While studying abroad, some surprises are inevitable inspite of all the research we do. Here’s a list of things about my program I wish someone had told me earlier so I could plan my time better:
1. A week’s gap during the first course need not really be a vacation
We begin with Applied communication in Biomedicine 1 and the class was split into two groups for one of the modules. Only one group had classes at one time which meant the other group is free for an entire week. You could definitely use it either to settle in or to travel. But try to use this time to finish your bioethics assignment. The deadline is much later and you would think you have the time. This is not really true because the semester is going to get super hectic towards the end and there would be alot to study. It does not take one full week to complete the assignment so you still have time for a mini-vacation.
2. A very laid back second semester
After the extremely hectic and tedious first semester, I returned to school all geared up for an equally packed second semester. To my surprise, there was so much free time that we could even take up part-time jobs. There are no breaks so don’t plan a trip. However, you could take up part time job in Stockholm, that has a flexible schedule.
3. There are more labs in KI than I had ever imagined
Being a research intensive university, KI has numerous labs researching around 9 diverse fields and the techniques used are more advanced and fancier than we can fathom. It could be quite tricky to short list labs for projects especially if you are super new to the field and are not already aware of the people involved. The KI website has descriptions of most of the labs and you can also just take a look at the list of publications to get an idea about the type of work being done. If something piques your interest and you want to find out more, one good source is the department’s yearly report. You can also speak to the lab members and gather information.
4. Finding a project is tougher than I thought it is
I was under the assumption that being a student at KI, we can easily get into labs of our choice. We do have some leverage but it does not make anything easy. We have to follow the same process of e-mailing PIs asking for positions and can not always expect an immediate reply. It would help to have a list of labs that interests you and start mailing them as soon as you know you want to work there.
5. The science to business elective ends early
During the second semester, we can pick an elective. The Junior Research Project or the Science to Business course. The Science to business course starts earlier and overlaps with biostatistics. There is no clash in schedule since the classes are held in evenings. It ends by mid May whereas the Junior Research Project ends in the beginning of June. I got to know about this when a friend of mine casually mentioned it soon after I sent in my choice of elective. I had decided to take up the project and did not bother looking at the schedule for the other elective. In my case, I regretted my choice since it would have helped to end early for personal reasons. If you are planning to take up a summer job maybe it helps to know this before making the choice.
6. The research project proposal has a very early deadline
Just when I found a lab for the first project and thought of taking a deep breath, it dawned upon me that I have to find another lab soon, for the next project. Although we begin in August, the deadline to submit the project description is in June due to the summer break. Start looking early to avoid all that last-minute stress.
I hope this will help you manage your schedule better. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.