University: Vancouver Island University
Continent: North America
Field of study: Linguistics and cultural studies
Study type: semester abroad
I attended seminars in my subjects English and History as well as a French course. Normally you can choose up to 5 courses, which I did in advance from home. However, I “dropped” 2 courses in the course of the first few weeks because I just didn’t like them. With only 3 courses I had a pretty relaxed time. I can’t necessarily agree with other field reports that say that 5 courses are not possible and the workload is far too high. I think this depends heavily on the course and also on the respective lecturers. However, the courses are structured completely differently than in Germany. The system is extremely schooled and there are usually several “assignments” to be submitted, which, in addition to criteria such as attendance and oral cooperation, are decisive for the final grade. I didn’t have any problems in the courses at all, despite my initial concerns. The level is significantly lower than in Germany and even in the English courses I was surprisingly ahead of many Canadians. So getting an “A” is pretty easy with a little diligence. Check mcat-test-centers.com to see Lincoln University.
The study conditions were basically better than in Germany. The courses were quite small (about 20 students) and the premises were more pleasant than at my home university. The lecturers are almost all very friendly and open-minded and support all students wherever possible.
Life and dwelling
In the beginning, I really wanted to live in the student residence because that’s where you get in touch with other students the quickest. So I applied for one of the 4 flat shares. However, since I hadn’t received any feedback about 4 weeks before my departure, I looked around for alternatives. The university also arranges host families with whom you can stay. However, after reading the conditions and contracts, I very quickly ruled out this possibility. All rights seem to lie with the host family, there are long periods of notice and no exceptions for cases of hardship. In plain language: If you don’t understand each other, you’re just unlucky. You are very limited and the cost is also very high compared to other options. In addition, most of the families tend to live outside which can be problematic with the bus system. Finally, I found a room in a 3-person shared flat via “Craigslist Nanaimo”. I ended up moving in there, despite being later promised the residency, and I haven’t regretted it. You have to be aware that the houses are simply different than in Germany. They’re made of wood and soundproofing is a foreign word; sleeping late is almost impossible, especially in the residences. However, I was very lucky because I was able to move into a newly renovated house within walking distance of the university and the bus connection was fine.
To be honest, I was disappointed in the city of Nanaimo. I didn’t find it beautiful, nor did it have much to offer, despite at least 70,000 inhabitants. “Downtown” consists of what feels like 2 streets and offers little that is interesting. Anyone who likes to go to clubs is definitely wrong here. There are some really nice pubs though. A half-hour bus ride from “Downtown” you will find the “Woodgrove Mal”, which is also not a big highlight, but at least includes a cinema. In summer there is the possibility to take a boat to a small neighboring island, where the “Dingi-Dong-Pub” is located (My highlight!). Otherwise, you can of course also spend the weekends in Vancouver, where there is a lot more going on. Of course, the island has many scenic highlights, but without a car you can’t see them either!
From Vancouver, however, you can take many and also quite cheap trips. A trip to the Rockies is an absolute must. The American city of Seattle is only about a 2-hour drive from Vancouver and offers good shopping opportunities. Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Hawaii are also easy to reach if the Canadian rainy weather in autumn is troubling you.
Nothing is cheap in Canada! The food is at least 3x and dairy products even 5x more expensive than in Germany! Clothing is also significantly more expensive. What really shocked me, however, are the prices for the books at the university. For my 3 courses I easily had to invest 500 CAD in books. The hammer was a French book for 245 CAD. Tip: Maybe buy one or the other book here (used) in advance and take it with you if space allows. Or look for used copies in the “Students Union” on campus; there you can also offer yours for sale again at the end. There is also a Facebook page where used books are for sale. I would advise everyone to pay at least 1000 CAD per month. to plan and that without rent, tuition fees, flight. There come after many cost points, which you may not have had on your list at the beginning, for example a bus ticket for around 170 CAD or the cost of international health insurance. You should be careful here, as the regulations for KV are not communicated particularly well by the university. First of all, you MUST take out basic health insurance with the university, then you also NEED so-called “extended healthcare”. According to the university, this is optional and can be replaced by your own KV. So everyone took out international health insurance in Germany (costs around €40 per month) and then wanted to be exempted from “extended healthcare” (around CAD 280). Very few, however, got out of there because foreign health insurances were allegedly not adequate and ultimately had to pay twice. Who was freed was completely arbitrary and did not depend on the respective KV.
You will probably book a flight from Germany and then change planes again before landing in Vancouver. Landing in Vancouver there are two ways to get to the island: 1. Another flight to Nanaimo (rather expensive) or 2. By ferry. Most will probably take the ferry. You can find the ferry schedule online. However, getting from the airport to the ferry is also quite a hassle. I decided to take a taxi (costs around 70 CAD); However, using public transport is significantly cheaper (approx. 8 CAD), but also much more strenuous and lengthy (approx. 90 minutes) First you take the “Skytrain” to “Downtown”, where you then have to change to a bus, which takes you to the ferry. The bus is usually completely overcrowded, you should consider whether you want to do that after a long flight and with heavy luggage. Alternatively you can spend the first night in Vancouver, cheap hostels are easy to find.
I would definitely like to thank MicroEdu for the great support. The organization is largely taken care of and questions are always answered quickly.
In conclusion, I have to say that I would not decide to study at VIU again. This is neither due to the university itself nor to MicroEdu, which I would consult again and again.
My goal was to significantly improve my English and have a lot of contact with Canadians. At “Orientation Day” it was then announced that there were a whopping 100 German students at the university, who often only hung out in small groups and of course only spoke German. Even if you decide in advance not to do this, it is not so easy to withdraw and do “your own thing”. At other universities that MicroEdu offers, this is not the case to such an extreme degree and depending on the intention you have when making your selection, you might want to consider that.
Nonetheless, I had a great time in a beautiful country whose people are probably some of the friendliest and warmest in the world.