Exchange Ambassador - Stephanie A.

Profile of Stephanie A's exchange experience in Sweden - plain text follows

Stephanie Altenhof


Exchange destination: Karlstad University (Karlstad, Sweden)

Duration: 1 semester (Winter)

Program: Environmental Studies

High school: Villanova

One word to describe your exchange? Once-in-a-lifetime

What is the worst thing that happened while you were on exchange?
My boyfriend visited me for 1.5 weeks, halfway through my exchange. We had an amazing time, but saying goodbye was so hard, I ended up in a slump. Eventually I got out of it and enjoyed the rest of exchange!

How did you finance your exchange?
I saved money from the jobs I had worked since high school. Also, I always apply for OSAP,  scholarships, and bursaries, and I was able to do so during my exchange as well.

What languages do you speak?
Only English, however, I took a Swedish language course while on exchange, and can now speak a little Swedish. I highly recommend learning as much of the language as possible, it’s a fun and rewarding challenge.

What was the biggest cultural shock you experienced?
The biggest culture shock was that people don’t hold the door open for you and you won’t get thanked when you hold the door open for them… I’ve also learned this is a very Canadian thing!

What is something that you know now, that you wish you knew before you went on exchange?
It is crucial to reiterate to pack light. You will have a laundry machine, and if you need, you can buy more clothes there. If you plan to travel after your exchange, sending luggage overseas is extremely expensive.

If you were to recommend exchange to your best friend, what would you say?
Absolutely do it. I can’t imagine another situation where you can meet so many amazing people, and get the chance to develop relationships with them like you do on exchange. Also exchange is a great way to get to know yourself better. Going on exchange will change your worldview, future opportunities and you’ll definitely change as a person. I am still learning new things about myself that I wouldn’t have, if I didn’t go on exchange.  

Is there anything else you would like to share?
Everyone should go. If money is an issue, take out a low-interest loan. It is an experience that I would pay for again and again. It’s important that you research where you would like to go and ask Michelle for any inquiries you have concerning. Consider what things are important to you (city vs. town, costs, language, what you would like to learn etc.) because each destination offers a different experience.  


A sample of the classes taken and credits received:

  • International Politics = 45-245

  • Swedish Foreign Language = 2nd year Arts credit

  • Double credit Nordic Climate Change Studies = 66-370 + 58-470

  • Plus others