University: Saint Mary’s University
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
This is the field report about a semester abroad at St. Mary’s University in Halifax Canada. My name is Andreas Mense and I’m in the 4th semester studying business administration at the University of Münster. Check liuxers.com to see is there an ideal SAT score.
I decided quite late to do a semester abroad. It was not until Christmas 2006 that I found out about the possibility of going abroad through MicroEdu through an acquaintance. After this information I found out about the possible universities on their homepage. Actually, Halifax was the only option for me from the start. I wanted to go to an English-speaking university and not necessarily in the USA or England. Canada interested me from the start and another big advantage was that you don’t need a TOEFEL test to study in Halifax. I wouldn’t have had any time during the semester to prepare for the test. I then went straight to MicroEdu at the end of February and was personally informed on site. There I was told that I still had enough time to make a decision and that it was actually not an application but rather a registration. So I was told that when I filled out the application papers, I was almost guaranteed to be accepted. I then gave myself a month’s time and then registered. The final confirmation came in mid-May and I was able to start preparing for the trip.
If you have now received the final confirmation, you will receive a voucher from MicroEdu which you can redeem at the STA travel agency when the trip is booked there. I booked my trip on the internet, which later turned out to be a mistake. To save a little money I booked a flight with a stopover in New York. At that point I didn’t know that I needed a visa for the United States. I was informed about this at one of the two pre-meetings organized by MicroEdu. I then had to apply for a visa and drive to the Consulate General in Frankfurt to give my fingerprints there. In hindsight it wasn’t so bad after all because I was able to rebook my return flight via New York and thus explore the city for another week without booking an extra flight there. I can also highly recommend Continental Airways as an airline, it’s a bit more expensive but from what I’ve heard from others who have flown on other airlines the service is said to have been much better.
I then started from Frankfurt on August 28th. Be sure to check the university’s Student Center’s website for a free taxi ride from the airport to downtown Halifax for an exchange student. Otherwise there is a very good bus transfer that is not expensive either, but the free option is much more practical. On Friday, August 31st was the start of the orientation week, which is definitely a must-attend event. It would be best if you had already organized an apartment by then, because the program is very extensive and you don’t really have time to look for an apartment during these days without missing out on a few items on the program, which would really be a pity. I reported to the University Student Center the day after I arrived and the people there were very helpful in finding accommodation. I then got a very nice room through another German fellow student, whom I met at the previous meeting and with whom I then met in Halifax. The landlord was also very nice and there were 5 other students living in the house. What was really good was that the house was only a 10-minute walk from the university and the rent was reasonable for this location. I would advise against living in student residences directly on campus. At first glance there is of course a lot going on there and it is easy to meet new people, including Canadians. But the catch is, that you MUST buy a meal plan. It works in such a way that at the beginning of the semester you HAVE to load a certain amount onto your card, which you then slowly debit with every meal. This means that you should actually always eat in the university cafeteria in order not to lose money. The food there is very cheap, but the quality is rather mediocre. I was very glad that I didn’t have to eat there every day and especially morning, noon and night. But everyone has to decide that for themselves.
As I said, the orientation week began on Friday evening and went on for almost a week. Lectures were held in which important information about life in Halifax was given. Furthermore, groups were divided in which one then got to know each other – games and a campus tour. The group leaders were mostly international students who had the experience themselves. So they were able to put themselves in our position and gave us a lot of useful tips. Despite the very large number of German exchange students, you got to know a lot of students from other nations. English was also spoken the whole time, so that progress could already be made in this area. Further program points were a trip to Peggys Cove, a famous lighthouse, and later a sailing trip through the port of Halifax with all the exchange students. The orientation week was organized by the International Center of the university, which also organized new excursions and other events during the semester. The people there were really motivated and committed.
Everyday university life is very different from here. You usually have classes with no more than 40 students and therefore have much more contact with your professor. Unfortunately, what you should definitely be prepared for is the horrendous cost of the textbooks. In each course you have to buy a book, since exercises or cases are worked on from it. The small contingent of used books that can be purchased more cheaply is usually sold out quickly. It is best to go to the book shop immediately after arrival and look out for bargains.
The courses require a lot of preparation. The professors require you to prepare the chapters that will be discussed with the help of the book. There may also be unannounced testing of these chapters. It all sounds very hard, but you usually only take 3 courses, which are scheduled twice a week for one and a half hours. In my term you always had Fridays off, I think that will probably be the case every semester. So you have enough time to prepare for university and also to enjoy life in Halifax. Sport is very important at the university. The football team the “Saint Marys Huskies” finished 2nd in the Canadian championship this year and in the semifinals there were up to 6000 spectators at the stadium on campus.
Halifax is the capital of the province of Nova Scotia. It really is a student city. In addition to Saint Marys University, there are 5 other universities there. I have never met such helpful people as in Halifax. People are happy when they can help you find the right path. The city also has the second largest natural harbor in the world. Large Atlantic cruisers, including the Queen Mary 2, dock there almost every day until the end of October. A really nice spot is Point Pleasant Park on the eastern tip of the city, which lies directly on the Atlantic. On a hill in the middle of the city is the old British fort, where historical events are still re-enacted today. The city also offers many shopping opportunities,
As described above, Halifax itself offers a wide range of leisure activities. But there are many other destinations that can be easily reached from Halifax. As mentioned above, New York is only a two and a half hour flight away. Toronto and Montreal are also easily accessible by plane. Unfortunately, since Canada does not have the low-cost airlines known from Europe, I looked at the immediate area around Halifax. Nova Scotia offers a variety of places to visit. I went canoeing in a national park, whale watching in a rubber dinghy and playing paintball. If you rent a car there, everything is very easy to reach. Even if the distances seem huge compared to German conditions. But everything is possible. For a weekend trip I can recommend a trip to Cape Breton. This is a large island in the far north of Nova Scotia where you will find beautiful scenery. You can see moose there and find beautiful beaches. Try to go there during the “Indian Summer” (mid-September to mid-October). Indian Summer is the time when the leaves on the trees there change color. The bold colors of the leaves are really worth the trip. There were many other ways to spend your free time there, so everyone has to know for themselves how much money and time they can and want to invest.
To pick up the last sentence of the previous article, money obviously plays an important role. First there are the tuition fees, which for 3 courses amount to around 2600€. Rents in student halls of residence or privately are similar to those in Germany. It always depends on the location, of course, but I paid the same amount for the location mentioned above as in Münster. What was of course very positive for me was the good exchange rate between euros and dollars. That has made things a lot more bearable. What you might have expected are the very high prices for alcoholic beverages. You can drink one or more beers very well and cheaply during happy hour in the university pub, but the prices in the pubs in the city are very high. Then you need a certain amount of time until you have found the cheap pubs with good offers. But if you just go out a lot and compare prices, then that’s fine. What really surprised me was the very expensive food. As long as you only want to eat fish and meat you have a good hand. Unfortunately, all dairy products and many other products, such as frozen pizza, are very expensive compared to Germany. You have to be prepared for this and plan for it in your budget.
Despite the relatively high costs and tuition fees, the semester in Halifax was an unforgettable event. Within the 4 months of my stay there I experienced so many great things that I will never forget. Very clear English spoken in Halifax. The people there are simply very nice and helpful, making it easy to make new contacts and improve your English skills. Saint Mary’s University is a good school that also has a good reputation within Canada. The professors there are also very helpful and try to bring the material closer to the students and help immediately if problems arise. How the results and grades will later arrive at your German university, or at your future employer, I cannot assess. You have to be aware that the level of performance is lower than in Germany. But this also has the advantage that it is possible to get good to very good grades with a little work and still have time to enjoy your stay to the fullest. You should also consider that you still have opportunities outside of your studies. It is a unique opportunity to get to know people from different parts of the world and from totally different cultures. You can make acquaintances there that may last for years after your stay. From my point of view, I can only recommend a semester in Halifax to anyone who is interested in the things listed above.