Congratulations to the students which were accepted into the program! I look forward to meeting some or all of you at the beginning of the school year. I am not writing this post as a professional decision maker, but as a student that has experienced this program for the past year (and some inside information based on my role as a student rep).
1) Do you want to study abroad?
KI is a fantastic school as you no doubt already know. But are you applying because it is a great school or because you just want to try being abroad for awhile? I never learned so much about myself as when I moved abroad, even if you aren’t ready to leave your home forever, a few years of distance and perspective can be life altering and enriching. The downside? If you can’t imagine life outside of your home, moving abroad can be hard. It’s an amazing adventure, so if you want to move abroad, then come to Sweden!
2) Are you interested in working in a biomedical field?
This is your bachelors, so don’t stress exactly what you want to do right away. This program is something I love because it’s not too specific too early. It provides a broad base letting you branch out in many different directions. However, this is not going to lead you into being a Doctor, a Nurse, a Dentist etc.(Unless you have a different medical training program in your home country). This is a great field if you want to research diseases, be part of a bio-start up, or investigate new ways to identify and reduce toxins in the environment around you. There are a ton of options, and if you want to go into this field, I would argue KI is one of the best places in the world to start.
3) How do you like to study?
As an American, I was really surprised by the Swedish Higher Education system. While back in the US, you take 3-4 classes at the same time and have them at set times in set places (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, at 13:00 in room Beta), Sweden is very different. Here, we have one class at a time, and the time, place, and teacher change. It let’s you experience many different types of teachers, from all over the world, and you get to focus on one subject at a time. The downside? You have a constantly changing schedule, one day you may be in Hillarp at 9, and the next day you might be in Petresalon at 13. If this is a system you prefer is an individual choice, but learning in a different way can be an adjustment.
4) What are your feelings towards Winter?
If Winter is a 6 letter dirty word to you, then brace yourself. Sweden gets winter, every single year. On the bright side, the winter is not as extreme as what you may face in other Northern regions. We may have some snow on the ground, but rarely more than 30cm (12 inches), the roads are well plowed and salted, so you almost never get trapped by the weather. Because the cold is a regular visitor here, the buildings are equipped for it, so you are rarely cold inside. That, and drinking coffee is a national past time. If you really HATE HATE HATE the cold, then this might not be the right place for you, but if you have an open mind even if you are inexperienced then Stockholm is a great place to learn about coping in cold weather.
5) How are you at learning a new language?
Something I love about Stockholm, is that everyone speaks English. I’ve lived in Stockholm for 5 years, and I’m still not fluent. If you want to travel abroad, but you struggle at picking up a new language, then Stockholm may be great since you will always be able to find someone to ask in English. However, if you LOVE a new language, then Swedish can be a fun one to learn. It’s sing-songy with a Germanic twist. There isn’t much of a downside to the language front of Stockholm.
6) How do you want to be taught?
The biomedicine program has a sort of “By biomedicine for biomedicine” approach to teaching. Most lecturers, seminar teachers, and lab assistants are only teachers part time, or maybe even a few hours a year, their main focus and passion is research.
Most of these are about coming to Sweden, and that is intentional. If you think Sweden is right for you, then come to the best University Sweden has to offer to get an excellent education. The Biomedicine Program is integrated with the research departments at KI, meaning you get to see real labs, meet real researchers, visit real companies, all in your first year. The teachers are enthusiastic to share their research with the students, and I’ve been to more than one lecture or seminar that has been entirely derailed while they explain the importance of what they do. They love showing you how what you are studying relates to real research, and if you ask you can usually get a tour to see how they are pushing forward the frontier of science. Are there downsides? Always, and if you have any specific concerns you can always email me to ask me about it. But at the end of the day, KI is a wonderful school in a wonderful city and I hope that you consider joining us in the fall.