University: Vancouver Island University
Continent: North America
Field of study: International Business Administration
Study type: Master’s degree
Instead of a semester abroad, I decided to take part in a full program. The Masters at Vancouver Island University (VIU) is a dual degree from VIU and the University of Hertfordshire in England in the fields of Business Administration and International Business. The application requirements are manageable: basically only sufficient knowledge of English in the form of a Toefl or IELTS test and proof of a bachelor’s degree with a good final grade are required. Check mcat-test-centers.com to see San Jose State University.
Since the program is relatively short compared to others, at 14-16 months, the free-time opportunities outside of the university are quite limited. There is time for sports and the occasional night out with fellow students, but certainly not to the extent that one would sometimes wish for as a distraction.
For someone who has completed their Bachelors in Business in the recent past, I would advise against attending this program. The first semester consists almost entirely of repeating course content from the bachelor’s degree, such as economics, accounting or marketing. Otherwise, further repetitions of course content are part of everyday life in the further course of the program. I found studying in a foreign language to be a much greater challenge than I had previously thought, especially if you want to achieve a certain average grade. Reading specialist material in English and writing term papers or giving presentations on it is not to be underestimated at the master’s level.
Since I had previously studied at a university of applied sciences, I was used to doing homework, but at the VIU we work with citation methods that are unusual for us and sometimes with formatting that can take some getting used to. Several professors write so-called multiple-choice tests at regular intervals, which I only knew from television up to that point. At first I found it difficult to get used to. Despite the sometimes repetitive course content, the weekly reading workload for each subject is immense and can only be mastered with very strict discipline. Unfortunately, it is of little use if, for example, you only read the chapters for certain subjects, since at the end of each semester there are exams covering the entire material of the respective subject.
The VIU MBA program website states that the university has contacts to industry for the fourth semester – the four-month internship – and would actively support the students in their search for internships. Unfortunately, this statement contradicts my personal experience.
Starting with the first semester, there is an internship course once a week in addition to the “normal” lectures. Here you will learn what the requirements for a CV or a cover letter in Canada look like or which possible interview questions you could face. Otherwise you are relatively on your own when looking for an internship. In addition, the majority of internship positions are unpaid with full working hours. This aspect must also be included in the financial planning of the stay abroad. My advice would be to start looking as early as possible! Especially outside of Nanaimo, since there are few potential companies there compared to Vancouver or Calgary.
The university itself is quite spacious and well located. The library offers many individual and group workstations for learning and working together, as well as various computer workstations for research or similar.
The staff at International Education are responsible for international students during their studies and have always been very helpful, regardless of the questions I asked. A variety of activities are offered by the university: excursions in the area as well as a wide range of hikes, outdoor and indoor sports courses, all at very reasonable prices. The gym (fitness studio) is available to every student free of charge during their study stay.
Otherwise, the university offers two canteens on campus, which should provide for the physical well-being. Different dishes are offered every day. Unfortunately, I found out that the prices, unlike ours, are quite high and the food doesn’t justify the price. I would recommend everyone to make the effort every day and bring their own lunch. The university also has various microwave ovens in the canteens and faculty buildings, so that you can easily heat up your food.
During my stay abroad I de-registered in Germany at the Citizens’ Registration Office. It’s easy and doesn’t cost anything. As a result, you are no longer obliged to be a member of a German health insurance company. You can work around that, in Dtld. Paying for a service you can’t use anyway. Foreign health insurance companies are also not a solution for a longer stay, as they are too expensive.
Once you have arrived in Canada, you can take out private health insurance through the university for the first 3 months and then you are entitled to general health insurance: BC Health Insurance (standard insurance for everyone). This only covers basic treatments such as a visit to the doctor and the associated diagnosis. Any medication resulting from this will not be reimbursed by the insurance company.
The VIU has negotiated a special contract with a private health insurance company for this: Greenshield. This is valid for 12 months and costs just under $300. Because the Master’s program lasts 14-16 months, you are only insured by Greenshield for the 12 months of the “main study”. During the 2-month phase of the pre-MBA and the end of the internship (based on the standard period of study) you only have basic insurance. This can be quite expensive in Canada in the event of illness, as I can confirm from my own experience. The Students Union is responsible for the Greenshield supplementary insurance. Unfortunately, neither the Students Union nor the university was willing to consider closing this discrepancy. Therefore, I advise early
Depending on what the individual is looking for, there are good options for accommodation while studying. The university offers limited places for the student residence on campus. Early application for a place is advisable. From visits by fellow students there, I know that the facility is quite spartan. In addition, it is assumed that you provide your own kitchen utensils: crockery, pots, etc. yourself. Apart from that, you live quite independently with other students, which can also mean that the students party all night over you if you are writing an exam the next day and want to sleep.
In addition to the student residence and the classic host family, there are other inexpensive options. Many Canadians rent rooms in their homes to students. On the one hand you live with a family and are therefore not completely on your own in the afternoons after university, but on the other hand you have all the freedom you might wish for (e.g. you share the kitchen with the family but cook for yourself ). This option is very common in Nanaimo, even among Canadian students, as it is quite affordable depending on personal needs. A good website to take a look around in advance and maybe even contact potential landlords is Nanaimo.cragslist.ca.
Nanaimo is a fairly small town, but it is beautifully situated by the sea. In addition to the usual leisure activities (cinema, shopping, partying in clubs or getting together in bars), pure nature is right on the doorstep. For example, I regularly saw seals and sea lions on walks by the sea.
Getting from one end to the other in Nanaimo can be quite time-consuming, as each bus route usually only runs once an hour. This can be particularly annoying if you have to change trains and the connecting bus is 30 minutes or more. For this reason, I would advise anyone without a car to find accommodation within walking distance or a short bus ride from the university.
Before I had my first day at VIU I assumed that as an international student I would be in the minority. To my great surprise, my class of about 100 students, divided into three classes, consisted of 90% students from all over the world. Being with so many people from all over the world on a daily basis and working towards a goal was an incredible experience that I wouldn’t want to miss for anything in the world.
Looking back, my studies here were a unique experience. However, when you consider the amount of tuition, books, and living expenses, it’s also quite a costly experience. From today’s point of view, I would probably recommend a semester or a year abroad during the bachelor’s degree rather than doing the master’s at the VIU, since this is much cheaper and you can still experience your adventure abroad. In Germany, unlike in North America, you can still take master’s programs at reasonable prices.