University: Saint Mary’s University
Continent: North America
Field of study: social sciences
Study type: semester abroad
After I decided to spend my semester abroad in Canada, I made an appointment with MicroEdu and went to Frankfurt to get advice on the various universities. The conversation was really good and helpful, so I decided to go to Saint Mary’s University, which was definitely the best decision for me. The application process itself was really easy. All I had to do was fill out a form and send it to MicroEdu and that was it, about two weeks later I was accepted. I didn’t have to submit grades or proof of language proficiency and even had help from my contact person at MicroEdu in filling out the form. Check jibin123.com to see 9 best cities to study in Netherlands.
Studying at the SMU
Normally students in Canada take five courses, but I chose to take only three. The workload in Canada is much heavier than in Germany and it takes some time to get used to the Canadian system. Usually you have two exams per course, a midterm and a final exam, and almost every week some assignments, such as papers, essays, presentations, smaller tests or other submissions… The exams only count for about 20-30 percent. Something I also had to get used to was the compulsory attendance, which usually accounted for 10 percent of the grade.
My courses themselves were very interesting and I had really nice professors who were really nice and helpful. The courses were relatively small with 30 people, which was very pleasant. The organization was also very good, quite the opposite of my university in Germany, where things are often chaotic at times.
SMU is a very international university that makes every effort to make everyone feel comfortable and welcome. I think about a third of the students are international students. I would really recommend everyone to visit the Welcome Week, because you get to know people right from the start and get an overview of the numerous possibilities, what you can do at the SMU and how you can be supported. There is also a mentoring program that I signed up for, so I had a contact who initially answered a few of my questions and helped me. The Student Association at SMU organizes many events that are definitely worth attending. The president of the university is also really niceand was always asking how we were doing and how we were settling in whenever we met him in the hallways or at events.
The university itself is more than well equipped, has a beautiful campus and offers a very large program. Sports enthusiasts can take part in free courses and work out in the gym, where there is also a sauna for relaxation. Otherwise there are many societies where you can get involved and there is always something going on on campus.
Despite the high workload, I felt very comfortable at the SMU.
The International Office at the SMU and the SMUSA (SMU Student Association) offer many different possibilities for advice and help and really try very hard. There are also various contact points at the SMU for health matters, things like taxes and visa matters and much more.
Many workshops are offered and an attempt is made to support the students, especially during the exam phases, for example with free coffee and snacks in the library or by visiting therapy dogs that you can pet. My professors were also always very helpful and you could come to the consultation hours with any questions at any time. The SMU also has many services that can be of great help, especially in winter. For example, most of the buildings on campus are connected, so you don’t always have to go out into the cold. And if you live off campus, you can call the Husky Patrol, which will drive you home from campus for free.
Since I had decided against the dormitory, mainly because of the mandatory meal plan and the high costs, I flew to Halifax a week before the start of the semester and looked for an apartment there. The “Canadian Ebay” Kijiji was very helpful, but there are also many Facebook groups where you can search for apartments or shared rooms. I then found a room relatively quickly in a big house with eight other girls, who were all really nice and for whom I couldn’t have imagined a better landlord. For me, living off campus and being able to cook for myself and having a little distance from the university by not living on campus was the best decision for me.
Leisure and excursion possibilities
Halifax is not a metropolis, but a very beautiful city where you can do a lot. Unfortunately not as much in winter as in summer, but there are also many things to do in winter. For example, you can rent ice skates for free and go ice skating, orgo to ice hockey games. We did three smaller road trips and then traveled another six weeks after the semester. I would recommend everyone to plan some time before or after the semester to travel in Canada because the country is really huge and just beautiful. If you are in a group, you can rent a car relatively cheaply, but unfortunately if you are under 25 you have to pay young drivers fees.Totally nice places to visit in a day or a weekend are Peggy’s Cove, Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton.