Hello to the one who will read my testimonial!
Before I start talking a bit about my Academic Gap Year, I have to admit that this year abroad was the best time of my life (so far!)! I got to know so many great people, gained experience and discovered a new side of myself. I have become more open and independent and have learned to appreciate healthy food. Lol.
The Saint Mary’s University is rather small compared to other Canadian universities. Of course, it is positive that you know or at least have seen almost everyone you meet. In my opinion, the football field in front of the accommodations gives the university a cinematic character and, especially if you live in Vanier, you have a prime view of it. Visit ehuacom.com to get information about CSLA study abroad program.
One of the most important questions to ask yourself when deciding to live on campus is which residence to choose. For my part, I opted for a single room in Vanier and lived in the A-House. Overall, I think that this decision was the right one for me personally, as life in Vanier is a bit more personal than in the other two properties Loyola and Rice. The single room was also the right decision, as you could relax there from the English-speaking environment, as speaking and hearing English was very exhausting for me at the beginning. If you should choose Vanier, you should be aware that if you are unlucky you will get the top floor, i.e. you can always climb stairs up to the 4th floor. Then I started to question my opinion a lot, especially when I arrived early and somehow had to get my luggage into my room.
In general, you shouldn’t expect too much from the rooms. A small bed, a desk and a so-called “wardrobe” are the furniture provided by the SMU. So go to Walmart early and get duvets and bedclothes and hangers for the closet and not, like me, only go off at 10pm and drag yourself away with it. Another tip: bring lots of photos with you so that you can design the room nicely. Because even if it didn’t look like I could feel at home in my room at the beginning, I have to say that in the end it felt like my home!
Warning: You may have some hairy roommates in winter! Means yes, we saw mice running around there one time or another.
If you choose to live in Loyola or Vanier, you will automatically have a meal plan. I can only say that I had the Freedom Plan, but I definitely didn’t take advantage of it. Another tip: eat wisely! Pizza, burgers and fries are offered almost around the clock, which of course sounds like a dream at first, but after say a month or two becomes a nightmare. Towards the end of the second semester, my friends and I almost always ordered food for us because the food in Dockside was getting too much for us. However, the principle behind the Dining Hall is great. Sometimes my friends and I sat there for hours and just talked. So definitely choose a meal plan, even if the food may not have a 5-star character, you can handle it.
The next topic is the International Welcome Week. It is IMPERATIVE to take part in it. It’s the first and best way to make new friends and get your first glimpse into SMU. You will be introduced to everything in a playful way and you will get to know new friends!
Get involved with everything and try it out first before you say no!
Program: Academic Gap Year
The principle of the Academic Gap Year helped me a lot to decide which future path I would like to take back in Germany. In the first half of the year I chose subjects from a wide variety of disciplines ( Computing Science, Political Science-Contemporary Issues, Management ). Highly recommended, as you will then get a first rough impression of what you might or might already be interested in.
In the second half of the year, I then built on what turned out to be more suitable / interesting for me. Computing Science was dropped, so I signed up for the Macroeconomics, Sociology and Anthropology courses in the second half of the year.
As I have to admit, I mostly didn’t buy the books for class, unless it was absolutely necessary, because as a student I unfortunately had to find out that the rumor that you are permanently broke as a student is true and many books as well are very expensive. However, if you really want to buy books, I would like to give you the tip that you resell them after the semester is over, after all there are always students who want to choose the same course afterwards and do not want to buy the books at new prices.
About Halifax in general: This city simply has its charm. Yes, it is definitely not the most exciting city of all and of course it can get boring at times, but I still think it’s great and you will have an exciting time with the right friends. You can get anywhere easily, even on foot, and the best doesn’t matter where you go, the chances of meeting someone you know are very good. Unfortunately I cannot report on bars and clubs because I was underaged (18) the entire time I was in Halifax. However, do not panic to all who are underaged and are reading this through and that is precisely why not thinking about doing this year / semester abroad, you too will get your money’s worth. Promised!
All in all: let’s go! Dare to take this step into the unknown. You definitely won’t regret it. You will make a lot of friendships, in my opinion these friendships are closer than many I’ve had so far, precisely because campus life is closely related and you are like a surrogate family for each other. Take the chance to gain a new experience.