Saint Mary's University Review (9)

Saint Mary’s University Review (9)

University: Saint Mary’s University

City: Halifax

Country: Canada

Continent: North America

Field of study: business administration

Study type: semester abroad


At the end of 2010 I decided to do a semester abroad in Canada. I’ve already been abroad as part of my bachelor’s degree and wanted to have this great experience again in my master’s. I can only recommend everyone to do a semester abroad (no matter where), because you develop a lot, gain a lot of great experiences and meet interesting people from all over the world. Check to see study opportunities in Canada.

I chose Canada because I wanted to go to an English-speaking country and Halifax because I could take master’s courses there and you don’t need a TOEFL. Applying for a master’s degree is a little more complex than for a bachelor’s program (among other things, you have to specify the courses you want to take), but all in all the effort is reasonable. You will be sent a selection of courses that you can take. You will only be given about five courses to choose from, but you can also take courses other than those that are communicated to you in the mail. So don’t be alarmed here.

You do not necessarily have to actually take the courses you specify in the application in Canada. You can first specify some courses when applying and change your courses later. In the first two weeks of university you have the opportunity to change courses, but that is very difficult because someone has to drop out of the course you want to go to. I would recommend you to first choose more courses than you want to do and then throw out the courses you don’t want to take in the first two weeks. In any case, this way works very well.

MicroEdu provides course descriptions on request, so you can take care of the crediting of the courses in advance. One problem in choosing the course was that the course booklet at Saint Mary’s University listed many courses that were no longer offered at all/not offered in the semester. It turned out for me that I couldn’t/wasn’t allowed to take two of the three courses for which I had already received advance credit from the chairs from Canada. Then I had to look for new courses.

The advice from MicroEdu was great and really completely free of charge. MicroEdu is paid for by the universities they refer to and can therefore offer the service free of charge. You have to pay the tuition fees abroad yourself, but if you get Auslandsbafög, the tuition fees will be covered by the Auslandsbafögamt. But be careful, the student loan office uses an exchange rate of 1.5 $/€, which didn’t exist for the whole of last year. I would advise you to complain, otherwise you will have to pay a lot yourself afterwards. MicroEdu helps with the application for Auslandsbafög, especially with the form that has to be filled out by the Canadian university. The Auslandsbafög also includes a 1000 Euro flat rate for flight costs, so you also have the flight costs out of it.

From Germany you can send suitcases to Canada with DHL for about 30 euros, but sending them from Canada to Germany is very expensive (10 kg about 70 euros).

I flew to Canada back in August and traveled across Eastern Canada for four weeks before college started in September. I booked my outward flight through Condor (330 euros).
You should only book the return flight when you are in Halifax, as the exam dates for the final exams will not be published until the middle of the semester. Many had problems because their return flight was too late or too early and they had to rebook at great expense. I flew back via New York. The flight to New York costs about 200 dollars, the return flight to Germany cost about 350 euros. Many used the time after the exams to travel and were in Eastern Canada, the USA or Mexico. In general, domestic flights in Canada are very expensive and all flights to the USA are around 200 dollars.


There are three alternatives to living in Halifax: on-campus dorms, at the YMCA, or in a room you look for yourself.


The dorm rooms are very expensive and you have to pay the full rent at the beginning of the semester. In some rooms you have to share the room with another person and a kitchen is only available in certain dormitories. The view from the upper floors is said to be great (sunset over Halifax, watching live football games). You have to buy a meal plan from the university canteen in the dormitory, whereby there are different scales for how many meals are eaten there. The meal plan for one semester costs over 1000 dollars and has to be paid in full at the beginning of the semester. The advantage of the dormitory is quite clear that you live directly on campus and since the university buildings are all connected underground, you don’t have to step outside the door to get into the lecture rooms in winter. You have to pay a fee to apply to the various halls of residence, which you don’t get back if you don’t accept the room. Apart from the many German exchange students, there are mainly 18-year-old Canadians living in the dormitory, all of whom are just beginning their studies.


I chose the YMCA and would do it again and again. It is the cheapest way to look for a furnished room from Germany. The monthly rent is 500 dollars (depending on the exchange rate around 360 euros), which I find very expensive for ten square meters. The rooms in the dormitory are not significantly larger, so the higher price in the dormitory does not correspond to significantly more space in the room. The YMCA has a kitchen, which was very important to me, but unfortunately it got dirtier and dirtier over time. There is a shared bathroom on each floor, which is cleaned twice a day. What’s great about the YMCA is that it’s right in the city center (you’ll be home very quickly after the party), you’re guaranteed to have your room (no need to share), and there’s an on-site gym with equipment, sauna, and pool. With the rent you are a member and can use everything for free. It is about a 15-minute walk to the university and there are many buses. There is a common room that was always busy and you were never alone while eating. Not only students from Saint Mary’s University (SMU for short) lived in the YMCA, but also from Dalhousie University, so we had a lot of Scandinavians with us and the atmosphere was more international. The community at the YMCA was great. We’ve done a lot of weekend trips together and we’ve also done a lot of other things together. but also Dalhousie University, so we had a lot of Scandinavians with us and the atmosphere was more international. The community at the YMCA was great. We’ve done a lot of weekend trips together and we’ve also done a lot of other things together. but also Dalhousie University, so we had a lot of Scandinavians with us and the atmosphere was more international. The community at the YMCA was great. We’ve done a lot of weekend trips together and we’ve also done a lot of other things together.

Off campus

I only know a few who have lived outside of uni or the YMCA. If you are looking for accommodation yourself, you can definitely live cheaper, but you can also be very unlucky with the apartment or your roommates. The advantage is that it is cheaper and ideally you speak more English, but on the other hand you are not in a community with other students like in the YMCA or in the dormitories. If you want to live off-campus, you should definitely arrive in mid-August to look for something in peace.


I took three courses in the MBA program and was well utilized. In Canada you have to work a lot during the semester, but at the end of the semester you have less stress all at once. There are midterms, final exams, presentations, group work and many submissions. The grade is made up of all the partial performances, so it is easier to get a good grade if you work well on a regular basis.

Since I’m doing my master’s degree in Germany, I’ve taken master’s courses, but it’s sometimes also possible to take courses from the fourth year of my bachelor’s degree in Canada and have these credited as master’s courses in Germany. You should clarify this with the relevant departments beforehand.

The MBA is very popular in North America and we were given that feeling. In the first week we were told that we should dress smartly for the lectures, whereupon all exchange students were shocked to discover that they had not packed anything smart. It ultimately depended on the courses whether it was really required to come in smart. Almost all Canadians came to university in suits (especially in the first year courses). I would recommend that you bring a set of fancy clothes with you, especially if you are taking courses that require you to give presentations. I heard that in one class a presentation was deducted because the student presenting was not wearing a tie.

The textbooks at the university are extremely expensive, prices around 100 – 200 dollars were not uncommon. You should take care of the textbooks early on, you can also buy some books used. I ordered a book from Amazon for a very cheap price, but I also had to buy a new book. At the end of the semester you have the opportunity to sell books back to the university bookstore (at half price), but certain books are only taken back every other semester or very little money is offered.

A tip for you: pay the tuition in cash, so you save the credit card fees, which are significant for more than 3000 dollars. I can recommend an account with the DKB or Comdirect, as you can withdraw money from them with the VISA card abroad free of charge. You should also definitely bring English proof of your health insurance with you, then you do not have to insure yourself through the university and pay fewer fees (which are otherwise calculated automatically).

During my MBA I took the following courses:

  • Financial Accounting (ACCT 5540), Dr. Jeffrey Power:
    This is an introductory course that I personally found very interesting. It starts with accounting records, what is a balance sheet and income statement, cash flow calculation and ratio analysis. During the semester there was a midterm (1.5h), a final exam (3h) and three assignments that we had to work out and hand in. If you made an effort, an A was very easy to achieve.
  • Financial Management (FINA 6663.1), Dr. Mahmoud Mohammed:
    This course is very demanding. The professor makes the course very practice-oriented, which is very interesting. Without prior knowledge of finance, it is very difficult to get a good grade. In the midterm, half the people failed. The German exchange students with a focus on finance had fewer problems. A good grade is difficult to achieve without prior knowledge, but an A is difficult even with prior knowledge. If the grade is not that important to you, then I can recommend the course because it is really very interesting and you learn a lot. The professor is very accommodating. In the exams we had half an hour to an hour more time than originally scheduled (we should be able to write down everything we know without pressure) and in the end we were able to determine our personal weighting of the individual performances ourselves. But the rating is really tough. There was a midterm (2h), a final exam (3h) and two quizzes.
  • Financial Institutions (FINA 6671), Dr. Jie Dai:
    I didn’t find this course very interesting, but it’s very easy to get an A if you learn everything. The great thing about the course is that there is no textbook, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money here. There was a midterm and a final exam and once you learned everything, you could solve everything in the exam, since the exam is very closely based on the exercises discussed.

Living in Halifax

During the first week of college, the International Center offered an orientation week that included many events, a party on a boat, and a trip to Peggy’s Cove, one of Canada’s most photographed lighthouses. There was a lot of partying that week, you got to know everyone and quickly realized that there were mainly German exchange students. You will speak a lot of German in Halifax, since there are almost only Germans here and few other nationalities.

Halifax is a very small city thriving on students and has one of the highest pub densities in the world. If you want, you can go somewhere every night and party or have a drink. There are many bars where live music is played. You need a Nova Scotia ID in almost all pubs and to party, or alternatively you have to have three IDs with you (passport, driver’s license, ID) to be let in and/or to order alcohol. Depending on how much you want to party, it may be worth paying the $15 for the Nova Scotia ID so you don’t always have to take your passport with you.

In Canada, VAT is not included in the prices and is always added at the checkout, which is why you often wonder why you suddenly have to pay so much. A 15% tip is always expected. If you don’t give a tip, the waiter has to pay this 15% himself, as it is a fixed fee that is passed on.

The cost of living is very high in Canada. Not only is the rent very high, but groceries are also expensive, especially alcohol (wine is $17 and up, hard liquor is $30 and up).

I didn’t particularly like Halifax as a city, but it’s a good place to live as a student and there’s a lot to do in the evenings. Apart from pubs, there isn’t much to see (few museums or other attractions). It’s nice that Halifax is right on the sea and you can always go to the water if you want. In the summer there was an outdoor theater in Point Pleasant Park, which was really great.

I’ve traveled a lot, especially to all the national parks. I especially liked Cape Breton. There is the Cabot Trail, one of the most beautiful panoramic roads in Canada. Also worth seeing are the Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick with the highest tides in the world, Prince Edward Island (a province north of Nova Scotia), Kejimkujik National Park, Lunenburg (a small fishing town) and Fundy National Park. There are no cities in the vicinity, the next big city is about 600 km away. So if you’re looking for city life, you’ve come to the wrong place, Canada thrives on nature and there’s plenty of that. Many also traveled through western Canada in August before coming to Halifax, which is also extremely scenic. I still have a ten day trip to Québec, Montréal, Ottawa and Toronto made. Ten days was very short for that, if you can plan more for it. I particularly liked Québec and Montréal.

I can only advise you to travel as much as possible. Especially since there is generally no university on Friday, it’s great to go away for the weekend.

Special university services are the Husky Patrol (the university’s free taxi service) and the Writing Center (look at your essays and assignments for free and give tips on what you can do better).

I can only advise you to definitely do a semester abroad. The organization through MicroEdu is great and you will have many wonderful experiences and memories. Canada is an incredibly great country and the people are super friendly. This isn’t my first time here and it certainly won’t be my last.

Saint Mary's University Review (9)