University: Brock University
Continent: North America
Field of study: Economics, Linguistics and Cultural Studies
Study type: semester abroad
In this way I would like to share with you my experiences during my semester abroad at Brock University in St. Catherines, Canada and report on the different situations, circumstances and special features. Check act-test-centers.com to see 3 best neighborhoods in Madrid.
Planning & Preparation
(Application process, course selection, apartment search, BAföG, scholarship, )
Thanks to MicroEdu, both the application process and course selection were very easy. The advisors always tell you exactly which documents you have to submit by when and they were able to help me with all my questions.
Contrary to MicroEdu’s recommendation to arrive two weeks before the start of the semester and stay in a hotel for the time being and look for accommodation locally, I preferred to know before I arrived where I would be staying for the next four months. There are also some links on the Brock website, including many offers on kjiji.ca. Luckily, I have an acquaintance near St. Catharines who looked at some accommodations for me and finally settled on a room in Downtown St. Catharines.
Since I went to Canada as a free mover, I had to pay my tuition fees etc. myself, but I was able to cover a large part of the costs with foreign BAföG and a DAAD PROMOS scholarship. I can only advise you to apply for both BAföG and scholarships and to take care of BAföG very early on so that you can be sure to receive it before you start your semester abroad.
Also remember to take care of the necessary documents such as a valid passport in good time. And you need an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) to enter Canada, but you can get it relatively quickly and apply for it online. It is also important to have a credit card, since you can only pay the fee for the ETA with a credit card, for example, and in Canada everything is actually done with a credit card.
University, study, campus
For some courses you need previous knowledge, which you can easily prove by submitting the Transcript of Records. I got into all the courses I chose, Operations Management (OPER 2P91), Canadian Studies (CANA 2P91) and Bilingualism (LING 4P41). Unlike at my university in Germany, the grade for a course does not only consist of the grade of the final exam, but you have assignments or group work that you hand in or presentations that you have to give throughout the semester and in some courses you also write Mid – Term Exams. Personally, I found it better because you always stay on the ball and don’t have so much pressure in the final exam.
The International Office team was always there to help and advise me both before and during my stay and they also organize excursions that you can take part in.
There are numerous sports facilities on campus, a fitness room, several sports halls and a swimming pool. There is space for learning in the large library, for preparing presentations there are group work rooms that can be booked.
If you get hungry at university or just don’t feel like cooking, there are several food courts with Starbucks, Tim Hortons, burgers, Asian snack bars, Subway and much more.
I chose to live off-campus and lived right by the bus terminal in St. Catharines. The building I lived in was older, but two floors were added in 2016, so I had a brand new room with a private bathroom and a shared kitchen. Unfortunately, the building still had some problems with the sprinkler system, resulting in cooking restrictions and many false fire alarms. In addition, the house was very badly soundproofed and since some roommates were less considerate than others, I mostly studied at the university because it was simply quieter there. I paid $550 per month for my room, which is around €388.
St Catharines and environs
From the Bus Terminal there is a bus every 15 minutes to Brock (lines 16 and 116); The Megabus also goes to Toronto from there. You can either book the tickets online or buy them at the bus terminal counter, a ticket costs around CAD 15 per trip. For local buses, it’s worth downloading the St. Catharines Transit App. It is also a quick bus ride to numerous shopping venues such as the Pen Center, Fairview Mall and the Outlet Mall.
In the Fairview Mall you have a large selection of supermarkets, I have always bought my groceries at Food Basics, Walmart and Zehrs. If you need something again in the evening and the buses don’t run anymore, there is also a 24-hour shop, which is also easily accessible on foot. There is good shopping at the Pen Center and the Outlet Mall in Niagara on the Lake, if the selection there is not enough for you, I definitely recommend the Eaton Center in Toronto.
Downtown there are some bars, restaurants and clubs. Kully’s Sportsbar has super tasty burgers and the Merchant Ale House has all kinds of beers, ales, wine and cocktails. If you want to buy alcoholic beverages in Canada, you have to go to LCBO, because they don’t have them in the supermarkets there, and you should be prepared that alcohol is much more expensive in Canada than in Germany. A real insider tip is the donut shop Beechwood Donuts on James Street, there they have fresh, homemade donuts every day, which are great to take to university. The Meridian Center is St. Catharines’ hockey stadium and a Niagara Ice Dogs game is not to be missed. The closest destinations to St. Catharines are Toronto, Niagara Falls and Port Dalhousie. While there isn’t much to see in Port Dalhousie, it’s right on Lake Ontario and has a beach and a small harbor with a lighthouse. A nice destination for a sunny day.
Top destinations for the weekend are of course Toronto and Niagara Falls. In Toronto, a visit to the CN Tower is highly recommended, the view of the sunset from above is indescribable. There are also some good restaurants to discover, my personal highlights were ‘Il Fornello’, an Italian restaurant, and ‘The KEG Mansion’ for anyone who can’t say no to a good steak and also likes to go out a little fancier!
Niagara Falls is different than expected. While the typical postcards and pictures mainly show nature, locally you will find many hotels, restaurants and casinos in a very busy city with many people. Instead of lots of nature, on the Canadian side you are in the middle of a tourist town. Nevertheless, the Niagara Falls are definitely worth a visit and are particularly beautiful to look at in the evening when they are colorfully illuminated.
All in all, I am very happy that I spent my semester abroad at the university of my choice in Canada. In my four months there I was able to gain a lot of positive and nice experiences, met a lot of nice people and can only recommend spending a semester at Brock University to everyone. MicroEdu gave me a lot of support on my way and I was happy to have a competent and friendly contact person at all times.