Exchange report - Student at KI
Home university: Universiteit Leiden
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: Erasmus
Semester: Autumn semester 2015/2016
Name: Sara Moberg
Email address:


If you are reading this it is probably because you are thinking about going on an exchange. Great! Although, as you also might have expected there is a lot to organize first. I hope that this report will help you in answering some of your questions and concerns. 

Application: First things first, once you get your acceptance for the nomination from KI you need to send in the actual application to Leiden University.  Don’t worry too much about the application, since KI and Leiden University have this agreement the application is more of a formality. It is pretty straight forward although it might take some time. I would recommend to do the application and fill in rest of the paperwork as soon as possible.

Housing: One tip that I cannot stress too much. Start looking for a place to stay as early as you can since it can be very difficult to find a place. Here is a short list that I hope will help. - Leiden housing Facebook page, you can also find bikes, furniture and other good-to-have stuff here. A housing webpage. - the local housing agency, although the negative side is that you have to pay a fee of 350 euro.

Most of the ads that you will find online will asks for a minimum of a year to rent so the very best way to find accommodation is to rent from one of the Dutch exchange students that is coming to Stockholm. You can ask the international coordinator in Holland or our international coordinator for the names of the Dutch students. You will also get an offer to get accommodation through the university, SEA housing, but you will need to pay a fee of 350 euro and keep in mind that this does not guarantee an apartment (same as for Pararius).

You can also look for apartments in Den Haag, it is about 15 minutes away from Leiden by train.


Flight: To find cheap tickets it is also recommended to buy them as early as possible, start by searching on or I bought my ticket quite late and bought it for around 1200 kr from SAS Ungdom, but then I got 1 luggage included.

Insurance: As a European citizen you can order a European insurance card from Försäkringskassan. Insurance is also included from KI through Kammarkollegiet so this is not something you have to worry about.

OWL: The week before the semester starts there is an introduction week, Orientation Week Leiden (OWL) that I highly recommend you to go to. It costs 60 euros but that includes lunches and it is a great way to get to know other exchange students. During this week you will get divided into groups of 15 and get a tour around the LUMC and the city. During the evenings there will be pub-crawls, bbq's and other fun games. 

Arrival and registration

When you arrive to Schipol you can buy a train ticket right after you exit the arrival hall. The ticket costs about 7.20 euro one way and takes about 20 minutes, take the train going towards Den Haag. 

When you arrive to Leiden you should go to the visitor’s center, which is on the left side once you exit the station. There you will receive your welcome package with a map of Leiden and some good-to-know information, make sure to bring your official acceptance letter from Leiden university.

Visit Plexus student center to apply for your LU-card. This card will give you access to all the libraries in town and you will need this to be able to borrow books. The LUMC-card is another card that you need for when you study at the hospital, this you can get at the help desk on the first floor at the hospital.

Get a bike as soon as possible there, this will be your new best friend. Since Holland is such a flat country, it is optimal for biking and you will bike EVERYWHERE. Have a look on Leiden Housing or on Hollands answer to Ebay marktplaats,, and search for fiets (=bicycle in Dutch).


Cash, cash, cash! Most places in Leiden will not accept your Swedish bankcard so make sure to always take money out in advance. They do on the other hand accept Maestro cards. For the most part I would just take out money and I was fine. The prices are in general similar to Swedish prices, perhaps slightly cheaper. Travelling on the other hand may cost you some so if you plan on traveling around Holland and neighboring countries (which you should!) it might be good to put some money aside for this. 


As mentioned above, everything in Holland is slightly cheaper than in Sweden but the rent is in general higher in Leiden than in Stockholm. This is why you should start looking for accommodation ahead of time. I found my room in a shared apartment with a Dutch girl on the Leiden housing facebook page for about 450 euro per month. It was about 5 min from LUMC by bike and 10 min from the city center. You can definitely find cheaper rooms in shared houses with about 10 other students but then the standard will most likely be lower. Be aware thought that rooms and apartments can go pretty fast so check every day for good deals!

Studies in general

The studies in Leiden are quite different from what we are used to at KI. At Ki we are more used to a lot of labs and lecture-based studies. In Leiden on the other hand we have fewer labs and the lectures were more to give you an overview of the topic. After lectures you are expected to read a lot from the course book and do self-study assignments. So in that sense there is a lot more responsibility put on you which was very strange for me at first. A part that I found a bit confusing is that it seems that they lack some communication between the course coordinators. We had a few incidents where the courses would overlap and we had to email the teachers a lot to reschedule some seminars. This link might be helpful since it has the schedule for all the courses collected:

For every course there is a course module book with chapters of what is included in the course. A good tip is to follow these chapters as a guide when studying.

Another big difference is that the final exams are much shorter than at KI. The final exams were all 3 hours long which for some exams made it very stressful.

There are some group rooms at LUMC where you can study at and also a small library. The library at LUMC is divided into a quite area inside the actual library, where no food, jacket or bag is allowed, and an area outside where you can have everything with you. I used to study primarily in the big library on the other side of town (about 15 min by bike from LUMC). There you had big quite rooms which suited me well but there was also group rooms that you could book. 

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 3 at KI

Immunology – 8 ECTS

This is quite an intense 6 week course and since it is your first course I recommend you to keep up. Buy the course module book, called Bloek Book from the student book store, you will use it throughout the course. There will be a few lectures followed by 3-4 workgroups per week. The workgroups are similar to seminars where you together in a group go through questions from the module book. Most of the lectures will be posted online but you should definitely go to the workgroups since here you will discuss more with the teacher and you can also ask questions. A good tip though is to come prepared to the workgroup, otherwise it will be quite hard to follow.

The exam is an open book exam where you are allowed to bring the course book and the module book, in which you can write as much as you want. Since it is an open book exam you won’t find the answers directly in the books. Also considering that the exam is 3 hours, you won’t really have that much time to look up so much information in the book either.  

Pathogen and Host Interaction – 3 ECTS

This course is slightly different from Immunology but it can be seen as a continuation. There a lot more lectures here and they go through pretty much what you need to know for the exam. Instead of a course book they used a lot of articles for the workgroups, these were presented and discussed in the groups.

Infection and immunity in practice – 3 ECTS

This is a short 2 week course which is mainly based on the different techniques used behind the practical work. During the first week we had lectures and a lab with a report to submit. During the second week we were divided into groups of 4 and worked with a research group. By the end of the week all of us then presented our results to the rest of the class. There was no exam for this module but we were graded based on our presentation, activity during the group project and the lab report.

Physiology – Basic Concepts – 8 ECTS

This course is a lot like the ones we are used to at KI with more lectures and less workgroups. This 6-week course is divided into 4 parts; the first 2 weeks was on the cardiovascular system and ended with a 10 multiple choice question exam. This exam will stand for 10 % of your grade. The next 2 weeks was about the kidneys and also ended the same way as first part. The last 2 weeks was about the respiratory system and homeostasis. The final exam, which stood for the final 80 % of the grade was at the end of this part with a 3 hour exam with 80 multiple choice questions.

The content was quite heavy in a short amount of time and since there were no workgroups, a lot of responsibility was put on you to keep up. However, there were some poll questions at the end of every week which I felt helped you to keep track on how you were doing.

Applied Electrophysiology – 2 ECTS

There are 3 courses that will run parallel throughout the semester. This course was one of them which started pretty early in to the semester and was about the electrophysiology of the heart. It was mainly on how to interpret an ECG and ended with written report with a topic of your choice.

Biomedical Academic Scientific Training (BAST) – 3 ECTS

The goal of this course was to more deeply understand what it entails to conduct scientific research, regarding different aspects. We were divided into groups of 2 and had to conduct 2 interviews with a research group, one with a PhD-student and one with the supervisor. By the end of the semester we had to submit a written report regarding the topic our group had as well as a 15 min presentation.

Communication in Science – 1 ECTS

The 3rd parallel course is the communication course that is more integrated into the other courses. Some of the presentations and written assignments that was part of the regular courses were graded by teacher from this course. They were very good in giving feedback on your presentation and written skills which I appreciated a lot.

Language and Culture

The Dutch language is quite difficult to understand, I could recognize a lot of the words from Swedish and English but the pronunciation was a whole other story. I figured I would be very busy and since I was only in Holland for 4 months I decided not to learn the language. Like Swedes, the Dutch people are very good at English and I never found the language barrier to be a problem.  

Culture-wise, there was not that many differences from Swedish culture. Dutch people are very similar to Swedes in a sense of initially being quite reserved. But once reaching that hurdle they were very nice and I made a lot of very good friends there.

I think the biggest culture shock I had was the food. The Dutch loves 2 things very much; sandwiches and fried food. In the beginning I was struggling to find microwaves for my lunchboxes, there was only 2 in the cafeteria. All my classmates would eat sandwiches for lunch every day and they couldn’t understand why we would eat a full meal for lunch. Even professors would eat sandwiches for lunch. 

Leisure time and social activities

As I mentioned above, school took up most of my time and it was very intense at some times. There was not that much time left for doing a lot of activities outside schoolwork. That being said, we did plan some trips to Belgium and other Dutch towns such as Utrecht and Haag, which I highly recommend you do.

There was a student sport center you go sign up for about 100 euro for the semester with which had all kinds of classes and a big gym. I didn’t use it as much since I usually went out running but a lot of my classmates used it.

Even though Leiden is small there was still a lot to entertain you. Every Wednesday and Saturday they had a market along the canal which I loved to visit. My friends and I would go here to buy fresh groceries which can be much cheaper for better quality if you go by the end day. Overall, Leiden is really a cozy and cute student town that has everything you would need in a town.

Some tips of places to visit:

Francobolli – Really nice and quiet café by the canal

Roos – Close to the market, it has very good lunch and brunch menu

Bagels & Beans – This is a chain that is scattered all over Holland, they have very good bagels. We used to come here for saturaday brunches before hitting the market

Better Bagels – Another amazing bagel store

Einstein – A fun bar with a lot of international students

De Twee Spieghels ­- Small but really nice jazz and wine bar with live music every night


Going on exchange was really a great experience! I won’t lie, it was very hard work but the gain from it and the people I met made it all worth it. We have a very short time in our lives when we are offered to try out living in a country for a short while and you can only grow from such an experience. By choosing to seize that opportunity and challenging myself I felt that I’ve gotten invaluable achievements.  The gain from going on an exchange and living abroad really is a priceless experience and you will grow tremendously from it.