University: Brock University
City: St Catherines
Continent: North America
Field of study: life sciences
Study type: semester abroad
In the winter semester of 2011 I completed my studies abroad at Brock University in St. Catharines in Canada. A semester abroad is planned as part of the international course in Technical and Applied Biology at the University of Applied Sciences in Bremen. This is carried out together with an internship abroad in the 4th and 5th semester. Check act-test-centers.com to see 7 facts about Rome.
I chose Canada because it is an English speaking country and outside of Europe. The opportunity to get to know a foreign study system outside of Europe does not come along every day.
The Canadian academic year can be divided into trimesters or semesters. At Brock University, there are Fall and Winter Term as major sections. The fall term started for September 8th and the last lecture was November 30th. 2011 for me.
I was able to choose my courses from an extensive repertoire for biology students because I applied with the organization MicroEdu, which allows you to enroll in courses from any academic year. Because I applied via MicroEdu, a TOEFL or IELTS test was also necessary. In addition, the complicated application system was then processed in a more simplified manner via MicroEdu. I was also helped with the Bafög bureaucracy.
The 4th year Immunology course consisted mainly of student lectures. A 3-hour seminar per week made up this course. The evaluation consisted of a final exam, two lectures that each student had to give and so-called quizzes that were written at the end of some seminars. In addition, a summary of the respective topic had to be submitted before each seminar. You could determine the effort yourself very well, and in contrast to the 3rd year courses, this seminar was more like the German study system because the students can organize themselves.
Comparative Animal Physiology was particularly interesting for me because this course consisted of laboratory experiments and 3 hours of lectures per week. In the laboratory experiments, insects, mice and frogs were used. The lectures were also made very interesting by a motivated professor. The reports to be made on these experiments added significantly to the workload, but it also taught valuable skills and practiced writing in English. I have also personally gained a lot of experience in dealing with primary sources and scientific writing itself.
Very engaging lectures were also given in Genetics: Transmission, Development, Population. However, the laboratory work in this course was not very challenging, because some of the experiments were already known to me from the HS Bremen or were only carried out superficially.
The collaboration between the students in the laboratory experiments themselves was also not as good as I knew from the Bremen University of Applied Sciences. However, sufficient care was provided by laboratory personnel.
All in all, students in Canada are very busy with assignments and reports. This homework will then be graded. There are many of these tasks that have to be handed in and they are also assigned at short notice. As a result, you are less free to organize your own time and you also learn how to avoid such short-term appointments.
Despite the large student population in St. Catharines itself, this town is not “student typical”. Unfortunately, the public transport system is poorly developed and you are very inflexible without a car. Instead, you have to go everywhere by bus, because the city is far too far apart to walk, for example, to quickly go shopping for groceries. Unfortunately, these buses only run until about 11 p.m., from then on you have to rely on taxis.
Student life thus takes place at the university itself for most of the time.
Brock University offers students many opportunities from a professional point of view, because the range of courses is very wide and the quality of the courses is very good. Sports and leisure activities also provide some variety.
St Catharines itself boasts a lot of parks, I can’t confirm that, as the large number of parks is due to the fact that every little piece of lawn with a tree on it is designated as a park. However, there is a nice little port with a cute lighthouse and a nice beach. The water of Lake Ontario was still warm enough to swim in in early September! Port Dalhousie is the port with the beach and on a clear day you can even see the Toronto skyline across the lake.
In addition, you can quickly get to Toronto with the Coach Canada, where in terms of clubs, bars and shopping you can find something that suits my personal preferences.
Due to the proximity to the border with the USA, there is also the possibility to take the bus over there and use cheap flights from there, whether within the USA or outside of it. That eases the student travel budget, of course…
Unfortunately, I had total bad luck with my room in a shared apartment. I found it on easyrommate.com and had photos sent to me beforehand. In the beginning it was okay, the roommates weren’t talkative, but I thought you weren’t always lucky. However, the landlady’s daughter had a dog that wasn’t housebroken, and that was just one of many problems… It’s better to look for a room locally!
In my opinion, this semester was particularly valuable in preparing me for a specialization, because I was able to gain in-depth knowledge in my courses.