Erfahrungsbericht: Lisa Löffelbein
„International Student Life at The University of Winnipeg “
The University of Winnipeg
After listening to a guest lecture of the IEC team and previous persuasive experiences from students who completed their abroad time at the University of Winnipeg, I was certain to apply for the Canadian university. The fact that tuition fees there are low in comparison to other North American universities and that I could organize my time abroad in cooperation and with great support of IEC was another incentive for me. After making a fair bit of preparations, such as submitting an application as an international student, covering a health insurance, deciding on what housing option would suit me best, following the entry requirements of Canada and applying for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), creating a course schedule in advance, paying tuition fees, choosing a meal plan, ordering textbooks and other utensils and last but not least booking my flight ticket; at the end of August 2016, I could finally start my adventure and put my eagerly awaited plan into action.
Right from the beginning of my arrival in the city of Winnipeg, when I was welcomed at the airport by overly supportive UofW staff and who later became good friends, I immediately felt like a part of it. An orientation week before the beginning of the fall term intends to make the start of all first-year students and international students a lot easier. It is the ideal opportunity to build first new relationships, to make new contacts, to be a part of campus-, library-, city- and shopping tours and to attend kick-off meetings, carnivals, performances, exhibitions and parties. At the end of it, no questions are unanswered and nobody will feel left-behind because of the greatly welcoming UofW staff you can find at every turn on campus. The university itself, located in the middle of Downtown and therefore in the center of Winnipeg, provides everything what a students’ heart is beating for: terrifically engaging professors who are interested in the good of every single student and who make you feel special and hence motivated to hold on to, a fantastic campus that includes an extensive diversity of faculties and which all are offering promising and attractive courses, a gym to work off study stress, an Anthropology museum, an own basketball team, a bookstore, coffee shops and bars, 4 different opportunities of food services and a drama theater are only some of the highlights on campus.
When students enter the University of Winnipeg, they soon perceive the great team spirit that keeps students and staff together. Because of that, I could have a superior student experience where I felt like an individual who matters. UWinnipeg is also known for its high number of international students who come from all parts of the world and its encouragement to incorporate indigenous people because Winnipeg is home to Canada’s largest urban indigenous population. Not only was I immensely supported by tutors and the International Student Services (ISS) but I also always felt safe due to an excellent safety system on campus. In my time as an international student at the University of Winnipeg, I was a full member of the student life and eligible to take part in all areas of the university, from joining clubs, sport teams, volunteering or working on campus, there were no limitations. With this in mind, I never felt more like a student and it changed my perspective to be truly engaged in an academic program.
Before I arrived in Canada, I was able to choose from an enormous number of courses to create a personal schedule in advance. As an international student, I also had the advantage to select courses as one of the first, with the result that I could register quickly and I did not have to deal with waiting lists. However, the possibility to change courses afterwards was without any great effort. I could change my original created course schedule easily within the first few weeks of classes. In the end, I could fully appreciate my courses that I chose from 3 different departments: the department of History, of Anthropology as well as of Indigenous Studies. Personally, I decided to enroll in 3 courses to get at least 9 credits in total for the fall term. Since every course at the university has its separate price, it was out of range for me to afford a 4th course, although many other classes caught my interest as well. The classes I chose were morning classes as well as evening classes and rich in variety; no matter whether I was part of lectures, discussions, story-telling, team work, project groups, presentations, lab days, guest lectures or conferences, I could absorb and appreciate all the ways of sharing knowledge. Consequently, the possibilities of studying at UofW are multifaceted and enlightened. Due to the beautiful facility of the different buildings at the university, resources for lectures and time to recap is given anywhere, no matter whether it is on the lawn in front of the main building in summer or early fall, at the large and well-resourced library, in numerous computer labs or in special study rooms together with friends. Upcoming tests, exams and other course requirements are clearly explained by the instructors and students can feel certain to count on the professors’ support and assistance whenever problems should emerge.
I thought living on campus while studying at the University of Winnipeg is a great option to succeed in my studies and at the same time to get in touch with people, as I experience a real student life. In general, UWinnipeg Campus Living offers a variety of options for students to live on campus. As I learned quickly after moving in my student dorm, as a member of the UofW residence community, I could live in an ideal learning environment that encourages personal growth, respect and at the same time academic success. The campus living choices, such as the student dorms are a melting pot of nationalities from all over the globe that convey a sense of community and diversity from all kind of backgrounds. At the same time, it was the easiest way to make new contacts, to stay informed, to feel in good hands and to celebrate holidays like Canadian Thanksgiving, Halloween or Christmas time together.
It was my personal home where all the parties, international food sharing, movie nights, sing-alongs, pizza evenings, pancake-mornings, ice-cream socials, poetry workshops for fun, charitable work, study nights and floor meetings took place. At the same time, students had the freedom to back out of the sometimes hustling, fast-paced and tiring student life to rest in their dormitories and to take some time out or to prepare for weekly readings, book reviews, reports, tests, essays, mid-terms, term papers or finals, which are branched out well-balanced over the whole term. Moreover, living in residence connected me directly to campus life and being only minutes away from class was a comfortable and timesaving advantage. Besides that, every floor has its own Residence Assistant (RA), whenever there were questions asked, people were close to offer help.
Besides academic responsibilities, the semester abroad introduces opportunities to travel and to experience new ways of living. Of course, I made the most of it whenever I had free time. Fortunately, the infrastructure of Winnipeg is excellent, anything is easily accessible on foot or by bus. On the weekends, I nearly could explore everything Winnipeg has to offer. The capital of Manitoba, located in the heart of the North American continent, is rich in cultures, leisure-time possibilities and over 100 languages, justified by the large number of different indigenous tribes. I made memories by meeting up with friends, going to the mall or to the movies, taking pictures, visiting a great number of brilliant museums or getting the full spirit of Canada by joining an ice-hockey game at the stadium, enjoying the diverse and changing nature of Canada in parks, hiking in the National Historic Site The Forks or going ice-skating on the Red River, as soon as the bitter cold - what Manitoba is best known for - hits the country.
Despite that, I could take advantage of Manitoba’s close situation to the US, so that I traveled to New York City for another couple of weeks after I reached the end of my term at the end of December. Once again, I could dive into another promising world of colorful cultures and languages to make a memorable end to my time abroad and before I returned home with mixed feelings and the realization that a semester at a foreign university goes by far too quickly.
After my time as an international student at the University of Winnipeg, it comes to light that the expectations of my abroad time have immensely exceeded. In the fall term of 2016, I could collect a vast number of new experiences that were compressed into a relatively short time. After all, the time abroad for students is the perfect way to challenge themselves and to grow from it. Not only could I notice improvement in my writing and speaking skills in English because of the attendance in courses but especially the daily language experience and practice with fellow students, foreigners and friends made it possible. Based on that, the University of Winnipeg, including instructors, assistance staff located all over the campus, the International Student Services, Student Central and the housing residence staff could support my stay and made my life an easy-going enjoyment so that I could complete my term to the utmost satisfaction. With that said, I can truly give others, who consider to study in Winnipeg in the future, the advice to do so, to clear the first hurdles or doubts and make the most of it. In addition, the handling of academic assignments at Canadian universities can be more profiting for students in comparison to German universities. There clearly is more work to take care of but it is evenly distributed over the term and more diverse so that everything is manageable. The results of it in Canada are often more long-lasting than in Germany where exams only take place at the end of every semester. The only shortcoming of my semester abroad I can make aware of is that the time abroad passes too fast and a longer stay than 1 semester was indeed desirable for me. During my time in Canada and also in my travel time in the US, I could accomplish strength, endurance, knowledge in 3 different study sections at the same time and get the courage to try new ways of learning and doing things. Retrospectively, I now appreciate the diversity of cultures, traditions, customs and life even more. The time abroad teaches people so much more for their lives than any class material could provide.
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