6. November 2019 | Von Benita Celina Montag 

Nanaimo: Reality on-campus vs. Halloween fantasy

More than half of my semester abroad is already over, and I’ve so far had so many great experience here in Canada, that I want to share with you. Nature is even becoming more beautiful around here because of all the leaves turning into every shade of orange and red!

Nanaimo: Reality on-campus vs. Halloween fantasy

Hello there again!!!

First of all, I want to share my personal opinion on the learning-style that I experienced in the past two months and how hard it was for me to meet the expectations and guidelines. In Canada there are not only final exams at the end of the semester, like it is at the Macromedia in Germany. During your studies here, you have to write Midterms in most of the courses. In addition to that, several assignments are due during the semester. Those assignments are for instance, essays, marketing- and business plans, that are very time-intensive. However, in almost every course you work together in groups of four to six people on tasks and most of your assignments. It is quite a different learning style compared to Germany, where you probably only have one or two long-term tasks that need to be done as a group. I have to point out that this teaching method leads to a more practical and not only theoretical based learning, which can be more efficient in some ways and you get to know people from other countries or regions better. Furthermore, you learn how to organize and manage a team properly and how to arrange with a diversity of characteristics. On the other hand, group work can unfortunately also lead to a lot of pressure and frustration if the communication in the team fails, but if problems occur during the groupwork, the professors are pleased to help you out and help reorganize the team, it is overall a very pleasant atmosphere at VIU.

As you may already guess, the workload is much higher than it is at the Macromedia, which I also heard from other German students. This is due to the constant readings that you must do every week and the assignments that are due during the week, whilst preparing for Midterms. For me, it is almost too much work that needs to be done, because I also wanted to travel around and visit a lot of different places around Nanaimo, that was of course possible, but when you are making trips, you always have what you still need to do in mind, so many things for your courses and it is hard to put that much effort into your assignments while traveling around. However, I have to say that because of the constant work that needs to be done here, I’ve learned an incredible amount of new things, which I had not only learned by heart once, but things that I can apply in my future career, which is very positive. The professors are all aware that you are an international student and support you in every possible way and their grading is traceable and friendly.

Studying is of course not the only thing I want to talk about. The VIU is offering so much more than that. There is the “cultural connection” which is a team that organizes different trips and activities around Nanaimo for only a little money. That is a great opportunity to get around the Island and meeting new people at the same time. I have already joined a trip to Victoria and Tofino, the “surfer city”. Although Nanaimo is a beautiful town, it is also great to get out to experience other regions. Vancouver Island is bigger than I had imagined it and until the end of my semester, I definitely won’t have seen enough of it!

In addition to that, I can recommend joining the activities that are offered by the recreation team. There is a big gymnasium on the university site. As a student, you can visit the gym for free or become a member of one of the numerous sports clubs (e.g. Volleyball, basketball, dancing groups, …).
There are also outdoor activities where you can sign in for. It was a great experience for me to try stand-up-paddling for the first time or to play paintball with my friends.

The last interesting point maybe the feast that took place last weekend on the 31st of October … Yes, you’ve guessed the right one! It was Halloween.
I knew that it is celebrated in America and I wondered if it is the same for Canada or more specific Nanaimo, I was right. At the beginning of October, as I walked down the streets to university, I already saw dozens of gigantic spiderwebs and ghosts made of blankets in many front yards. As the days went by and Halloween drew nearer, many parties were announced from different clubs and the university itself to celebrate in spooky costumes. There was much advertisement of haunted houses, and during this time many students talked about how they will dress up and how they will spend their time on Halloween. I actually spent the day of Halloween in Vancouver, which was an incredibly big and exciting event, but I can tell, that there were many other occasions in Nanaimo too. For instance, the student’s pub, had organized a Halloween party, where probably most of the students went to and on thursdays students can get in for free to listen to great live music and meet other students of the VIU. I will definitely miss this pub when I return to Germany.

Next week is the so-called “reading week” here at VIU. It is a week where you don’t have to attend any courses. You can concentrate on learning for your upcoming assignments and tests, but also travel to other cities or countries to enjoy your free time and explore the surroundings.

I’m really looking forward to it and I wish you all the best!

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