University: Brock University
City: St Catherines
Continent: North America
Study type: semester abroad
The demand for exchange places now exceeds the places available at many German universities, so that I was forced to organize my stay abroad myself. When the MicroEdu Team visited our university, I came across this organizational method, which later turned out to be perfect.
In the end, I chose Brock University because of the good price/performance ratio. For example, the tuition fees are not as high as in Vancouver. The university is still recognized for my business department and also AACSB accredited, which (in my case) makes it easier to have the grades recognized in Germany. In the end, the decisive factor was the fact that there are far fewer German students at Brock than, for example, in San Diego or at SMU. The basic goal for me was to improve my language skills and therefore I wanted to avoid being on campus with around 300 other Germans. Check anycountyprivateschools.com to see vocational training in Croatia.
This may all read easier than it is, the selection of the university can and should take longer than 3 days. There are a number of aspects to consider, which I will discuss later. Not everything that looks great at first glance is also the best for your studies.
The application via MicroEdu went relatively smoothly. You do not need a visa in Canada if you are in the country for less than 6 months, which minimizes the bureaucracy quite a bit. You print out the application documents that you get from MicroEdu and the further steps are actually taken care of by yourself.
Book flights, take out international health insurance, etc., of course, you have to do it yourself. It’s also difficult to give tips, some book the flights months in advance, some only a few weeks. Sometimes via the Internet, sometimes through a travel agency. I booked my flight in June for August through a travel agency (€680 return).
The only important and nerve-wracking point when applying: the choice of courses!
A pre-selection of courses is already given in the application form and it is not always easy to change something in the selection afterwards. You choose the courses in July/August, for example when you are still in Germany and not every course can be chosen. Other courses are booked up fairly quickly, etc. This point is important, especially for those of you who want to have the courses credited and need partial study contracts or the like. Take a close look at the course descriptions, whether and when the course is offered at all, etc.
The communication regarding the choice of course then takes place directly with Brock and depending on which employee you meet there, it can take a long time. In the end, I flew to Canada with 3 courses in my pocket that I didn’t want to take at all and then I chose everything differently when I was there.
This leads straight to the next point, optimal date of arrival:
Since you don’t have the chance to move into the residences as a free mover (only for overpriced rent), you have to live off-campus, which isn’t a big deal. But you should keep in mind that looking for an apartment will take some time. Nevertheless, it is much better to look at the houses on site and not to rent an apartment from Germany, as there are many ramshackle huts on the market that you should certainly have looked at in person beforehand.
I recommend coming to St. Catharines about 1 ½ – 2 weeks before the start of the semester so that you have enough time for the organization. After St. Catharines, mind you. Of course, if you still want to see something of the country and its people, especially outside the Niagara region, you should arrive earlier, the distances should not be underestimated.
Everyday university life:
I took the following courses at Brock: International Business, Organizational Behavior and Sales Management.
The IB and OB courses are below German level in terms of content, Sales Management about the same.
What all three have in common and you will find that in every course is the increased workload during the semester. In OB we wrote 5 multiple choice tests (from Oct. – Nov.), held a presentation + final exam in December. The other courses are similar (Sales Management even has oral grades), so I was well utilized with 3 courses, especially since you also have a life outside of the university (especially in the semester abroad). One should note the strict grading. Especially the courses that are characterized by a lot of text (whether reading or writing) and less math turned out much worse. My sales management professor (Mr. MacKenzie) was very open about it and said right at the start that he almost never gives an A. Depending on how the conversion is arranged with your home university, this can mean that you fly home without the hoped-for 1 and have to work a lot for a 2 before the decimal point. Nothing is given to you.
In each course there was group work, where you can of course be lucky or unlucky as far as the composition is concerned.
In retrospect, I would choose more courses in the direction of economics or finance, because the grades there are simply much better. OB was characterized by phrases and examples that you had all heard before, IB was interesting in terms of topic, unfortunately we practically started from 0 (cultural difference etc.). Sales Management was the course that was the most intensive, the most difficult and also the worst. Nevertheless, it was the most interesting and best course I chose.
The campus is otherwise diverse, and the sports facilities in particular are almost perfect. Indoor pool, gym, squash, tennis, indoor running track, etc. There is a lot on offer.
Participation in the so-called intramurals, internal sports leagues for a wide variety of things, football, tennis, volleyball, etc., is highly recommended. You get to know new people super quickly (almost only Canadians), play against other teams week after week, and have a lot of fun and new contacts.
Life in St. Catharines & Canada:
First things first: St. Catharines is small. And not even nice at that. When I drove into the so-called city center for the first time after 3 days in Toronto, I thought it would hit me. Run-down houses and empty shops, some very dirty. In addition, without a car you are actually completely lost, especially in the period before the start of the semester. The buses then sometimes only run every hour and it takes you half an eternity. St. Catharines doesn’t have much to offer at first, you’ll notice that as soon as the semester starts, because during the week you’re hardly ever in downtown, because it’s just not attractive. Rather visit the Pen Center, which is located in the south. This is a medium-sized shopping center like you know it from the USA, with a cinema, supermarket, etc. and actually has everything you need. It is therefore not wrong to look for accommodation near the Pen Center. We recommend Glenridge (a district of St. Catharines) as well as Thorold (the neighboring town, but the two towns merge completely, from the Brock it is closer to Thorold than to downtown St. Catharines). The north should be disregarded when looking for an apartment, the last trains of summer can certainly be endured there on Lake Ontario, but as soon as that’s over, it’s hard to get to the Brock from the north. from the Brock it is closer to Thorold than to downtown St. Catharines). The north should be disregarded when looking for an apartment, the last trains of summer can certainly be endured there on Lake Ontario, but as soon as that’s over, it’s hard to get to the Brock from the north. from the Brock it is closer to Thorold than to downtown St. Catharines). The north should be disregarded when looking for an apartment, the last trains of summer can certainly be endured there on Lake Ontario, but as soon as that’s over, it’s hard to get to the Brock from the north.
In terms of partying, you should quickly realize that alcohol is very expensive and that the clubs close at 3 a.m. in the morning.
Expensive is a good keyword, because life itself is significantly more expensive in Canada than in Germany. It doesn’t matter whether you go out to eat or go shopping, you have the feeling of paying more everywhere (despite a good exchange rate). Incidentally, this lousy feeling is then confirmed with the credit card statement. So allow enough leeway financially.
Of course, financial leeway should also be considered when it comes to travel, as St. Catharines is simply very beautiful. The Niagara region is a great place to explore before you start your studies or in the first few weeks, Niagara Falls can even be reached for free with the local bus pass. Niagara-on-the-Lake, Fort Erie, Crystal Beach etc. are all beautiful destinations worth visiting. The proximity to Toronto is a bit deceptive, you don’t just do 1.5 hours during the week, but it is definitely recommended for a weekend trip.
If you want to go further afield, you must have Algonquin National Park on your radar, which is about 2-3 hours north of Toronto. 7 hours away are Montreal and Ottawa not to be missed, as is Kingston and the 1000 Islands on the way back. 7-8 hours sounds like a lot at first, but is quickly done by bus or rental car as a group.
The USA can also be easily reached, approx. 8 hours to NYC or 1 ½ by plane from Buffalo. As always, the available small change plays a role here.
I hope I was able to give you a little insight into my semester abroad and provide a few pointers. I would go back to Brock, but only if it was in a different city. The university, the professors, the facilities are great and please don’t get me wrong, the semester abroad in St. Catharines and at Brock was a great experience and all the people (17,000 students) are making something out of the small town too, but my next one I would then spend a semester abroad in a larger city, where there is simply more going on and there is more variety besides the university. In the end, everyone has to experience it themselves and draw their own conclusions, read the reports, absorb it once and then look forward to the unknown, which the semester abroad is supposed to be.
The Brock is certainly the right place for “perfecting the language”, few Germans, but all the more helpful Canadians (like everywhere in Canada, by the way). The people are just very nice and helpful, no matter where and whoever you meet. For that reason alone I would always prefer Canada to the USA. Then nature does the rest.