Reserapport - KI-student
Lärosäte: Universiteit Leiden
Utbildningsprogram: Biomedicin
Utbytesprogram: Erasmus
Termin: Hösttermin 15/16
Namn: Mateusz Krawiec

Innan avresa

The first day I came to KI for the personal interview and found out about the exchange possibility, I knew I had to go. What really motivated me to apply was the fact that I actually had the possibility to go abroad and experience something new, as well as make new connections that I would have otherwise not been able to.


The information on exchange studies was well delivered by the international coordinator (Malin Ahlén) and the director of biomedical studies (Jonas Sundbäck). You should be recieivng e-mail notifications, and eventually a small lecture on the application process and general information about Leiden University. Throughout the year there are some presentations on exchange studies given by students. I reckon you go for them if you have any questions about Leiden.


Once you have decided to go – great, then the application process starts. There will be a few forms to fill in and a little bit of e-mailing back and forth:


1)      •1) Firstly, you will will have to make an application via KI for going abroad. This includes your CV, a written application form, a submitted online application form, grade transcript and a picture of yourself.


As long as you have passed all your courses up to date, there should be no problems for getting accepted. Usually there are 10 spots offered to people to go to Leiden, and less than 10 apply so there is no competition for the places.


•2) Once you have been accepted by KI, you will receive a ‘nomination form’ from Malin. This is a confirmation from KI’s side that you are ready to go, and you will have to forward it to the Leiden University. Along with the nomination form, you will also have to send in your grade transcript, and a scanned copy of your passport and KI student card.

•3)After a while of waiting you should receive the ‘acceptance of admission offer’ form. By filling it in, you confirm that you would indeed like to study at the Leiden University. The form also asks whether you would like to arrange accommodation on your own, or if you leave it to the university. My tip is to ARRANGE ACCOMMODATION BY YOURSELF (something I return to in the latter section).  Just don’t forget to send in the acceptance form to the provided email address.



•4) Once you have your enrollment confirmed, there will be a bunch of emails coming in, asking you to fill some additional forms or set up accounts. Make sure you do these things:

-Receive your student number (it’s in the form e.g. s1231234)

-Apply for a Leiden University card

-Apply for an LUMC badge (a card to the hospital facilities where the studies take place)

-Set up Umail (LU’s email)

-Set up uSis (where your grades will be posted, similar to ladok)

-Set up Blackboard (a communication platform similar to pingpong)


Important thing, you will have to find the course pages on blackboard by yourself and add yourself to them. On the other hand, you will not have to enroll for any courses or exams as the international officer there, Eveline Hack, will do it for you. She is very nice so go to her if you have any problems at the university.



•Also important to think about, if you’re a non-EU citizen, then fix your papers for moving to the Netherlands in time. A student from my class ended up not going for the exchange because the migration office did not help on time.


Ankomst och registrering

When it comes to the arrival, you could practically get to Leiden a day before the semester starts.  


It is however nice to come in a little bit early and find your way around the town. Also it is good to get yourself a bicycle, a Dutch sim card (I recommend Lebara prepaid), find some local grocery stores, and most important of all - to socialize with new people!


The university offers an introductory week for incoming international students – the OWL week. I missed it unfortunately due to a summer internship, something I regret looking back at it. I know you get to meet a lot of people, especially from your class as you are put in the same groups. You also get a tour around the city, eat out at some places, explore the local pubs, attend parties and social events, and receive some practical information along with a crash course in Dutch. It costs a bit to attend, but from what I have heard it is worth it!


Even if you do miss on the owl week, then don not worry.  Chances are you are most likely moving into a student corridor or a student house? The guys from the house I moved into greeted me with a beer and helped me moving in. Even if you do not like being socially outgoing, then make friends with your flatmates or neighbours out of practical reasons!


Some important things to fix for the university is getting hold of the different cards. The Leiden University card can be colelctd at the Plexus Center, a student center in the middle of the town. The LUMC badge you collect at the information desk on 2nd floor in LUMC. Bring €15 as a deposit, and know that they will be taking a picture of you.  Also, you will receive a Registration card by mail. Besides that, check your e-mail regularly for any sort of information.


Before Leiden

This is a very subjective matter, depending on whether you are wanting to keep your expenses to the minimum or to the maximum. However, since you are going abroad for exchange I advise you not to be stingy and enjoy yourself a little bit.


Most importantly you should fill in the Erasmus+ stipend form. This grants you with around 10,000kr (just do not waste it all at once). Before starting your semester you will also have to fill in a language test requested by the Erasmus program.


Secondly, you will have to do an abroad application for CSN. Contact Malin first, who will send you a confirmation form of your exchang studies. Then, when applying on CSN’s website, attach it (‘lägg till en bilaga’) and you are good to go.


Also, apply for a student loan in advance if you think you will be needing it.


Personally I survived without it. It worked fine for me with the Erasmus stipend, CSN, money saved up during the summer, and allowance from parents. My suggestion is to set up one of those household budgets in Excel, where you fill in your expenses and keep track of your money. Be ready that in your first month you will probably be spending more – social events, exploring pubs, eating out, buying things for home and a bicycle.


In Leiden

When looking for a bicycle search the Leiden Housing facebook group, or try at some second hand stores (like I did), e.g. Budget Bike. If you need any accessories for the bicycles, such as lights or a lock, then I recommend a store called Action.


As for groceries, Hoogvliet, Jumbo and Dirk have all sorts of things for good prices. My favorite was Dirk, since it had products on sale every week.


Eating out is slightly cheaper than in Sweden, though bars are even cheaper.


In general however the use of foreign bank cards is rather limited in the Netherlands. They only accept Visa or Mastercard at some places, so most of the time I took out money from the ATM. I recommend applying for an ICA bank card before you leave Sweden. With it, there are no additional costs when paying or taking out money abroad, in contrast to some other banks.


There is also the posssibltiy of getting a Dutch Maestro card. You first have to book an appointment at the City Hall to register yourself there, and afterwards you can apply for a Dutch bank card. All of us who went to Leiden in fall 2015 survived without it though.


Three tips: -When the Dutch say ‘credit card’ they refer to any non-Maestro cards

-The LUMC cafeteria accepts your VISA or MasterCard, you just gotta ask them

-There are 3 microwaves at LUMC, if you can not locate them, then just ask!


Lastly, don’t forget to lay aside some money for your books! 


There are two ways going about the housing – either you put some effort and get a nice place, or leave it up to the university and get an expensive yet crappy alternative.


In my case, I started searching in June and spent about 15min a day for 3 weeks just skimming thourgh places and contacting people. A good place to start is the ‘Leiden Housing’ facebook page. From there on, I googled room rentals in Leiden and browsed through several housing agencies. I found mine via . I paid a small fee of maybe €5 to register on it, and from there on I could see room rental ads that people put up.


It took a while of e-mailing back and forth, with eventually me sending over information to finalize the contract. I got a spacious ‘two-room’ room in a Dutch fraternity house, with a shared kitchen and bathroom. I paid €350 a month which was the cheapest out of everybody else I lived with. Hence, I recommend putting some effort into getting something nice for a good price!


In contrast, the international student housing agency that the university forwards you to, DUWO, places you in a tiny corridor room, with a rent of c. €600a month.  In my eyes that is a total rip-off. The only advantage is that it is placed in central Leiden.


The student house I stayed at was neighboring with the DUWO dorms, and it took about 10 of biking to get to the LUMC.

Studier allmänt

General remarks

The chances are that from the very first day you will see a difference in comparison to KI. First of all, you will be now studying at the hospital. The lecture hall area is just a small portion of a big hospital, so it is quite easy to get lost in the beginning. My best tip is to keep track of your schedule and just to ask whenever you are lost.


The system of teaching there is rather different from KI, with more emphasis on self-studying. While at KI you are receiving well-structured and detailed lectures, at the LUMC you will receive an introductory lecture and will later have to read up information by yourself. You will also be following a ‘module book’ for each course. In it, you will find seminar questions that you have to prepare for while reading the course literature.


It is best you read the module book first and orient yourself with the questions. Then, when reading the course literature, put most emphasis on the topics which are brought up in the questions. Later on, you will have seminars/work groups for each of the module sections, where you will be discussing the answers to these in a group. Even though you might hear that you only have to prepar for the ‘marked questions’ I advise doing them all. This is for your best so that you can follow the discussion, but also to spare you from any unpleasant remarks from the seminar leaders.


The lecturers

This brigns me on the next topic – the teachers/professors. In comparison to KI, I found them rather ill-mannered, unmotivating besserwissers. Most of the time I got the notion that they were feeling superior to you. Some lecturers can be certainly unpleasant when asking them questions, with them ending up commenting on your lack of knowledge in the field. My tip is - Ask the young lecturers/teachers. They are the nicest and the most motivating.

Studying at the LUMC

Be prepared however that most of the studies will be of theoretical type. You will only do some digital microscopy, a patient demonstration and have one short course with practical lab work. As it is at KI, read up and prepare before going for those!


One other major difference is also the amount of responsibilities that is expected from you. In contrast to what I thought in the beginning – that exhcnage students will have it easier - we instead had special couses for exchange students that we had to keep track of by ourselves. If you want to keep full track of your courses then I advise you make a document with all your schedule times put together. This is a good lesson in how to structure your timetable!


However due to our compalints on the lack of organization, the international coordinator put together an ‘internationals page' on blackboard where all the scheduels should be put in togthter. Hopefully that will be fixed. Also know, that yes, as an exchange student you do have a say in what can be improved!


Apropos blackboard, this will be an important communication platform with your course representatives and the students. It is a good idea to check it on a daily basis, as information on your ongoing courses will be posted there. You will also find folders with the lectures’ power points, web lectures (live recorded lectures), and a copy fo the module book.


For some of the courses it is advisable to have a physical copy of the module book. This, you can buy at the LUMC student book store. In contrast to KI it has limited opening hours, so find out when it is open and make your book shoppinglist beforehand! It could take 30mins of queuing before it is your turn, and even then you might have to go back for a lecture, or the store will close, so plan ahead!


When choosing a study spot, there is a few options to chose among. The students' study area at LUMC has includes: the desks around the lecture halls, the ‘train seats’ outside of the library, the library itself, and tables in the education building. A last alternative is to crash a table in a random corridor. The risk is that people from the department will ask you to leave.


A great alternative, somewhere were I spent a big portion of my self-studies, was the Leiden University. It has a lot of space for quiet self studies, with good lighting, power sockets and tasty coffee for a good price! There, you can also set up a printing account, and book study rooms for group assignmenets.


The tests at LUMC vary from course to course (more details in the next section), but the results are usually posted on usis and sent to you via Umail. The umail is also an important platform to use for directly communicating with the course supervisors or workgroup leaders, and for receiving general information from the LUMC. So, check it everyday!

Kurser under utbytet

Kurser motsvarande termin 3 på KI

Immunology (BS)

As the name suggests, in this course you will be learning about the immune system. Each week you will be having around two introductory lectures on a new topic. These are one hour long and give a general overview on the focus subjects. They are matched with the various sections of the module book, which you should keep a close eye on. There, you will find various workgroup questions and the relevant course literature pages to be read. To be most efficient, answer the questions as you read. If you do not manage to read everything, then at least attend the workgroups.


Most of this course will revolve around theoretical content. There is only one final exam of open book type. For this reason it is good to buy a physical copy of the course literature and the module book, and familiarize yourself with them. You may also leave small notes in those books. When writing the test, you have about 3 hours to answer about 15 long-answer questions. For that reason, it is good if you write down the answers from memeory and look in the book for details when necessary.


The courses for exchange students will be running in parallel, so make sure to keep track of the scheuldes for those!


Pathogen-Host interactions part 2

This is a short, 2 week follow up to the immunology course. It focuses on how the body deals with evolving pathgoens, and how pathgoens overcome natural defense mechanism or antibiotics. The structure of this course is rather vague, and you will be handed a lot of scientific articles to read and present on. My tip is just to focus on studying the specific  topics and methods presented during letures – this will be helpful for the exam. The exam itself consisted of around 10 questions, covering topics like antiboitc resitance, types of antibiotics, phagocytosis, parasitology. For us, this was NOT an open book exam.


Infection and Immunity in Practice

This is a two weeks practical course,  and absolutely the most fun one during the whole semester.  In the first week you will all do a two days practical. The final assignment is to write a laboratory report comparing data obtained from both the experiemtns. Later on, you wil be split up into 4 big groups according to specific focus subjects. My group had the focus on antimicrobial pepetides, where we got to design our own experimetns under the supervison of the lab leader. The final contribution is putting together a power point presentation on your one week research project that two people from each group present to the whole class.


Physiology, Basic Concepts

This course was probably the most simialir to the KI layout,  yet the most craving one.  Everyday, you will have 3-4 lectures on a given topic, followed by self-study time needed to read up the assigned pages and prepare for the weekly seminars. I advise not to lose track of your studies over here, especially that this course is divided into three subsections - cardiovascular system, kidneys, lungs and homeostasis. After two weeks of studying the cardiovascular system you will have a 10 question multiple choice exam, followed by two weeks of kidneys and a test on renal physiology with another set of 10 multiple choice questions. Lastly, you will have one and a half weeks on lungs and homeostasis. At the end of the second week, there will be a final exam covering all the topics. You will have 3 hours to answer 80 multiple choice exam questions.


This was NOT an open book exam, so my best tip is to keep up with the reading and to make a revision sheet that you update with information gained everyday.



Communication in Science for Exchange Students

This is a small course, going on throughout the whole semester. As suggested by the name, it focuses on sceintifc language. The leaders of the course are of linguistic background and will be giving you training in scientific writing as well as presentation technqiues. This was the course I disliked the most in the bgeining, but came to appreciate it in the end as we had gained a lot of good tips on presentation techniques that we would have otherwise not received at KI. Keep track of the schedule, as once the whole group came unprepared for ‘scheduled presenations’ that nobody kenw about. Yeah… it happens.


Biomedical Academic Scientific Training for Exchaneg Students

This is another ‘small yet stretching over the whole semster’ course. While taking it, you will be analyzing academic research from a social scientist's point of view. You will be discussing factos such as finaicng of research, organization of research groups, and collaborations. The background knowledge gained in class is used to interview an international PhD student at the LUMC and their supervisor. Lastly, you have to write a report and make a final prevention based on the interviews. Though also a bit annoying in the beginning, I appreciated this course the most, maybe due to the variety it provided in contrast to other courses. Make sure to plan when you are going to do the assignments, as deadlines can be the same weeks as the exams from the main courses. Also, the course leader, Leendert, was the nicest out of all the teachers we had.


Applied Electrophysiolgoy for Exchnage Students.

A third ‘over the semester’ course. It is led by one of the lecturers in Physiology, Basic Concecpts. You will be going over basics of heart function and ECG, and later learning who to read an ECG. The final task is to write a review article on a topic that deals with ECG. Plan your time accordingly with the other courses, as finding and reading articles, and wiritng the review paper can be time consuming.


Språk och kultur


What I heard about the Dutch people before moving to the Netherlands is that they are quite simialir to Swedes – rather reserved, and sticking to their own groups. In a way that was indeed true, but I also felt that they were less flexible with their routines. A clear example would be the fellow Dutch classmates who seemed to take the whole semester to adapt to the fact that international students are part of their class. I however do recommend socialising with other internationals and the pre-master students. They were much nicer and more open-minded.


The Dutch language

In general however, people were rather nice and helpful. Almost everybody you encountered spoke English, so language was not a barrier. The only annoying fact was that people often switched back to speaking Dutch at invocneitet times such as when in the lab. Just hold back that grin, and ask them politely to switch back to English.


Dutch in its written form is simialir to Swedish, so you will be understanding a bunch fo things from the beginning. The pronunciation is however quite different and you will probably get the hang of it by the end of the semester. Taking classes organized by the university or student unions is rather expensive and time consuming. I could recommend a university student organizing a ‘Basic Course in Dutch’, called Vladimir ( I was gogin to take that course, but later resigned due to the heavy workload I had already.


A fun way to catch on new words is via an app called Duolingo. You can learn some Dutch words everyday.

Fritid och sociala aktivteter

The amount of free time of course depends on how keen you will be with your studies. What you do with it is also u to you, and there are quite a few options. There is a university sport’s center with bunch of activities you can sign up for, local gyms, bunch of museums, and an international theatre group. Most importantly I think it is great to put some time into walking around the city and just exploring it. There is bunch of cozy spots, and you will probably find some nice cafes, pubs and restaurants you will find. Here are some places I recommend:


•Cafes – Lebkov & sons, Beans and bagels

•Pubs – Peli bar (student organized bar), Olivier’s Belgium Beer Café, De Bonte Koe (ranked 2nd best bar/café in the country!), Einstein’s (international pubs on Wednesdays), Malle Babbe

• Restaurants: Eest Afrikans Eeethuis (Eritrean food – go there!), Shabu Shabu, La Place, Surinamese Roti House


In the beginning of October there is a big folk fest taking place called 'Leides Ontzet' and is definitely worth enjoying as the whole city turns into one big mass of festivities. In December there is also a Christmas Market floating on the river so check it out!

Also while in Leiden, it is worth going out and exploring various Dutch citities. The tickets are rather cheap and you can set up an OV-chipcard, which gives some price discounts. Also, because it is so close to other countries - go abroad! During my exchange I went to Belgium, France and Germany. You can get really cheap bus tickets via Flexi Bus and Megabus if you book in time. 


If you are one month into studying, chances are you will be questioning the sanity of your choice. Yes, indeed the workload was very intense, and the level bar was raised quite high compared to KI, but it is worth it. At the end of the exchange I was looking back at my time in Leiden, and I realized how many positive aspects there actually have been to the heavy studying. I had become very time efficient -  getting things done on time, but also planning out my schedule very well.


For almost all of us going there it was the first time that we moved out of our parents’ places. From that we had become very independent and practical. Living by yourself abroad makes you grow as a person and gives you a degree of freedom.


All in all, going away to Leiden is a worthwhile experience. Coming back to Sweden I felt like I had build up an effective way of studying, as well as  developed as a person – something that will enhance my further studies at KI.


Additionally, just having the merit of having gone abroad and studied at the top medical university in the Netherlands is something that will stick out on your CV.


My final words: GO FOR IT!