A (not so typical) week in the life of a toxicology master’s student

With the Global Master’s applications now open, you might be curious about a week in the life of the students at KI. After experiencing a particularly busy and eventful week, I thought it’d be fun to give you a glimpse of the kind of things you can expect or do as a toxicology master’s student at KI/in Stockholm.

The schedule for our current course, Target Organ Toxicology, varies week to week and for each student. Typically, it includes a mix of lectures and group work, with exams approximately every two weeks. I try to plan my free evenings and weekends around the exam, and maintain the study-life balance as well as I can. This week had a twist – our Tuesday afternoon exam was rescheduled to Thursday morning. Unluckily enough for me, this happened during a particularly busy week. But despite the unexpected change, some careful planning allowed me to navigate through my pre-exam evenings. So, here is what my not-so-typical week in the ToxMaster programme (first semester) looked like…

Monday: Exam prep and chores

Monday was a self-study day. Generally, the course directors try to give us self-study time the days before the exams, which I think is really nice. The luxury of a home study day also gives the possibility to tackle practicalities, like doing laundry – a small triumph for busy weekdays. Most apartment accommodations in Sweden (especially student ones) have a shared laundry room with a booking system. If you’re like me and forget to book a few days in advance, then it’s almost impossible to find free slots during the weekend. Since it was Monday, all of the earlier slots were available, and I did my laundry in-between studying sessions.

Tuesday: Study visit and life science event

Tuesday brought a change of pace with a study visit to the Swedish Poison Information Center. We had self-studies in the morning, and the 2-hour visit in the afternoon. We gained insight on working in the field of clinical toxicology and learned more about common poisoning incidents in Sweden.

After the visit I went to campus to study for a few hours, and then I attended an event at one of the new life science centers that is opening soon near campus. The Solna campus is surrounded by buildings that house labs/offices of research groups and life science companies. So, it’s not unusual to have events such as this one every once in a while. Staff and students got invited to visit a part of the new building before it opens (free of charge!). We mingled, enjoyed some refreshments, and listened to a panel discussion regarding AI-use in healthcare and life science.

Wednesday: Seminar and film festival

On Wednesday we had a seminar on disaster toxicology. We had a lecture about what defines a disaster, what kind of disasters can happen and how this concerns toxicologists. Then, we split up into groups and got to research more about specific events that changed how we see toxicology on a large scale. The seminar ended with brief presentations for our classmates.

Although it was the day before the exam, I was able to attend the Stockholm film festival’s opening in the evening thanks to some meticulous scheduling. This year’s opening movie for the festival was “Poor Things”, one of the most (good) bizarre movies I’ve ever seen. I got home around 9 pm and went to bed shortly after since we had the exam at 8:15 am the following day.

Thursday: Exam and Bergendorff Seminar

Thursday marked the early morning exam, a bit of a challenge for those whose brains take time to rev up (such as myself). Generally, the course directors try to schedule the exams in the afternoon, which I think all of us appreciate. We forgive them for making us wake up so early this time 😉 . Regardless, I think the exam went well, and we finished really early!

I had time to go home and take a nap before coming back to campus for the Bergendorff seminar. Since a few years back there has been a new scholarship established in memory of Anders Bergendorff, one of the founders of the ToxMaster programme. The scholarship gives toxicology students the opportunity to conduct a two-month summer research internship at KI. During this seminar we got to listen to the 2023 scholarship awardees present their research projects. We also had former ToxMaster alumni who are now PhD students come and tell us about their work. The event ended with refreshments and mingling with the presenters, some of the professors, and others who attended the presentations.

Friday: Start of a new module and weekend getaway

We ended the week by starting a new module, focusing on barrier organs. We got an introduction to the immune system and vaccinology workshop, which we will be working with next week. The modules in this course are quite intense, since we only have a week or so per organ system, so assignments can feel like they come back-to-back. However, it means that the course has a variety of different teaching methods (classic lectures combined with flipped classrooms, seminars, workshops, etc.), making it more engaging and interesting.

Finally, to wrap this week up, Friday evening brought a ferry journey to Visby, Gotland, for a lazy and relaxing weekend together with my friend – a well-deserved escape after a busy week. Going on short trips once in a while is a great way to relax and have a change of scenery. Visby is quite small, but you can also explore Sweden’s bigger cities in just a weekend. Check out Emily’s 48-hour trip to Gothenburg!

Final reflections

Although my weeks aren’t always this busy, I think it’s a nice representation of some elements that are recurring; frequent exams, self-study days, different kinds of teaching styles, but also fun events during evenings and weekends. This course is very long (3 months!), so the schedule changes sometimes. Overall, the change of date for this exam was fair, even offering two extra evenings of studying for those with energy to spare. It’s also good to learn to be flexible and recognise when to call it a day to avoid burnout. That being said, I slept around 10 hours per night this weekend, so some recovery was obviously needed 😅 . Thank you for reading and I hope this blog gives you an idea of what a week in the life of a ToxMaster student can look like!

Mina - Toxicology

Mina - Toxicology

Hej! My name is Mina and I’m Macedonian/Swedish. Currently I'm studying the Master’s Programme in Toxicology. I chose to study at KI because of its proximity to research, and I also did my Bachelor’s in Biomedicine here. I’m very excited to share all my tips and more about the student life in Stockholm and at KI! Outside of my studies, I love socializing and exploring new places around Stockholm, but also cozy days at home with a good book or movie, especially in the colder months.


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