University: Saint Mary’s University
Continent: North America
Field of study: pedagogy and teaching
Study type: semester abroad
I’m studying to become a teacher for grammar schools in Germany and since in Canada you first need a bachelor’s degree in order to become a teacher, I was only able to study one of my subjects there, but that wasn’t a problem. Check liuxers.com to see 13 best cooking schools in the world.
Once there, due to a misunderstanding with the Residences, I lived with a friend from Germany with a host family in Dartmouth, the neighboring town of Halifax (Nova Scotia). However, since the one-hour bus ride became too much for us after two weeks, we asked the university again and luckily got two places in the halls of residence. If you have a long way to the university, it can rob you of many hours, for example if the buses are too late and you then miss connections, etc. The halls of residence are not like in Germany, you share one with several people (usually six). Hallway, a bathroom and there are at least three of these hallways on each floor.
At least that was the case in the Vanier Residence. This automatically gives you the “meal plan”, which means you have to eat in the university canteen. The minimum is a ten meal plan, i.e. eating ten times a week in the “Dockside”. The hygiene conditions are relatively good, daily cleaning staff make life in the hallway pretty easy. It’s also much easier to socialize that way. Dockside food will of course be repeated at some point, but for a canteen it’s extremely good and there’s a lot of choice. Everything is always fresh.
I had to share my room with someone, but we got along great. So that wasn’t a problem at all. However, it could be difficult if you don’t get along with the person and then have to live together for at least four months. In terms of costs, university life was quite expensive, but everything was pretty orderly, structured, there were clear rules and you were always among people. It was particularly practical to live in the heart of the action and theoretically you shouldn’t have left the campus at all, since there are of course the classrooms, but also the “Gorsebrooklounge”, a bar with various events and food options, a fitness studio, hairdressers, kiosks, cafés and the like existed. There was a lot to explore in the city, but four months were enough for that. There are nice clubs, numerous bars and pubs,
The fitness studio also has a lot to offer and is included in the contribution to the university for exchange students.
If you went on weekend trips, you were offered beautiful landscapes and there was always something to explore. Personally, I found the orientation week to be very helpful, in which all the international lessons are brought together again and again and brought closer together. So you can find friends and connections very quickly. In the classrooms, there is hardly any conversation and getting to know each other, one is limited to name rounds at the beginning (if at all) and joint presentations or group work. However, the learning style is very different from what I am used to. There is something to hand in every week, tests to write and there are exams at the end and in the middle of the semester. In the beginning it seems much more stressful.
The courses consist of small groups and even if they are called lectures, they are usually 10-20 people. Oral grades are also usually awarded. The lecturers are all very nice and happy to help you outside of their office hours. At the university there is a so-called “Writing Centre”, which is recommended in every course and every student. You can go there if you have trouble writing a term paper or if you just want to go over the work with an objective person again. They take a lot of time for you and you can go to their open office hours without registering.
The work that SMU does with the Internationals is also quite good as you really never get bored. They organize events like dinners, visits to ice hockey games, bowling, parties and also traditional things like apple picking which can bring you closer to Canadian culture.
All in all, I can only recommend Saint Mary’s University. There is a great sense of togetherness there and everyone supports the university as best they can. Living there on campus makes a lot of things easier, but even if you want to distance yourself and look for another place to live, most people are very nice and open. Everyone attaches great importance to the internationals feeling comfortable and being integrated.