I did my semester abroad at Capilano University in Vancouver and was very happy with my choice! Capilano University (CapU) is in the north of Vancouver, where it is very quiet and beautiful. The mountains of Vancouver are directly behind it and it takes a while to get downtown by bus, but it is always easy to get there and back.
I also lived near the university, in the dormitory. You can apply there through the university, MicroEDU also helps with this. Otherwise Craigslist is popular, but since not all offers there are particularly trustworthy, it is better to search locally and to look at the apartments before you accept. The dormitory costs 4417 CAD (approx. 2830 euros) for the whole semester, food is included (there is a dining hall in the dormitory and you get money on the card for meals at the university). It’s great to get to know people! Of course there are many international students there, but also some Canadians. The rooms are in long corridors, the bathroom / shower, a common room and a laundry room are shared. The bathrooms are not always really clean and the rooms are very simple, but it is definitely enough for one semester. The food wasn’t great either, but there were different choices and there was always a salad bar and fruit. Visit iamaccepted.com to get information about best cities to live in Canada.
Otherwise, a few tips on organization: The health insurance runs through the university, if you stay longer than the semester, you can also extend the insurance of the university, but it is best to specify this before the start of the semester, so that the duration from the beginning fits – I tried to extend my insurance during the semester and it didn’t work.
Be sure to have a credit card that is set high enough. The tuition fees have to be paid almost all at once, which is quite a high amount. In addition, in hospital, for example, you have to make large down payments before you are even treated, which the health insurance then pays back later. I didn’t have a mobile phone contract at all and that worked out well – there is great WiFi in the dormitory and in the university and there are free hotspots everywhere in the city, and otherwise Canadians are always very helpful and friendly, so you can always go after that ask for the next bus.
The university is small and has a very educational structure; the level of the courses is generally lower than in Germany. But the workload is super high, I had to submit a text every week in all of my courses and write a quiz about the chapter in the book. Then there were additional presentations, homework or projects. I only had courses in geography, where there are neither mid-terms nor final exams, but only a final term project. Many of my friends did business, so the focus was more on the exams and not so much work during the semester.
My favorite course was GEOG 114 – Weather and Climate, the professor, Sheila Ross, was great there. You feel like you are in school, but you really learn a lot and she explains very well. In the course description it says that you have to have good math skills, don’t let that put you off, these are really just basics. In contrast, I unfortunately cannot recommend my other professor, Christopher Gratham, because he was very lazy and actually only let us give presentations the whole time.
The International Office is chronically understaffed, and Ada Lee is responsible for the people at MicroEDU, who is very nice and hard-working, but takes forever for everything. If there is something important, just go there in person and insist that she do it right away. Otherwise you can always check again via MicroEDU, which we did a lot, especially in the application process.
In addition to the university, Vancouver of course has a lot to offer, especially with the mountains in the surrounding area (in winter you can get to the nearby ski areas with the normal city bus, in summer you can hike up and enjoy the view of the city). There are always events, concerts and lectures at the university. Excursions like ice skating or hiking and other things like game nights are organized by the dormitory. There are many great destinations nearby that can be easily reached on a (long) weekend: Vancouver Island, Whistler, Seattle, Joffre Lakes, Garibaldi Lake and the Rockies (Calgary, Banff, Jasper) were my highlights. Canada is great for being active: we were Hike, kayak, climb, snorkel… Make the most of the good weather in summer! In autumn it rains a lot before the snow comes in winter.
Flights to the US are cheap, I was in California and Hawaii before I got home. Many of my friends also flew to eastern Canada, which I would have loved to have done – ideally plan as much time as possible before and after the semester so that you can see even more of this beautiful country !