The tuition fees (including bus tickets and other mandatory university fees) for 3 courses are approximately CAD 3,600. The rent is between 500 and 650 CAD per month. The flight ticket (round trip) costs about 750 euros upwards. For food, leisure, travel, the unforeseen, etc. you should plan around 1,000 CAD per month. In addition, there may be expenses for things that you would like to take back to Germany (clothing, electronics, etc.). University books can also be expensive. A book for a course costs around 100 CAD. I was lucky myself, because I only needed 1 book, could buy a used one and share it with a friend. Basically, there is the possibility of reselling the books at the Book Store at a discount (50%) at the end of the semester. A note at this point: All prices in Halifax are quoted without tax. At the checkout you then pay 13% VAT.
Overall, a semester abroad in Halifax (4 months) should cost roughly 8,000 euros. Regarding the financing of the semester abroad, you should find out more about the Auslands-BAföG (the Studentenwerk Thuringia is responsible for Canada). Compared to the normal BAföG, different income and financial circumstances are used as a basis, so that someone who does not receive a normal BAföG can also receive BAföG abroad. The services then include grants for tuition fees, plane tickets, etc. MicroEDU can also provide you with further valuable information on this.
I arrived in Halifax about 10 days before the start of the semester (end of August) and started looking for a room on site. Until the beginning of the semester, I lived in the HI-Hostel (youth hostel on Barrington Street). This hostel is highly recommended because you get to know a lot of students and make first contacts. On the second day I got a room on campus and lived there for the entire semester.
Accommodation on campus is usually a bit more expensive (600 to 650 CAD per month), but the big advantage is that you get to know a lot of people, you can easily meet and meet and everything is nearby. In winter I was able to go to lectures with shorts and flip flops because most of the buildings on campus are connected. In addition, I was able to sleep longer in the morning because it was only 2 minutes for the lecture. If you want to live on campus, you can apply for accommodation to MicroEDU before going abroad. Some rooms that do not have a kitchen must be taken along with a mandatory meal plan. For this meal plan you pay 1,250 CAD (or more if you want; for the whole semester) and then you can eat for the money in the cafeteria. Advantage: You don’t have to cook and do the dishes yourself. Disadvantage: A bit expensive, portioned and not always as desired. So if you can and want to cook yourself, you should do so and avoid the meal plan.
The alternative is private accommodation. As a rule, you then live in a house with other students and have your own room. Many students who initially lived with me in the hostel and started searching at the same time have found private accommodation. However, it is better to take care of this before the semester abroad so that you can enjoy your time in Halifax right from the start. These accommodations are generally cheaper (500 to 550 CAD) than the rooms on campus, but you will likely be further away from the university.
First things first: Even if your English is not perfect, don’t be discouraged because you will get by (both at university and in everyday life). After all, you want to go abroad to improve your language skills. I had a completely normal basic English course at high school. You don’t need the TOEFL to study at the SMU. Everyone can think what they want about it, at least I was very happy about it at the time and I don’t have the feeling that I missed anything.
Like most international students who stayed for a semester or two, I took three courses at SMU, which was exactly right (MicroEDU will also help you with the choice of course). I was regularly busy with that, but my schedule remained fairly manageable (7.5 hours per week in the semester) and my free time was by no means neglected. On Fridays there are generally no lectures at SMU, which means you have a longer weekend. In contrast to German universities, the SMU is more school-based. Every now and then you have to do homework / work or write smaller tests in between. Canadians particularly enjoy group meetings and presentations. As a rule, you write a larger midterm exam and a final exam (depending on the courses). These are mostly multiple choice tests.
Free time in Halifax
And now for the pleasant: Already in the first days I got to know a lot of new people with whom I am still in contact today. Later on there were more and some of them became real friends.
Arriving in good time (approx. 2 weeks before the start of the lectures, i.e. mid to end of August) is advisable in order to familiarize yourself with the area and to settle in. As a rule, you will not be able to move into accommodation until September, so you have to stay elsewhere beforehand. As already mentioned above, I recommend the HI-Hostel for this. There I met other students with whom I explored the area together and went out in the evening. The orientation week at the university is also highly recommended, where you can get to know more people from all over the world and get useful information.
Halifax offers many recreational opportunities, so it never gets boring. We did something spontaneously every day. Point Pleasant Park, located near the university, is great for jogging or walking. From August to December you also have the opportunity to experience the park in summer, autumn and winter. Other sports (e.g. soccer, squash, fitness studio) are available on campus (free of charge for students). Passive athletes should attend an ice hockey game by the Mooseheads or a football game by the Huskies (university team). There are also many sights in Halifax, such as the Citadel (a kind of fortress). For shopping you can either go to the Mic Mac Mall or the Halifax Shopping Center. These malls offer a wider variety of stores compared to the smaller stores in central Halifax. You can get there easily by bus (as a student you have a semester ticket anyway). Every day from 6 p.m. (except Saturdays) there is also the possibility of the Husky Patrol (a kind of taxi for SMU students) driving you anywhere free of charge. This is a good service if, for example, you want to go to the cinema, have something to eat or go shopping.
There is a lot going on in the evening. I have seen quite a few parties with students from all over the world. Every Tuesday there is a steak night in “Your Father’s Mustache”. For 10 CAD there are 2 steaks for the price of one. We often made appointments for this and then went out to eat with a larger group of students. It’s a lot of fun and tastes good! For Wednesday (or Sunday) I recommend the “Alehouse” and the “Palace”. The “Alehouse” is a pub with beer and chicken wings for 10 CAD. Right next door is the “Palace” club, where you can get cheap drinks (1 CAD) and free entry for students. On Thursday you can go to “Peddler’s”, where the beer is unbeatably cheap. On Saturdays we were often in the “Pacifico”, where you can dance well and have a lot of fun.
In addition, there are regular parties in the “Gorsebrook”, a cozy pub on campus. One or the other house party will also be taken with you, at the latest on Halloween when there is a state of emergency in Halifax. Also recommended is the boat party on the Tall Ship Silva at the beginning of the semester, which is organized by the International Center for international students.
Excursions & trips
The area around Halifax offers beautiful landscapes that should definitely be visited on the weekends. We often rented a car with several people. In late summer, for example, we went surfing to Martinique Beach near Halifax. The weather was great and surfing was a lot of fun. Also not far away is Peggy’s Cove, an impressive rocky coastline with a famous lighthouse. The International Center organizes a trip there for international students. Also worth seeing is the small fishing town of Lunenburg, which was founded by German settlers.
But there are also numerous destinations for longer trips. In October we rented a car and drove to the island of Cape Breton. The landscape there is impressive, especially in October, when you drive along the coast and the leaves of the trees show themselves in various colors (Indian Summer). In December we drove to Quebec City and Montreal. After all the exams were written, we could really enjoy the rest of the days in Canada. The two cities are just great, especially at Christmas time. Quebec City is a cozy city with many European influences, whereas Montreal is a typical big city. Both cities have a very special charm. Once you’ve been there, you want to go back.
I can’t say exactly what I liked most during my stay abroad. Rather, it was a combination of all impressions and experiences that made my time in Halifax unforgettable. I was also able to improve my English skills significantly. Read more student reviews on Andyeducation.
A special city, a good university or nice weather may be decisive for one or the other when choosing a location for a semester abroad. Ultimately, however, it comes down to the people you meet and the personal experiences you take with you. I can only recommend a semester abroad in Halifax to everyone, because it is an extremely valuable experience that you should definitely have.
Every time I hear the name “Halifax” I associate it with a great city, nice people and a wonderful memory that will last a lifetime.