University: Brock University
City: St Catherines
Continent: North America
Field of study: psychology
Study type: semester abroad
Unfortunately, I can’t say much about the application process. It all went a bit silly for me because I initially wanted to study at the university on Vancouver Island. I also applied there via MicroEdu and it is generally not a problem to receive an offer. Unfortunately, the university in Vancouver could not give me a guarantee for places in the psychology courses that were important to me and I had to decide for a different university or stay at home. In the end I chose Brock because of its good location – and that turned out to be the case. The rest of the application then went quite smoothly and quickly. Check act-test-centers.com to see study opportunities in Poland
So dear psychologists – a special curse seems to weigh on us. I think students from other disciplines can read across in a relatively relaxed manner – what I’m going to describe now, I believe, is also specific to psychology and not generally applicable to course selection.
Personally, I was studying psychology in the 5th semester during my stay abroad. That means I was somewhat limited in my choice of courses due to my university and had to be given special combinations of subjects in order to get credit for them in Germany. But unfortunately it is the case that the Brockians can take their subjects before the international students. The whole thing is done via an online system and according to the motto “First come, first serve”. So stress was actually pre-programmed. Unfortunately, when I was able to choose my subjects, quite a few courses were already taken and I could only be put on the waiting list. Since all new subject choices always had to be discussed with my international coordinator in Germany, it was a really uncomfortable and exhausting process for me. In the end, I just got lucky and slipped into a course that I needed to get my credit. Unfortunately, the system is quite inflexible and you cannot “personally change anything about it”.
My tip: Create a large repertoire of options right from the start and discuss them all with your coordinator before the system is released, so that you can later be flexible in your choice of course. And then be quick and vote on the first day of your activation.
If a lecture from course A and a seminar from course B should overlap, but nothing else is free – you can leave that alone and clarify the shift to another seminar with your professor on site. This is usually not a problem at all.
My courses were:
- Psychology of Aging at Lindsey (I forgot her last name): Very easy to do in terms of the level of requirements and Lindsey is a very young, super nice lecturer. The content of the lecture is depressing in that it shows you how much your mind and body degrades as you get older – but still recommended;)
- Conflict and Development at Zopito Marini: Mr. Marini is actually a very likeable man. But I found his explanations quite confused, it was difficult to follow him and his course is very work-intensive. A plus, however, was that one of the two lectures was “online” – and I therefore had fewer courses that required attendance. This is quite handy for small (weekend) trips.
- Communication for Organizations at Coreen: Solid course, not too exciting but not bad either. The teacher is nice, but also judges relatively strictly. I learned a lot about the use of the language.
All in all, compared to my German university, all the courses were fairly easy and required little learning effort. But you have more continuous assignments and often have to write papers during the week. But it’s all really doable.
What I am going to write now is already in the many other reports. I would say, take the tips from the posts to heart. Personally, I arrived 2 weeks beforehand, couchsurfed during that time (highly recommended! Direct connection to the Canadians, fun experience and you save yourself the trip to the hostel in Niagara) and looked for an apartment on site.
- Don’t look for accommodation in advance on the internet. You have to pay a lot of attention to the bus connection and that’s not easy to see from home. If for whatever reason you absolutely have to look for an apartment from Germany, do it here: Glenridge Ave, Glendale Ave, anything within 5 minutes walk of the Pen Center (cheers on Google Maps!), and in some cases ” right off St David’s”. I lived there and “only” had to walk home from Brock 5 times in the evening because there were no more buses. That included a 30-minute, romantic walk along the main street. But with good weather and good entertainment or music, you won’t break a leg. I would advise against going downtown. Oh and don’t worry about the offer. At least in the winter semester, there were still a lot of “Room For Rent” signs in the gardens after the start of my studies. And the closer it gets to the start of school, the more desperate the landlords become and the more likely they are to let you in for just 4 months so as not to have to pay rent. In terms of price, the whole thing is around +/- 450 dollars.
- Find something off campus. Of course, several international students from other countries also live on campus and the pre-drink parties are often held there. But it’s easy to get there, even if you come from outside. Literally all buses lead to and from the Brock. But life on campus means that you usually live in 4-person flat shares with 17 or 18 year olds who are away from home for the first time and are now getting a taste of freedom. Then there are the “Dons”, who are something like the babysitters and are already at your door at 9 p.m. at a slightly higher volume and more or less friendly ask your guests to leave. As a result, the pre-drink parties were often relocated to “Off Campus”. Then there is, I think, at least 2x per semester a week where you get grades for the order in the room or apartment. So for us it was all a bit strange, for the simple reason that most of them were around 21+ years old and had been living independently of their parents’ house for several years. Nevertheless, of course, such a life on campus has the incredible advantage that after a night of drinking you can fall out of bed and crawl into the lecture – and then go back the same way within 2 minutes. Personally, I don’t know anyone who has actually managed to do this. Most of the time the bed was too tempting : ) for the simple reason that most of them were around 21+ years of age and had been living independently of their parents’ home for several years. Nevertheless, of course, such a life on campus has the incredible advantage that after a night of drinking you can fall out of bed and crawl into the lecture – and then go back the same way within 2 minutes. Personally, I don’t know anyone who has actually managed to do this. Most of the time the bed was too tempting : ) for the simple reason that most of them were around 21+ years of age and had been living independently of their parents’ home for several years. Nevertheless, of course, such a life on campus has the incredible advantage that after a night of drinking you can fall out of bed and crawl into the lecture – and then go back the same way within 2 minutes. Personally, I don’t know anyone who has actually managed to do this. Most of the time the bed was too tempting : )
For general information: It’s not like in Germany that the flatmates choose the “new ones”. You do it all through the landlord. He’ll show you the house, most of the time the other roommates haven’t returned from their vacation yet, you say “I’ll take/I won’t take” and then the contract will be signed. Furnished rooms are easy to find. That with the roommates is more a matter of luck.
Unfortunately, I really have to mention the buses again. You are very dependent on this if you don’t have a car – and the system takes a lot of getting used to or is simply bad;). At the weekend and in the evening, there is often nothing going on after a certain time and on certain routes, and then you either have to walk or get a (expensive) taxi. So it’s really an advantage to live on one of the big streets or at the Pen Center (see above). In any case, it makes sense to settle where at least 2 buses pass and where you don’t have to change trains to get to the Brock. You can find a bus timetable at www.yourbus.com. In my opinion, the site is confusing, I’ve always used Google Maps to see which bus is coming when, but it is not always reliable. There is perhaps something else to say about the bus stops: Most of the time there is only a bollard with a bus sign on it. Is very easy to overlook. But that is actually a stop. There is no name there either, but the stop is called like the streets that just cross there. Also, there are no bus schedules either – so you’ll either have to look it up beforehand or pray that one comes;) – As you can see, it’s a bus system that really takes some getting used to. Most buses only start to run regularly again when the university starts. During the two weeks I was looking for an apartment, I worked very hard on my condition and walked everything. But that’s how you get to know the city well;) But a little encouragement: the bus drivers are almost all incredibly friendly, greet you nicely and wish you a nice day when you get off. There’s something about starting your morning like this : )
So this is the fun part. Personally, I and everyone I knew found the semester pretty bombastic overall. Yes, it’s a small town with some shabby corners, yes, the bus connections are really really bad in some places, yes, the taxis are expensive, as is the food and drink… but if you can handle it all somehow and are open to new people, you will have a great time at the Brock.
Uni life is such that you actually hang around at Brock even though you don’t have any classes that day. There are all your friends, the gym, the gyms and the beautiful pool. There are many club offers to join, or you can join the Intermural Mural Sport League and play volleyball, football, rugby or even hockey against other teams if you want. As an international, you are unlikely to get into the varsity teams, especially if you only stay for one semester. Celebration-wise there are 3-4 stores downtown at the weekend where everyone goes. Wednesdays is Moose&Goose night. Thursdays Kahunaville (K-Ville) at the Pen Center or Issacs at the Brock Campus. Of course, in terms of celebrations, this cannot be compared to a large German city, on the other hand, you always see familiar faces and that has something to offer. Plus, Canadians know how to party. Until 2 o’clock. Then it’s tattoo. It takes a little getting used to at first, but then you start earlier. You’ll have fun either way. After all, St. Catharines lives off its young students. You will hardly see anyone else on the buses.
Leisure and excursion possibilities
As mentioned above, St. Catharines is a great base for travel. All major cities, with the exception of Vancouver, can be traveled to from there. The same applies to the cities on the east coast of America. Most is done with Megabus/Coach Canada/Greyhound buses. All you have to do is buy tickets on the internet from St. Catharines to Toronto (duration 1 1/2 hours – a stone’s throw by Canadian standards) and it’s easy to go anywhere from Toronto. In addition, when the (autumn) weather is nice, it is advisable to rent a car with a group of people and spend a weekend in the beautiful Algonquin Park. You’ll get to know what “Indian Summer” means. Just make sure you don’t do that at “Enterprise rent a car” if you’re under 24/25 (?) years old.
If you want to see something beautiful in St. Catharines – then scramble down DeCew Falls and swim under the small waterfall. Or drive to Port Delhousie and get some beach feeling at the lake. There is also a Reading Week in the semester, so you can plan larger tours or invite your parents or friends. There is also a lecture-free period before the final exams. Once you have your exact dates, gather some friends and maybe plan a “study week” in Miami Beach. Flights there are really cheap if booked early and it’s a nice change from the cold, snowy St. Catharines to warm, summery Miami. I don’t think I need to mention Niagara Falls explicitly, do I? My personal highlight was seeing the sunrise there. Really – get out of bed one day early for this! Worth it!
Do it! I have no idea how the other cities in Canada are. In the end, it probably doesn’t matter where you go anyway – if you meet the right people, it’s great everywhere. But I would always recommend Brock to everyone. But if you’re hesitating between Canada and America: The Canadians really are unbeatable in their friendly way of life. It’s incredibly fun to live in such a great country where the overall atmosphere is just right. That alone makes you happy in Canada – and Brock does the rest : )