University: Saint Mary’s University
Continent: North America
Field of study: psychology
Study type: semester abroad
The decision to spend my semester abroad in Canada came relatively spontaneously. It was all the better for me that the application deadline was relatively late for most universities and, thanks to MicroEdu, I had relatively little to organize compared to fellow students who went abroad via Erasmus. Since I didn’t have a language certificate and I wanted to choose certain courses, I chose Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada. Until then I didn’t even know where Nova Scotia was. Check jibin123.com to see what are the largest universities in the world in terms of student numbers.
In my experience report, I would definitely like to appeal to you: Of course, Toronto, Vancouver and Co. are also great cities and I have been there myself. But get involved with something new, Halifax simply has its charm! Especially if you like cool bars, distances that can be reached on foot and a nice, family-friendly university, you’ve come to the right place.
I have to say that it takes time to warm up in Halifax. But if you pull yourself together and find out where the cool places are, you can have a great semester in Halifax. For a second one it would have been a bit too quiet for me personally. Before the semester I traveled all over Canada for 2 months – I can only warmly recommend that to you. But let’s get to the semester.
I know it’s hard and I haven’t done it myself, but listen to other people’s experiences. It’s no use looking for accommodation in advance from Germany. Arrive a week before and look for a hostel or even better an AirBnB. Then you will definitely find something through kijiji or the first contacts you make. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t found a happy place somewhere. While it’s tempting to grab the first thing that comes along, don’t. I ruined my whole travels looking for accommodation. Rejections rained down and out of sheer desperation I accepted a terrible room.
Get in touch with your fellow CoCo students and ask them where they’ve stayed! I can’t say much about the residence, I’ve only seen the most expensive rooms and wouldn’t have wanted or been able to afford them. I wouldn’t have liked the meal plan either. An international flat share, which I finally ended up in, is a great thing. Lower your expectations of cleanliness etc. a little anyway. You’ll soon have the luxury of home again.
An additional possibility would also be some kind of long-term hostel accommodation downtown, which is probably also suitable for students. I saw one of the rooms and found the mini room really overpriced. If you don’t feel like a long search, this would also be an option.
Basically, you can attend any course you are interested in at the SMU. All courses are open to international students. I have attended 3 courses: Cross-Cultural Psychology, Abnormal PSYC Specific Disorders and Forensic Psychology. For more detailed information about the courses, please write to me. You have to say: As long as you are not very restricted by your home university, you can swap all courses at the beginning of the semester if you don’t like one.
You really don’t have to worry about the prerequisites either; I have given some modules as corresponding previous knowledge that had nothing to do with the seminar at the SMU I was aiming for. Paul Dixon will unlock you for everything! So just don’t stack too deep, otherwise you will be underchallenged in the university. With three courses I had enough to do that I didn’t get bored, but I also traveled a lot. If possible, do not choose courses that require you to take weekly online tests in order to pass. That can be quite annoying on weekend trips! But you could do that too.
As I said, the level of the courses is relatively low, it’s more a lot of material than really difficult. But I only speak for the psychology courses. Just don’t stress too much! The multiple choice questions were sometimes a joke and it’s more about showing perseverance throughout the semester. You will be asked to hand in short essays or other homework. The university has a great library with a quiet part for studying. You can print there for little money and often meet people you know.
I really enjoyed studying at the university. I can also recommend the Writing Center! If you have to hand in homework, the staff there will go through sentence by sentence with you and try to support you. Very helpful, especially if you are still unsure of English. By the way, you should have no problem understanding and writing English. You get into it fairly quickly, but if you are still very, very unsure, it is better to do a preparatory course beforehand.
On the accompanying pictures you can see a few impressions of eastern Canada. Take your time and invest money in rental cars and flights to Montreal, Toronto or the USA. The semester shouldn’t just be for studying! I liked Cape Breton the most and places near Halifax like Cape Split were also beautiful.
My personal highlight was spontaneous animal observations such as moose, seals or deer. The more often you are on the road, the higher the chance that you will make such discoveries! The Indian Summer in Nova Scotia is simply breathtakingly beautiful. Don’t let this escape you through unnecessary ambition at university! I know few who don’t have at least a 1.0 in their courses and that “despite” weekend trips. So again: travel, travel, travel!
Money, of course, also plays a role. All I can say is I’ve always tried to find a balance between going out every week and still not spending too much money. Alcohol and food are particularly expensive. Just lower your expectations. Then there’s just noodles for the fourth time a week and an extra beer in the pub instead. In the Oasis, for example, there are particularly cheap pitchers. Tip: Cook together and go out together!
I bought a Canadian SIM card in the first week. The disappointing result was associated with a lot of stress and high costs. In advance, look for a German provider with whom you can surf worldwide or do without mobile data volume altogether. WLAN is available almost everywhere (incidentally also in the university). You hardly ever have to make a call.
Also, try a sport you’ve never done before. You can attend almost every course weekly and without registration.
In conclusion, all I can say is that Canadians are even nicer than you can imagine. And please remember: Relax – everything will work out. Planning too much in advance is useless. Have fun in your semester abroad!