The only thing that put me off doing a semester abroad was the preparation. Applying for a place and scholarships, applying for visas and taking out health insurance is not the most fun and involves a lot of paperwork. The support from MicroEDU helped me a lot and the staff were available at all times and were able to answer many questions. I was also lucky enough to receive a PROMOS scholarship. After you have all the bureaucratic work behind you, you can start looking forward to interesting courses, explore university websites and activities as well as travel destinations.
Before starting my studies at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, NS, Canada, I had decided to travel a bit through Eastern Canada and explore Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. That was a good decision and I can recommend it to everyone, because you can already gain your first experience in the country, you are still free from university stress and of course you get used to the language. Visit ehuacom.com to get information about HPU study abroad program.
Because of my planned city trips, I did not fly directly to Halifax, but to Montreal and later after the trip from Toronto to Halifax. The fly back and forth is of course exhausting, but if you prepare for it and book a good connection with only one change, it is feasible. Six to seven hours across the Atlantic are only three feature films and not that long at all. My university had published tips like “don’t take too much clothes with you, if necessary you can also buy something here” on their website. I didn’t really follow the tips and of course I had a huge suitcase with me. I would now sign the tip in retrospect, because you get free t-shirts from the university and many events,the plain sweater is a nice souvenir anyway and you don’t need endless clothes. If you skip the dragging of my heavy luggage and a little too little time to change between flights, my journey is somewhat pleasant, also because my university organizes an airport pick-up that brings you to your doorstep.
I made myself wise beforehand what options there are in terms of accommodation. These are to live in the very expensive student dormitories, which in North America usually includes the meal plan, which of course also costs to stay with a host family or to look for accommodation on your own. I decided on the latter and since Halifax is a student city, I found several suitable shared rooms near the university on kijiji (https://www.kijiji.ca/). I lived very close to the campus, which I can only recommend to everyone, because then you don’t miss any of the campus life and, for example, can just go home for a short time between courses.
Studied at the host university
In general, I really enjoyed the course with all the trimmings. A total of three courses are required to be a full-time student at Saint Mary’s University. I am studying English and Political Economy in my Master of Education in Oldenburg and have taken on-site undergraduate courses at a higher level, namely two literature courses, a film course and a political course on international organizations. All of my teachers were super nice, addressed you personally by name and were always available for questions and help before and after the seminars and lectures. In addition, there was a lot of discussion in the courses and people will even register for a larger lecture.
In my politics course (International Organizations) we also did so-called simulations, i.e. something like business games, which I found very interesting, was fun and made contact with fellow students really well. I took the film course ( Atlantic Canadian Film & TV ), which explicitly deals with the area, i.e. Atlantic Canada, for fun, and the films and shows were really interesting because you could link them to your own experiences and many Stereotypes about the people and the area were presented. For my literary courses ( Contemporary British Writings, 18th Century Literature) I had to read a lot, but I liked the different perspectives on the different works and the lively discussions. In all of my courses I had to write a lot of essays and also do homework, which makes the course very demanding and during the semester you have to do without one or two after-work beers. In the end, however, it is worth the effort, as the teachers rate them well and often return the essays with positive feedback, so that you are motivated and can even improve next time.
City, everyday life and leisure
The city of Halifax was the right choice for me as it is neither too big nor too small and there is always something going on somewhere. In addition, the people from the province of Nova Scotia are known to be super nice and polite and I can only confirm these stereotypes. It’s just a beautiful city by the sea with a lot of students, a great pub culture and a good party scene. Since I arrived at the end of August, I was even able to enjoy the summer on the beautiful beaches nearby and meet many tourists.
Right in Halifax and at any time of the year, I can only recommend Point Pleasant Park. This became one of my favorite places, whether for jogging, petting dogs or in winter for a snowball fight. I can also recommend using the offers of the universities, such as joining societies, going to sporting events ( hockey is the best! ) And going on excursions. Otherwise, you can also rent a car with your new friends and go on road trips within the province. I can recommend the excursion destinations: Cape Breton, Peggy’s Cove, the Kejimkujik National Park, whale watching on the Bay of Fundy and the cute little fishing town of Lunenburg.
By plane you can also quickly discover the nearby provinces of Quebec and Ontario and the great cities (Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara Falls) and other national parks (for example Park National du Mont-Tremblant). Anyone who is into both nature and culture and likes nice people and fish can only fall in love with the great city of Halifax in Nova Scotia.
I would spend my semester abroad again and again at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax and in the end every effort that you put into it is worth it. I learned a lot in my courses, got to know great internationals and Canadians, traveled a lot and gained confidence in my use of the language. In addition, all the positive stereotypes about Canada have been confirmed. Cool eh? So off to Canada and best of all to Halifax, of course!