University: Saint Mary’s University
Continent: North America
Field of study: Statistics, project management
Study type: semester abroad
Planning and arrival
I came across Saint Mary’s University (SMU) through the advice of MicroEdu after inquiring about opportunities for masters students. I applied in February and was accepted in mid-May. MicroEdu did a great job organizing the entire application process for me/us. Check liuxers.com to see how to open a bank account in Spain.
I was able to choose the courses online from June/July and therefore had my timetable relatively early.
Since Condor flies direct from Frankfurt to Halifax in the summer months, getting to Halifax was relatively easy. When I arrived in Halifax, my host family picked me up. But you also had the option of being picked up free of charge by a shuttle bus from the International Center of the SMU.
I first stayed with a host family, but then moved to an apartment with friends because I was taking MBA courses and didn’t have enough peace and quiet to study with my family and I also wanted to live more centrally.
Homestay costs range from $550 to $800. Some include food, while others don’t. I paid $700 for my apartment, but you can find cheaper deals if you start looking early. Possible search sites include kijiji.com, cracklist.com, and padpicker.ca, and homestayfinder.com for homestay accommodation.
The SMU is a rather small campus university with 3 residences and, according to some Canadian students, is mainly good in the area of business administration/commerce.
I took 3 MBA courses (Project Management, Consulting & Statistics) and was very busy. The Canadian system is like the US: Short-time work/tests (quizzes), mid-term exams, presentations, participation and a final exam. That means you have a lot to do during the semester. The bachelor courses are structured in the same way, but the effort is probably a little less.
There was always a lot going on on the university campus. There is of course a football field, an ice hockey rink, a gym and even a pub on campus. The canteen is set up a little differently than the typical German canteen – the rule here is: All you can eat for around $10.
Cost of living
Compared to Germany, the cost of living in Canada is very high. Apartment prices are on a Munich level, although Halifax only has around 300,000 – 350,000 inhabitants. Fruit and vegetables, for example, are a bit more expensive than here, but still affordable. The clothing prices are a bit cheaper. It is also important to note that the products are shown without tax. This is 15% in Nova Scotia, but staple foods are not taxed.
For 3 courses (approx. 3000€), the return flight (700-1000€), as well as the cost of living (at least 1000€/month) and small excursions, you should plan 8-10,000€ for one semester.
Culture shock / cultural idiosyncrasies
I mainly met nice and helpful people – from the bus driver to the lecturer, all my questions were always answered in a friendly manner. I didn’t really have a culture shock, even if you have to get used to the fact that the buses don’t come on time and that not everything is necessarily done very quickly.
No – it doesn’t just snow in Canada;-) The weather is like at home. At the beginning of September there were still some warm days and the Indian summer (colorful leaves etc.) starts at the end of September. In the middle/end of October the weather was still better than in Germany, but you should still pack a winter jacket. It only got really cold in December, but that was probably rather unusual.
Since I was attending MBA courses, most of the classmates were 30 and up and already in the middle of working life. Due to the many group work, I often had contact with the locals in the evenings and over time you became more and more integrated into MBA life. Since a large number of Germans were placed at the SMU, contact with other Germans cannot necessarily be avoided – which is also very practical, as it allows you to explore the area together.
City, surroundings, leisure opportunities
Like I said, Halifax isn’t that big. So ideal if you only have 3-4 months to find your way around. There’s a lot going on downtown at the weekend, even if there aren’t that many clubs, but there are a few pubs. Even during the day it’s just nice to walk along the harbor or go to the shopping mall or get a giant ice cream at Tim Hortons (found all over Canada). In short, I can only recommend Halifax, but you have to be aware that you often run into Germans.