. However, when the focus is on contextual factors of global nutrition, I was missing more critical and political perspectives. And for my personal interest I would have liked theory on nutrition as well (including types and causes of malnutrition). The level of expectation for the students was too low. There was a written assignment, which was a good exercise. However, the examination itself (written home examination) was improper. Some of the questions were formulated by students themselves - as the academic level of some students were low, the questions did not make any sense. The examination contained of approximately 50 questions, mixed between essay and multiple choice. It was almost impossible to answer all in the given time, but no one failed. Hence, too high grades were given.
2QA104 : PHN-Assessing diet and physical activity
I did not complete this course as I change to course at the global health programme
F2XX09 : PHN - Public Health Surveillance in Europe
The course was in general quite practical - learning to navigate in different databases. However, again I missed a more research orientated approach. As I am working with setting up a surveillance system of a hole district in Uganda now - I have realized that there a LOT of things that could have been covered in this course: theory on simple demographics, migration issues, what to measure and sampling procedures - I guess all aspects of setting up a surveillance system, instead of only looking how to navigate in already existing national /regional systems. And why is it only in Europe?
2EE007 : MAS - Project in Public Health, 5 weeks
In relation to the WHO research project European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI), I develop an report on breastfeeding and obesity among Swedish school children. The original objectives of this project was to participate in research at the Unit - however, no research was going on at the unit. So the analysis was based on data already collected. Furthermore, the project was scheduled over the Christmas holidays, leaving the student to do the report more or less without supervision. By the end of the project I felt as if I had just done a "normal" assignment, and gained a slight insight to research at KI but did not gain further research skills - which I had hoped for.
3GB016 : GH-Infectious Diseases - a challenge to global health: Clinical, social and preventive aspects (GH)
Very interesting course. For each topic covered an expect / researcher from the particular field was used. Both the level of teaching and expectations for the students was appropriate. A literature review in groups on a specific topic was the examination - a really good practice.
3GB015 : GH-Non-communicable diseases, injuries, natural emergencies and conflicts in a global health perspective (GH)
As the title indicates, too many topics were to be covered in very short time (2 weeks). However, the lectures were very good and inspiring. Again a short literature review and formulating research questions was part of the examination - a very good exercise. The best examination I had.
3GB013 : GH-Maternal and child health in a global perspective
Best course I had. Unfortunately it was very short. Compared to the NCD course which was aslo only 2 weeks, this course was more concrete. Again very good and inspiring lectures. Good examination as well.


The only reason I applied for courses at KI was to upgrade my academic skills and to specialize my degree in public health nutrition. Unfortunately the academic level did not live up to my expectation (at all) which influence my stay in Stockholm towards a negative experience. 
The exchange process went without complication and I was very pleased by the international coordinators help and assistance. 

Language and Culture

I did sign up for a Swedish course. However, it the course not begin until mid October and by that time I had learned enough Swedish for everyday smalltalk. Furthermore, all other student where German. And I did not want to learn Swedish with a German accent ;) So I chose to chose to quit after the first lesson. All my course was in English, so I was not necessary to learn fluent Swedish. If the course had begun when I arrived in Swedish, I think I would have put more effort into it. 

Studies in general

The study environment was similar to Danish with the seminar approach rather than a lecture - a dialog between teacher and students. Unfortunately most students were very passive, and this form of teaching looses it quality. There was a lot of group work were it was to easy for the individual to "hide" behind (or take credit for) others work.The relationship between teacher and students varied from course to course - some were "friendship like" and others more professional. In general it was quite similar to my home university. There was many lectures (from 9am to 4/5pm everyday) and not much self-study. I believe it should be a balance between lectures and self-study. And I do not believe you can go to an exam with a background knowledge based on slides (which was the case at one course).  

In general the academic level was lower than my home university - and very low compared to what I had expected. The lectures were in general good, interesting and inspiring. But all courses where orientated towards community work, and I missed a more research oriented aspects. What was expected of the student for assignment and examination was not much. I am not use to that everyone passed. Quite a lot of assignment was with oral opponing, so I have read other's assignments and know that it is not just because the students' academic level is high. Comparing the two programmes the level was much higher at the Global Health programme than the public health nutrition programme. 
However, a down-site with the Global Health is that it a 1 year programme which ties to cover A LOT of aspects of global health. Course are therefore very short (smallest 3 ECTS = 2 weeks) which does not give enough time to go in-depth and makes it a bit stressful.  

I was surprised that there was not more corporation between the units/faculties. The public health nutrition programme is based in Huddinge, where all other Public health programmes are based in Solna. Furthermore, open seminars, events, phd defences etc. most often take place in Solna. The public health nutrition students are quite isolate in Huddinge - and if you are not an active student yourself you will miss a lot of good and relevant opportunities. Missed opportunities goes also for the lack of corporation between the faculties. As an example, the global health programme had a lecture in global nutrition by one of the international leading nutrition expects (Per Ashorn from Finland), while at the same time the a Global Nutrition Course was running in Huddinge - however, he was not invited to this course. This is just one of many examples. 

Lastly, I experience a quite negative atmosphere upon arrival (at the public health nutrition programme). I am not sure what it was caused by, but quite dissatisfied students - resulting in non-paticipating students in lectures. It did change a bit after a month time.