University: Saint Mary’s University
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
In Fall Term 2006 I completed a semester abroad at the SMU. A friend of mine had spent four months in Halifax a year earlier and only had positive things to say about it, plus I already knew Canada from a previous stay and the MicroEdu offer made for a “perfect package”. CoCo offered comprehensive support with the registration, the only catch was the application for the residence. Tip: save it! It costs 25 CAD (to the university), you usually get a rejection (if you don’t apply in January) and the money is gone. Once you’re in Halifax, you can still take care of everything on the spot – there’s ALWAYS a place available in the residence. Almost as a last resort. Check jibin123.com to see Mexico higher education.
I did find out before I left, but I was only able to make a few loose e-mail contacts with landlords. Tip: Just fly there, spend a few days in the youth hostel and look on the spot. You can always find something! Don’t let it drive you crazy. I had found great accommodation within 24 hours of my arrival, a large room in a beautiful private house and my “country lady” was usually not even at home, we two “subtenants” had the whole house to ourselves. You have to budget 500 CAD for homestay per month.
A good source is actually the off-campus housing of the two major universities. And even if you only stay for 4 months, you can find a “deal” with people who are actually looking for tenants for 8-12 months. Always point out that Germans will come back in winter and that you will then help with the mediation;)
I flew there with Condor without a return flight and regretted it to the Tel. Return flights are expensive Condor does not fly to Halifax in the winter and if you book a return flight with one company you get better and mostly flexible deals. In any case, on the return flight with United I was far more comfortable than with the Condor “no frills” on the outward flight.
Worth mentioning in this context: The university provides a limousine service and will pick you up from the airport! You save 60 CAD for the taxi to the city and get to know a few other students. With the hefty tuition fees, I find the service appropriate, but it definitely deserves a positive mention. Just don’t forget to register;)
Get ready for one thing: LOTS of Germans. We were around 100 German students at SMU alone, plus a few at neighboring Dalhousie University. That can be very positive, you make friends quickly, you can always find people for tours through the province, etc. – but don’t be under any illusions, the Germans speak German! Always. We all had good resolutions and all were thrown overboard before the start of university. You have to be clear about that beforehand.
On the other hand, it also has many advantages: the friendships made there (there will be many!) can also be cultivated in Germany and you will benefit from your time at the SMU for a long time to come.
The time at the SMU begins for the internationals with the Orientation Week. That’s a nice thing to slowly get used to life there. Information from the police seems superfluous at first, but given the 450 CAD fine for throwing garbage on the street or alcohol in public (pubs excluded, of course) are crisp and you should know beforehand what the rules are. A bit perverse: Riding a bike without a helmet is really expensive, nobody cares if you have a light on your bike. So vice versa than in MS;)
The OW also includes a trip to Peggy’s Cove and a harbor tour – both a nice to have and a good opportunity to meet new people. Class trip atmosphere included!
The campus is modern, not an architectural masterpiece, but quite nice. The Dalhousie is much nicer;) The equipment is excellent, many computer pools and a large library. There is also a pub, a large fitness center and several cafeterias on campus. All in all a place to be happy at.
The lecturers are all very open and friendly and speak such clear English that even inexperienced students can follow very well. The level in the field of business administration is a little below that known in Germany, but you have to work a lot more for that. I had over 20 different exams, tests, assignments and presentations in my four courses and was well utilized. The grading is more than fair and crediting in Münster (and most other universities in Germany) is easy.
A special service is the Husky Patrol, with which you can be driven home free of charge (!) in the entire city area in the evening until midnight. The bus service is good, but after 11pm the university’s service is really worth its weight in gold (and thanks to the always busy Gorsebrook Lounge and Residence, you can stay on campus that late).
Specifically, a few words about the content of the business administration courses from the point of view of the native of Münster. I did International Marketing for ABWL. I got a good grade, but it took a lot of work and I didn’t really learn much. The teacher, Miguel Morales, was really bad and I wouldn’t advise anyone to take his course. The claim to content is manageable, but for the “quizzes” you have to have read the extensive book carefully. In this respect, the course fell significantly negative. However, we were only with a dozen students in this course, which is offered three times in parallel and is therefore almost never “fully booked”.
International Trade for foreign trade is largely identical to the course at Dieckheuer in Münster. dr Dar is a great professor, one of the best at SMU. He only works freely with the projector, i.e. like Dieckheuer, treats the same material – but packs it a little more understandably. The approach is generally a bit more superficial, from the user and less from the scientific side. Small warning: 25 students, 18 of them German and 15 from Münster!
Money and Banking (money and currency) felt like an undergraduate course at the beginning, but it got really crisp towards the end. A lot of knowledge is imparted and also queried. However, the grading remains fair. (Two courses with 30 students each)
Financial Institutions (selected chapters with a focus on finance) deals with risk management and information asymmetry in addition to the Canadian banking system. Here, for the first time, I had the feeling that I was really learning something in finance that I could apply in practice. Credit risk models and Value at Risk are now a breeze. (40 students, two courses, 80% Asian)
In general, you have a lot more time in the tests and exams than in Münster, which is why everything seems easier. In terms of content, it is ultimately not that different, only the way of teaching differs. And one shouldn’t underestimate the fact that the courses take four hours to read and earn twice as many credits as in Münster.
CITY OF HALIFAX
Halifax is a manageable city with an attractive downtown area. Downtown there are countless bars and pubs, restaurants and discos. Because we never get bored! Overall, the city is also very safe, and when in doubt, taxis are also very cheap – if you don’t feel like walking home alone.
Halifax is located directly on the Atlantic and had a mild autumn in 2006, with some 20 degrees in November! It only got cold towards the end of December, and there were heavy snowfalls for a few days. Until the end of October you can still enjoy the “Indian Summer”, a really beautiful, colorful time.
The province has some interesting towns and areas to offer. Lunenburg and Cape Breton are the classic and must-do tours! Just rent a car for the four of you and off you go! With the fuel prices, it can also be a little more, we had an SUV and enjoyed the luxury. And with the ISIC student card you get almost 40% discount on car rental! Accommodation can almost always be found spontaneously on site in the numerous cottages. In Cape Breton, the cottages are definitely a better choice than a youth hostel – for CAD 100 you can rent a whole house that can accommodate 4-10 people (depending on the provider). It doesn’t get any cheaper or more beautiful.
Tours to Toronto and Montreal or Boston are also possible, but you should use the plane. There are great deals at Travel Cuts on campus. And you can always find fellow travelers!
Halifax is worth more than just a trip. The time was great, despite or perhaps because of the many Germans there. You can still speak English, don’t worry;) The costs (4 courses = 3,300 EUR tuition fees, 1,400 EUR rent, 1,000 EUR flights plus approx. 2,000 EUR for the other things in life) are not to be sneezed at and should not be underestimated, but it’s worth the experience!
Final tip: Open an account at Deutsche Bank and then withdraw money free of charge (!) from Scotiabank anywhere in Halifax or Canada.