University: Saint Mary’s University
Continent: North America
Field of study: communication sciences, media
Study type: semester abroad
This is an account of my time in Canada. I spent one semester (Sep 01 – Dec 21, 2011) in Halifax at Saint Mary’s University, where I took 3 courses with a focus on business administration.
To my regret, the journey to Halifax was an absolute disaster. My plane arrived in Frankfurt am Main with a delay of 5 hours and so I got the last connecting flight to Halifax. Although I had to sit for 2 hours at the immigration office for a stamp, I was then allowed to rush to the flight to just get it. When I finally landed in Halifax, luckily the university’s car service worked and I finally got to the student residence at 1 am. The employees there were really nice and helped us quickly and competently so that we could sleep quickly. Check liuxers.com to see how to open a bank account in Canada.
The introductory week that followed was awesome. Students who study normally at the university sign up as volunteers to explain everything to every newcomer and to help them with every problem. The International Center at Saint Mary’s has very competent staff who are well organized and act not only as employees but also as chaplains or friends. I felt like I was at home again right after my first day. The events to get to know each other are very funny and varied. Unfortunately, the week goes by much faster than one would like and the study begins.
The course extends from 1-5 courses per semester. In my experience, 3 courses are an optimal number to be able to travel and celebrate in addition to studying. You can also change or deselect the courses on site (select). The professors are at least as well trained in their subject as the professors in Germany. However, it is noticeable that in many subjects the typical lecture is replaced by a multimedia program consisting of various presentations, films and studies.
Only in a few cases are presentations taken from AZ. The professors are also much more concerned with getting everyone through rather than increasing their “failure rate”. It is also easier to achieve a good result, even if you are not sure of the language, due to the many smaller or larger tests and tasks, from which the grade is ultimately composed. It is also not a problem to stay away from the lecture.
Just let the professor know and clarify it with him. Then you get the learning material beforehand and can work on it for the next lecture. However, if you think you get grades as a gift, you are wrong!! Of course, a certain amount of learning is necessary in order to qualify for the course. It’s a lot during the semester but gets less and less towards the end. Of course you also have to get used to the fact that suddenly all the books are in English and there is no German translation. But you really can’t complain about lecture days from Monday to Thursday (Friday is officially never a lecture in Saint Mary’s).
The rooms in the dormitories are very functional. They are more like single cells, reinforced by the screens on the windows, than single rooms. However, taking into account the room regulations, it can be beautified many times over. But before you decide on a room, you should consider whether you need a “meal plan” or not. This is only worth it if you stay in “single rooms” that have neither a kitchen nor a stove. Otherwise, I would advise sharing an apartment with others and cooking for yourself. The menu in the canteen changes in a 6-week rite and is not necessarily much more than sweet and greasy. I myself lived from there for the entire duration and I have to say that there are worse things to come. Which “meal plan” you should take depends on your personal needs. It is also important to know that food in Canada is not cheap, even in the supermarket. In contrast to Germany you can pay 3 times more for fresh fruit and vegetables!!
Unfortunately, I have to say that a semester abroad is only for people who get student loans for it, or who can really afford it. The books cost between $80 and $200 and in most cases you really need them, since many exam questions can only be answered with the book alone. Copying books is not really appreciated in Canada. You can sell the books again in the next semester, but the question is how much of the purchase price (max. 50%) you get back. Also, travel and food is not necessarily cheap.
So you can get rid of $400 dollars over a weekend. Celebrations are also very expensive. Drinks cost up to $18 and the club closes at 3 a.m. at the latest. So don’t be alarmed if, at the height of the party mood, it’s suddenly over and you have a bill for over $100 in front of you. I wouldn’t advise anyone to just stay in their room to save money, since you shouldn’t just be there to study. All in all, you can count on around €10,000 to €12,000 per semester, but then you have done almost everything.
My opinion about the semester:
It’s the best thing you can do as a student. No matter where and no matter when, studying abroad is always the right choice. Not only do you get to know a different way of studying, you also meet new friends and really nice people who stay with you even after you graduate. I also recommend it to anyone who has never ventured away from home. It was precisely these people that I experienced blossoming and rediscovering themselves during the semester. It may be a lot of money for some, but it’s well invested. In addition, it also saves you various English tests for other courses and you will later have a great point in your CV. Definitely do it.
I hope I was able to help you with your decision and wish you a lot of fun on your trip abroad.