University: Vancouver Island University
Continent: North America
Field of study: Education and teaching, sport, mathematics
Study type: semester abroad
From September 2016 to January 2017, I was able to spend a semester abroad at the VIU in Canada as part of my Bachelor of Education with the subjects mathematics and physical education. During my stay abroad, I was free to choose subjects from all the bachelor’s courses offered at the VIU. However, in order to have the subjects I took there recognized in Germany, I limited myself to courses in my two subjects, mathematics and physical education. Check mcat-test-centers.com to see San Diego State University SDSU.
I planned my stay abroad independently because I wanted to go to Canada, but there is no exchange there at my university with my subjects. So I first informed myself about various universities there and then decided on the VIU because it was possible for me to study physical education there. At many other universities there was only Sport Science or Sport Management in the field of sport, neither of which would have suited my teaching degree as well as Physical Education. For the application, I enlisted the help of MicroEdu, who gave me helpful information about the took care of the application process, then forwarded my application to the VIU and, after the acceptance, also sent me further information, for example about the visa, course selection or living in Nanaimo. Of course you could have applied directly to the university and found all the important information yourself, but I found it much easier with the help of MicroEdu.
In my opinion, the particular benefit of my semester abroad is the social contacts I was able to make there. I lived in the student residence there, which is very multicultural and where it was easy to make friends with the locals. I also found it very enriching to live in and get to know another culture for a longer period of time. I was particularly interested in the culture of the First Nations in Canada and I thought it was great that the VIU had numerous offers on this topic. There were exhibitions and information days on campus, which stands on First Nations land, and a weekly program, Lunch and Learn, where one could meet and mingle with First Nations elders and students over lunch.
Furthermore, I thought it was great to get to know the Canadian university system, which differs from the German one in many small ways. My lecturers there were always very interested in their students and I always felt supported when I had problems. There was also a Writing Center for foreign students, which I didn’t use myself, but find it a good help if you’re having trouble writing your homework in English. I also liked the content of the teaching at the VIU very well and I would like to emphasize my sports sociology seminar in particular, that I found super interesting, because we discussed many different social topics, such as racism or gender in sports, very deeply and some sports films that take up these topics, interpreted with the help of sociological theories. I also learned a lot about the Canadian sports system and was able to try out new sports such as softball, a popular American sport.
Luckily for me, traveling in Canada was not neglected in addition to my studies. Vancouver Island is scenically beautiful and so I used many weekends to do excursions on the island. You could also get around a lot via the university, as excursions were offered there by the International Education department. In addition, the university sports department had an outdoor recreation department, with which one could try out sporting activities such as surfing, kayaking, climbing or hiking, also in the most beautiful corners of Vancouver Island. Participating in these activities also greatly enriched my stay abroad, because for me, as a nature-loving person, the Canadian nature was also a reason why I wanted to study in Canada of all places. After my semester ended, I had five weeks left before my flight home, so I used that time to explore mainland British Columbia and then fly to the Yukon, which has even more wilderness, extreme winter temperatures, and the Northern Lights had to offer.
I can only name two things as small disappointments. At the very beginning of the semester there was an International Orientation Day, where I realized that about half of the foreign students came from Germany. I hadn’t expected this and I worried that I would only find German friends there. However, this concern turned out to be unjustified, because the student residence and the outdoor recreation trips offered good opportunities to make contacts and my subjects were also not the typical subjects among German exchange students. In mathematics I was the only exchange student and in sports there was only one Norwegian who did a semester abroad and with whom I got on very well. In subjects like business administration, half of the courses are said to have been taken by German students. For me, there was a good mix of German, Canadian and international friendships. I was also a bit disappointed with the level of my mathematics course in statistics, which was much less demanding than I was used to in Germany. Of course, the positive thing about it was that I didn’t have to do a lot to get a good grade in the end to obtain. However, I found it a pity that most of the time, when it got exciting and something in-depth, the topic remained partly incomplete, which the professor explained to me by saying that we didn’t have the prerequisites for it and this was just an introductory course be in the statistics.
Overall, however, the positive experiences that I have made outweigh the negative ones and I would advise every student to do a semester abroad. The VIU is a small and very personal university and in terms of reputation it probably doesn’t come close to the UBC in Vancouver, which is considered one of the best universities in Canada. Nevertheless, I liked it very much at the VIU and I would advise you, if you also want to study there, to move into the student residence, which, unlike in Germany, sees itself as a kind of community. I would also advise you to take part in the many cultural and sporting activities offered by the university, as I was able to learn a lot more about the country and its people and got to see the great outdoors.
I am so glad that I decided to do this semester abroad and I am grateful that this was possible with the help of the Studienstiftung.