My semester abroad in Nanaimo couldn’t have been better and the experiences I made during these months will surely stay with me for the rest of my life. Saying goodbye to my life there and all my good friends was much more difficult than I would have thought possible before. The farewell will certainly not be forever!
Life on the island
The Vancouver Iceland University is located, as the name suggests, on Vancouver Iceland. Just to clear up any misunderstandings: the city of Vancouver can be reached by ferry in about 2 hours (17. 20 CAD) or by seaplane in 20 minutes (from 65 CAD). The city of Nanaimo is a relatively small port city with 80,000 inhabitants but is still very charming. Downtown is very manageable and you don’t lose track of the clubs (Level 2, Evolve, Koncept) and pubs (Old City Station, The Queens. . . ). A small note on the side: All restaurants without exception have curfew at 2:00 am, so you may have to get used to a different rhythm when partying.
The rooms in the dormitory were too small and somehow too expensive for me, which is why I looked around for a room in a shared apartment on the Internet at www. nanaimo. craigslist. org and www. kijiji. ca and after numerous rejections because of the short rental period of only 5 months ago I was still incredibly lucky – perseverance pays off! Just two weeks before my arrival, after a short Skype video call, I finally had a room in a three-person flat share with a Canadian and a Canadian 15 minutes away from the university for only CAD 600 per month. It really pays off to get an apartment close to the university, even if it is a bit more expensive, because the public transport network leaves a lot to be desired, which is why I bought a car over there. This is not absolutely necessary, but very pleasant.
Life at the university
Short for VIU by abbreviationfinder, Vancouver Island University is diverse and very personal. Since the courses are mostly designed for around 30 students, you get to know your fellow students very quickly and the professors are always very interested in foreign students. The course itself is clearly different from that at Austrian universities and is more like “school days”. Weekly tests, homework and numerous group work are not uncommon and attendance is also very important to the professors. So if you think you can do a lot of road trips during the week, you will be disappointed. But don’t let that put you off, this is the case at most North American universities and even if it takes more time than usual, the content is not difficult and good grades are easy to get.
Study: Business Administration
The first number of the course number stands for the year in the study (Bachelor takes 4 years there)
- MGMT 494 Sustainable Development (Martin Martens): Warning: The course is really about environmental problems. Partly philosophical approaches (weekly quizzes (very easy) and 45-minute group presentations / discussions, no final)
- MGMT 496 Strategic Management (Chris Jaeger): Company simulation in groups, which is really incredibly exciting. (a midterm, a few submissions in groups and individual work, no final exam)
- MGMT 495 Advanced Topics in Leadership (Steven Purse): Very interesting, but time-consuming (weekly tests, large group paper and presentation, no final exam)
- MGMT 450 Operations Management (Esam Mustafa): Don’t let the thick textbook discourage you, you only learn part of the book. Really very easy. (two quizzes, a group work and a final exam)
- FNCE 423 International Finance (Daniel Simons): Hands off if you are not interested in macroeconomics. Otherwise very interesting but time-consuming (weekly quizzes and homework and 3 midterms, no final exam)
The VIU Recreation Center has a very large range of sports courses from weekly basketball, volleyball, soccer to kickboxing, yoga and many more, as well as kayaking and surfing trips lasting several days. It is best to look at the course list online and book online early enough. Personally, I went climbing, playing volleyball and, thanks to a wetsuit, surfing in Tofino in November. The VIU Gym is a gym with a well-equipped fitness studio, which is free for students and is also open on weekends, with free fitness coaches and spinsters that can be rented for little money. While you are jogging on the treadmill, you can often watch various volleyball and basketball matches there. There is also a squash court that can be used for 2 CAD.
During your studies you don’t really have time for road trips, so my tip: If you are studying in the semester (from September to December 20), fly over a month in advance and take a look at the mainland. I rented a motorhome with friends from home and we traveled for three weeks through the Canadian Rockies, from Vancouver to Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, Mount Robson, Whistler, Vancouver and then to the island of Tofino.
During the semester there is the “reading week”, a week without lectures, which is intended for learning but should be used for traveling. I flew to Montreal on the other side of Canada with fellow students, which I can only warmly recommend. We then drove to Quebec City in a rental car and let ourselves be pampered there by French culture and French cuisine. Book your flights as early as possible, otherwise it will be expensive. It is only when you fly to the French part of Canada that you notice how diverse this country is, at first you briefly believe that you are no longer on the same continent.