University: Vancouver Island University
Continent: North America
Field of study: cultural studies
Study type: semester abroad
In the winter semester of 2014 I did a semester abroad at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo and can definitely recommend the university to other cultural or literary scholars who are interested in a semester abroad. Thanks to the good support from MicroEdu, it wasn’t all that complicated to plan my stay abroad “by myself”. Check mcat-test-centers.com to see Saint Marys University SMU.
During the semester I lived in a 4-person shared flat in the student residence. In the apartment there were four single rooms, two bathrooms, and a living room and kitchen for common use. Although I didn’t know the other three girls before, living together worked very welland it was very nice to live in a shared apartment consisting of two Canadians and one Korean. So you could bring your own culture closer to each other, cook together and do other activities together. The dormitory is not too far from a small shopping center and downtown is a twenty minute walk or bus ride away. In addition, a shuttle to a large supermarket is offered twice a week from the dormitory – so you can easily stock up on groceries. The dormitory also offers activities such as barbecues together, themed evenings on different cultures and tutoring for certain subjects.
At university, I initially chose five courses in English literature, but quickly reduced them to three because the workload is very high. I took the seminars ” Topics in International Literature “, ” Environmental Literature” and the ” Book Club ” for the Massey Lectures. In my experience, two upper-level classes and a second-year course represent about two to three times as much effort as seminars in Germany. The seminar content was very interesting, the teachers are very friendly and the atmosphere in the courses is quite relaxed. The courses were much smaller than at my university in Germany: ten to eighteen students were in the seminars. Apart from one other German student, I was the only international student in my classes – so getting to know Canadians wasn’t very difficult. Nevertheless, there were many other German students at Vancouver Island University, albeit more in the field of economics. It was also noticeable in the seminars that the lecturers knew all the students’ first names after a short time – so the mentoring relationship was very personal, in complete contrast to the anonymity at many German universities. My lecturers were also very helpful and always approachable with questions or problems.
Even if the workload was very high, texts had to be handed in or presentations had to be given almost every week and five to eight novels had to be read per seminar – the grading was much less strict than in Germany. The university also offers support for students who need help with academic work in English. In the “Writing Center” in the library you can make 30-minute appointments to talk about your current writing projects and to work on them together. I have often used this offer and found it very helpful.
Another thing you should definitely take advantage of is the varied sports and activities program for international students that the university offers. Surfing, kayaking, weekend hikes and much more is offered for relatively little money and is a good way to meet new people outside of the seminars. You can also sign up for trips to Victoria, Tofino or Vancouver, for example. If you don’t have your own car on site, this is a good way to explore the island and the surrounding area.
Even if Nanaimo is not a particularly big or beautiful city, there are many opportunities to go on excursions and discover beautiful places in the area. For example, there are many beautiful parks to visit in the direct vicinity of the university, such as Westwood Lake, Piper’s Lagoon and Mount Benson. A trip to the Rocky Mountains is also highly recommended.
Even if a semester abroad at the VIU is very expensive, the investment was worth it for me. Because I was very active at university, used the university sports program a lot and often took part in the voluntary program for international students, I met a lot of nice people and had a really good time. It was also a good change from studying in Germany because the topics in the seminars had a much more international focus and you get a lot of new impulses.