University: Thompson Rivers University
Continent: North America
Field of study: industrial engineering
Study type: semester abroad
MicroEdu made my preparation much easier. They took care of all those things that you might have had problems with at the beginning. I was very pleased with the support provided by MicroEdu represented by Lisa Bradler. I would do the semester abroad at Thompson Rivers University again at any time. Check mcat-test-centers.com to see Southern Cross University.
To cover the high costs, I applied for foreign BAföG. However, I “only” got about 3,500 euros, which the university didn’t even cover, because it costs over 5,000 euros. In addition, there are 2,400 euros for accommodation and 1,000 euros for the flight. At that point in time, you hadn’t gone out in the evening or seen anything from the country, which of course is also a big expense.
To make matters worse, I also had to pay tuition fees for my home university, which is not the case for most German students.
At this point it makes sense to go into more detail about the accommodation, because it was with a host family and thus had a significant impact on the costs. To complete the costs at this point, it should be said that the 600 euros per month for the host family also included food. In 99 percent of the cases, the food was very tasty and good by student standards (roast beef, barbecue at the weekend, fish, steak, pancakes at the weekend, etc.). Otherwise, shopping is not that cheap, especially if you want to buy something healthier or of higher quality such as fish and meat.
So living with a host family is probably the best in terms of value for money, since there is only the alternative of student dormitories, which are not exactly cheap (about 375 euros for just 11m² and of course without food).
I lived in lower Sahali and had a 20 minute walk to the uni in the winter when it snowed. My host family had a big house and I had my own floor (basement) with my own room, private bathroom and a lounge that was rarely used by the family. Furthermore, I could use everything in the house and very often had the whole house to myself. Towards the end of the semester it was nice to use the garden when the temperatures were warmer.
Dealing with the family was very warm and I was treated like a “second son” (in addition to the biological son). Like everyone else in Canada, my host family was super nice and helpful. At this point, all prejudices against Canadians come true.
Thompson Rivers University (TRU)
Located on the southern side of the Thompson River, TRU is a very international university. This was also reflected in my four courses: The proportion of Canadian students was less than 10 percent in some cases, with the majority of fellow students coming from India and China (about 60-70 percent together). The rest spread to other countries like Nigeria, South Africa, France, Austria, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, USA, Japan and many other countries.
The semester is different than in Germany and there are several exams that count towards the final grade. This has pros and cons, but in my case it made more of a positive impression. The weighting of the “final exam” was never higher than 30 percent for me, which means that you can already achieve 70 percent of your grade before the final exam phase.
This brings some serenity for the final exams, but it should be noted that these exams must be passed in order to pass the entire course.
In order to achieve 70 percent of the overall grade, it is necessary to work on small papers, homework and quizzes (mostly multiple choice questions). Since the professors in my four courses were all relaxed and very “available” for the students, there were no problems with the processing of these tasks. On the contrary: tasks that were not understood, tasks that were misinterpreted or other problems could always be clarified in a personal conversation or via e-mail.
The professors are also attuned to different cultural backgrounds and the associated different work attitudes, which can certainly result in a postponement of the deadline if the whole course asked for it in the lecture.
Since I had enough space and peace with the host family, I didn’t really have to use the university’s learning facility, but what I saw of it was modern and well equipped. The campus itself is a good size and beautiful.
Kamloops and post-semester road trip
For a city with around 90,000 inhabitants, of which around 10,000 are students, the range of leisure activities is manageable. There are a handful of clubs and bars and downtown is manageable. Anyone who wants that big city feeling should rather go to university in Vancouver.
Nevertheless, the small town has its advantages, for example the location is very good: it is only 350 km to Vancouver, 300 km to Whistler, 500 km to Banff, 450 km to Jasper and 600 km to Calgary. While that sounds like a lot, for Canada those distances are a stone’s throw away. The Greyhound bus covers the common routes for little money (Kamloops to Vancouver plus return about 45 euros).
Getting around Kamloops is difficult without your own car. In town there are buses, which can be used free of charge with the student ID.
In winter, the university offers interesting activities at very fair conditions in Kamloops and the surrounding area, which should definitely be taken advantage of ( skiing, night skiing, day trip to Whistler, etc.).
After the semester I went on a four-week road trip, which started in Kamloops. The trip included in chronological order: Rocky Mountains, Okanagan Valley, Calgary, Whistler, all of Vancouver Island and Vancouver.
I used an old Chevy van, which I got by chance and luck. The alternative would have been a rental car, which would have cost significantly more money (with connections to the car rental company: over 2,000 euros for four weeks) and would not have given me the opportunity to spend the night in it and drive every road (in general, gravel roads are not allowed with rental cars).
- You want to rent a car? Be at least 25 years old, otherwise it will be expensive
- You think you’re driving a rental car without anything happening? Get the “damage waiver package” because especially in winter it is slippery and the loose chippings cause stone chipping and damage to the paintwork
- Rent a car and then go to Vancouver Island? (It’s only worth it if there are a lot of people.) Better to take the ferry as a person and hire a car on site
- Frostbite (winter -20°C at night)? American houses have wooden walls and huge gaps in the doors, so bring warm clothes
- Across the country quickly and cheaply? Both are difficult (domestic flights are very expensive: Kamloops to Vancouver and back sometimes > 400 euros for a 52-minute flight). Greyhound is the best alternative but takes longer (>4 hrs) and can have significant delays in winter (highway closed)
- going out with others in the evening? Sharksclub (Wednesday wings half price), Red Collar brewery and Duchees (bar, pool and strip club)
- Half day/full day trips? Kamloopslake and Wells Gray
- Long weekend? Vancouver & North Vancouver, Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton
- Reading break? Vancouver & North Vancouver + Sunshine coast, Vancouver Island, Rocky Mountains
- Spend the night? AirBnB and hostels are the cheapest alternatives. Hotspots like the Rockies or Tofino (Vancouver Island) are still expensive (35 euros/night in an 8-bed room)
- Few days in Vancouver? Cycle around Stanley Park, Downtown, Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver, Telus Science World, Granville Island
- In the Rockies in winter? It’s nice, but many things are still closed or not accessible because the access roads have not been cleared. Many lakes (especially the higher ones) are free of ice and snow for only a few months
- Hiking in winter? Yes, but be careful, because you quickly underestimate the snow masses and the loneliness (often no cell phone reception + no other people)
- Are there really that many animals? Yes there is. I bought bear spray (35 euros) because I was often out and about alone, wanted to hike and explore
- Experience something typically Canadian? Watch a hockey game, eat poutine, rent a canoe, go camping, have a weekend barbecue, go to a diner, eat pancakes with maple syrup
If you have any questions about the university, the city, the host family, travel options or other things, I am happy to help!