University: Brock University
City: St Catherines
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
In autumn/winter 2016 I spent a semester abroad at Brock University in St. Catharines, in the beautiful Niagara region of Canada. Check anycountyprivateschools.com to see MBAs in Europe get cheaper.
The application process was uncomplicated. With the help of Katharina from MicroEdu, I decided on my university very quickly. She answered all of my questions, such as language proficiency tests, entry requirements or local accommodation, quickly and in detail. She sent me the documents that had to be filled out, as well as all the information about course selection and tuition fees. Of course, I had to read and find my way around here independently, but Katharina was always there to help me with questions.
It should be noted that Brock University is certainly not one of the most expensive universities in the country, but it is not one of the cheapest either. In Canada, tuition fees are calculated per course, ie if you want to take more courses, you pay accordingly more. Since I had only taken the minimum of three courses, the fees were reasonable for me. In addition to the tuition fees, there were also registration fees and a levy to the province of Ontario, which is quite normal in Canada. Who foreign BAföG can assume that most of the tuition fees will be covered. (A little tip on the side: even if you don’t fall under the BAföG regulation in Germany, it may still be the case that you can still obtain BAföG abroad, the guidelines for this are a bit more relaxed than in Germany. So just apply, it’s usually worth it the effort!)
Brock University requires international students to provide proof of English language proficiency in the form of a TOEFL or IELTS test. I chose the IELTS here because it was a bit cheaper and is valid for two years longer. The test is easy to pass with the Abitur level, but with a price of just over €120 it is an additional burden on the wallet.
I’m studying Cultural Economics at the University of Passau – at the time of the semester abroad in the fifth semester – and have ” Basic Marketing ” (2P51, second year course), ” Glory and Despair: The US 1607-1865 ” (HIST 2P15, 2nd year) and ” International Business ” (3P98, 3rd year). All courses were taught by excellent faculty and the study load was appropriate for the academic year.
It is important to mention at this point that the average workload per course in Canada is different than in Germany. At the Brock, a test or quiz was carried out every week – depending on the course – the reading material was far more than in a comparable course at my German university. Nevertheless – or precisely because of this – I had the feeling that I had learned more effectively than at home.
Organizing a semester abroad always requires a certain amount of personal initiative, but I had the feeling that I was being looked after better and more individually than fellow students who went abroad in other ways. Basically, the following applies to Brock: if you submit all documents and papers on time, you have a very good chance of being accepted.
Brock University is located on the Niagara Peninsula, just 15 minutes’ drive from the world-renowned Falls, a spectacle both summer and winter! With around 130,000 inhabitants, St. Catharines is rather manageable, but is beautifully situated on Lake Ontario, which can be easily reached by bus. The town’s location on the Niagara Escarpment means that pretty little lakes and waterfalls, as well as hiking and biking trails, are on its doorstep.
On the subject of on-site accommodation: I had rented an AirBnB room in St. Catharines for the first week and was looking for a room for the semester during this time. For this purpose, Brock has set up its own website for those looking for an apartment and I also found what I was looking for in Facebook groups and on Kijiji. Overall, the search was less difficult than expected and I was able to move into my room after a few days. If you want to save yourself this effort, you can also apply for a room in one of the dormitories of the university, where you will meet many foreign students (and many freshmen). The halls of residence are usually a bit more expensive than shared rooms, but are located directly on campus.
The staff at the University’s International Office were very helpful when it came to looking for a flat and other questions relating to university life and the Niagara region, and made sure that you felt welcome from the very first moment. In addition, many introductory activities for foreign and Canadian students were organized here, for example trips to Niagara Falls, Toronto, Canada’s Wonderland amusement park and even a trip to Florida during Reading Week.
The favorable location of the university and the proximity to the USA make Toronto, New York, Boston or Chicago good weekend destinations. During an extended off-campus period like Reading Week, one can venture further south, such as to Florida, or—extremely popular among Canadians— Cuba. For my part, I explored eastern Canada, rented a car with friends and drove from Toronto to Quebec City to northern Nova Scotia (HIGHLY recommended for all nature lovers!). Also worth seeing is Algonquin Provincial Park, which is located northeast of Toronto and – like so much in North America – is best reached by car.
Must-do things in Canada:
- Eating Poutine: The dish looks unappetizing and makes you wonder which drunkard came up with the combination of fries, gravy and cheese, but it’s delicious!
- Watching ice hockey: As is well known, the national sport of the Canadians. Don’t be alarmed if the players start banging on the ice, that’s part of the game! It doesn’t necessarily have to be an NHL game, with smaller matches, for example those of the university team, there is a lot more atmosphere!
- Maple syrup as a souvenir: Yes, it’s a cliché, but rightly so: the Canadian syrup simply tastes unbeatably good.
- Get out into nature! Canada offers incredibly beautiful nature, lots of national parks and a wild animal world that you won’t find in large parts of Europe. Excursions for hiking, kayaking, skiing or just to look and photograph are a must even for those who don’t like exercise!
- Experience how wonderfully clichés are fulfilled: the winters are really long and cold, wild animals in the garden are not uncommon and Canadians are generally very friendly and helpful.
No matter where you go in Canada, you will find extremely nice people and beautiful landscapes everywhere, but Brock University offers you optimal conditions!