After a good 4 years in Germany, I had a new wish to spend a not insignificant period of my life in another country. The international transport management course at Jade University gave me the opportunity to fulfill this wish through the integrated semester abroad. I come from Cameroon and speak French as my mother tongue and have been learning German for about 4 years. I also had English lessons at school and my semester abroad allowed me to improve my English skills. With a view to the future, it is important for me to be able to communicate in several languages so that I can use this flexibility to positively influence competition on the job market.
I chose Canada for various reasons. On the one hand, I wanted to take the opportunity to get to know another continent in this way, also because I don’t know whether I would have traveled that far in my life. On the other hand, because Canada offers diverse nature and breathtaking landscapes and I wanted to get to know the country while studying. Canada also has something in common with my home country Cameroon: French and English are official languages.
As already mentioned, Cameroon has French and English as official languages. Like Canada, the country is divided into two regions and each region is either French or English speaking. I come from the French part of Cameroon but had English lessons in school for eight years. In Germany I took two English courses at the University of Oldenburg. Learn more about Vancouver Island University on andyeducation.
Finding a suitable university in the English-speaking part of Canada was not easy, as most universities there require the TOEFL test, which I did not have. After some internet research, I came across the website of MicroEDU, a free agency for study places abroad. This organization saved me a lot of time and money. MicroEDU is based in Münster and represents many foreign universities in Germany. On the website you can find all universities that are represented by MicroEDU with all important information. So I was able to find universities that didn’t require a TOEFL test. One of them was Vancouver Island University, which I applied to. After just four weeks I received the “Letter of Acceptance”. The organization took care of the formalities with the university in Canada. It was of course pleasant for me because I had a contact person in Germany. After receiving my “Letter of Acceptance”, I had about a month to transfer the tuition fees. I had to pay 6500 Canadian dollars and could take up to five courses. The next step was booking a flight, which I made in a travel agency in Oldenburg. What is also very important for a stay abroad is the international health insurance. I have had very good experiences with Mawista and can only recommend it. I didn’t have to worry about a visa because as a German you can live and study in Canada for up to six months without a visa.
There are direct flights from Germany to Vancouver, but to get to Nanaimo I took the ferry. The drive from Vancouver to Nanaimo (Vancouver Island) takes less than two hours. You can also fly from Vancouver to Nanaimo, but the ferry is much cheaper. In Nanaimo there are only buses, but they run regularly in all directions. The only problem with buses in Nanaimo is that the stops on the buses don’t show up. In addition, the stops are difficult to see and do not have a name sign. This makes it difficult to take the bus when you are new to the city.
The search for an apartment turned out to be much easier than feared. There were two options; to live either on campus in a dormitory or privately (homestay). I chose the dormitory because, in my opinion, it is a better way to get to know students. It was expensive and there were strict rules, but I saved myself a long search for an apartment because I was able to apply for a place in a dormitory from Germany. I also had a confirmation before I left Germany. The dorm had 20 rooms and was fully equipped with a large kitchen. There was also a cleaning lady who cleaned the kitchen and living room every day. Life in the dormitory was very nice and I haven’t regretted the decision to move there until the end.
I was free to choose a course at Vancouver Island University, but there were restrictions on some courses from higher semesters. All courses of all degree programs can be viewed on the Internet. But I had to choose my courses before I went to Canada. I took four courses: “Principle of Management” “Introduction to Marketing” “Quantitative Methods” and “Introduction to French Culture and Literature”. Four courses for a foreign student whose mother tongue is not English is a lot. Most foreign students only take three courses. At first I was very unsure whether I would be able to cope with four courses, but after a few weeks this uncertainty was over. I also passed all four courses in the end.
My lectures were all in English. I found it amazing how well I could follow right from the start with my limited language skills. I always felt like I had at least an idea of what it was about. Overall, I liked the courses very much and I was particularly interested in “Principle of Management”. Although I had to do a lot for this course, I can recommend this course to anyone who wants to study at this university. I had to write nine assignments for this course, one a week. The first eight were at least 1200 words long and the last even 2500 words. I also had three exams. For my subject “Introduction to Marketing” I had even more to do: two tests, six term papers and a project over 50 pages, that one has made in partner work. For each subject there were only three hours of lectures a week. So there was enough time to do all the homework. The best thing about the VIU was the “writting center”. English teachers sit there and help foreign students write their homework. They read the written texts and correct mistakes and even free of charge. You just have to book an appointment 24 hours in advance.
My stay has given me a lot in many ways. During my semester at VIU, I was able to improve my English a lot, even if it took me a lot of time to understand Canadian English at the beginning. I have met many people who have always been open-minded and interested in me and my origins. I got to know one of the most fascinating countries on earth. I have never regretted my decision to spend a not insignificant period of my life in Canada.
At this point, a big thank you to MicroEDU, who helped me with the preparation.