I’m studying economics at the University of Mainz with a focus on finance, which, by the way, I only took at Saint Mary’s University. Since my English skills have never been so brilliant, I decided to stay in Halifax for a total of 2 semesters (from September 2011 to April 2012), which was absolutely the right decision.
Reside. I was accommodated at the “Atlantic School of Theology”, a great residence near the largest park in the city, “Point Pleasant Park”. The condominium is only a 7 minute walk from campus, which was pretty enjoyable during the bus strikes. During my study stay, I witnessed the longest bus strike, which lasted over 3 months (and that in winter!), Where you only got around by taxi or bike. Then of course it was a special advantage to be able to walk to the university.
For my rather small, dark room with sloping ceilings, I paid a total of 400 CAD per month (internet included), which is not only extremely cheap compared to the dormitories on campus, but is also a clear outlier for Canadian standards in general. The residence itself is not that big and the community is very diverse (the age of the students living there varies from 18 to over 60 years). Everyone is pretty nice, helpful and actually always there for a sociable and in-depth conversation in the kitchen. If you’re a party person and basically partying loudly in your room, then this place is probably not for you.
In winter there are occasional little guests: mice, which is quite common for Canada (as I found out later) in winter and which can be found in every house. But the dormitory is already working hard to fix this problem with mouse cases and mouse poison. Otherwise, the residence has its own cafeteria, common room and a room where you can study in the evenings. If necessary, you can also take refuge in the library, which is just around the corner.
As I have already said, I only decided on my focus, namely “Finance”, on site. The range of finance subjects at Saint Mary’s is very diverse and appetizing, but it was almost impossible to register for some finance courses (financial institutions, investments, financial management) because they were already full at the beginning. The trick is that the visiting students are only allowed to register a few weeks after the Canadian students, so it is not surprising that the best courses are already overcrowded from the start. Get more information about Saint Mary’s University on educationvv.
And again, I am talking solely from the perspective of finance, because at this chair the fight for places was very-very brutal, especially in the winter semester. It does NOT help at all to seek help from Paul Dixon (a very nice man in the administration, who unfortunately can hardly push you into the desired courses), sometimes the professors are merciful, but this is by far not the norm. At an event, 30 students registered who couldn’t get a place and since there were so many, the professor demonstrated his sense of justice and simply didn’t register any… BUT! Do not be discouraged! Go directly to the Dean of Finance Department, but you must also provide a very convincing reason to get to the desired event, e.g. that your home university only recognizes this event and if you don’t get it, your studies will be extended by a semester or that you will otherwise have problems with your scholarship… It doesn’t hurt to dramatize a bit, but really only if the need is there. Nobody will check your facts carefully. So, if it really matters – just try it out!
I took 3 courses in each semester, i.e. 6 courses over 2 semesters, I was able to count all credits at my university:
- Development Economics – Najama Sharif: Easy content, nice professor, but unfortunately not that interesting
- Investments – George Je: interesting content, not that difficult, Chinese professor, whose accent takes a lot of getting used to
- Money & Banking: interesting
- Portfolio Management at Mohammad M. Rahaman – a very good professor, but I advise against this event: the course is apparently a short summary of “Investments” and other financial courses. Many topics were only touched on because one assumed that one knew them. In this respect, you can’t really learn something useful, because you just jump around from topic to topic. In the exam, however, there were always a lot of tricky transfer tasks and the grades were pretty bad. Plus point: Evaluation project, which should be done at the end of the semester, this has already contributed to my understanding.
- International Financial Management with Mohammad M. Rahaman – difficult topics, but very interesting plus a very good Prof.
- Financial Institutions – Jie Dai: the first 2 exams (midterms) are pretty easy, if you have the exams from the previous semester, it is no problem to get an A and up. The final exam is not cumulative, ie only the material after the 2nd midterm will be dealt with, which saves an enormous amount of time. The final exam is, however, a bit sophisticated.
Montreal and Toronto with Niagara Falls are definitely a must! I went to Montreal alone with the lift because I couldn’t afford the plane ticket. There is a very good website http://www.kijiji.ca/ where you can find everything from furniture to language partners and ride share. I also did a language exchange through the site and got to know some very nice people.
It is definitely worth going to Cape Breton only during the season: we went there with friends at the end of April and everything was closed: souvenir shops, pubs, even some park trails… When you’ve had enough of winter, you can go to the Also fly to Cuba for holidays quite cheaply.
Halifax is quite rich in pubs and clubs. However, my favorite was the little club in the “PIPA” restaurant, which played Latin American music every Friday: salsa, bachata and merengue. You only pay 5 Eur for admission and enjoy a free lesson at 9 p.m. All the people there are very open, nice and positive.
There are quite a few German students at Saint Mary’s. If your goal is language, it’s best to speak English to each other or stay away from each other! Every Monday there is a two-hour conversation course called “English Corner”. This is where international people meet and talk about certain topics given in advance by the teachers. People’s language levels vary, but expanding your vocabulary is a good thing.
On the whole, Halifax is a beautiful cozy city that has enough great activities for students. I had very different experiences there and lived through both happy and sad moments. And because my life there was so unusual and full of adventure, I am convinced that every future student will take with them what they need. And that’s not specifically because of Halifax, but because of your own attitude. Always keep it in mind: if you look, you will find!