University: Saint Mary’s University
Continent: North America
Field of study: English / American Studies
Study type: semester abroad
A stay in an English-speaking country is an urgent recommendation for my English studies. I knew this from the beginning of my studies. Unfortunately, however, the support from my home university turned out to be extremely poor. It quickly became clear to me that I had to organize my planned stay myself. In addition, I wanted to go abroad with my girlfriend, who is studying French. Canada, as a bilingual country, was our goal. We came across the MicroEdu stand at a foreign trade fair we visited for this purpose. This organization turned out to be a real stroke of luck. After an initial interest, we visited the office in Münster and were delighted. Not only were they able to guarantee us a spot almost immediately, MicroEdu was always at our side throughout our preparation period. The choice of course and the associated online registration ran extremely smoothly for me, both in the field of English and Romance languages, so that we were able to get the courses we needed without any problems. Check iamaccepted.com to see 6 best countries to study architecture.
Since we had only handed in the application documents at the end of May, MicroEdu told us that it was no longer worth applying for the student residence. Instead, they recommended that we arrive a certain amount of time before the start of the semester in order to look for accommodation outside of the university. So our flight to Halifax left two weeks before the semester. However, once we arrived in Halifax, we realized that finding an apartment on the open housing market isn’t that easy after all. The rental contracts for the apartments are always for eight months, i.e. two semesters. Very few landlords wanted to rent out their apartments for a semester. So we were very happy when we met two other German students in the youth hostel (HI International, highly recommended). Together with them we were able to get two (furnished!!) rooms in the student residence. That was very good, because otherwise we wouldn’t have had any furniture at all. One disadvantage, however, is that in the student residence there are either two people living in a room, but four people have their own kitchen, or that you cannot use a kitchen in a single room and therefore have to buy the obligatory meal plan. It is about 1200 Canadian dollars for one semester. In general, living in Halifax is quite expensive, you can hardly get anything for less than 500 dollars a month.
My tip: Apply early for a “Senior Suite”. These offer a good standard and you don’t have to buy the Meal Plan. Otherwise, try to arrive early and either get a room at Saint Mary’s dorm or at the Atlantic School of Theology. The rooms are not particularly new but really ok. The YMCA dorm is totally dirty and completely uninhabitable. The rooms are tiny and the one (dirty) kitchen has to be shared by 20 people!
Studying English at Saint Mary’s University is really fun. However, the workload is very high compared to German universities. So it was standard for me to read hundreds of pages every week and then write short tests about them. In addition, homework has to be written and submitted during the semester and there is also a midterm in every course in addition to the final exam. But if you rise to the challenge, you can really learn a lot and get good grades. The supervision by the Canadian lecturers is really good; For example, they are really interested in the opinions of the students and are happy about every contribution, and they are always available. The interaction between lecturers and students is also much more relaxed than here, many students use the first-name terms of the lecturers.
International or German students
The support given to international students by the “International Office” is exemplary. Various excursions and activities are organized practically every week, mostly free or very cheap. I can recommend everyone to take part, even if they meet fellow German students again and again. Since around 60 Germans go to Saint Mary’s University every year and they identify themselves very easily because of their language, avoiding German contacts is almost impossible. This very easily leads to ghettoization, which means that many Germans have no contact with Canadians! One feels a little reminded of the accusations made against the Chinese at German universities: namely that they do not seek contacts with Germans. You can only avoid this by by dodging the Germans massively in some cases. One way to get to know Canadians is to visit certain university groups (societies). Otherwise, it can be very difficult to have English conversations outside of class.
Halifax has an unusually high level of charm for an American city. This is partly due to the great prepared port. This is incredibly lively in late summer and almost every day a different cruise ship docks (AIDA and Queen Mary II for example). The city also has a lot to offer culturally: Halifax has a citadel (a kind of castle), an old tower and two great museums. One shows Canada’s immigrant history, part of which took place via Halifax. The other museum deals with the Titanic, whose victims are buried in Halifax. There are also many great European-oriented shops, bars and pubs. There is also a market with local products every Saturday, where you can also find European traders. Excursions to nearby attractions are a must and are also partly organized by the university. Otherwise, it’s definitely worth renting a car for a weekend and just exploring some of the great country on your own.
Overall I would recommend everyone to stay in Halifax at Saint Mary’s University. Canada is just a great country and offers a lot. For Germans, Halifax is a good place to get a taste of Canadian life without losing your European roots. Halifax is a great city with many facets, has both American and European flair, and almost all residents are very open to foreigners. In conclusion, I can say that, in addition to improving my English skills, I was also able to take a lot personally with me.