University: Brock University
City: St Catherines
Continent: North America
Field of study: political science
Study type: semester abroad
First of all, it is definitely worth spending a semester abroad in general and at Brock in particular. In the end, many things are easier and in retrospect, the effort that you have to put into the application process is worth it. Check act-test-centers.com to see cost of living in Paris.
The center of the Brock is the Shmon Tower. The bus stops are in front of it. My course rooms were easy to find after a short period of getting used to them, even if some of them were in a former prison complex. The orientation week offers exactly what one would expect from American universities. Identification with the university and its sports teams is much stronger. At the end they even take an oath of allegiance to the university, which is not meant too seriously. The highlight for the new students is the Tower Party.
Away from everyday university life, the university offers a wide range of sporting opportunities. Rackets and balls can be borrowed. The gymnasium, sports fields and swimming pool with diving board are freely accessible to students. They are particularly proud of the new artificial turf pitch. The International Office and its employees were always friendly and helpful. I communicated with them mostly via email and got quick replies.
I was given two books as necessary for each course. I only really used it partially. It makes sense to wait and see what is really needed and possibly share a book with fellow students or buy older versions. You can also save money by checking out the Facebook group for used books and selling your own there after the semester. The university also offers loans for some books. But that is rather the exception.
I took the Canada and the Global Community courses; Russia, Ukraine & Other Successor States USSR and Politics in the Developing World. These were a first, second and third year course. Each course consisted of a lecture and a seminar. Attendance is compulsory in the seminars, but not in the lectures. In the first-year course, the seminar was comparable to a tutorial explaining the individual lecture contents. The other two seminars had their own texts and were intended to be more in-depth. Based on texts that had to be worked on for the individual hours, an hour was then discussed. Who is taught too theory-heavy at German universities andAnyone who likes to take part in discussions will feel at home here. I had to write a term paper for each of the courses and take a final exam. In addition, there were other submissions or tests. You have to be prepared to do homework during the semester and adapt your time management accordingly.
St. Catharines is quite spread out and distances appear smaller on the map than they really are. When looking for an apartment, it makes sense to consult Google Maps to check the walking and driving time to the university. I was looking locally from a hostel in Niagara Falls. The bus connection to St. Catharines takes a relatively long time and costs. I wouldn’t do that again. Must see sights are Decew Falls and Port Dalhousie. If possible, I would visit both when the temperature is high and go swimming. You can walk to the falls from the university via the Bruce Trail, but you also have to walk a bit along the road. Worth it!
On Thursdays you go to Isaacs, otherwise you have to go downtown. Those who live in Thorold can also go to Moose & Goose.
When looking for an apartment, you should pay attention to the bus routes. Direct connections to the university and to the Pen Centre/Foodland are recommended. The buses are sometimes overtime. The bus ride is enhanced by the mostly very relaxed and nice drivers. These serve the cliché of friendly Canadians.
If you decide to live in Thorold like most German students and I have, try the Big Red Market. The fresh meat counter is really good.
The central location makes city trips ideal. I’ve been to Montreal and Quebec. It is interesting to get to know the French part of Canada and in particular Quebec City has a beautiful old town to offer. Toronto is of course a must, Buffalo probably not. What I liked best in Toronto were the offshore islands, which allow for the perfect skyline photo motif. Among other things, the International Office offered us a trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake. There you could taste the regional wine. Of course, Niagara Falls isn’t bad either.
To the north is Algonquin Provincial Park. I joined a Brock canoe tour there. Don’t expect comfort, but everything else is really good. The Rockies (Banff and Jasper) are also very beautiful, whether in summer or winter.
Those who are enthusiastic about American sports are in good hands in Buffalo and Toronto. Whether football, basketball, (ice) hockey or baseball, everything is practiced and celebrated there at the highest level. Even if you can’t do much with the sport itself, the events have a high event factor.
I had my credit card with Consorsbank and was happy with it. Foreign BAföG was also helpful and expands the financial leeway. Just have it calculated online, the tuition fees in particular increase the chances of getting decent money and do not have to be repaid. Entering the US by land was easy. Show your passport, ask a few questions, pay a small fee and you’re in the States. If you want to play soccer you can either create a team in the varsity league, be matched as an individual and/or search for the Brock Pickup Soccer group on Facebook. It is written there when people want to play and are still looking for people. If you register in the league and have already played club football, you can go to the highest league.
If you choose the Brock, you won’t regret it.