Saint Marys University Student Review
Since my degree program (International Cultural and Business Studies) includes a semester abroad, it was clear to me from the start that I would spend my fifth semester abroad. Despite the large number of partner universities of the University of Passau, I wanted to choose my university for a while according to my own wishes and needs. A tutor abroad for North America drew my attention to topmbadirectory.com during a conversation and so I started my research there. After reading many programs, universities, and testimonials, I chose Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada. On the one hand you didn’t need a TOEFL, on the other hand I followed the good reputation of the Sobey School of Business because I wanted to take two business courses.
After my application at the beginning of 2012, a confirmation from Halifax was already in the mailbox at the end of January together with a “to-do list”, which one could follow month after month. For example, the first thing to do was to book flights. However, I waited until May / June because I wanted to wait for feedback on my application for the senior suites. However, when it became clear that applications for these rooms (in contrast to those in the residences) were mostly unsuccessful and I did not receive any notification, I personally asked a CC employee who was at the university in Passau for the international days . She advised me to arrive a week before the start of the orientation week to look for a room. So I booked my flight for August 23, 2012. I booked the flights individually and so I was able to book a direct flight from Frankfurt to Halifax. As a result, I didn’t have to make any efforts to get an American visa. (According to every information I had before, this is necessary if both flights over the USA are more than three months apart. However, as other German exchange students said, the officers at the airport said that a visa was not necessary however, the question is.) that a visa would not have been necessary. The question is whether you want to take the risk.) that a visa would not have been necessary. The question is whether you want to take the risk.)
I already looked around on the internet for rooms (kijiji and also the university website), but only found one-year-old sublets or unfurnished rooms (which were also quite expensive). That’s why I applied – a little late – to the dormitory of the Atlantic School of Theology (AST) and the International House of the YMCA. Although the official deadline had already expired for both, rooms were still free. At $ 525 CAD per month, I opted for the more expensive option with the YMCA. So I lived downtown and could use the gym, sauna and pool, which are in the house. The AST costs $ 400 CAD a month and is closer to the ocean and university.
For the courses at the SMU, you had to search for the course catalog online (in the self-service banner – the access data come with the confirmation) and then have an employee of the university unlock it for you. This should be done in good time before 1.5. because at this point the courses are activated and you have to register yourself. Of course, this is still possible later, but the most popular times may then have already been taken. As a rule, you can activate up to ten courses in order to have alternative options if a course is already completely full or, as in my case, is canceled. But you can write to the lecturers and professors or the employee who is responsible for the activation. Most of the time, one more place in the course can still be discussed.
Instead of the (expensive) health insurance from the university, I got myself an ADAC long-term health insurance abroad (150 € for six months). I got my credit card from the DKB, where cash withdrawals are free worldwide.
Before I started, I booked the pick-up service and signed up for the orientation week at the university’s International Center.
The tuition fees incurred could be paid until shortly after the beginning of the semester, whereby I decided to do this from home via Travelex. This worked fine.
On the first day after my arrival, I went to the university and the International Center and was warmly welcomed there. Nicholas Reyes and Shanshan Luo greeted me and my companion Carsten (he had set up a Facebook group after the email address list was sent by CC, which allowed us to meet) by name and gave us initial information about the city and how we were able to do some organizational things before the orientation week. So they explained the way to Nova Scotia access, where you can get a Canadian provincial ID (for a fee of around $ 15 CAD). We were also told how to get student ID, health insurance exemption and U-Pass (public transport). Some were distributed during the O week, and we were able to do some things before the program started. In addition, Nich invited us to a meeting with him and friends, which made the start a lot easier. The reception from the university was informative and friendly. The O week then started on September 1st and there was a lot to do. In addition to a welcome event with Capoeira and Powerpoint presentations, there were other events to provide information about the legal situation in Canada, culture shock, university programs, societies and an “information pocket” with valuable brochures and notebooks. Since this orientation week was designed for international students, some of whom also spend their entire studies here, information about banks, visas, etc. was also given. Because the O week should also serve to get to know other students, excursions, games and parties were organized. So we made a trip to Peggy’s Cove, a Tall Ship Silva Tour around the Halifax peninsula and were also able to take part in the Turf Burns for freshmen at the university. During the O-week it turned out that the university was well received by students internationally (especially in China and Saudi Arabia), but there was a majority of German students among the exchange students for one semester (most of them were with the help of CC came). In the first week of September, teaching started and the hope of getting to know fellow Canadian students was a bit disappointed. Before the start of the hour everyone looked for a place and there was very little talk among each other. Still, my fellow students were extremely nice when I spoke to them.
Margaret McKee, who gave Ethical Responsibilities of Organizations, relied on assignments in the form of case studies, ethical field trips, midterm and final exams and on regular reading of the textbook in the design of her lessons. During the lesson (twice a week) she summarized the given pages again and let us solve group case studies. With these it was now easier to make contact with the Canadian fellow students. In general, great importance was attached to the practical application of what had been learned in this course and feedback was always given on the case studies. In addition, each student’s contribution was assessed individually.
Dr. Miguel Morales through three tests, two group case studies and a final research project (group) with a presentation of his grades. In class, the lecturer often used clear examples, but did not completely cover the given chapters in the book with his presentations. So one had to teach oneself the material for the tests mainly through self-study with the help of the book. The case studies had to be acquired online and, in my opinion, would have been more suitable for international management. The final project, however, was entirely in keeping with the course. There was only limited value placed on participation in the classroom.
In the third course, Tourist Geographies, given by Dr. Jason Grek-Martin, I benefited from the small size of the course. With eleven students, this was considerably smaller than the other two courses. This made a very personal atmosphere possible. Every week two scientific articles had to be studied, the lecturer gave a presentation hour to introduce the topic and during the second hour the articles were discussed. The small group gave everyone a chance. Overall, the course was therefore based very much on the cooperation of the students (also in terms of grades). In addition, five position papers, a short presentation and a final research paper on the topic of “ethical tourism” were due per person. The lecturer was extremely committed and helpful, corrected papers quickly and gave good feedback.
For my courses I had to buy two books, which cost me about $ 220 CAD in the university bookstore. I was able to get $ 125 CAD back from this when I bought it back at the end of the semester. Printing costs at the university are eight cents per double-sided print, with $ 5 CAD available at the beginning of the semester.
Before I started my research, I didn’t know Halifax. However, I imagined life on the Atlantic as promising, not least because of the milder maritime winter. With its almost 400,000 inhabitants, Halifax is larger than Passau and I therefore associated it with lively city life. Last but not least, the four universities in the vicinity should promise a hustle and bustle. Since I lived downtown and only had to walk 15 minutes to the university, I saw very little of the rest of the city and so the impression remained that it was just as tranquil a town as Passau. North American, of course, but also Scottish-Irish influenced. There are many shops, restaurants and the Park Lane Mall on Spring-Garden Road. Bars can also be found there, although these, like clubs, in the area around Argyle and Barrington Streets. Most bars and clubs played live music almost every evening. A unique mix of local songs (Irish, country, etc.) and DJs during the breaks shaped so many evenings of Halifax’s nightlife. For newcomers, the live music in the club is unfamiliar and it takes some time to get used to it. You could go shopping in the Atlantic Superstore or Sobey’s, some of which could be reached by bus. If you don’t own a car, the roads can seem long and heavy. This mostly happened on Tuesdays, because then you get a 10% student discount. Larger shopping malls such as the Halifax Shopping Center and the Mic Mac Mall are outside and can be reached by bus in under an hour. In general, when shopping and going out in Nova Scotia, note that all prices are exclusive of tax (this is 15%). There is also a special service in bars: if you share a pitcher beer, it is distributed fairly among those involved and a separate invoice is issued for each with, for example, a quarter of the amount. Very obliging. So are Canadians, the Nova Scotians in particular, but always. People are always happy to help and wherever they are, and pedestrians willingly stop, even if they have to brake hard.
The bus ride, however, takes some getting used to. Since there are no timetables at the stops, you have to call Metro Transit to find out the departure time of the next bus. You should also know which number to take to get to a specific destination. Because routes are not posted either. Stops have no names and so you have to rely on the helpfulness of Canadians: Both bus drivers and passengers are always happy to help you not to miss the right stop.
Otherwise, one notices the large number of joggers in the city, cruise tourists in the summer months and the Citadel in the middle of the city. This is a fort that was supposed to defend the strategically important port (it never freezes over in winter).
In addition to its important role in the world wars, the local military and the port city were also involved in the recovery of the Titanic.
If you study in Halifax in the winter semester (fall term), I recommend a trip to Cape Breton. There you can see the Indian Summer like in no other place. A trip to Digby for whale watching and Balancing Rock on Long Island is also worth a weekend trip.
In general, I was very satisfied with the choice of the study location, because as in Passau, you can always come across familiar faces in the manageable university as well as in the city, which is always nice in a new environment. A slightly larger cultural offer would of course have been nice. The Haligonians are especially known for their friendliness and I can only agree with that.
It didn’t quite meet my expectation that in the end I would have more contact with Germans. The internationality of the SMU is very “German-oriented”, especially in the winter semester, and the International Orientation Week also promotes the “cohesion” of Germans. However, this is again an advantage if you want to explore the province as a “tourist” on the weekend, as the other international and German students want to do the same.
My recommendation for other students who choose Canada or Halifax is definitely to get in touch with Canadians. Because although you normally disappear from the scene after four months, they always take everyone very warmly. You just have to show interest.
Otherwise, I can recommend the YMCA International House, in which I lived, with some reservations: The rental price is okay because you live downtown and can use the gym. However, some of the rooms are very small, the internet didn’t always work and the heating could only be started after a few weeks of cold weather. In addition, the interior is quite old and the kitchen can be dirty, stuffy and crowded at times. But this only makes you more tolerant and the international roommates from all corners of the world make it an exciting, educational and beautiful experience. An alternative (if, like me, you don’t want to pay the residences meal plan) is the AST dormitory. This is a little cheaper and has larger rooms and kitchens.
If you want a Canadian prepaid card for your mobile phone, in Nova Scotia, in my experience, this is only possible with the provider Rogers. It should be noted with the mobile phone costs that you have to pay for both outgoing and incoming SMS and calls.
I also recommend that everyone start saving in good time, as everything in Canada is generally expensive or more expensive.