In December I came across MicroEDU and came up with the idea of going abroad as a free mover. After I had decided on Canada and Brock University and had all the documents for the application together, I applied in mid-February. That means I sent my documents to MicroEDU in Frankfurt and they forwarded it to Canada from there. In general, MicroEDU is the point of contact for everything to do with preparation and is happy to pass you on to the university. The application was at the end of February then received and confirmed with my application fee (which unfortunately you always have to pay at universities in North America). Less than three weeks later, I had already received my confirmation and with these tips for the first steps from my Brock International Advisor.
I quickly found a room through Kijiji, but the Facebook groups can also be helpful. You can just as easily start looking for an apartment on site, but somehow it gave me a safer feeling to clarify the whole thing beforehand. Our house was on Pelham Road, a long street in West St. Catharines, between Downtown and Brock. I lived there with other international students. I can highly recommend the area, as well as everything that is close to the Glendale / Glendridge Avenue intersection, as it is quick to get to the university and quick to downtown.
Brock’s International Office put a lot of effort right from the start. A Facebook group was created for all internationals who come to Brock, but also for Canadians from Brock who are planning a semester abroad. So you could exchange something beforehand. Many events were planned for the entire first week, such as a joint excursion to Niagara Falls, so you quickly got to know people and felt integrated into the new environment. Get more information about Brock University on educationvv.
Since I am studying media culture studies in Germany, I chose two courses from the Communication, Pop Culture and Film Department: COMM2P20 (Theories of Popular Culture) and FILM2P56 (Canadian Cinema). As a third course I chose a history course from Canada Studies – CANA2P91 (Culture and Power in Canada I: Cultural Communities). I was very satisfied with all three courses, both in terms of the content and the profs and how the content was conveyed.
In general, the system at Canadian universities is a little different from ours. Instead of a final term paper or a final exam, the grade in the Canadian courses is calculated from many individual assignments. This is explained in detail in each course at the beginning of the semester, but this usually includes essays, mid and final exams and oral participation in the seminars. In terms of level, I found the content very comparable to that from my studies in Germany. The professors as well as the teaching assists from the entire CPCF department are all really nice and helpful!
In general, I really liked Brock University and its campus. In the free hours you can sit in the library or take advantage of the many options to eat something, like Tim Hortons etc. There is also a gym and a swimming area on campus.
I found the city in which the Brock is located to be a very pleasant place to live. Of course St. Catharines is not a big city, but there was always something going on, especially during the semester. The city lives from its students and that’s why there isn’t so much going on during the summer break and even the buses run less often. That is why I would not recommend arriving too early and would rather spend the weeks before the start of the semester in Toronto or somewhere else.
Going out is good downtown, which has a number of bars and clubs. There is a large mall for shopping (Pen Center) and typical North American shopping opportunities such as Walmart, Canadian Superstore or the like.
I particularly liked the location of St. Catharines, from there you can take the Megabus to Toronto in 1.5 hours, Niagara Falls in 20 minutes or across the border to Buffalo, NY in 45 minutes.
I also used long weekends to fly to New York City or Boston, which also takes just over an hour to fly. And during Reading Week we drove around Quebec in a rental car, which was one of the best experiences here in Canada ! I can especially recommend going to the north of Ontario and visiting the Algonquin Provincial Park. This is one of the best excursion destinations both in summer for hiking and canoeing and in winter with all the snow!
To the photos:
- The Niagara Falls, a great destination from St. Catharines. No matter whether during the day or in the evening.
- Created during Reading Week in a national park in Quebec (Parc du Mont-Ste-Anne).
- The Brock Campus in December.
- On the way to the snowy Algonquin Park, about 4 hours from St. Catharines.
- The Toronto skyline, on the ferry to Toronto Island.
- The Goodman School of Business, one of the Brock’s newest buildings.
- Cheer on the Brock ice hockey team, the Brock Badgers, at homecoming.
- The Niagara region is well known for its wine. In Niagara-on-the-Lake, the neighboring city, there are several wineries and regular wine festivals.