University: Vancouver Island University
Continent: North America
Field of study: psychology, sociology
Study type: semester abroad
In my fifth semester, I spent one semester as a free mover at Vancouver Island University from August 22, 2019 to December 12, 2019 . I took three courses from the psychology program, as well as one sociology and one anatomy course each, but more on that later. I tried to write less of a pure experience report and more of a kind of “things I wish I had known before” report, so here are a few general words for those who are still deciding whether they want to study at VIU. Check mcat-test-centers.com to see London South Bank University.
Like the whole island, Nanaimo is a beautiful place, there is a lot of forest, sea, rivers, lakes and waterfalls without end. If you are enthusiastic about hiking, outdoor sports and nature in general, you really can’t go wrong here, you study where other people spend their holidays! The university is also very good, the professors are super nice and helpful, just like Canadians in general. In winter it rarely gets colder than zero degrees, which is outrageously warm for Canada, but it rains quite a lot. I had a fantastic time on Vancouver Island and would highly recommend anyone to spend a semester or more there.
If you want to see more pictures and impressions of the island, you are welcome to visit my Instagram channel (daniel_a_a), I have posted a lot more pictures there and will probably continue to do so for a while.
Vancouver Island is a beautiful island where you can fully enjoy your natural resources. Centrally located on the east coast of the island, Nanaimo is perfectly located for traveling (about 2 hours by ferry to Vancouver, 3 hours to Tofino, 1.5 hours to the capital city of Victoria) but also offers countless opportunities for spending time outdoors and to enjoy nature. However, you should note that the city itself is relatively small, so there are good places to party, but if you’re more of a big city type and value lots of cultural offerings and a larger party scene, you might want to go for one of the bigger ones choose cities.
Living and getting around:
I lived in an AirBnB about 7 minutes by bus from the university. The price is okay, but you can live cheaper if you move into one of the many shared flats that are available all over the city. On campus living has advantages (directly at the university, always contact with other students), but also disadvantages (1. relatively expensive due to placement costs, 2. organization did not work out for many, i.e. very late commitments, sometimes a week before arrival and 3. small rooms with shared kitchens). You have to weigh the pros and cons yourself, I would definitely advise you against booking the meal plan!! You pay about 1000 euros for a canteen voucher and not for regular meals. If you want to eat in the canteen, you can just pay for it without forcing yourself to do so through the meal plan and you will not receive any advantages in the form of discounts or the like. In addition, the canteen is expensive by German standards (approx. 10 euros per meal) and offers no variety (the main dishes are burgers and tacos). If you want to save money and value a healthier diet, you should cook for yourself.
Buses go everywhere, but often only once an hour. Nevertheless, the semester pass from the university (approx. 150 CAD) is worthwhile as soon as you buy more than 30 individual tickets and they are reached quickly, even if you are thinking about buying a car. This is definitely worth considering, especially for travel, but not essential.
Since semesters abroad are rather rare among psychology students, here are a few practical tips especially for psychology students, there are a lot of reports from international business students.
What is certainly interesting for many: you don’t have to worry about the grading! In particular, the fact that an A+ (equivalent to 1.0) is given for up to 90% of the possible points and there are grades (usually 10%) for attendance (!!), makes it easier for you to improve your grades at home. But you definitely don’t have to be afraid that your stay abroad will spoil your valuable bachelor’s grade. In terms of content, the courses can be compared to those in Germany, but as is usual in North America, they are much more school-like. You write midterms and often small homework/terms that are graded. If you keep at it, you’ll have no trouble keeping up and will have no trouble getting very good grades.
Literature is usually essential for the courses and will cost you another 200 CAD extra per course. It is really worth checking the internet and everywhere else for used versions, free e-books, etc. early enough. There are no seminars, but 3 hours of lectures per week. Three to four courses are definitely doable, but if grades are important to you and you still want to have fun, I wouldn’t do five.
The mediation between the university and MicroEdu worked smoothly and saved me a lot of time and work. You can communicate in German with the really nice employees, which is much more pleasant than contacting the university directly for everything. I was really very satisfied.
Leisure time abroad is of course the be-all and end-all and on Vancouver Island you are of course in exactly the right place for it. I don’t give any travel tips here, you can easily find them in bulk on the internet. However, I can warmly recommend the varied offer of the university, you can do all kinds of activities with the Outdoor Recreation Center of the free gym, from climbing to caving and canoe tours to entire surfing weeks or travel tours through the Rockys. Everything is much cheaper than booking it yourself and with a great number of other students abroad, these activities are always a lot of fun and each one of them is one of my highlights of this semester.