University: Vancouver Island University
Continent: North America
Study type: semester abroad
Canada is a very beautiful country. Worth going there! However, you have to be careful, the cost of living is really high and not everyone has a connection to nature. “Caution Bear/Puma has been sighted” warning signs are not uncommon on Vancouver Island. But don’t worry, I never accidentally saw either animal during my time in Canada. Check mcat-test-centers.com to see La Trobe University.
Now we come to Vancouver Island. The island is phenomenal. mountains, lakes and forests. That’s probably how you imagine it. And that’s how it is for the most part. The largest city on the island is Victoria. This is definitely worth a trip. Especially if you’re homesick, you’ll feel much more comfortable in the European-style city. Nanaimo, the city where the VIU is located, is a good 2 hour drive away. (Of course it depends on whether you keep your fast-paced German driving style or adapt to the slower Canadian driving style.)
Another destination that you should definitely visit for a few days is Vancouver. Super easy to cross with a bike. Cheap bike rentals are downtown on various side streets off the main shopping street. Bring a bit of fitness and don’t get lost on the pedestrian crossings, or watch out for the pedestrians. I haven’t visited an indoor thing in Vancouver and can say very little about it. But the activities in nature are great. Climbing Grouse Mountain, strolling through Stanley Park or having a leisurely meal in China Town are a must.
Vancouver is also a bottleneck for onward journeys. In the winter months, quickly take the Greyhound to Whistler for a few days of skiing/snowboarding or just to get the Olympic feeling. To Seattle to get cheap brand clothes and admire the American city is also done very quickly. I combined this with a weekend trip.
But let’s get back to Nanaimo. The ferry (there is only one provider: BC Ferries) takes you from Vancouver to Nanaimo. Once there, you have to realize very quickly that the buses only run very sporadically and, in my opinion, are not aligned with the ferry times. (Attention: early in the morning and in the evening there are no more buses!) The best thing to do is to check the location of the plans beforehand and find a car pool so that you don’t have to pay the expensive taxi fare yourself. (Speaking of taxis: tipping is mandatory!) My first trip by taxi was to the campus, since I lived there in the residence.
In my opinion, the apartments there are ok for a semester. But I also have to say that I went by the price and took the cheapest, i.e. modern. If, like me, you like to sleep through the night, I cannot recommend this house. Many foreign students are accommodated in the shared flats. The houses offer larger rooms and greater privacy. Also, I only met people from these houses who did a lot with their roommates. In hindsight, I would have preferred to go there. But as is always the case, you have to weigh up price and comfort.
One thing I will miss about campus life though is the fact that you can be in your classroom within 5 minutes. (Caution: there are a lot of stairs on campus!) The courses were only in the form of seminars for me. No course had more than 25 participants. It must also be said that the system robs the VIU of quite a lot of freedom. The courses are extremely schooled. In addition to compulsory attendance, oral participation also counts towards the final grade. At least 2 exams are written per course, mostly the midterm and the final. In addition, there may be homework, group work and presentations. All in all, university life is very work-intensive. From my experience, however, the material to be learned tends to scratch the surface. In a nutshell, At my university in Germany, we deal with one topic more and don’t attach as much importance to memorizing as the Canadians. What is positive about the Canadian university, however, is that you are not just a number in the courses. The professors/lecturers take care of you and always have an open ear for the exchange students. So don’t be put off by the uni structure.
Personally, I can only say in conclusion, don’t go to the VIU for special learning content, but rather because you feel like traveling and want to refresh / relearn your English skills in specialist vocabulary.