Academics Abroad: What to expect (Germany)

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Author: Catherine Camara
Program: International Business
Study Abroad Location: Bavaria, Germany

Its not a surprise that attending college or university in another country can be an unexpected change of academics and routine. This is something that intimidated me before I started classes here in Germany. There are significant differences in academics between Seneca and HNU which I had to adapt to. An exchange is a great experience however, passing all of your courses with great marks is something that requires extra concentration and awareness while abroad. You will have to deal with distractions, culture shock, slight changes in curriculum and a small language barrier. These barriers aside, it is not difficult to balance school and some travel while abroad with the right preparation and organization. This blog post will describe my experience with academics here in Germany and how I managed to adapt to the changes.

Enrollment for courses is something which was completely different from Seneca. In instead of an online enrollment portal, students manually select their classes on a sheet of paper, writing down the course code and the order of importance of the class compared to your other choices. It is important to take extra care during this process; for someone like me who did my exchange on my last semester, it was vital that every course I needed to graduate, I was enrolled in HNU. It is usually not recommended to go on exchange during your last semester but it is possible. This manual entry will not inform you on what courses you need to take; you must simply know by heart which classes you should be enrolling in that semester. Your student advisor in your international office can be a big help. Make sure any formality or decision making you do, that your international advisor is aware.

The first week of classes begins like any other institution, a brief overview of the class learning objectives and an introduction to the course topic. You will get to make a lot of friends who are also internationals in all of your classes. Weekly classes consist of about 3-4 hour long lectures. These classes can be a challenge to concentrate as the professor will cover theory for the entire class. If sitting still is not your strong point I suggest bringing in some snack or juice to keep you a little busy!

The grading process is usually marked on two tasks: A class project and/or a final exam. This means that there is a lot of free time during the semester as there are no weekly assignments. This gives you an opportunity to travel around a bit on weekends. At the beginning of the semester your professors will make it clear what holidays and long weekends you have free from lectures; they understand that a lot of their students intend to travel on these dates.

Traveling is fun and should be taken advantage of if you are already in the European continent where travel from country to country is relatively cheap. However, come exam time you are expected to know all of the course curriculum and be graded on your 5 months of lectures in one exam. This can be a stressful thought as I am used to an exam being weighed about 30-35% instead of 60 or 100%. Take notes throughout the semester and be sure to give yourself enough time to study and overview the course prior to the exam. Studying in groups was extremely helpful and benefited everyone as we learned and taught each other from our own notes.

Another change which I find I should mention is that exams and courses require completely separate enrollment. If you are enrolled in a course, this does not necessarily mean that you are enrolled in the exam. For every course other than a multidisciplinary (Gen-Ed) you are expected to enroll in the corresponding exam. Once again, consulting with your international advisor ensures that you went about the registration process the right way and confirms your actions. I think the main difference is that since the registration process is manual; it leaves opportunity for mistakes like wrong course codes, or missing enrollment of a particular exam.

I think the most valuable lesson I learned this semester is organization and information. It never hurts to send an email, or ask questions if it means you are taking the right steps in order to graduate or earn your credits. Sometimes you will feel extremely uncertain on how to do something, asking your classmates or student advisors before signing off on any important decisions will reassure you of any choices made.

I hope this helps anyone interested or taking part in an exchange. Perhaps the structure and changes may vary between countries and schools but its these types of changes which require special attention.

Safe Travels,

Catherine Camara

Looking back at my Scottish Adventure

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Author:
 Nimai Desai
Program: Bachelor of Commerce – International Business Management
Study Abroad Location: Aberdeen, Scotland

I was recently lying down on my bed and summing up everything I have done in the last six months in Aberdeen, Scotland. I remember taking a bus from London and travelled overnight for 12 hours to Aberdeen with two big suitcases. I was travelling in the dark, but I was so excited to be in Scotland. I still remember having the first look around my cozy room. Since then, I have been to so many new places, including London, Edinburgh, Cruden Bay, Stonehaven, Old Trafford and so many other memorable places. I have met so many people who became my friends from all over the world. All these trips taught me how to plan my way through anything, keeping my budget in mind. This experience definitely taught me how to be independent.

I am glad I had the opportunity to go on the exchange program and discover more about myself.

Thank you for reading my posts!
Best,

Nimai Desai

Last Month In Scotland

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Author:
Avery Navikevicius
Program: Fashion Business Management
Study Abroad Location: Aberdeen, Scotland

Sorry everyone for my last few blog posts being late! My last little while abroad was crazy! I will try to remember as much about my crazy adventure as I can.

April and May was a little bit of a haze of final projects and studying for exams. May 11 marked my last day of school at RGU and the next chapter began!

My roommate and I flew to London on the morning of May 12, my birthday, and spent the day at Warner Bros studio. It was a magical birthday spent with props from the Harry Potter film series.

After spending a few days in London, I traveled to the Greek island of Zante. I had a few lazy days by the pool and beach at a beautiful hotel. I enjoyed food, met new friends and sweated off the stress of the end of school.

I then met up with my roommate again to head off to Croatia for a week-long cruise. What a week that was! Our Sail Croatia boat was crazy fun. We saw amazing sights and explored this heavily underrated country. I will definitely be back as it was the highlight of my trip.

At the end of the week, we said our goodbyes to our cabin mates on the cruise and headed off to Italy! We visited Sorrento, Amalfi, Rome, Florence, Bologna and Milan. My time in Italy included some not-so-great moments, like dropping my phone from a rooftop in Amalfi, but it had great moments too, like when my phone still worked after its fall!

Seriously though, Italy is absolutely amazingly beautiful. The people are kind, the food is great and the sites are unbelievable. While we were there I met some cousins on my mom’s side of the family for the first time. They were very gracious to us and I cannot wait for another opportunity to visit them.

From Italy, we traveled to our last stop, Paris. We were in the city during Euro Cup, so the atmosphere was incredible. We saw the sites, celebrated with the winning team’s fans and soaked in ambiance of the romantic city. Our favorite part of being France was actually not Paris, but Euro Disney! We fulfilled our childhood dreams and hung out in Disney for three days. By the end of those three days we were exhausted and finally headed back to Scotland to meet up with our families.

                Seeing my family again had a very calming effect. Traveling on your own can be stressful, but when you’re with your parents they help share all the logistical responsibilities. I was nice and relaxed, that is, until my family made me navigate through the highlands. I can proudly say we only got lost once! My parents fell in love with the scenery, the castle, the landscape and the animals. However, on our last day we got a flat tire and after that we were all pretty much ready to go home. It’s not like we were going to be doing much more driving anyway!

The Mecca of Football and London City

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Author:
 Nimai Desai
Program: Bachelor of Commerce – International Business Management
Study Abroad Location: Aberdeen, Scotland

The Mecca of football is Manchester and ever since I’ve been a big fan of Manchester United, I really wanted to tour the Old Trafford stadium. Thus, on the 23rd of May this dream came true. I took a bus from the city of Milton Keynes and went straight to the city of Manchester.

In the bus my excitement was beginning to build up as I’ve seen on TV the address plate of Old Trafford and as soon as I saw it, it was an amazing moment for me. Inside the stadium, I came across the statue of Sir Marr Busby, the person who started the greatness of Manchester United.

I was also able to visit the Trinity of Manchester United which contains three legendary players in English football history: Sir Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, and George Best. The man who has revolutionised this club into a global phenomenon was Sir Alex Ferguson and there was also a statue of him.

The visit to the museum was also amazing! There were so many trophies, jerseys, profile of legendary players! But the excitement wasn’t over! With the tour, I could see the managers’ conference room, the cafe, dressing room, seating area of all the players and pictures of the original stadium. The megastore of the Manchester United as they call it had so much merchandise of the club, from jerseys, to winter clothing, footballs, accessories, and etc. I just couldn’t walk out of there empty handed having so much to choose from!

Another amazing city I was glad to visit was London! Such an incredible place that most people desire to visit, study and make a fortune! I visited many iconic places such as, Piccadilly Circus, SOHO, Trafalgar square, and etc. My first stop was Piccadilly Circus and if not late, I could have gone for shows happening there. This is very common place for film shootings as many of Hollywood movies have been shot there, for instance Fast and Furious 6. From there, I went to visit the Trafalgar square, a complete tourist attraction and right next to the British Art museum. I felt so lucky being able to see one of the top 10 universities of the world, the London School of Economics. While in Scotland, I ended up visiting London City more than once and in one of these visits, I saw Buckingham Palace, the place where the queen resides. I recommend you watch the changing of guards in Buckingham Palace, it’s very intense!

After seeing the changing of guards, I walked around a park named Hyde Park, and then went to a very big luxury store named Harrods. This store has the best quality of everything with the best brands in the world. After roaming Harrods I took a bus to Madame Tussauds, a wax museum containing wax statues of legendary celebrities, actors, ministers, and etc. I had a great time there!

From Madame Tussauds I went to King Cross Station, again for all Harry Potter fans, the entrance to Platform 93/4 is from King Cross Station.

The next day, I saw the Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, palace, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London, Shakespeare Global and ended my day at the London Eye – the biggest wheel in the world! It took nearly one hour for the entire giant wheel to finish one cycle! It was long but at the same time, so much fun!

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for my final post!

Exploring South Korea

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Author: Ki Ho An
Program: Honours Bachelor of Aviation Technology
Study Abroad Location: Seoul, South Korea

Korea is a place where many tourists visit from all around the world, so it has been developed into a country where all the foreigners can easily commute to places and and communicate with people with so that they can enjoy their stay without much trouble. The population of South Korea compared to Canada is higher by about 15 million people while its land size is much smaller. Due to the high population density, everything here is very fast paced and it can get hectic at times. There are about 20 million residents in Seoul (3 million in Toronto), the capital city in South Korea, and it is very busy all the time. Seoul is known as the city that never sleeps because there is always something fun happening in the city! Even though the land is small, there are many different cities that are known for their unique and delicious cuisine which some are also traditional food.

One noticeable difference in South Korea compared to Canada was how the buildings were layered out due to the tight space and high population. The buildings are built up high and underground subway stations are built all the way down to a ninth level. There are convenience stores on almost every block and I was amazed by the variety of products that are available! There is a wide selection of restaurants as well and South Korea is known for being so advanced in the food delivery culture that we are able to order and receive food anywhere in the country!

Since I have work during the weekdays, I wake up early on the weekends to visit my relatives and explore tourist attractions. One weekend I went to visit my grandparents who I haven’t seen for many years. During my short stay with my grandparents, we went to visit the provincial office which seemed like a palace, even larger than the White House! We also went to visit a historic village called Hahoe where I coincidentally happened to see the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Another weekend, I went to visit my cousin’s university where he was also studying aviation abroad like myself. When his classes ended we decided to stay at a resort for a day which was located right beside the ocean. I had the opportunity to try some seafood that looks nothing like I have ever tried before, but it was delicious and fresh since it was picked right out of the ocean that morning! I still have about a month and a half left in Korea with many more places to visit.

An International Family in Germany

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Author: Catherine Camara
Program: International Business
Study Abroad Location: Bavaria, Germany

Apart from taking my international business diploma abroad, one of the greatest advantages of participating in an exchange in Europe is the togetherness and flow of people and ideas from all over the world. This blog post is not about school in Germany, nor is it about my life here. This blog post is about learning from more than just a lecture; its about an experience and lesson that school, teachers, and work cannot teach you. The people you meet, the places you will go can teach you valuable skills that can be applied when building business relationships and in every day life.

Not only do I know the customs and work ethic of Germany, I have learned that if a Jordanian offers you food, take it – no matter the appearance or taste. I have learned that Sweden is as multicultural as Toronto and creating a relationship with such requires more then just a basic knowledge of Swedish culture. I’ve learned that Croatians, like Italians, are passionate people with an enthusiasm for life. I’ve learned an immense amount of information on the Balkan war, an unnecessary mass killing which central Europe had no clue how to resolve; this is something which I didn’t get a chance to learn about in Canada. Also I have learned that communication is the foundation of every relationship and I am truly gifted to have English as my strongest language. Being a native speaker in English didn’t seem like an advantage until I came abroad. English is used all over Europe which made it easier for me to communicate with people and made me feel safe to travel alone.


Hallstadt, Austria – Friends from all over the globe including Jordan, Sweden, Russia, Spain, Finland, Thailand and Germany.

At first I had to get used to speaking a little bit slower. Many of the other international students would always make fun that Cameron (another Canadian student here) and I spoke too fast. Even some of the words I was using were slang and foreign to all of my friends here. Without knowing my friends began to improve their English just from having conversations with me and would even ask me to correct them if they said something wrong. It’s a great experience to teach someone something which comes so naturally to you.


Me and my best friend Jamil. Jamil is from Jordan doing a year exchange/internship in Germany. He has taught me so much about Jordan, the Middle East and values.

Amela, myself and Zhevin in Front of the Colloseum in Rome, Italy. Amela and Zhevin are participating in a semester abroad in International Business here at HNU. They are from Sweden.

Not only have I learned about over 15 countries’ cultures and customs, I have also learned about Canada. Canadians actually say sorry way more then I realized! We speak fast and nobody has a clue what a poutine or “The 6” is – things I had to explain over and over again. Together with my new international family we shared recipes, music, news and fashion. Sharing clothes with my best friends here, making dinner together, shopping, going to school and experiencing Germany with them has taught me so much more than I ever anticipated. I would like to think that after these six months I will have a better understanding of all of these cultures and I will even have made life long friends.

Safe Travels,
Catherine Camara

My Life In Scotland

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Author: Nimai Desai
Program: Bachelor of Commerce – International Business Management
Study Abroad Location: Aberdeen, Scotland

After spending some time in Scotland and in the university, I was getting accustomed to lectures, tutorial and group work. I was fortunate to make friends very quickly. Among them, two became my best friends, one from Aberdeen and the other from Italy. They stood up for me and were also my group mates. They were both very humble and gentle people and were with me on all my courses. I felt lucky for having them as my friends and hope we can keep in touch even with the distance.

Besides studying, I also enjoyed my time travelling as much as I could. One of the places I visited was the heart of Scotland, Edinburgh. Edinburgh is also the capital city of Scotland, a place which contains the high courts; sheriff courts just to name a few. A fun fact for all Harry Potter fans is that J.K. Rowling, the author of the books, started writing the books in Edinburgh in a cafe named The Elephant House. When I heard about the place, I had to go there and visit it. At the cafe entrance there is a sign written “The birthplace of Harry Potter” as well as some pictures of J.K. Rowling writing the books. I took the opportunity to have a coffee and a bite there before heading to the Edinburgh Castle, one of the top 3 castles in all of Scotland.

This is the castle where the first Kings and Queens of Scotland had resided. In the castle, there were certain cannons, and the cannon balls with it as well as the armory which contains weapons of the ancient times. One of the interesting facts about this castle is that it was used as a prison in the older time, and prisoners from different countries were held in Edinburgh Castle. It was a great experience to have known their way of living, eating and entertaining. A high point is absolutely the view, which you can see the entire city of Edinburgh.

Right next to the castle is a museum of single malts which was an interest of mine while staying in Scotland. The museum was insane! There were over 3,400 single malt whiskeys from all around the world collected by a single person named Claive Vidiz. This visit taught a lot about single malts, the heartbeat of all single malts is in Scotland.

The trip to Edinburgh was incredible. Once a lifetime chance to see the capital of Scotland and I embraced it.

Fitting Into France

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Author: Meghan DuCille
Program: Public Relations – Corporate Communications
Study Abroad Location: Paris, France

I arrived in Paris on February 2, 2016 and I will be staying here until June 1, 2016. So far my experience in Paris has been fantastic! There are of course good days, and bad days, but that comes with moving to a new city. I am studying at a private university that specializes in Journalism, Media Arts and Communications. Many of the courses that I am taking are marketing and brand focused, which compliments my first semester of public relations really well.

The learning environment in France is very different than in Canada. In France, for the most part the instructors do all of the talking with minimal group work or class participation. Most classes typically have one large assignment that is your grade for the semester. The classroom sizes are small with a maximum of 35 students in each, allowing you to really get to know everyone in your classes. This year, there are eight other international students from a variety of European countries.

European international students are referred to as “Erasmus students”, which stands for European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students. In each European city there is an Erasmus Student Network that organizes events and activities for students every week. Thus far, I have participated in a weekend trip to Normandy, France and to Cote A’zur in the South of France with the Erasmus Network.

Aside from academics, the city itself is quite beautiful. There is always something to do in Paris and it usually involves strolling aimlessly along Parisian streets on a warm day. In France, between the hours of 5pm-8pm there is “Apero” which is a type of cocktail hour where bars and cafes offer discounted cocktails and drinks while you enjoy appetizers! This is a very student friendly way to socialize in this city. Paris also has a lot of “grec” or “kebab” restaurants places which are great cheap eats if your stomach grows full of one too many baguettes. The main student district in Paris is called the Latin Quarter at the metro stop Saint Michel.

The weather has been a bit dreary lately, but when the sun is out, myself and a few friends will be planning to have a picnic in Jardin Tuileries. This garden is located in front of Le Louvre museum and has the best ground view of the city and the Eiffel Tower! I cannot head home to Canada without experiencing at least one Parisian picnic!