Semester abroad at the Canadian Brock University in the fall / winter semester 2014
1. Application process
After I unfortunately received a rejection from my university (Uni Mannheim) for the University of Florida, I decided to go to Canada as a so-called FreeMover. When I was googling the internet for an organization that would help me with the application process, I quickly came across MicroEDU. Since the head professor of the Canadian Brock University of my course (media and communication sciences) gave a lecture about Brock University at the University of Mannheim six months earlier, my decision to go to this university was made very quickly. A phone call to MicroEDU was enough to get all the information about brock University and the application process. After I had compiled all the application documents, I received my acceptance less than four weeks later. Find more review on Brock University on existingcountries.
My choice of course, however, turned out to be not too easy. I had to take three courses in my 5th semester at Brock University. I had to have all three courses recognized at home so that I can start my bachelor thesis punctually in the 6th semester. The difficulty lay in the fact that I did find courses that would most likely have been recognized at my home university in Germany, but Brock University works on the principle of “first come, first served”. The problem with the whole thing was that you first had to wait for the courses to be confirmed by the International Office at Brock until you were approved for choosing a course. As a result, the course that I really wanted to take was full at some point. In general, Brock University naturally also prefers its own students when choosing a course. After I had then selected another course, it first had to be checked whether I also had the necessary prerequisites / knowledge for the course. I have to say that the International Office tried everything that the respective professors sometimes turned a blind eye to, so that one could attend a course even without prior knowledge.
Regarding the course in general, I have to say that it is very different to the German way of teaching. Studying in Canada is very school-oriented, you sometimes sit in small seminars where, like in school, participation counts very much. The professor or seminar leader usually knows you by name and you often have to hand in some essays or other tasks that are like homework. On the one hand, it’s good because you stick with it and improve your English, because you just have to collaborate and hand in things to pass the course. On the other hand, I have to say that I’ve never done so much for university during the semester than at Brock University for just three courses. Also, my lecture / course doesn’t have 90 minutes as usual, but always 3 hours. Either 2 hours of lectures and an accompanying seminar or 3 hours of lectures in a row. Often, however, the professors finish a little earlier or there is a break in between.
- Search for accommodation
In order to find a room in a shared apartment, I arrived two weeks before the start of the semester because I wanted to get an impression of the offer on site. Often the standards even in Canada cannot be compared with those in Germany. After I had to find out that there is no hostel or anything else in St. Catharines, only expensive hotels, I looked for a couch surfing opportunity. I was able to stay there for the first three days and by chance, after only three days, I had a great room in a shared apartment directly at the well-known Pen Center. There are three good areas in St. Catharines where to find an apartment if possible. On the one hand Downtown St. Catharines (although this is also advised against in many experience reports), since there are regular buses from there to the university or to all other important points. Especially a little later in the evening. Then everything is fine on Glenridge Avenue, as pretty much all the buses that go to college pass by. If you live right down on the hill (the university is located on a hill), then you can sometimes walk. Then there is the Pen Center, a large shopping center where people meet to shop, have a coffee or go to the cinema. All of the streets around and by the Pen Center are a good area to live in.
- The buses
In short, the buses were a disaster for me. Far too few buses that no longer run in the evening from 11am, some no longer from half past ten. The first bus from the Pen Center did not start until 7:15 in the morning. At the weekend there are even fewer buses and if you want to party you always have to take a taxi, which is quite expensive in the long run. People who live downtown don’t have that problem. Because all the clubs and bars are downtown. After that time you knew who lived with whom in the area and you could often share a taxi or sleep with friends. Still, I was very disappointed with the public transport.
- University life
In general, you just have to anticipate that St. Catharines is not a city in that sense. Although St. Catharines has many residents and you can also go shopping in the Pen Center, it should not be confused with a big city. But that didn’t bother me at all. The university has a wide range of sports courses, apart from the beautiful fitness studio right on campus and the large swimming pool, which were included in the tuition fees.
- Leisure and excursion opportunities
St. Catharines is a good starting point for traveling in my opinion. You can be in Toronto in an hour and a half with the Megabus (megabus.ca) or the greyhound (greyhound.ca) and if you get there early, you can do it for less than $ 5. From Toronto there are regular buses (Megabus & Greyhound) to New York City, Boston or Washington and to any Canadian city such as the Canadian capital Ottawa, Quebec City and Montreal. Sometimes you can also get cheap flights from Toronto to Florida or other cities in the southern United States. At the end of my semester abroad I flew to Cuba, one week all inclusive for just 550 euros.
In the beginning, Brock University also organizes a lot for the international students, from a picnic on the great Lake Ontario to organized tours to Niagara Falls with a wine tour. In short, I never got bored, I did something every single weekend, even if it was just a weekend party in St. Catharines.
I would always want to spend my semester abroad at Brock University. The fact that there wasn’t too much to do in the place resulted in a great sense of togetherness through cozy cooking evenings or trips that were organized together. Since Brock University is a so-called campus university, you can spend the whole day there alone. The university is modern, has nice seating everywhere and in between you can quickly go to the gym. I just loved it !!