University: Saint Mary’s University
Continent: North America
Field of study: linguistics
Study type: semester abroad
Since I have to have spent at least 6 weeks in an English-speaking country according to the study regulations for my English studies in Bochum, I dealt with the various options for a stay abroad early on in my studies. I came across the MicroEdu organization at a trade fair at the University of Bochum, which gave me helpful information about studying abroad. It quickly became clear to me that I didn’t just want to spend 6 weeks but a semester abroad to learn the country’s language. Check jibin123.com to see 10 best cities to study in Portugal.
I chose Canada because the tuition fees are also very high here, but still cheaper than in other English-speaking countries such as the USA or England. Initially, I had slight concerns about applying to Saint Mary’s University, but these quickly subsided after a few calls to MicroEdu. The support of the organization really helped me a lot, as I was supported by the team from the first day of my planning until my departure. I believe that this support is particularly important because one might initially underestimate the planning of a stay abroad. I myself, for example, didn’t give enough thought to things like international health insurance before
The help provided by MicroEdu was also useful with regard to choosing a course at Saint Mary’s University, which is initially done from Germany. I received precise instructions on when and how I could first activate and then register online for the courses. I took three courses in Halifax, one in Linguistics and two in Canadian Literature. I didn’t have any problems getting into the courses, whereas business courses at the university are very popular, as I’ve heard from other German students.
I would recommend the number of three courses, because although you are busy, you still have enough time to look around and meet people. I really liked the content of all three courses. Since the courses at the university usually take place twice a week, the lecturers have more time to go into the respective backgrounds. For example, I learned a lot about the history of Canada and especially Nova Scotia in a course called “Canadian Literature after 1920”. I really liked my linguistics course “Language, Culture and Society” because it was structured differently than the other courses. No exams were written. Instead, we worked on many smaller tasks and wrote essays, which were then all included in the grade at the end. My lecturers were very helpful and interested. Since I was the only German in all my courses, I was often asked for my opinion on certain topics, as the lecturers assumed that as a European I think differently about many things (but it could be that this was due to my courses and this is not the case in other, e.g. economic, courses).
I lived in a “senior suite” in the student residence (Vanier Residence) of the university. I chose this accommodation option because I wanted to be sure that I would be well accommodated before I started my stay in Canada and didn’t want to have to look for an apartment first on site. In general I would say that this accommodation has pros and cons. On the one hand it has to be said that the accommodation in the dormitory is very expensive (approx. 2700 $ per semester without meals) and relatively little is offered in return. Two other girls lived with me in the “senior suite”. We shared a bathroom and a kitchen together. Unfortunately, the kitchen was very sparsely furnished and so we had to buy dishes, a pot and a pan and everything else that you need in a kitchen ourselves. Likewise, some of the rooms are very small and only equipped with the bare essentials. One point that bothered me and my roommates the most was that the heating often failed or there was only cold water for showering. It was also a pity that I (like many other Germans who came to Saint Mary’s University through MicroEdu) only lived with Germans. That bothered me a lot at first because I came to Canada to improve my English. In retrospect, however, I also see it as an advantage that I lived with two German girls, because I always had someone who came from the same culture as me and who understood me when I was offended by Canadian habits.
What I liked about the accommodation in the halls of residence was that you lived on campus and didn’t even have to leave the building to go to your lectures. In addition, in the dormitory you always had a lot of people around you who you could visit and with whom you had a lot of fun. That helped me a lot. During the whole time I was not homesick. Living at the university also had the advantage that I never had to go home alone at night because my friends were also staying in the dorm and so had the same way home.
On weekends you can go to numerous discos in Halifax, but I didn’t really like them because of the music (R’n’B, hip-hop, charts). But I really liked the many pubs and bars “Downtown Halifax”. For shopping, head to Halifax Shopping Mall (15-20 minutes by bus) or Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth (40 minutes by bus). In the summer (even on nice days in spring or fall) it’s very nice to go to the “Public Gardens” downtown (5 minutes from the university) or to “Point Pleasent Park” (5 minutes from the university, directly on the sea).
During my time in Halifax, I explored both Nova Scotia and the nearby east coast. In Nova Scotia, I particularly liked Cape Breton with its Indian Summer in October. The island offers a great landscape and very nice people. I slept there at the Broadwater Inn, which is probably the nicest little inn I’ve ever seen. I rented a car with three other people for a 4-day trip and we explored the east coast of Canada. Our Tour: St. John (New Brunswick), Quebec City (Quebec), Montreal (Quebec). I highly recommend checking out these cities while you’re on the East Coast, although I’ll plan more time next time.
Overall, I am very happy when I think back to my time in Canada and I wish everyone who also wants to go to Halifax a great time there. Enjoy it.