University: Saint Mary’s University
Continent: North America
Field of study: linguistics
Study type: semester abroad
As a French student, I might not be one of the typical international students who go to SMU. But I really liked it and that’s why I’m writing this review. Check existingcountries.com to see vocational training in New Zealand.
Since the teacher training course does not “actually” include a stay abroad, but it is highly recommended, I decided to do a semester abroad. Since I’ve been very enthusiastic about Canada since a holiday and didn’t really want to go to France, but rather further away, I then decided on Canada. A nice side effect was that my boyfriend and I could now go abroad together because he is studying English. The goal was set, but the path was not yet clear.
I became aware of MicroEdu at a small “foreign trade fair” in Essen in spring 2008. There I found out that the application deadline at two Canadian universities from their programs had not yet expired and that a TOEFL test was not required. Saint Mary’s University in Halifax was there. A few days later I called the office and the advice was very good. The application process was very uncomplicated, so I filled out the form and a few weeks later I had the letter of admission from the SMU in my hands. MicroEdu was always available to answer my questions via e-mail and telephone.
Now the flight had to be booked. My boyfriend and I decided not only to stay in Canada for the semester, but to take advantage of half the visa-free year to get to know a little bit about the country. The outbound flight was dated two weeks before the start of the semester and the return flight was from Montréal and could be rebooked if necessary. Like many other students, my friend and I flew to Halifax without having a place to stay for the semester. We stayed at the HI (hostelling international) for the first time. Since a lot of people have this idea, it is worth reserving a bed early. Even if the homepage of many hostels states that they are fully booked, it is still worth calling them. Something can often be “organized” over the phone.
Finding an apartment proved difficult, as many apartments were only rented for eight months and most of them were not furnished. When there were still places available for the dormitories on the Capus, we decided to move into the Rice Residence with two other Germans. It’s true that a lot of Germans come to the SMU and that a lot of German is spoken. Life on campus had clear advantages, but also very clear disadvantages. On the one hand, almost all international students lived on campus and we met very often. It was also very convenient as the computer labs were a 3 minute walk through the university and the rooms were furnished. On the other hand, the accommodation was in twin rooms and very expensive too.
I only took two courses (La France en chanson and Littérature québécoise) because I didn’t get an international student loan and I couldn’t have the other courses counted. It is true that you have to do a lot in the courses. For example, I had to give a presentation, submit 3-4 essays, do homework, read four novels, write a very fair final exam and I also had an oral final exam. At first glance, this sounds like a lot and maybe even daunting. But due to these many partial achievements, the final exams no longer count as much as in Germany. I can say for myself that I have made progress in the foreign language through reading and writing a lot. The two lecturers both tried very hard, were friendly and I enjoyed the courses. I was the only German in the courses and also in the entire French department. That was very good, because it put me in contact with my fellow Canadian students and I was able to improve not only my French but also my English. Both courses were very small (12 to 20 participants) and so the lecturers were able to respond to the participants individually. Several activities were offered by the French department, such as watching French films or bowling.
The on-site support is really great! A taxi from SMU will pick you up from the airport and take you to any address. There are always activities organized by the Student Center, such as a trip to Peggy’s Cove. If you have any questions, you can contact anyone. Everyone is very helpful and friendly.
Halifax has a lot of leisure and excursion possibilities to offer. At the top of the list is the huge port. In the summer, a different cruise ship arrives there almost every day. While I was there, the AIDA came a few times and the Queen Mary 2 was there too. There are many bars and pubs, but alcohol is very expensive in Canada. For shopping, the MicMac Mall in Dartmouth and the Halifax Shopping Center are recommended. A trip to Cape Breton is a must! Price Edward Island is not far either. In Halifax itself there are also very nice parks. The Public Garden right in town and Point Pleasant Park which is 5 minutes from SMU are lovely. The Mooseheads, the ice hockey team in Halifax, are also good places to visit. This club isn’t very good,
The semester was over for me in mid-December and I still had time to travel until mid-February. I bought the Greyhound Discovery Pass and it gave me 60 days of bus travel across Canada and the US. It takes a long time, but you also get a good impression of the dimensions in this huge country. My itinerary went from Halifax to Ottawa, via Toronto, Niagara Falls, New York City, Washington DC, back Montreal and Québec City.
An absolute must-have: a credit card!
Today I like to think back to the time at the SMU and I wish everyone who decides to study at this university a great time!