By: Laura Charney



Karolinska Institute in Sweden, Theo

tn: What is Swedish culture like?

Theo: Sweden is most famous for gender equality. They’re really socialist, so they have amazing public transit, a high taxation rate, really good healthcare, and public services. In terms of culture, it’s kind of similar to ours, but we’re more extraverted. They’re very friendly so it’s not hard to make friends, but our social cues are more relaxed.


tn: How would you describe your academic experience?

Theo: I’m doing neuroscience now – it seems fairly comparable, but the workload is smaller. What makes U of T challenging is the bell curve, whereas here everyone can get 100% so people aren’t as competitive.


tn: What’s the nightlife like?

Theo: Really good bars and clubs. I’ve loved every single bar I’ve been to. I’ve experienced a way better nightlife here than in Toronto but that might be because in Toronto I actually try to study. It has a hipster scene, but you can find a club that plays any kind of music. Stockholm is really big – anything you want you can find.


tn: What do you get up to in your spare time?

Theo: Stockholm has 87 museums so I’ve been going to a lot of museums. Traveling is really easy – I went to Rome and I’m going to London next week, and I’m going to Iceland in April. During our spring break I’m going to Belgium and hopefully Berlin. Stockholm is really beautiful. A lot of the time I walk around discovering coffee shops and bookstores.


tn: Are drugs prevalent around campus?

Theo: The weed culture is so different, you can’t get much more liberal than Canada. In terms of hard drugs – the people I’ve met, no, but at the same time I haven’t been to a rave here.


tn: If you come here, you need to go to…

Theo: The old city – Gamla Stan. It’s a really well preserved medieval city, with the world’s most narrow alleyway.


tn: You should come here if…

Theo: You are a serious student who wants to have a fun, relaxing semester in a beautiful city. It’s overwhelming making the exchange happen – U of T organization is bad, and foreign websites are terrible, but you just have to persevere. It’s 100% worth it. Another thing I think is important is going somewhere alone. In the long run, it’ll be so much better for you.



Sciences Po in Paris, Jonah


tn: Why did you choose to go to Sciences Po?

Jonah: I chose Sciences Po because it combined everything I wanted in a foreign exchange program: location in Europe, opportunity to learn a foreign language, political science focus, and a significant international student body.


tn: How would you describe your academic experience?

Jonah: My academic experience has been different than that at U of T. It’s difficult to say whether one is harder than the other, because the learning structure is very different at Sciences Po. Almost every class is seminar-sized – no more than 20-25 students – which means that you get to know each of your professors well. Their evaluations are much more personal, most marks come from in-class participation and formal oral presentations. But in general compared to U of T, the Sciences Po workload is very manageable.


tn: What is the working versus partying mentality on campus?

Jonah: On one hand, the French students have an amazing work ethic and will study in the library for hours. And the international students coming here are in the top of their class, so they care about their marks and also know how to work hard. But Paris is also one of the most fun cities to be in as a student. Basically, you have to work really hard during the day and be efficient with your time because happy hour starts at 5:00 every day, and it’s always packed.


tn: What do you feel were some stereotypes about where you are that have been defied?

Jonah: Maybe this is sad to say, but France and Sciences Po have largely lived up to my stereotypes, actually (and that’s not just me, friends here agree). Government and school administration is hilariously inefficient. The Parisians are as rude as people say. And Sciences Po is as elitist as it seems.


tn: If you come here, you need to go to…

Jonah: Candelaria – best late night tacos in the city, with a hidden bar behind the kitchen.

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