As I promised, my aim during my time as a Digital Ambassador is to give future student an idea of what it is like to be a Toxicology student, not only about how it is living in Stockholm and having fun, but also how it is to study this specific Master’s degree. So, a month has passed since we finished our first course at Karolinska Institutet: Introduction to Toxicology.
The first month in a new country, new city, new university and with a new culture is usually a bit overwhelming, scary and amazingly fun all at the same time. Therefore, it is logical to start your new master with a general course that will give you an insight about what you will be studying for the next two years.
In a more objective sense, this course is worth 7,5 credits and goes on for 4 weeks.
- Week 1: It is basically introduction to KI. We had a couple of lectures, but the main attraction was getting to know your way around the campus and meeting new people. For this, we had a Joint Kickoff (with Toxicology, Biomedicine and Bioentrepreneurship students) and a wonderful trip to Finnhamn with the Toxicology program (this is worth a whole blog alone).
- Week 2: Full of lectures about very different things. The aim of this week is to give us an idea about what we will be studying in the future years, such as: drug metabolism, oxidative stress, cell death, in vitro toxicity testing, risk assessment, etc. Generally, the lectures by themselves are not enough to give you all the knowledge you really need in those subjects. However, we do not have to forget that this is just an introduction course and that all these things will reappear during the progress of the other courses. Believe me, you will hear a lot about ROS species, they are always implicated somehow!
- Week 3: The epidemiology week. During the mornings we had lectures about cohort studies, case-control studies, bias, chance, etc. And in the afternoon we had group assignments with real life studies where we had to analyze them and get to understand everything we learned during the mornings.
- Week 4: The last week of the course was focused on understanding and getting to know the importance of OECD guidelines for the testing of chemicals, GLP (Good Laboratory Practice), etc. During this week we also had group work analyzing some of these guidelines and interpreting the results. This week and this first course ended with our first exam at KI.
From my point of view, this is a very general course but also necessary. The main idea of it is to give us all a general and more or less the same background, because everybody in our class comes from different types of Bachelor’s degrees, for example Biomedicine, Biochemistry, Pharmacy and Medicine, being the most common ones. Taking into account your previous background this course will be more or less challenging for you, as a new student. If you are lucky enough to have already heard about what ROS species are, how drugs are metabolized and so on, enjoy this while it lasts; completely new things will come soon. Being in a new country, with all the paperwork involved can be time and energy consuming, so it is nice to not be so overwhelmed during the first weeks. However, if you feel like all this is new, this could be the perfect moment to get up-to-date.
To conclude this blog about the Introduction to Toxicology course, I would like to point out some fun facts about studying here in Sweden and at Karolinska Institutet (maybe some of these things are very normal in other countries, but they sure are not in Spain!):
- You will get used to very short lectures. Every 45 minutes the class stops, no matter how long the actual lecture is, and teacher and students have a break for around 10-15 minutes. This means that if the class is planned to be 2-hours long, you will have two wonderful breaks in order to stand up, talk with your classmates, relax, have fika and get energy for the next part.
- You have plenty of time to do your exam (at least for this first course! I hope it stays this way for the rest of them). In Spain, I was used to writing as fast as I could just to be able to finish the exam on time. Here, you have a bit more time to think, go to the bathroom and analyze your answers.
- You can actually leave the exam room to go to the bathroom. You just have to sign your name before you leave to do so.
- And last, you can have a snack while you are doing your exam!