Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: University of Minnesota
Study programme: Medicine
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Spring semester 2010/2011

Arrival and registration


My classmate and I arrived at KI on a Thursday night and were fortunate to have a student through global friends welcome us.  She was incredibly helpful in buying our metro passes, taking us to our housing, and even giving us some supplies that we had forgotten.  If we did not set up a global friend this would have been a challenge.  The next day (Friday) we went to campus to get our KI ID cards, get oriented, and take care of other tasks before the rotation started on Monday.  It was a big help to get in to Stockholm a few days early to get settled prior to the first day of the rotation.



We stayed at Pax, an international student housing accomodation in Vastra Skogen through UAC.  The location was great as it was right next to the bus and metro stops.  KI was 15 minute bus ride away and a 25 minute walk.  The center of the city was just three metro stops away, and our housing was a short walk from the lake with a great running and biking trail.  The building itself was very clean and comfortable.  We each got our own large room with furniture and private bathroom.  The kitchen was shared which was great for meeting other international students.  Laundry was in the basement and was free.  Overall it was a good standard of living for a fair price.

Leisure time and social activities


Along with the educational experience, the social life was a highlight of the stay.  My classmate and I were fortunate to meet many different groups of people.  Three weeks into the trip, we felt like we had more friends and social activities than we do back home.  We each were assigned a global friend which led to many activities and more contacts.  We also knew a group of medical students had done exchange at our program earlier in the year so it was fun to see them again.  The students I met in the lab were very social and we spent time together outside of work.  Finally, Pax was an international student apartment so we met many students from around the world, some of whom we traveled to Copenhagen and Finland with.  It was an incredibly diverse group of people we met between local Swedes and international students.  We figure we got a 2-for-1 international experience because we would be in the Swedish culture all day and then return to our apartment and be exposed to so many other diverse cultures. 


I chose to do an international exchange rotation during medical school because I never had the opportunity to do one as an undergraduate.  I chose KI because of the exchange program with my home university, my Scandinavian heritage, and KI's excellent reputation in medical research. Both KI and my home institution were very helpful in organizing my stay, providing information, and answering my questions.

Courses during the exchange period

DVPX01 : Research oriented project, 4w
I did not take part in any clinical rotations, only research. Although my stay was too short for my own project, I was able to focus on learning many of the common methods that are used in the lab. This included Immunohistochemistry, Western blots, Proteomics, Cell cultures, and tissue staining, among others. The research was focused on aortic aneurisms and valvular disease. I was able to go to Aortic valve replacement surgeries and aortic aneurism repairs, both of which were new procedures for me. At the procedures we collected tissue samples to use in the lab. Then I learned how to fix the samples in paraffin, slice sections with the microtome, and set the sections on a slide. From here we would perform different methods including the ones mentioned above. This experience was very relevant to my degree as I plan to go into academic cardiology with an emphasis on research.



Overall this was an incredibly positive experience that I would highly suggest to any student considering it.  Stockholm is a beautiful city with friendly people and plenty to see and do.  Karolinska Institutet is a world renowned medical university and research institution that draws students from around the world, and for good reason.  My time in the lab was a valuable experience as I gained new skills and was exposed to a side of medicine that I was less familiar with.  It will certainly provide a foundation for my research career moving forward.  Outside the hospital, my experiences were equally impactful .  Living in another country for the first time and making friends with students from around the world has provided me with great memories and new perspectives that I will never forget.

Language and Culture


As my stay was only 4 weeks, I unfortunately did not have time to take a Swedish language course.  Work in our lab was primarily done in English, however I did my best to pick up some of the basics of the Swedish language along the way.

Studies in general


I choose to do a basic science research rotation during my time at KI because it was something different from my rotations in the states.  KI is famous for its research and attracts students, faculty, and lecturers from around the world.  I wanted to see what this side of medicine was like and there is no better place for this than KI. 


The supervisors and fellow students in the lab were incredibly welcoming and eager to teach.  They always made sure that I was being exposed to methods and techniques that would be most beneficial to me.  All the lab members were very adept at laboratory methods but were also very interested in translating their work into clinical practice.  This provided some great discussion between what they were doing at a cellular level and how it could help in a clinical setting, an area I could provide some knowledge. 


As a clinically focused student in the states, it was great to see how developments in basic science research can be bridged with clinical research to improve patient outcomes.  This was one of the lab’s priorities as they held weekly collaborative meetings with surgeons and other researchers.