University: Vancouver Island University
Continent: North America
Field of study: pedagogy and teaching
Study type: semester abroad
Course content: 1.7
The content of the course is designed in such a way that it can be safely implemented in practice. You are constantly reminded of what you are learning for and where you can use it later in your job. Some content was also accompanied by guest speakers who attended the university. Check mcat-test-centers.com to see Massey University.
The conditions were unique in my opinion. In a lecture, there was usually one lecturer/professor for every 30 students, so that a much more personal relationship with lecturers/professors developed. In general, you can apply for and attend any course. There is no disadvantage at the university in terms of course selection because you are an exchange student.
Vancouver Island offers a unique experience in terms of nature. In addition to mountains, the sea and many rivers, you can make use of many parks even in the city. For this reason, Vancouver itself is one of the most livable cities in the world. What is very practical for exchange students is that there are buses in Nanaimo, for which you can also
get a semester ticket at the university, so that you do not have to rely on a car. Otherwise everything in the city can actually be reached by bike.
The university itself already offers a very large variety of “university sports-like” events, including kayaking, surfing, hiking, climbing or white water rafting. In addition to these “outdoor” events, there were also numerous sports courses at the university that you could take part in for a small fee (yoga, pilates, total body conditioning, volleyball, basketball, etc.). There is also a pub at the university where bands play every Thursday perform and the people from the university meet. For people who like to party a lot, Nanaimo doesn’t offer much. Nevertheless, there are a few bars downtown, some of which also play live music and offer a relatively large dance floor.
Benefit / Reference: 1.3
The semester abroad brought me a lot. In addition to the very good courses at the university, where I think you learn more than in German lectures or seminars because they are more practice-oriented, the island offers unique experiences that cannot be exhausted in one semester. With 10,000 students, the university is quite small, but it offers the students good conditions.
Apart from the tuition fees, the flight and book costs, as well as an extra health insurance, the cost of living for me was almost the same as in Germany. For the rent you have to calculate between 400-650 CAD. The groceries are similar to the USA more expensive than in Germany. Nevertheless, you can sometimes buy fruit and vegetables very cheaply at the markets in the city.
With my experience report, I would like to make the stay a little palatable for future VIU visitors. I’m studying to become a teacher and am studying mathematics, physical education and geography in Münster. At first I thought that these are probably rather untypical subjects for going abroad, but this assumption turned out to be wrong. Since I had already been in the USA for a year of high school, I was drawn abroad again during my studies. Canada seemed the right choice to me. I love the water and the mountains and above all all imaginable sports, so the VIU from the MicroEdu program turned out to be optimal.
In order to go to the VIU in Canada, there was a large mountain of paperwork that had to be dealt with. In addition to forms for the foreign student loan, the university or the language certificate, organizational tasks were also on the agenda. For those who apply for the foreign student loan, it is worth doing this in good time (at least 6 months in advance) so that you receive the student loan on time at the beginning of your studies abroad. The tuition fees are then usually paid up to an amount of €4600, but you must first advance them yourself. You also have to take care of suitable health insurance, which I ended up taking out with Hanse Merkur for €39 a month. The practical thing about a semester abroad in Canada is that you don’t have to apply for a visa, as long as you stay in the country for no more than 6 months. After all the preparations were completed and the application was sent, I only had to wait for the confirmation and then I took care of a room as quickly as possible (approx. 2 months before departure). In addition to the possibility of living in a dormitory directly on campus, you can also look for a room in a shared apartment off campus or take part in the so-called “homestay” or “peerstay”. A “homestay” is a host family where you live for a semester and the host family also provides food. It’s similar with a peer stay, except that you’re self-sufficient and buy your own groceries. I only had to wait for the confirmation and then I took care of a room as quickly as possible (approx. 2 months before departure). In addition to the possibility of living in a dormitory directly on campus, you can also look for a room in a shared apartment off campus or take part in the so-called “homestay” or “peerstay”. A “homestay” is a host family where you live for a semester and the host family also provides food. It’s similar with a peer stay, except that you’re self-sufficient and buy your own groceries. I only had to wait for the confirmation and then I took care of a room as quickly as possible (approx. 2 months before departure). In addition to the possibility of living in a dormitory directly on campus, you can also look for a room in a shared apartment off campus or take part in the so-called “homestay” or “peerstay”. A “homestay” is a host family where you live for a semester and the host family also provides food. It’s similar with a peer stay, except that you’re self-sufficient and buy your own groceries.
I looked around for a room on www.craigslist.ca and www.kijiji.ca and found one. I was lucky enough to share a flat with two very nice Canadians, so I was able to get to know the area directly from a local. I would also recommend this to anyone who doesn’t want to stay with a host family as it gives you a first hand experience of the culture. I paid CAD 400 a month for my approx. 12 square meter room including internet, which was right next to Collery Dam Park, where I used to swim in the lake in the summer. The bus stop for the bus that went to the university was right in front of my front door. Unfortunately, this only ran every 70 minutes, so that I always rode my bike to the university as long as the weather permitted (approx. 15 minutes).
I arrived in Nanaimo two weeks before college started. At first I wasn’t sure whether I should take the ferry from Vancouver airport to Nanaimo or book a connecting flight. I ended up flying which was far less stressful than taking the ferry. My roommates picked me up at the airport. Otherwise there is also a Greyhound bus from the airport to the city. The first two weeks gave me time to settle in and to explore the first great places on the island. The courses for the university were already selected from home via the Internet, so that one already knew one’s timetable. I have taken the courses Geomorphology (very practice-oriented with great learning success), Cultural Geography, Urban Systems and Instructional Strategies for Sport and Physical Education (highly recommended for any physical education student). The week before the university started there were two introductory days for all internationals and the new students of the university, where they got to know the campus and were informed about general information about the university.
The university courses themselves are a bit more schooled in their way than you are familiar with in Germany. Homework, tests, several term papers and exams are not uncommon in the courses. Participation also plays a not insignificant role in some courses, but the level is not quite as demanding as in Germany. Smaller events take place on campus during the semester. At the beginning of the semester, for example, open-air cinema films were shown on campus or bands entertained the campus. There was a pancake welcome breakfast and small sporting games in the gym to get to know each other. The university also offers a free weekly grocery shuttle from campus to the Canadian Superstore and back.
After getting used to the language, the other culture and environment, you also traveled a lot in the area. Victoria, the capital of the state of British Columbia, is located in the south of the island and is regularly offered by the university as an excursion for students. Vancouver is also only a 1: 40 or 2 hour ferry ride from Nanaimo, so you can easily drive over there for shopping or sightseeing. Whistler is not far from there and is well worth seeing in both summer and winter. A short drive south is the USA and Seattle is only a 3-hour drive away. On this route you also drive past one of the famous American outlet malls. I visited Seattle not only by car, but also by ship, since the clipper runs from Victoria to Seattle once a day in just under 4 hours through the small islands. This trip is highly recommended.
Smaller islands, which are also well worth seeing, lie just off Nanaimo in the Pacific. They can be reached by small ferries for only about 3 CAD (Protection Island, Newcastle Island…)
In Nanaimo itself there are several parks with lakes, waterfalls, rivers and hiking trails. Several malls are distributed throughout the city, as well as 2 large cinemas. There is a beautiful new ice skating rink and a large swimming pool with slides, sauna, steam room and wave pool. Also worth seeing is a game of the Nanaimo Clipppers, the local ice hockey team, whose tickets are considerably cheaper than those of the Vancouver Canucks. Surf at famous Tofino Beach on the west side of the island, snowboard or ski at Mount Washington, just an hour’s drive from Nanaimo. I was able to do a snowshoe hike there.
All in all, I can highly recommend the university and the town of Nanaimo. It’s a relaxed atmosphere in which Canadians welcome you warmly. The only downside in the winter semester was November, when it rained a lot and you rarely saw the sun (rainwear is essential here). The good weather compensated for this with, among other things, a good view of the city, the ocean and the islands from the library.