University: Vancouver Island University
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
I studied at Vancouver Island University in the winter semester from August to December and had a really great time there. Check mcat-test-centers.com to see James Cook University.
Thanks to MicroEdu, the organization was very easy and uncomplicated – many thanks again to Katharina for the great support! I decided relatively late to do the semester abroad, but everything went smoothly.
I flew from Düsseldorf to Vancouver via Amsterdam and then took the ferry to Nanaimo. For about $70 you can take a taxi from the airport to the port, much cheaper, but also more cumbersome is the bus ride. You have to take the Skytrain and then the bus to the port. I chose this path and since Canadians are really very helpful people, it wasn’t a problem at all. The ferry ride takes about 90 minutes and then you’ve finally made it and you’ve arrived in Nanaimo. I flew to Nanaimo on August 21st, so I had time to explore the city and the university before uni started.
I had applied for a place in the student residence, but was so far down the waiting list that I looked for off-campus accommodation and I have not regretted this decision. In the end, shortly before my departure, I got an offer for a place in a hall of residence, but then turned it down. I found a room on Craigslist and was very lucky. I lived with a Canadian woman and we got along really well. I paid CAD 500 per month there, if you live off-campus you have to reckon with around CAD 450-550 in rent. My room was between downtown Nanaimo and the university, which was very convenient as I was walking distance to both. This was an advantage, especially in the evenings, as the buses in Nanaimo only run until around 11: 30 p.m. but if I was out for a longer time, I could walk home without any problems. Nevertheless, I bought a bus pass for CAD 175 (valid for 4 months) and have not regretted it (the pass is worth it if you use the bus for around 4 or more times a week).
If you can only move into your room later, I recommend reserving a bed in the Painted Turtle Guesthouse at the beginning.
STUDY / CAMPUS
I chose 3 courses at VIU. I think 4 courses are also feasible, I advise against 5 courses! The workload is much higher than in Germany, but the level is also lower. You have to write a lot of assignments, give presentations and do group work, and in most subjects you also have to write several exams. Especially if you want to use the time in Canada to travel, I recommend you to choose 3 or 4 courses.
My courses were Human Resources Management (Ron Sitter), Organizational Behavior (Bryan Webber) and Buyer Behavior (Duane Weaver). I can fully recommend the first two courses, but not Buyer Behaviour. With a little effort, getting good grades at VIU is relatively easy.
The whole system in Canada is much more schooled and the courses are much smaller. Most lecturers know the names of their students after a short time. The support from the lecturers and other VIU employees was always great. You will get replies to emails in no time. I have always felt very comfortable there.
Apart from the many stairs, I really liked the VIU campus. There is a large library which is great for studying and most importantly it has a great view across Nanaimo towards the mainland – you can see the city, the sea and the mountains. The overpriced canteen is not recommended, I didn’t eat there often and instead often took food with me. There are numerous microwave ovens that you can use to warm up your food.
The VIU gym is also located directly on campus. It’s relatively small, but it’s free. I took a Sportkus (Butts & Gutts) there and can highly recommend it, it was really a lot of fun.
Nanaimo is a small city, if you want to party a lot during your semester abroad, you should look for another city. There are many nice pubs where we have spent numerous evenings, however these always close very early. There is often live music there. Be sure to visit the Dinghy Dock Pub on Protection Island. A visit to Bowen Park in Nanaimo is also recommended, a really beautiful park.
On campus there is the Students Pub, they always have parties on Thursdays and these nights are not to be missed, definitely worth a visit.
Right from the start I met a lot of great people with whom I traveled a lot. We spent 3 days in the north of the island, in Seattle, more often in Vancouver, in Victoria, in Las Vegas and went on a road trip to the Rocky Mountains over Thanksgiving. Canada is an incredibly beautiful country and you should take every opportunity to travel. We saw bears and whales and the nature is just breathtakingly beautiful.
The VIU excursions are also highly recommended – we went on a kayak trip before the semester started, I went surfing with the VIU in Tofino, went hiking and attended a Vancouver Canucks ice hockey game. These excursions are always very cheap and a lot of fun – you sign up for them online. However, some trips fill up quickly.
The bus system in Nanaimo takes a little getting used to, but you get the hang of it very quickly. If not, just ask. The bus drivers and all other Canadians are super friendly, interested and helpful.
We were very lucky with the weather, surprisingly it rained very little and we had a lot of sunshine. According to the locals, however, this is often different. You should either bring a good rain jacket and waterproof shoes (wellies are best) or buy them in Canada. Since clothing is relatively expensive in Canada, it is worth taking a trip to an outlet center in Seattle.
Canada is an expensive country. The tuition fees at the VIU are very expensive and you should not underestimate the cost of the books. If you arrive early, it is best to visit the Students Union on campus before the semester starts and buy your books used, you can save a lot of money that way (I always bought older versions there and that was never a problem). At the end of the semester you can try to sell the books there again. The cost of living in Canada is also much more expensive, which is often a shock at first. At some point you get used to the prices. I
I have not regretted for a second that I decided to study at the VIU for a semester. But what you should be prepared for: there are an incredible number of other German students there. Despite everything, I can highly recommend the VIU to you. I spent 4 great months there and it was an unforgettable time.