Before I will report on my experiences in the semester abroad, I would like to mention in advance that my decision to go to Canada was my favorite and therefore my goal from the start. At the time, of course, I was thinking about possible alternatives, but I didn’t have to go into them any further thanks to a smooth handling process with quick approval.
In order to get an acceptance from Vancouver Island University, VIU for short, I started the preparations in good time. I made the decision to do my semester abroad at VIU in October 2011. At that time, there was also a fellow student at this university. This fact was a great advantage for me, as I would like you all was able to ask questions and she gave me helpful tips on how to apply. The VIU is not a partner university of the Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences, which means that all costs that arise from the application, such as tuition fees and life on site, must be borne by yourself. After talking to my parents about this crucial aspect and getting their consent, I called the MicroEDU organization. This organization mediates all matters between the applicant and the university, thus saving costs such as postage and telephone for the applicant. The application process itself is relatively simple, you get all the essential documents by post from toppharmacyschools and have to fill them in and send them back. It is important to mention, however, that you need an English certificate (TOEFL, IELTS, C1). I am studying an international subject, so there was an opportunity for my professor to issue me with a certificate confirming that I had sufficient English skills to study abroad. After I had filled out all the necessary documents and sent them back to the organization, I had to wait and see. I was accepted to study in February 2012. With this good news I then worked on the checklist, which I also received from MicroEDU. First of all, I took care of the flight, took out international insurance and my credit card.
checked for assignments abroad and applied for a place in the student dormitory. Since the semester is advertised from September to December, a visa is not necessary for this period, i. e. it is processed directly by the university, so there is no additional effort for the applicant. After I was accepted and all the arrangements had been made, I had to register for the courses online by a specified date. It wasn’t that easy at all, although I had already made my selection in advance. The quota of courses is reached very quickly and it can happen that you are put on the waiting list. It was the same in my case, I was directly on the waiting list for two courses. But in the end I got this, so that in all courses, for which I had decided to get a place. From that moment on, I had completed all the preparations and was able to look forward to my semester abroad in a relaxed manner.
After I received the written confirmation from VIU, I applied for a room in the student dormitory. In retrospect, I should have done that at the same time as the application, as the rooms are rare and are given away very quickly. I was promptly informed that my chances were pretty bad because my name was at position 257. For this reason I decided to fly to Vancouver Island a few days early to look for possible alternatives. It was all the more gratifying for me when shortly before my departure, at the end of July, I received the message that a room had become free. This made a lot of things easier for me, as I later found out that a room near the university would not have been easy to find.
Life on campus is not that different from that in Germany. I would have wished to get a little more distance from time to time, but I was saved a lot of travel time and I had a social environment with many students around me.
III. Studying at the VIU
I took a total of five courses in the semester abroad. Since my “International Cruise Industry Management” (ICIM) course cannot be compared with any other, I decided to choose a mix of tourism and hospitality programs. I have attended the following courses: Beverage Theory, Leadership in Tourism, Adventure Tourism, Entrepreneurship in Recreation and Tourism and Conference and Event Management. It is important to mention here that all courses have a three-digit number code, where the first number is the decisive one, because it says for which year the course is offered. Compared to Germany, this means that the 1 stands for the 1st and 2nd semester and the 4 for the 7th and 8th semester. Since my course gave me complete freedom of choice, I chose courses from almost every year. The course content itself was easy to master. The differences, however, are that in Canada the overall grade is usually divided into four sub-grades. As a rule, a midterm exam is written at the beginning of October, a term paper and group work are done and, finally, a final exam is written at the beginning of December. These are then weighted at different percentages and this results in an overall grade. Because of my international degree, I had an enormous advantage, both writing and speaking were not difficult for me. I am very satisfied with my result of having 5 A’s on my certificate.
I also think it’s very important to mention that as an international student at VIU you feel that you are in good hands and safe. Any concerns or concerns from a student’s point of view are dealt with immediately, and if you have any questions, you can always get
help from the International Office.
IV. Everyday life and leisure
In my experience, in Canada, quantity outweighs quality. There is more effort in every course and you have to do a lot more as a student, however the contents are not viewed as strictly as in Germany, for example. For this reason, my everyday life largely consisted of attending lectures, preparatory work or follow-up work, studying or group meetings in the library and exercising in the associated fitness studio. In order to still make the most of my free time, I devoted myself to all university matters during the week in a disciplined manner and then on the weekends to go on short trips to the island, to Vancouver and Seattle. My highlights were among others: climbing, kayaking, going to a concert by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, a trip to Port Hardy, the northernmost point of Vancouver Island and skiing on Mount Washington. The university is not right in the heart of Nanaimo, the campus is quite high.
V. Good and bad experiences
I can summarize my conclusion from this semester abroad in a nutshell and in an uncomplicated way: I experienced a wonderful, exciting and eventful semester. I would want to do everything again and I miss this time very much. I will keep these moments in happy memory and every time I have an indescribable feeling when I remember that special time Nevertheless, to mention my ups and downs, the best experience I have had during this time is that I have chosen a very wide place all by myself, where it was not possible for me to spontaneously return to my home town. Furthermore, I have had the experience of being on my own for a long time, organizing myself and controlling my emotions in every situation in life. One of the negative experiences I counted was the fact that I was very surprised to find so many German students at a Canadian university. Because of this, one of my dreams of dreaming in English has unfortunately not come true. Fortunately, this stay abroad was not my last.