University: Brock University
City: St Catherines
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
1. Application Process
I wasn’t able to get a place at an interesting partner university of my university either, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. After a short internet search I ended up at MicroEdu and clicked my way through the different countries and universities. I made my pre-selection relatively quickly because I wanted to go to either a Spanish or an English-speaking country. I then decided on Canada because the country simply appealed to me the most. Check act-test-centers.com to see Switzerland higher education.
It was more difficult to make a choice at the universities. The decision for the Brock was ultimately made because of the great location on Lake Ontario and in the Niagara region and the great reports.
I made my decision at the beginning of January, then collected all the necessary documents, signatures and forms and sent my application in at the end of January. Almost three weeks later, the e-mail came from Canada with the confirmation. All in all, an extremely smooth process and the staff at MicroEdu really answer every question and help where they can. One could hardly wish for better care and assistance!
Brock University is located just outside of St. Catharines on a hill called the Niagara Escarpment. In addition to all the lecture halls, seminar rooms, library, etc., there are a few restaurants (McDonalds, Tim Hortons, Subway and many others) and of course the sports facilities that appear in every Brock experience report. Everything is relatively modern and the technology in the rooms is up to date. One or the other educational institution in Germany could learn a lesson from that.
I took three courses: Labor Economics, Organizational Behavior and Introduction to wines. Labor Economics is great, the professor can explain well, the exams are not too difficult, there were only about 40-50 people in the course and you really learn a lot about the Canadian job market, the demographic distribution, etc. Who from his micro and If you have at least learned the basics from macro courses, you shouldn’t have any problems with that. I also liked Introduction to wines, but it is a lot more work than you would think. If you want to take an A home with you and don’t have previous experience as a sommelier or something like that, you really have to work hard. I would not choose Organizational Behavior again. The material consisted mostly of gibberish and the practical examples didn’t really knock me out either. Of course it’s just my subjective opinion. It may be that it was very different for others.
I have a little tip: Avoid getting your student ID on the first day of the semester. I had to queue for over an hour. The office that created the maps was also open the day before (including weekends). Just read the mails that come up on your Brock email account, it says something in there!
- St Catherines
St. Catharines is not a metropolis, that is well known. But you can bear it there and I personally didn’t miss anything in the 4 months.
Of course, the bus network is suboptimal, it took me almost 45 minutes to get to the university every time, but I think there are worse things. For taxi companies (you will need them) I tried both BrockQtaxi and St. Catharines Taxi and both were ok. Niagara Airbus is probably the most common and best method for airport transfers anyway.
Despite the slightly dilapidated inner city (I imagined it to be worse than it really is), the city itself also has its beautiful sides. DeCew Falls at Morningstar Mill is a must-see. It’s best to go while the weather is dry and warm, otherwise the hike can quickly become uncomfortable. You should also plan a little time. It’s a 20-30 minute walk from Brock to Morningstar Mill, but then you have to walk quite a bit along the river to even get to a place where you can descend into the gorge. But the moment when you stand behind the waterfall and look through it is definitely worth the effort in my opinion!
Port Dalhousie is also quite nice, but I was advised not to swim in Lake Ontario. It’s supposed to be quite an industrial cesspool…
Otherwise, you can actually find everything you need in St. Catharines. The Pen Center has a lot to offer, you can kill an hour or two there.
Unlike most others, I didn’t live in a flat share, but stayed with a host family that was put in place for me through the university or the “English Learning Program”. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to fly there 2-3 weeks before the start of the semester, as recommended, but only four days before. That’s why I didn’t want to take the risk of looking for something locally.
But I never regretted the decision because my host parents were just super nice. Although it was a bit longer to get to the university, I had two contacts who helped me with all my problems. I was integrated into family life as soon as I arrived and I attended a few birthdays, barbecues, game and film nights, other trips and also a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, which was incredibly good for experiencing the culture. It also forces you to speak English outside of the university. Nobody in my host family spoke German. But that wasn’t a problem either, but rather an advantage in my eyes.
I can only say that I was happy with my decision. But I can also understand anyone who prefers to share a flat with other students. When in doubt, there is simply more going on. Basically, you can only agree with all the other reviews: The location is probably the best at the Pen Center and between the university and the city center.
- Leisure and Travel
Before my semester abroad, I had never been to North America and therefore wanted to travel as much as possible. St. Catharines is really extremely cheap with sights right on your doorstep. I’ve been to Niagara Falls a total of 6 or 7 times, Toronto 5 or 6 times too (not counting arrival and departure). There is a bus from the university to Niagara Falls, which you can use for free with your Brock student ID, and I took the Megabus to Toronto several times. The International Center also offers a number of excursions where you can meet lots of other students.
During Reading Week I undertook a small round trip through the cities of the US east coast. I drove the distances between the cities with Megabus. First I was in New York with friends and to be honest: If you haven’t been there yet, you shouldn’t miss this opportunity under any circumstances. I don’t know if it’s really the greatest city in the world, as many say, but it’s definitely impressive. There is so much to see here that you have to decide what you really want to do. After that I went to Philadelphia, where I stayed at the Apple Hostel. I can recommend the hostel, the atmosphere was very cozy. Apart from the historic district with Independence Hall, there’s not really much to see in Philly. The stairs in front of the art museum, known from the Rocky films, you can still look at it and the town hall is also quite nice. You really don’t need more than one day for the city, but I think you should plan at least three for New York. Washington also has tons of attractions. Of course the White House and the National Mall are a must. Along the National Mall are also many museums for which you do not have to pay an entrance fee. I only went to the Museum of American History though, which was nice. What you can also see is the Arlington Military Cemetery. The cemetery is relatively easy to reach by subway and you have a nice view of the city. The last stop for me was Boston. I also really liked the city. Harvard and MIT, Fenway Park, the Massachusetts State House, the Freedom Trail and the cozy downtown are quite nice. I also went to the Boston Tea Party Museum, even though I don’t really like tea…
But there is also tons of stuff to see in Canada. For example, I was in Algonquin Park, Ottawa, Montréal, Kingston and Québec. I can only recommend everything. Kingston isn’t very spectacular, but you might want to take a look at it while passing through. There’s not much to see there, but those who come in summer or early fall can take a boat trip through the 1000 Islands. It’s supposed to be pretty nice. Of course, Ottawa as the capital also has a lot to offer. But I did everything I wanted to see (Peace Tower, Parliament, Canadian museum of history, etc.) within one day. In Montréal, on the other hand, you should plan more time. The view from Mont Royal during the day, but also at night, the old town, the Olympic Stadium are just the most important points. Québec City can also be done in one day. The city is relatively clear. I can especially recommend the Montonmercy Falls in winter! However, Québec is the only city that is comparatively difficult to reach. I went there with VIA Rail (one of the Canadian rail companies). But that’s not exactly cheap. There really isn’t much more to say about Algonquin Park. If you have the opportunity to get there, which is practically only possible with a rental car, you should definitely use it! You should also watch the Falls Illumination and the fireworks, as well as the sunrise over Niagara Falls. But that’s not exactly cheap. There really isn’t much more to say about Algonquin Park. If you have the opportunity to get there, which is practically only possible with a rental car, you should definitely use it! You should also watch the Falls Illumination and the fireworks, as well as the sunrise over Niagara Falls. But that’s not exactly cheap. There really isn’t much more to say about Algonquin Park. If you have the opportunity to get there, which is practically only possible with a rental car, you should definitely use it! You should also watch the Falls Illumination and the fireworks, as well as the sunrise over Niagara Falls.
I have one last tip for finances: I used the free VISA card from Consorsbank (formerly Cortal Consors). You can use it to withdraw money free of charge from all VISA machines, such as the ATMs of Scotiabank an der Brock, but at the same time you can also make cashless payments at no extra charge, which is not possible with most of the competition’s cards. The DKB, for example, charges a fee for this. I found this very useful, especially when travelling.
All in all, I can only recommend a semester abroad in general and Brock in particular. I definitely had a great time and would do it again anytime!