Standing at the cusp of my second (and final) year as a Biomedicine master’s student at KI, I can safely say that studying abroad and at Karolinska Institutet has imparted me with a bunch of life-lessons. As many of you prepare to join us at KI in a month (and many more who are considering applying), here are some things I learned during my first year at KI that might be useful for you!
You WILL make friends
As if moving to a different country isn’t daunting enough, the anxiety of being all alone in a foreign land is the cherry on top of the cake. And I honestly understand. I am a raging introvert, with a long history of having a grand total of two people whom I consider “friends”. I didn’t talk unless talked to, and social events where I didn’t know AT LEAST three people were skipped entirely. Those are not promising traits and I was afraid I would repeat these patterns in Sweden too.
Well, I didn’t.
Maybe it’s because my current class is a cult full of people who can’t go very long without meeting each other (and I love them with all my heart), or maybe I was instantly surrounded by extroverts who made me start talking. However, giving credit where credit is due, even I stepped out of my comfort zone here. To my own horror, I initiated conversations with people I had never met before, and I went out with people whose names I had forgotten within 24 hours because I had just met them. I found more of my classmates during the introduction ceremony and made it a point to sit with and talk to them throughout the ceremony. This way, not only did I get to know many of my classmates, but I also found a group of people that I particularly gelled with.
This was all just the first week too. Once this was done, I could easily talk to my peers (who still refuse to believe that I’m an introvert) and I had a group of friends that I could (still can) count on for whatever I may need.
The week before classes officially begin is extremely important from a social point of view. Step out of your comfort zone, keep your judgement aside, and talk to people. Join those meet-ups that are posted on your class group, and keep an open mind. Remember that almost everyone there is as new to the class as you are, and everyone needs a friend.
It’s not cakewalk
If you walk into Karolinska Institutet and think that you will excel by doing the bare minimum, you’re either God’s favourite child, or you’re delusional. Your academically challenging degree WILL academically challenge you, and that’s okay.
The first two weeks of classes had me doubting how I even got accepted to attend KI. You will have to adjust to a possibly new style of learning and a new environment on top of dealing with homesickness and a case of “it cannot possibly be this cold at this time of the year”. Allow yourself to falter and allow yourself to rest. Before long, your routine will come naturally to you and you will figure out how to utilise your skill-set to maximise your success. There will still be classes that make you feel dumb, but then there will also be classes where you find it easy to excel. Remember that progress is not linear and that you don’t have to be the best at everything.
Adult-ing is confusing
Though I’ve legally been an adult for years now, studying abroad was the first time I was truly left to my own devices. This level of independence was something I was looking forward to, yet was almost entirely unprepared for. I liked that I could make and execute plans according to my own wishes, and that I had my own space to unwind and exist in. Simultaneously, I discovered that I hate meal prepping and that I am not a very responsible spender (I’m working on that last part, mom and dad).
I became more confident in interacting with new people, and I surprisingly don’t mind sitting alone in a cafe and getting work done. I used to only like sunsets, but now, my phone’s gallery is filled with pictures of cotton candy skies and Stockholm sunsets. I am constantly discovering new things about myself and proving myself wrong, and in a way, I find it empowering.
So, give yourself the space to grow and rediscover yourself. Especially if you haven’t lived alone before. It starts off being scary, but somewhere along the way you get so used to the independence and self-sufficiency, that you barely even notice it anymore.
I can promise you that I received more life lessons than the ones I’ve listed here, but these here are the very things that used to worry me before coming to KI. Changes are challenging and generally unwanted, but if you allow yourself the room to grow and err, you’ll find it easier to adapt.
For more riveting and useful content about pre-arrival topics, you can visit this link which has blogs covering nearly every query you may have before coming to KI. I hope you found this blog useful and as usual, if you have any questions, you know where to find me.
My name is Naomi, and I am from India. I am a master’s student in Biomedicine. I have always been drawn towards research and knew early on that a career built around it was the one for me. So as a result, here I am! I enjoy spending time with my friends and exploring the city with them (though the introvert in me also loves some alone time). I hope I can be of some help with my blogs!