Since I have long wanted to gain international life experience and also pursue the goal of working outside Germany after completing my studies as a civil engineer, I decided to spend a semester abroad. I did this relatively late in the 7th and actually last semester, which forced me to expand my studies to 8 semesters. First of all, this was one of the best decisions of my life so far. I was and am sure that these “lost” 6 months in my professional life will also pay off in terms of my career.
I chose Canada because it was important to me to improve my English and this nation has fascinated me since I was a child. For the UNB which stands for University of New Brunswick according to AbbreviationFinder, I decided since it one of the best universities in Canada in the field of Civil Engineering and them to me highly recommended by a friend and fellow student was.
Unfortunately, there was no cooperation between Jade University and the UNB at this point, which made the organization a little complicated. But with the help of College Contect. com and the Jade College International Office, no major problems arose. The application and contact with the UNB ran completely and free of charge via MicroEDU , which also sent me a list of all the documents I needed. After I had gathered all the application documents and sent them off, I was looking for financing options. Since the semester costs including semester fees, dormitory rent, meals (meal plan) and flight should be around 11,000 euros, this was sorely necessary. The International Office made me aware of the PROMOS travel expenses grant, which helped me a lot. By the student loan funding also has been a big part of the cost covered.
After the financial part was settled and my UNB approval was received, I was able to book my flight. I would recommend booking the one-way flight first and then traveling after the semester in order to still use the 6 months that you can spend in Canada without a visa.
Beginning of the semester
The international students can always arrive a few days before the Canadian students and take part in the international and then in the orientation week for all students. This “introductory week” was great, with lots of activities and parties. After a day or two, the same questions about origin and subject are annoying, but you should still be open to them. Even though I didn’t know anyone before, I made friends very quickly. Canadians are generally very friendly, helpful and very sociable. Of course, I can also count many international students among my friends, including from Australia, Sweden, England, Maurizios, China and many other countries. German students were represented most often, which at first I wasn’t very enthusiastic about because I wanted to improve my English, but for this very reason we had made an agreement that we would only speak English among each other, which I would recommend to everyone who has the same intentions.
I made a conscious decision to live in a university residence and against the cheaper option of an apartment / room outside the campus. This was a lot less stressful and it was much easier to connect and enjoy university life a lot more. My dorm was the “Mcleod house”. Many exchange students are accommodated in this house, which I welcomed very much, as they are more willing to go on excursions and see the country. My room was small and a little tired, but I got used to it quickly and there was a very good house community. Above all, the various sports competitions between the houses have contributed to the establishment of a strong connection to his residence. One of the three canteens was in our house, which was particularly pleasant in the very cold winter.
University life was different from what we are used to in Germany, because life on campus, eating three times a day in the cafeteria and the many events in addition to attending lectures and studying in the libraries created an incredible bond the UNB, which is rarely found at German universities. Above all, the regular games of the university teams in ice hockey, soccer, football, basketball, wrestling and many other sports, which are free for students, promote solidarity. In addition, I never had to leave the UNB premises, as everything, such as a fitness center, swimming pool, hairdresser, cafés, shops, clubs, pubs and banks, was on site.
I really enjoyed life on campus because it gave me a good impression of the North American way of life and mentality.
Studying in terms of lectures and exams was also very different from what I expected. From my home university I was used to very close contact with my professors, which was a bit different in Canada, as the lectures were attended by far more students. Despite the many fellow students and the English language, I was able to follow the lectures better than expected and I definitely learned a lot and continued my education in my subject. What I couldn’t quite get used to, however, was the type of grading. Each subject was graded according to different systems. The grade in “Concrete Technology” as an example was divided as follows: 10% Midterm exam 1; 10% midterm exam 2; 15% homework and quizzes; 20% laboratory project; 15% group homework; 30% final exam.
As a result, you had to work for your grade right from the start of the lecture, which led to constant pressure. The main purpose of this is to encourage the freshmen who are mostly only 17 years old in Canada to study continuously, as most of them are still very dependent. Personally, I see a point in this evaluation system, but I prefer the German version, as I like to decide for myself when and how I study for the university.
Trips and journeys
In order to get to know the culture of Canada and the USA, of course to have fun and to get away from the stressful university life, I went on a few excursions. I have been to New York, Boston, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and two national parks, among others. These trips were wonderful and showed me how big these two countries are. As a German it is difficult to imagine this vastness. It is very impressive to drive on a straight road for more than an hour without even seeing a car. However, it’s also very boring.
The semester abroad was a great enrichment for my private life as well as for my professional career. Although I’ve traveled a lot, I realized how big the world is and what opportunities I have.
I’ve met incredible people, made a lot of good friends, and had a fantastic time. I can only recommend anyone who is considering doing a semester abroad.
It is worth it.