When you embark upon the Biomedicine master, you embark upon a journey. This programme will take you places. And by places I mean every single building on the Solna campus, off the Solna campus, and sometimes very far off the Solna campus to Huddinge campus (it’s actually only a 25 minute train from the centre of Stockholm – but I like to err on the side of exaggeration). I have heard that in some programmes, you stay in the same lecture halls for months. But not us ‘biomeds’. We are the nomads of Karolinska Institute.
The first stop of our journey was Huddinge campus, cast in the shadow of the closer and more convenient Solna campus. To get there from the center of Stockholm, you can take the pendeltåg from Stockholm Central Station and get off at Flemingsberg station. If you enjoy crowds and never-ending escalators, this station is THE station for you. Huddinge station is located just before this stop. I know your impeccable sense of logic would incline you to get off there. Don’t! At Huddinge campus, you may be far from home, fellow KI classmates, and the concept of colour….but the coffee is cheaper there. The classrooms are modern and comfortable, the cafeteria has a wide selection and there is a lovely library with strangely shaped couches. And….did I mention that they have cheaper coffee?
For the better part of our Frontiers in Translational Medicine, we had lectures in the labyrinth that is Solna Hospital – a bus stop away from KI campus. On the one hand, it is the best place to study because you are reminded of the more clinical aspect of your course; the human application of the basic research you are presented. On the other hand, you will get lost many, many times (and don’t get me started on the underground tunnels). The most valued skill during that course is a well-developped sense of direction. Of course by the end you will be a hospital insider, capable of guiding anyone anywhere. You will know for instance: which lunch rooms have cutlery, which building has the cheapest (read free) coffee, how to make it out of the underground shortcuts alive and other basic day-to-day stuff.
The last stop of our journey was *drum roll* Solna campus. And I’m pretty sure we have sampled every building there: the lecture halls, the seminar rooms, the ironically named Utopia computer rooms (where oxygen is limited and light rarely makes an appearance). We even had a 4 hour exam in the room Medicinska Föreningen (KI’s student association) usually throws its dancing parties in. That was just emotionally unsettling!
I am not going to lie. I still get lost. But that’s okay because routine is the enemy of creativity. Or in less poetic terms: routine is boring. You could stay in the same classroom for one whole year, but then you would miss out on that one obscure lecture hall in Solna hospital where they have built-in microphones at every table (which will be used for everything except academic purposes). And you wouldn’t be able to tell your friends at the next MF party that you are dancing on the same spot where you realized that you didn’t know any of the answers to the exam questions.
So I guess what I am saying is… I wouldn’t give up this mad search for mysterious locations for anything in the world.