University: Saint Mary’s University
Continent: North America
Field of study: Business
Study type: semester abroad
As I had a really great time in Halifax, I’m now writing this report and I hope to inspire some more students to come to Halifax for a semester…Check existingcountries.com to see 10 safest cities in the USA to live.
It’s actually a long story why I ended up in Halifax at SMU. First of all, the idea of doing a semester abroad was quite spontaneous. I then asked which application deadlines I could still meet and was lucky that I got an Erasmus place at a renowned university in the Netherlands.
A friend then raved to me about his semester in Halifax and his experiences in Canada, and all of a sudden I asked myself whether I should perhaps go “far away” after all. In the end, on July 14, 2008, I decided to contact MicroEdu to find out whether an application was still possible. I was able to fill out the form directly and apply on the spot, since the course selection was supposed to take place online on July 16th. And indeed, I received the access data for registration in good time! That was really a great achievement, since the application had to be processed by MicroEdu and the SMU. But the support was really very good the whole time – from MicroEdu as well as from the university.
At the end of August I was already on the plane to Halifax!
Unfortunately, I failed to reserve an apartment or a bed in the hostel early on and therefore had to check in at the hotel. Was ‘ne nice affair, but of course not very cheap. I can therefore only recommend that you take care of it in good time, because the hostels are always fully booked in summer.
Finding a room or an apartment was difficult. I had received the information that living off campus made much more sense. The newspapers and the internet didn’t get me any further and I was lucky that the lady at the SMU in the off-campus housing office drew my attention to the partnership with the Atlantic School of Theology (AST), which is 5 minutes away. So I made an appointment and since I was desperate and would have taken almost any room, I was overjoyed with the situation in the residence and was able to move in the same day. In addition, I did not have to pay any money for the remaining days of August. The dormitory was really perfectly fine. You share a bathroom, a kitchen or the TV room with several people, but it is relatively clean and I was warmly welcomed. One can say that there was a family atmosphere, precisely because families and older people also lived there. However, I also had to get used to the Canadian conditions, which do not come close to the German ones. However, I would again prefer AST to on-campus residency. Some apartments on campus are without a kitchen but with a meal plan and you are obliged to buy bad and overpriced food every day and the apartments with their own kitchen have two rooms that have to be shared by two residents. The suites are an exception to this. These apartments are actually really nice, but overpriced.
Furthermore, I would not recommend the YMCA. It’s right in town, but it’s about a 20 minute walk to SMU and the buses aren’t really dependable, but that’s another story entirely. The rooms at the YMCA are still super small and the shared kitchens and bathrooms were probably not that clean.
My everyday university life was such that I was supposed to go to six lectures at three events a week. Most students (including me) had Fridays off. With some professors attendance is not important, with others it is. The exams and the lectures were not too difficult and one had no problems following the professor. The level is lower, but you get more busy. You write midterms, assignments and termpapers throughout the semester.
Overall, I felt a bit like I was back in my school days because the classes were small and the atmosphere was kind of school-like. The tone is also different. However, this could be due to the fact that you generally cannot use the formal address in English.
Of course, a good student has to party, and Halifax was a great place for that – especially on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. =)
Alcohol is quite expensive in Canada due to taxes, but there are offers in various pubs and discos on many days, so that one can definitely afford to drink a beer or two.
Compared to Germany, grocery shopping is also more expensive.
The Atlantic Superstore in Halifax is cheaper than the Sobey supermarket, but at the latter you get 10% off on Tuesdays with an air miles card. Nevertheless, you pay a lot more than in Germany, especially for a healthy diet.
An important aspect against the decision to study in Halifax can be the large number of German students. Last fall there were 100 students alone. I had also considered beforehand not to do too much with Germans to improve my language skills. In the end, of course, it didn’t work out and my best friends came from Germany, but I’m not sad either because I just had a great time and my English improved significantly overall. Besides, the city of Halifax is definitely livable. The people here are extremely friendly, much friendlier than in Germany.
I really enjoyed the semester abroad and can only recommend Halifax!