University: Brock University
City: St Catherines
Continent: North America
Field of study: Communication Sciences, English / American Studies
Study type: semester abroad
After realizing that I probably couldn’t afford to spend time abroad in the USA, I decided relatively spontaneously to apply to Canada. So Brock University appealed to me because it made a good impression with its location near the American border and Niagara Falls. In addition, it does not require a TOEFL test for German students or a visa. An additional plus was the bus pass, which, like our student ticket, is included in the tuition fees, as was shown later. Check ehuacom.com to see top 10 universities in Africa.
Arrival/ apartment search:
After I had previously read on the Internet that life on campus should be restricted by many rules and that it is also extremely expensive, it quickly became clear to me that I wanted to live off-campus. I then also looked at http: //toronto.kijiji.ca and the housing exchange set up by the university. Admittedly, it’s not easy to organize something like this from Germany, precisely because you can’t look your future roommate in the face. So I wanted to get to know them live. By an insane coincidence, however, I was lucky that a friend of a friend was also at the Brock and I was able to become the new tenant of her room. With great roommates (a Canadian and an Australian), the whole thing was really worth it for me. Because that’s how my Canadian roommate showed me everything (from curling to the Scottish night) and you have the English language around you from morning to night. I honestly recommend it as long as you live reasonably close to a bus stop. Because, as I said, you can use the buses for free and they run fairly frequently, even if not for very long. So if you are there for more than one semester, you should think twice about buying a car. But a taxi was also affordable for those times and overall it was much cheaper than life on campus. In order to lose a few words about life there, it should be said that all my international friends lived on campus and were actually very happy there. The only thing to note is that Canadians are very young when they start studying. 17 years young to be exact, so when applying for a place in a dormitory it is advisable to state that you would like to live with older students.
Brock University is a relatively small university compared to the giant universities in Toronto. However, all subject areas are still covered and I was very satisfied with the quality of the teaching, especially for my English studies. However, the communication science courses that I was looking for were all very much in the direction of “popular culture” or film studies. Contrary to the business students who told me their courses were quite crowded with international students, I was the only international in all my courses. The professors are then also correspondingly understanding and, like almost all Canadians, helpful. So if you open your mouth and want to ask anything, nothing can go wrong. In the middle of the semester I even switched one of my courses to a participation certificate and had the full support of the professor. In both of my fields of study, one course was divided into lectures and seminars. This division also made sense for me, because the seminars take up the content of the lecture and deepen it again. On the subject of workload: At least in the English area, I can say that the workload is still significantly greater than in Germany. In each course, about 1 book per week had to be read.
Grading: The Canadian grading system differs from German in that the grade is made up of several aspects. Regular attendance and participation in the course are included in the grade. In addition, essays are written again and again during the semester, which are included in the grade, so that the final exam or final essay “only” accounts for 30 to 40 percent.
The location: The Brock is idyllically situated on a hill and surrounded by forest on the slope side. Even within the university there are always windows to the outside and to the countryside. A special highlight is the view from the upper floors of the library. When the weather is nice and clear, you can see Lake Ontario and even the Toronto skyline.
With 150,000 inhabitants, St. Catharines is not exactly the largest city and the city center in particular does not have much to offer apart from a nice café. In the evenings there are a few student pubs and clubs, but if you’re looking for the metropolis and party high-life, you’re probably wrong here. Nevertheless, I found the city very beautiful, you have small corners, such as the harbor in Port Dalhousie and the wine-growing region directly behind Brock. There’s also one or the other maple syrup farm to visit. Also worth a trip is the nearby town of Niagara on the Lake, which is one of Canada’s oldest towns. To be honest, I was only able to get to know things like the wine-growing region and the high plateau on which it is located because my roommate was kind enough to show me these. In general, your car helped us a lot a few times, but with a little more effort, you can also do a lot with the bus. During the week, the bus ticket even extends to the city of “Niagara Falls”, i.e. the Niagara Falls.
Another bonus point: St. Catharines is connected to the national bus system. This means that you can quickly get to Toronto and Buffallo, from where you can then access the larger and more interesting Canadian destinations on the one hand and American destinations on the other. So New York City is only 5-6 hours away and Washington DC about 8 hours. Almost on the stepping stone to the world;-)
All I can say is that I had a wonderful four months at St. Catharines and on Brock. And that despite the fact that we had snow again and again from the beginning of January to the end of March. But since the Canadians don’t have a big problem with that and all the buses always run regularly and it doesn’t degenerate into chaos like in Germany, it didn’t bother me surprisingly little, even though I’m actually not a big snow fan. It even looked kind of naked on the first Tau days. Because of the proximity to America, however, it still looks quite American in St. Catharines. So if you only expect fir forests and long, wide lakes and log cabins, you will be disappointed. Nevertheless, the vastness and nature there is impressive and the people are all very, very friendly.