University: Saint Mary’s University
Continent: North America
Field of study: Business administration, organization and leadership
Study type: semester abroad
Application process and preparations
The application was complete and uncomplicated via MicroEdu. As an applicant, you are provided with all the necessary documents and forms and then send them to MicroEdu. The application will then be organized from there and you will receive a confirmation from the Canadian university a few weeks later. Check liuxers.com to see how to open a bank account in Belgium.
Finally, you have to take care of the entry. If you go to Canada for a semester, it is sufficient to enter with a simple entry permit (ETA), which you can apply for online. Detailed information on this can be obtained from MicroEdu beforehand.
There is a direct flight from Frankfurt to Halifax from spring to autumn. Otherwise with a stop in a Canadian and American metropolis. I arrived with a stop in the USA.
SMU offers free transfers from the airport to the city center for all new internationals (directly to the accommodation’s front door). You will receive information in advance by e-mail. As soon as I arrived, I shared a black limousine with an Indian comrade-in-arms to downtown Halifax.
It is advisable to organize accommodation in advance from Germany. Fellow students who tried to find a shared room or similar from the hostel ran the risk of not being able to find anything at the end, since the demand exceeded the supply at the beginning of the semester (just like in Germany).
The student dormitories on the SMU campus offer the advantage of being directly underground connected to all university buildings. When the weather is bad, the residents don’t have to step outside the door. In terms of price, these are in the middle range. Rather at the lower end in terms of comfort and equipment (70s look, shared washing machines with cold water only, etc.). The application process is supposed to be a bit complicated and you must move out one day after the last exam. But I only heard all this from friends who stayed there.
I found what I was looking for in a privately organized downtown dormitory that had just opened a few months earlier. In terms of price, this was higher than the university halls of residence, but you save yourself the regular taxi costs home because you live only two streets away from the pub district. Other contact points are Airbnb, Kijiji (Canadian ebay classifieds) or the Google search for private dormitories.
Study situation and courses taken
The course is selected in advance from Germany. It should be noted here that there are no separate places for international students, but that you have to “prevail” against the local students when choosing a course. You should therefore have yourself activated for the courses as soon as possible after the confirmation and then secure the places in the individual courses, as these are limited. Popular courses are booked relatively quickly and subsequent course admission is only possible on site, with effort and a bit of luck (ultimately depends on the professor and one’s own justification). Courses can still be changed during the first week of lectures. So you are not finally bound to the courses after your choice.
When choosing a course, I focused on finance courses. I have taken the following courses:
The course deals with the valuation of securities. First, various different types of securities and valuation methods are discussed. The final exam is aimed at portfolio theory, which is covered for almost half of the lecture period. The exams consist of four unannounced tests, a midterm and a final exam.
The professor is good. However, you should stay on the ball right from the start, as everything builds on each other.
I would take this course again and again.
This course deals with the financial risks of banks and insurance companies. Good statistical knowledge is required – the exams consist almost entirely of statistics and other calculations. There are two midterms, each preceded by a term paper. These prepare you reasonably well for the exams. Nevertheless, the course and especially the final exam are comparatively demanding. The topics of the individual exams do not really build on each other, so that after each exam a new chapter is started and you start from scratch.
The professor is not a didactic genius and therefore I would not recommend the course.
Money & Banking:
The course deals with the banking and monetary system from an economic point of view and goes beyond the basic micro and macro courses. Interesting in terms of content, Prof. Rankaduwa has a heart for foreign students and the exams and homework are very fair. The term papers (the best three of the four submitted count) prepare well for the exams. It is not mandatory to attend every lecture if you own the book.
International Business Management:
Judging by the name of the course, I assumed that there would be several internationals there. In the end, we were four visiting students among 35 participants. However, this circumstance – and also the structure of the course – made it relatively easy to get in touch with the local students. This was not always the case in the other courses in the higher semesters. The exams are very small. Oral participation, two tests, a presentation, a final exam lasting several hours and the evaluation of the group members count towards the final grade.
The lectures are split into a theory phase by the professor and a group presentation (case study) each week. In terms of content, a different topic with an international background is dealt with every week. The course is very varied and super interesting. The professor (who only wants to be called “Ali” by everyone) is very good and always stimulates exciting discussions. This course was by far the best I have taken at SMU. Therefore: absolute recommendation.
Halifax has a high recreational value. It is the economic and cultural center of Nova Scotia. Countless bars, pubs and clubs not only make the weekends really worth living. The Waterfront is the perfect place to unwind after a short night’s sleep. The brand new Public Library in the center is a good alternative to the Uni-Bib. The city also scores with two large malls and a huge park right on the water. But (the attached) pictures are known to say more than a thousand words.
In Canada, you really notice what distance really means. For our weekend trips to Cape Breton or the Bay of Fundy, it was quite normal to drive back to Halifax on Sunday evening for almost six hours and only arrive back home at night. On the map, these distances look like a “stone’s throw”. But then we preferred to fly to Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto (all of which are also well worth seeing). Some competitors also made trips to New York, Boston, Mexico, Vancouver and Seattle during the fall break.
The semester at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax is one of the best I’ve ever had. The structure of the course and the warm, open nature of the Canadians are truly unique. The city is super livable and all the people I met there make the time unforgettable. I have not regretted the decision for a second and would make the same decision again and again.
You can save yourself a lot of work and stress if you take care of accommodation, courses, etc. from Germany. The easiest way to start making contact with other internationals is during the Welcome Week. In addition, a Whatsapp group was set up for all visiting students who were there through MicroEdu. So we were already in contact with each other before we arrived.