What to expect before coming to KI and Stockholm

It has been exactly 3 months since I moved to Stockholm and 2.5 months since I started my studies at Karolinska Institutet. When you are beginning a new chapter, you try to prepare as much as you can. Just like that, most of my friends, as well as classmates read about Stockholm and KI before coming to the school.  It just so happens that we don’t really know everything! Shocker!  In this blog, I want to highlight three aspects of the school and the city that my classmates and I really enjoy and admire. On the other end of the spectrum, I will also mention three challenges of studying at KI while living in Stockholm (don’t worry, I will give you some tips to overcome these challenges). Let’s start with the challenges:

  1. It is expensive

Sweden is ranked at the top for high quality of life. For that, you pay the price and that is a literal one.  Living in Stockholm as a student requires some adjustments. For example, you need to know where to go grocery shopping. Lidl and Kista are top choices for students. When you are going clothes shopping, aim for Swedish brands as they will be cheaper than other brands (generally speaking). Stockholm also has a lot of second-hand stores so you will still look chic in an expensive city. However, there are some ways you can earn extra cash as a full-time student.  Below are two examples:

a. Tutor

If you don’t have a good command of the Swedish language, you can look at University tutors . I have had several successes with university tutors. If you do speak Swedish, you can also look at my academy.

b. Babysitting

Who wouldn’t love taking care of kids after a long hard day at school? Hmm but if you do love children and/or want a flexible part-time job, babysitting is a perfect fit. I know of two websites that my friends and classmates have had success with. One is Greataupair  and the other is Kids connection.

  1. Administration

Whether you are trying to take out a Swedish bank account or apply for your personnummer, you will face some difficulties. The operating hours for most public offices are 9h-16h. Most courses start at 9h and end at 16h so you are always waiting for that beautiful day where you have the day off, but that can be in a week or two or at the end of the course.  So what do I suggest? Do it BEFORE you start your courses.  During orientation, there are wonderful and great KI staff members that will help and guide you through all the admin shenanigans.

  1. Weather

It is subject to debate whether this belongs in the challenge list or not. The Nordics would place weather in the “love” section while international students refer to it as “how did I end up from sunny Mexico to here”.  For the sake of being honest, I have decided that the weather is a challenge. This year, it started snowing during the first week of November.  Was it heavy snow? Sure it was. Was it cold? You bet your bottom it was. The sun has started setting at 3pm so we have shorter daylight. My best advice would be to buy your winter clothes, snow, and rain boots in advance. KI has an amazing white light room where you can go and soak up your vitamin D (it is located in the library and Erin has talked about this in detail in her blog). On a side note, your caffeine intake might slightly elevate due to shorter daylight.

Pic taken in front of Life sciences during the first week of November, 2016.


What are some things you can look forward to:

  1. Karolinska

I have bragged about KI’s international environment as well as its great research facilities in my previous blogs.If you are ready and willing to be involved, there are superfluous opportunities at KI as a current student as well as for your future. Take for example the career fair seminar I attended last week. We had an hour talk from two consultant managers on “How do I get my dream job after graduation?” They covered topics from which type of companies to apply for to how to look for jobs to how we can tailor our CVs so we get more interviews than rejections (we have all been there).

  1. Transportation is impeccable

You know how you tell your friends you are 5 min away when in reality you are 20 min away? Well, the Swedish transport system doesn’t do that.  Stockholm has great subway systems, trams, and buses which give you ample choices to get to your destination. They are very timely and they are more frequent during rush hours.  On a side note, metro systems run all night long on Fridays and Saturdays. During winter time, however, you might want to check the sl.se website to see any changes in the schedule as weather can be the one thing that can make Swedes not as punctual as they would like to be.

  1. Free trips as part of MF as well as other opportunities offered by KI

As a student, you get a lot of discounts as well as opportunities that you might not otherwise get if it wasn’t for your student status. In my 2.5 months at KI, there were easily two trips that were offered by Medicinska Föreningen(MF). MF is one of the two student’s association at KI. The first one was a camp trip and the second one was a cruise ship trip to Riga, Latvia. Even though your education is your number one priority when coming to KI, you should take full advantage of these opportunities as they will immensely contribute to your experience as both a student at KI and as a resident in Stockholm. I was able to go on a cruise and tour my first Eastern European country.  If you are also keen on traveling around Europe, you can travel with student discounts; you can get the full list of places where you can use your student discount here.


In Riga, Latvia. (L, F, B, R: Nikola from Health informatics, Robert from Public Health Sciences HEMP track, Diego from Epidemiology track, and yours truly).

I hope you are even more excited about coming to Stockholm and studying at KI. The perks exceed the challenges and the challenges have solutions.


Stay tuned, lovely people!

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