Canada is a country of superlatives: Those who spend their semester abroad here quickly notice that the dimensions are different from those in Germany.
Get to know Canada during a semester abroad
The second largest country in the world in terms of area impresses with its endless expanse and the nature that is still untouched in many places. Nowhere else are there more rivers and lakes. In western Canada the Rocky Mountains rise majestically and in the numerous national parks you can meet bears, lynxes and even bison.
However, if you think of a nation made up of loggers and pioneers, you are wrong and can convince yourself of the opposite during a semester abroad in Canada: Most of Canada’s just under 35 million inhabitants live in the big cities in the southern part of the country, on the border with the USA, a major country in North America listed on jibin123. Cities with a population of over a million, such as Vancouver or Toronto, Montreal on the Pacific coast and the coastal city of Halifax in eastern Canada, impress with their extensive cultural offerings and ethnic diversity.
In contrast to its southern neighbor, the USA, Canada sees itself less as a melting pot in which all cultures merge. The country relies on diversity and the preservation of the cultural diversity of the different population groups. This can also be seen in the historically developed bilingualism: The official languages of Canada are English and French. French is mainly spoken in the province of Québec, with its large cities of Montréal and Québec.
The enormous scenic and cultural diversity has made Canada an increasingly popular destination for a semester abroad in recent years. The openness of the residents and the security of the cities make it easy for foreign students to make contacts and train their intercultural skills. This is welcome for later applications.
Higher education system in Canada
However, it is not just “the country and its people” that make a semester abroad in Canada so attractive for students from Germany.
Another of the many reasons for Canada is the country’s excellent British-influenced higher education and study system. Even if education in Canada is not a matter for the central government in Ottawa but for the individual provinces, the Canadian university landscape is generally quite homogeneous.
Quality assurance at Canadian universities
The provinces of Canada invest all very strong in education and the universities are in competition with each other. As a result, the quality differences between the individual universities are not as great as in other countries, such as the USA. Quality assurance also plays a major role in Canada.
In particular, the quality of teaching in Canada is regularly checked by various accreditation organizations. These are subordinate to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), the umbrella organization of all Canadian universities. All of this gives international students the security that they will have a great semester abroad in Canada – no matter which university they choose.
Visiting student programs
Spending a semester in Canada is particularly easy as part of the so-called visiting student programs. Many Canadian universities offer these programs specifically tailored for international students. They enable students to study for one or two semesters at the Canadian university of their choice and immerse themselves in campus life there. You will not be placed in a specific semester or course of study. Instead, they are largely free to choose their courses from what the university has to offer.
This makes it possible to choose exactly those courses that fit into your own course of study and can be counted towards your home studies. In this way, it can be avoided that the study time is extended. Students should coordinate the appropriate courses with their home university beforehand.
Alternatively, it can also be attractive to look outside the box of your own subject during your semester stay in Canada. Finally, you can also take courses that your home university does not offer in this form. Courses in areas such as Outdoor Adventure Education, Indigenous Health or Atlantic Canada Studies offer new perspectives on your own subject and at the same time deeper insights into the culture of the host country.
Semester abroad Canada: application requirements
Compared to applying for a full bachelor’s or master’s degree, the application process for a semester abroad in Canada is very straightforward and the admission requirements are very moderate.
The only prerequisites are usually the (technical) Abitur and sufficient knowledge of English. These are usually proven with a standardized language test such as the TOEFL or IELTS. Some universities also accept the DAAD language certificate.
Some universities even completely waive a formal language certificate for applicants from German-speaking countries. In order to successfully complete the semester in Canada and the final exams, you should of course still have this knowledge.
Costs and funding of a semester in Canada
Of course, a semester abroad in Canada comes with costs. However, the tuition fees in Canada are comparatively cheap by Anglo-Saxon standards. In addition, many Canadian universities do not charge a flat semester fee for international students: Instead, the amount of the fees is calculated based on the number of courses or credits taken. This means that the tuition fees can at least partially be influenced by the choice of course. Depending on the university and course attendance, the tuition fees range between CA $ 4,000 and CA $ 10,000 per semester. So the range is quite large.
In addition, there is the cost of living in Canada, which is on average higher than in Germany. In the metropolises like Vancouver or Toronto, students have to expect higher expenses than in the smaller cities.
Foreign BAföG, scholarships and student loans
Abroad BAföG can be used to finance the semester abroad. The benefits under the BAföG abroad are diverse: In addition to paying tuition fees of up to EUR 4,600, there are also grants for living expenses. Travel expenses and the necessary international health insurance are also subsidized. As with domestic BAföG, the exact amount of funding depends primarily on the parents’ assets and income. However, students who are not entitled to BAföG in Germany are also partially entitled to BAföG abroad. In any case, it is worthwhile to inquire at the BaföG office responsible for Canada in Jena.
Further financing options for a semester abroad in Canada are offered by the DAAD or various foundations and organizations promoting the gifted, for example. Those who are neither entitled to BAföG abroad nor benefit from a scholarship can consider applying for a student loan.
Visa and entry requirements for Canada
Applicants with German citizenship do not currently require a visa for a semester stay in Canada of less than six months. From March 15, 2016, a so-called electronic travel authorization (eTA) is also mandatory for these short-term visitors. Students can apply for these online at Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). There you will also find further information for the documents required for this.
In a longer study period – for example, a year abroad – one is a study permit (study permit) required must be requested in advance at the Visa Application Center (VAC) in Dusseldorf. Alternatively, you can apply for it online via the CIC. Students who are unsure whether they want to stay in Canada for more than six months should in any case apply for a study permit in advance. The subsequent issue of a study permit is possible, but relatively time-consuming. In order to receive the study permit, the applicant must prove, among other things, that he is capable of the resulting to bear the costs for his semester abroad in Canada himself. A police clearance certificate or a health certificate can also be requested.
Health insurance during a semester in Canada
Adequate health insurance for the semester abroad in Canada is also important for participants in a visiting student program. Often, Canadian universities themselves offer insurance packages for international students. In some provinces, such as Manitoba, it is compulsory to take out provincial insurance. In most other cases, however, it is also possible to comply with the compulsory insurance by providing evidence that you have taken out health insurance in your home country. This is often the cheaper alternative.