Last semester I did a semester abroad at Capilano University in Vancouver, Canada, and I’m happy to share a few experiences with you here. In Germany I am studying cultural economics at the University of Passau and a semester abroad was compulsory for me. MicroEDU introduced itself at an information day about the semester abroad at our university and that’s how I became aware of the organization. All freemover partner universities can be viewed on the website and further information and application forms can be sent to you. Since my university in Germany has no partner universities in the English-speaking part of Canada, the freemover program was a good alternative for me. I then decided on Capilano University because I’ve heard a lot of good things about Vancouver as a city, the university offers a wide range of courses and the tuition fees are still quite low compared to many other universities in North America. The application process via MicroEDU was very straightforward and problem-free. All the necessary forms for application and course selection will be sent to you with a detailed explanation. All my questions were answered very quickly and helpful on the phone or by email.
At the end of August we went to Vancouver and at the beginning of September the semester started with an introductory day. The Capilano Uni is relatively small, but is very international with many international exchange students. If you want, you can also register for the mentoring program and you will then be assigned a Capilano student as a contact person. On the introductory day we got to know the other internationals as well as our local contact person. The International Office is at your side with all questions, for example in relation to the choice of course.
I chose 3 courses. Some of the other international students 4. My courses were Marketing, Human Resource Management, and Contemporary Fiction. The Marketing course was a first year course on the basics of marketing. Our teacher was very experienced and competent and was able to give us many practical examples in addition to the theory. The course is otherwise very much based on the textbook. In general, the courses in Canada are much more school-based than in Germany. The groups are small with around 20-30 students and you have to submit homework and work in groups on a regular basis. In the business courses, the final grade usually consists of: midterm exam, final exam, participation and attendance, short online quizzes and 1-2 group projects or other homework. The group work is relatively time-consuming and consists of a term paper and a group presentation. The textbooks, even if you buy them used, are significantly more expensive than in Germany, but you can sell them again at the end of the semester. The human resources course was structured in a similar way to the marketing course. The teacher has also established a good practical relevance. The Contemporary Fiction course dealt with short stories and a novel. Unfortunately, the lessons were sometimes a bit dry, as many students were unprepared due to the extensive reading effort and the discussions therefore remained very superficial.
The Capilano Uni is located in North Vancouver, a part of the city just outside and good for nature lovers. The campus is very green with small forest paths between the buildings. The atmosphere at the university is very pleasant. The rooms are modernly equipped, there is a great cafeteria and a sports complex with university sports facilities. I attended a yoga class there, which I really enjoyed. The university can be reached by bus from downtown in about 50 minutes. I lived in East Vancouver and it took me an hour. But since I only had two or three days of uni, it was easy to do and you quickly get used to the distances. Many internationals have also lived in North Vancouver with a host family or in a shared flat. I found my room from Germany through Vanmates, a private room rental company. I shared a house with 7 other young people and was very happy with it. Contacts with host families can be established through the university. You get information about this in advance. Many have theirs accommodation only found on site via Craigslist (similar to WG-searched). The rental prices and cost of living in Vancouver are relatively high. If you are a little flexible with the location, you can find something appropriate.
Vancouver is a very young and vibrant city. The proportion of foreigners is very high, which contributes to the diversity of the city. There are lots of great restaurants, bars and cafes. My favorite neighborhood is Gastown. This is the oldest part of the city with 2 blocks of lovely old houses, cozy cafes, pubs and bars. What sometimes makes you feel uncomfortable is the high level of homelessness in Vancouver. Since the climate is very mild by Canadian standards, many people live there on the streets. If you know the somewhat dodgy areas and are not necessarily out and about alone at night, that’s not a problem.
According to educationvv, leisure and, above all, outdoor technology, Vancouver and the surrounding area has a lot to offer. The three mountains Cypress, Grouse and Seymour can be reached by bus within about an hour. There you can go hiking in summer and skiing in winter. Downtown Vancouver is located on a kind of peninsula and around the city there are great beaches with beautiful walking paths. The largest and most beautiful Stanley Park offers over 10km of bike / pedestrian path directly on the ocean. As already mentioned, the climate is much milder than one would expect from Canada. Snow and sub-zero temperatures are very rare in winter, but it rains a lot.
There are numerous excursion or short vacation destinations. Vancouver Island is especially beautiful in summer. There you can go on whale watching tours, for example. Whistler is a huge hiking and skiing area and can be reached in just 2 hours by bus. I spent a snowy Christmas there. The ESL Club offers various bus trips. I was with the organization in the Canadian Rockies for 4 days. There we saw the obligatory bear on a boat tour. The Okanagan Valley is ideal for a weekend trip. This is a beautiful wine region on Okanagan Lake. Seattle is also only a 4-hour bus ride away. And if you have a little more time, there are cheap flights from Seattle to other American cities.
Overall, I am very happy with my semester abroad and had a great time in Vancouver.