University: Vancouver Island University
Continent: North America
Field of study: Business administration, organization and leadership
Study type: semester abroad
General and application process
The semester abroad at Vancouver Island University was the best I have experienced so far! The university is, as the name suggests, on an island (Vancouver Island – about 2 hours by ferry from Vancouver) in a small town called Nanaimo. Nanaimo is located on the seafront and is a short drive from Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. Back then, I decided in favor of this university mainly because of the good location, and in retrospect I can say that it was 100% the right decision has been. It feels like 70% are German students abroad, but if you’re open, you’ll get to know people from all over the world very quickly. Canadians are also incredibly open and as long as you’re not just walking around in a group with Germans, it’s very easy to improve your English and make friends from Canada and around the world. Check mcat-test-centers.com to see Griffith University Brisbane.
Thanks to MicroEdu, the application process was super easy and I was accepted straight away. MicroEdu was also a helping hand in choosing the courses and I am very happy to have organized my semester abroad through this organization.
Accommodation and travel
There are several ways to get to Nanaimo. You can either fly directly from Vancouver by plane or take one of the two ferries. There are two ports, each with a ferry to Nanaimo. A seaplane will also take you directly from downtown Vancouver to your destination. Personally, I spent three days in Vancouver before heading to Nanaimo. The most common route to get here is probably to take the bus (257) to Horseshoe Bay and from there take the ferry to Departure Bay (Nanaimo). The ferry costs about 16 CAD. For the bus it is worth buying a so-called Compass Card, on which you can load any amount of money.
During my time in Nanaimo, I lived in the university’s student residence (VIU Residence). I applied very early and got a place in a double room in June. First of all, I was less than thrilled about this, but it was the best thing that could have happened. The residence is right next to the university. The rooms are very small – but I personally don’t need much space. The houses have different names and each house has two contact persons.
The houses of the double rooms were built in apartment style, ie there were four bedrooms, in each of which two people lived. In addition, two bathrooms (each for 4 people) and a common room/living room + kitchen. As soon as you know that you will be accommodated in a double room, people will be suggested to you who match you based on criteria (which you specified in the application process). My roommate came from the Netherlands. We wrote before that and had an amazing time together. She’s like a sister to me now and we actually did everything together. A single room would have been boring in hindsight.
Studies and courses
The material of the lectures was quite simple. In general, the whole thing reminded me a lot of my school days. There was a lot of homework and presentations. I often didn’t understand the meaning of the homework either – it was more quantity than quality. I have taken four courses in total and would recommend the same number for you as that is a good balance in terms of study and travel. I am studying business informatics in Germany and have taken management and marketingcourses in Canada :
- Organizational Behavior : Super interesting course. You write two exams (midterm and final) and only have one additional assignment and one small presentation during the semester. However, half of the course participants were Germans.
- Introduction to E-management : Also a very easy course with two exams (midterm and final), but there is also a lot of group work. Besides me, there was only one other person from Germany in this course.
- Marketing Research : a lot of work – little behind it. Almost every week we had to hand in one or two homework assignments and were sometimes treated like school children. There was also a large group work that took place throughout the semester. Here we were only two students from Germany. No midterm/final!
- Online Marketing : This course was great again. The teacher was very good in her field and responded to each student individually and was very helpful. No midterm/final!
The VIU has a very tasty canteen, the students of the culinary program cook the noodles right in front of you. In addition, the library is very nice and you have a great view. The university is on a slope and in good weather you can see the sea, mountains and other islands. It was really fun to stay in the library. There are also many, many steps to negotiate on campus and funnily enough each step has been counted and labeled with a number.
The countless bunnies that hop around all over the campus (and residence) are also special. The range of sports offered by the VIU was also a big plus. For example, I had kickboxing twice a week and could go to the university gym for free whenever I wanted. In addition, trips for surfing, hiking, kayaking etc. were organized very cheaply.
Canada and travel
As mentioned above, I chose the VIU mainly because of its location. From Nanaimo you can take the ferry to Vancouver in about two hours. Vancouver is a great city in itself, and it’s a three-hour bus ride from Seattle. By nature, Vancouver Island is a dream in and of itself. I highly recommend going to Tofino and Ucluelet at least once. There you can surf great, book whale watching trips and the nature is just beautiful. I also looked at the north of the island and even saw a bear. You can also plan larger trips over the weekend and so we were once in Whistler, for example.
Canadians are all super friendly and helpful. There are also many great activities in Nanaimo, such as escape rooms or the airhouse. There are two clubs for partying, Level 2 and Concept and you can usually get everywhere by bus.
Canada has so much to offer and the VIU was exactly the right university for me. It was an amazing experience, I made lifelong friends (especially my roommate) and definitely improved my English. I look back fondly on this great time and would like to encourage you to throw yourself into your own adventure. MicroEdu helped me a lot with this and I would choose to organize it again at any time.