EF Academy Blog
Stories from our international boarding schools
MenuVisit EF Academy

Advice from alumni: Stefanie von der Thannen

Advice from alumni: Stefanie von der Thannen

Stefanie von der Thannen graduated from EF Academy Torbay in 2016 and stayed in the UK where she now attends the University of Surrey. She is studying Biomedical Science and hopes to go into research later on. Read on to find out what a regular day is like for her and what her favorite part of university life is:


Age: 20

Home country: Austria

Languages: German and English

EF Academy campus: One year at Oxford and the second year at Torbay

Program: IB

Grad year: 2016

Favorite clubs: Keen (Oxford) – we spent time with children who have disabilities, we played games with them and sometimes we would go ice skating or swimming all together; and Cooking Club with Joan because food is amazing and making it with friends is always fun.

Favorite subjects: Biology

University: Studying Biomedical Science at University of Surrey



What was your first impression of EF Academy?

It was very busy and very vibrant and I enjoyed that. Everything was so open! I decided that I wanted to go to university in England so I thought it would be a good idea if I went to high school there so I could get used to the system and the country. Then I learned about EF and EF Academy and I went for it.

What did you enjoy about living in the residence?

I enjoyed being together will my friends all the time. There were communal areas where we could meet and hang out – I didn’t really have that when I lived with a host family. If I needed help, I could always find someone who was willing to help. And, of course, after-study-time snacks and Sunday snacks – food is always good.

What did you find exciting about the IB program?

That I could do so many different things. There were so many different subjects and also the Theory of Knowledge and CAS parts. I liked CAS because I could do different activities that counted toward my diploma. For CAS, I swam, volunteered at Keen, worked at a homeless shelter and I was part of Drama Club. But doing so many things was also the challenging part of the program. It was a lot of work, especially the Extended Essay.

How did you choose your current university and your program?

I wanted to do medicine but I have a difficult time with the “gross stuff,” and I still wanted to help people so I thought I would go into research. Biomedical Science is medicine without interacting with patients. I found Surrey because it’s a good university and close to London, but still has a campus. That’s what I was looking for: a university with a campus that is near a big city. So far I am very happy with my decision.

Did you do any internships that have benefited your studies or your career plan?

I did an internship at a pharmacy, an internship at a diagnostic lab in a hospital and I did a job shadow in a research hospital in Innsbruck. The research lab taught me the most because that’s what I want to do in my career and I learned what research is like. I would advise everyone to do as many internships as possible.

What is your favorite part about university?

Meeting different people from all over the world. There are so many different nationalities here and I love that. And there are a lot of clubs, there’s always something to do. I’m involved in squash, surfing and go-karting. You meet so many people and everyone is so open. It has never been this easy to make friends!

Describe a regular day…

I get up around 7 am, get ready, go to lectures and have lunch. I’m usually done around 3 or 5 pm. Then sometimes I go to the gym or I go home and do work. Sometimes there are club meetings. Usually on Wednesdays we play squash, and go-karting is usually once a month in the evenings as well.

What advice do you have for current students?

Don’t spend all your time studying, go out and do things. Enjoy every moment because you will miss everything when you graduate – even the things that are bothering you now.

What is the accomplishment you are proudest of?

Earning my IB Diploma score and getting into the university that I wanted.

What is your dream for your future?

Through my profession, I want to help people. If they are sick I want to give them a better outlook for their future. I’ll see where life will take me after my time at university in the UK.