It should definitely be Canada, I thought to myself. Accordingly, I found out about the various universities in North America. A big point was actually the cost – it should be relatively cheap. The choice fell on Saint Mary’s University in Nova Scotia: located directly on the sea and cheaper than some alternatives.
The SMU is the “smaller university” in Halifax with almost 7500 students and a large proportion of foreign students (approx. 30%). The professors also come from all countries and can therefore give a very good insight into how various topics are dealt with internationally. I only took economics courses. I chose the courses partly according to topics and credit options, partly according to professors’ ratings. Like most of the German students, I took three courses, as it was the minimum required to study full-time and is still the cheapest number. Ultimately, I was very happy with my choice of course. One of the biggest differentiators is the exam system in Canada – many small exams, tests and tasks to submit replace the only exam at the end of the semester, as is common in Germany. The small classes enable participation in lessons without feeling pressured to have to say something all the time. Above all, the written participation is included in the grade. Getting good grades is easy if you stay a little diligent. Read more student reviews on Jibin123.
I lived near the so-called Halifax Forum myself – off-campus and about 40 minutes’ walk, 20 minutes by bus, away from the SMU. The apartment was advertised online for sublet for 550 CAD plus 65 CAD for electricity and internet.
The university is the place that is safe: No long searches and no inconvenience with one-year rents, as is usual with apartments. It is possible to spend most of the time on campus and to get to university courses even on bad days without getting wet or exposing yourself to the Canadian cold. The fitness studio or the evening sports courses can also be reached quickly and easily. It is therefore a great time saver. Apart from the fact that, depending on where you live, you can be dependent on the bus. The bus system in Halifax is currently still very immature – the buses very rarely arrive on time, but either too early or too late. Apart from that, there have not yet been any digital time displays at the stops.
However, if you get an apartment close to the university, you don’t have to rely on the bus either. Finding your own apartment on site can be much cheaper: We recommend looking for an apartment on the Internet, especially with the option of sending newly posted offers directly by email. The biggest problem with finding accommodation will be that one-year rents are common. Therefore, the search is limited to people who are looking for someone to sublet. Personally, I would advise against paying the annual rent yourself in order to then look for someone to replace the rest of the time. Although the rent can be cheaper, you should make sure that the apartment is a little close to the university.
The first time is very easy to bridge in the hostel. This is where you get to know a lot of new people: German fellow students as well as Canadians who just love to travel to the east coast.
First of all, I can say: I was extremely surprised at how friendly the people are there. The generally friendly and helpful atmosphere quickly makes you feel well received.
Cell phone use can quickly turn into money in Canada. Since Internet volume is extremely expensive in contrast to Germany, you should consider whether you need mobile data on site at all. There are WiFi spots almost everywhere. While it’s quite cozy, it may not be necessary. I had a prepaid card during my stay that included free calls, free texts, and 100MB for $ 21.00 per month.
Costs & Financing
The most important question for me personally was: How do I finance the entire semester? First of all, it is unfortunately expensive to go to Canada. However, it also depends on how the EURO compares to the Canadian dollar. In my opinion, you can save quite a lot on flights that you book early: It is quite possible to get a one-way flight from Frankfurt to Halifax for just under EUR 300. If you find an off-campus apartment with a kitchen, it is worthwhile to cook yourself more often. It is also worth paying attention to offers here and there with the typical shopping opportunities.
For on financing, I can only recommend that BAföG to apply. It is much higher than the domestic BAföG and just as likely to get it. In addition to BAföG, scholarships should be applied for. Potential scholarship providers can be found quickly via internet platforms, and it might be worth trying. After all, any financial support is very welcome.
In my opinion, the University in Halifax is to be recommended if it is supposed to be relatively cheap and if you want to experience the Atlantic flair. The professors as well as the students were extremely friendly and courteous. It is definitely worth going to Canada to get to know a breathtaking country and great people.