Canada is a dream country for many, even if you will probably never get to know it completely. It is attractive to us because it offers breathtaking landscapes and because of the culture we are somehow familiar. Bilingualism also helps to make the country more attractive than other countries for a stay abroad. You still have a second language up your sleeve, so to speak, in case the first doesn’t work. This means that you are abroad and far away from home, but at the same time some fears are taken away from you. In addition, Canada has a large number of emigrants who come from all over the world, including some Germans. So if you feel the need for black bread or something similar in Canada, this can also be remedied.
But you don’t go abroad to experience the same things and to have yourself at home! In my opinion Canada really has a lot to offer, so there is something for everyone. That’s why I wanted to spend a semester there and get to know the country and the people and chose the VIU in beautiful British Columbia according to liuxers.
The registration for the courses took place online and still in Germany, but the real decision on who attended which course was not made until the first week of the semester. You then attend more courses than necessary in order to make the decision for yourself or to hope that you can move up from the waiting list to a desired course. As an exchange student, it sometimes helps to speak to the responsible professor to get into a course. It is widely known that most exchange students only stay for one semester and can therefore only take the course in that semester. Due to my studies in Germany, I was in Canada in the business program, but was also able to supplement this with courses from other areas.
The course descriptions show the entry requirements for the respective courses, but for students from abroad it is usually the case that they have to assess for themselves whether they are able to follow the course and thus be able to take it or not. Overall, I was quite happy with my choice of course. I studied management, marketing, psychology, sociology and French. Even if these courses do not necessarily seem to harmonize with each other at first glance, I would make the choice again and recommend that every other student look beyond their own faculty for interesting lectures.
In any case, it is positive that it is clear from the beginning of the semester which subject areas are dealt with in the course and how you can rely on that. The process during the semester is different from most universities in this country. The Canadian education system is much more schooled, which means that the lectures are more interactive, there is a lot of group work and you also have to do homework. So you will be supervised throughout the semester and your knowledge will also be tested in different ways during the semester. In the end, this means more and continuous effort for the students, but the final exam also has less weight and you learn more sustainably.
Since the organization of the studies at the VIU is clearly regulated and there are many contact points that you can turn to with questions and uncertainties, the semester abroad begins without much stress and you can concentrate on the essentials. The campus offers its students many opportunities and places to study, but also to relax. For example, there are several outdoor seating areas, a large library, two cafeterias, a sports hall with a fitness studio, a café, and seating and work areas for studying in each faculty building.
The library has generous opening hours and is also accessible on weekends. However, you either have to wait a while for a good spot, for example on the window front with a sea view, or be there in good time.
Another good point is that the professors are almost always available and also take time to talk to the students. An e-mail is almost always answered within a day, but a conversation outside of regular office hours is not a problem either. All of this makes life as a student much easier and much more pleasant.
Life & fun
How you live during the semester abroad depends entirely on your personality and, of course, your wallet. There are numerous possibilities: Peer Stay, Home Stay, on campus, in hostels, in hotels or in your own apartment. Everyone has to make the decision for themselves and take care of the first-mentioned variants as long as possible in advance. I myself spent the first time in the hostel and looked for an apartment during that time. That was probably not the cheapest way, but you get to know people right from the start and you also have the chance to look at the accommodations before you make a decision. Some housing offers are quite questionable, others sound good, but disappoint in reality.
Nanaimo itself is quite manageable as a place, but it offers a beautiful harbor with a view of the opposite mainland, city parks, hiking trails, a few cafes, pubs and clubs. Thus entertainment is provided for everyone, whether nature lover, sports freak or party animal. However, the infrastructure of the place is negative, as the buses rarely run and do not run at night. Therefore, you should either know a trustworthy person with a car or take a taxi to get home.
But the rest of the island is also more than worth seeing and definitely worth a trip on weekends. The source of information is either the travel guide you have brought with you, the Internet, the brochures displayed, the bulletin board or, even better, locals. Accommodation is easy to find everywhere at affordable prices and can be reached by rental car or greyhound.
Unfortunately, the stay abroad at the VIU has a hard impact on the book, because in addition to the tuition fees, there are also rent, the cost of books (not to be underestimated!), The bus ticket, food and excursions. Tips on how to save some money and where are given on campus and also on the university website.
In my opinion, the time in Canada was definitely worth the money.
Benefit / reference
The semester at VIU not only served to attend the lectures, through which I really learned a lot, I also had the chance to get to know the country and the culture better. To what extent it helps you linguistically, everyone can decide for themselves, as there are unfortunately quite a few German students at the university and they often come together in groups.
All in all, it was a really great semester with unbelievable experiences, lots of new things and great people in a wonderful country – an experience that I definitely wouldn’t want to miss!