Application process and general organizational matters
First of all: yes, all the organizational stuff to organize the semester abroad is an extremely exhausting, sometimes nerve-wracking and incredibly time-consuming mix of towers of documents, numerous phone calls with various institutions and people, mountains of emails and countless errands. But with the longed-for goal of a great semester in Canada, it’s all doable, somehow. And at the end of the day, you’re proud to have managed everything well. So: Always keep the goal in mind, because all the zeal, and guaranteed trouble a few times, is worth it! And you have definitely made a very good choice with MicroEDU , because the friendly employees take a lot of work off your shoulders with regard to the application process and are always very friendly and quick to offer advice on any topic if you have any questions or problems.
Even if most of it is done as soon as you start studying, there are still organizational problems and tasks to be dealt with on a regular basis. Then a payment is suddenly required by the Unikasse, then you have from the Universicherung be logged in time, because it already has its own, and certainly not want to pay the money very well and by the way, the person sitting next to at lunch by the acquaintance of an acquaintance picked up that in any case such a form was signed at the secretariat for international students has to be handed in, preferably by yesterday, but of course he doesn’t know any more details. There’s a lot of stuff of this kind and usually you have little idea what exactly they want from you or how exactly this should happen. But the whole thing is not so wild, because in addition to the usual motto “ask so many people until you finally get to someone who can help you”, I can assure you that there are a lot of institutions and people at TRU who are only there to help students, and especially international students, with these kinds of difficulties. And most of them are very personable and friendly, so that the question of a signature for a Learning Agreement can also end as a conversation about Austrian Christmas markets with a few biscuits with the chair holder.
There are generally three different options for living as a student:
- Home Stay (with a family)
- Dormitory and
- Share a flat,
the first two variants were much more popular for the international students in Kamloops. Even if it is certainly pleasant to spend time with a Canadian family and most of my acquaintances and friends who decided on this variant have met extremely sympathetic and relaxed Canadians as “hosts”, in my opinion the dormitory is clear best choice for living and also the most popular choice for international students. It is certainly great when you get to know Canadian customs and the “Canadian way of life” by living with a local family, but you are a little further away from the action. I can only absolutely advise everyone to choose a dormitory, because there you have a lot of contact every day with numerous people of the same age, some from different countries of the world, you are not so attached, you can easily make contacts and you don’t have to go far to the university.
In Kamloops you have the choice between the Old Rez (McGill Housing), the New Rez and Upper College Heights (UCH). Old and New Rez are direct from the university, so applications are processed through it (you indicate your interest when you apply), UCH, on the other hand, is private, so you have to register there directly (and in good time, as early as possible!)
The common nicknames Prison (Old Rez) and Hotel (New Rez) already say a lot. McGill Housing, or Old Rez, is the cheapest of the three variants, but if you have a little requirement in terms of comfort, you might not want to go here. The rooms are tiny and uncomfortable, the desk chair is a plastic garden chair. A mini room including a small kitchenette for yourself, the bathroom shared with three other students adjoining it. You have to want to. The pluses are the price and the close proximity to all university buildings, because you are already on campus. I have to mention that “Old Rez” will very soon be demolished and rebuilt. So briefly inform about this. New Rez, on the other hand, is very expensive and a little more “monitored”. Many cameras and whoever visits you must first be entered on a guest list. For this you are very central on campus.
I myself have decided on UCH and can only warmly recommend that to everyone; The price is okay, right across from the campus and the “shared apartments” are really great. There you live with three other students, share two bathrooms and a fairly large communal area including the kitchen and have your own 15sqm room. The only disadvantage is that there is nothing except the furniture. So you have to do everything yourself or you have the luck that one of your roommates brings something. In any case, no major evil. There is also a communal house with a billiard and table tennis table, table football and a sofa corner with a television. The atmosphere at UCH is absolutely pleasant, both in terms of living and living together. In retrospect, it was definitely the right choice for me.
In the course of the semester you will most likely hear the question: “Why Kamloops?” Yes. . . why actually? Because the “inner city” of the town of 80,000 souls is certainly not one of the top ranks of the most beautiful cities in Canada. And not for the second or third either. And that’s also in the desert. Great. Nevertheless, I haven’t regretted the choice for a day, because not only do you learn to appreciate the daily view from the university or on the way there the impressive, picturesque expanses of the “desert” over time (and maybe even love a piece), you are also every day on a really wonderful, really beautiful university campus that makes you forget the admittedly rather ugly city center very quickly, I promise. In addition, the green, idyllic Riverside Park on the Thompson River has a very pleasant atmosphere and offers a welcome contrast to the barren city center. Furthermore, there are two other arguments that Kamloops is always the right choice:
First of all, it’s the warmth, openness and friendliness of the people. Regardless of whether you are a cashier in the supermarket, a professor or a Hot Dog seller at a football game – very, very many people in Kamloops have a pleasantly open, friendly manner that you rarely meet in Germany. Right, I said that at the beginning with regard to the whole of Canada or BC, but in Kamloops or rather in the more “rural” area outside of the big cities like Vancouver, this is even more the case. You will quickly learn to appreciate this and miss it very much when you get back. Second, Kamloops is very centrally located between a number of optional BC destinations: Whether the obligatory tour to Vancouver (3. 5 hours), the trip to “California Canada” to Kelowna (2. 5 hours) or the week trip to the Rockies or the American Seattle – all ridiculous distances by Canadian standards.
University – the TRU
Abbreviated as TRU by abbreviationfinder, Thompson Rivers University is a medium-sized university in Canada with almost 26,000 students, almost 14,000 of them on campus. What is special here is the very high proportion of international students, which enables you to have many extremely interesting encounters with people from all parts of the world, who are usually very keen to bring their culture closer to those interested. In my opinion, exactly the kind of experience that makes a semester abroad so special. When you get back home, you will know a “network” of people from all over the world. Isn’t it great when you can fly to Scandinavia, India, Australia, Russia or Mexico and know people there? In addition, the high proportion of internationals at the TRU the advantage that the university takes special care of these students (which you now also belong to), in the form of organizational help and numerous events. Anyway, there are plenty of them on campus: food trucks, cinema evening in the middle of the main square, student fair where the university’s many clubs (~ AGs) introduce themselves or, especially during the orientation week, countless “free food”. You really always get the impression that the university takes good care of its students (there are even anti-stress dogs during the examination phase).
The campus and buildings are fairly new and quite picturesque in my opinion. The numerous green areas create a very pleasant and almost idyllic atmosphere and I found the size great – not too big and not too small. In addition, the daily view from the campus into the vastness of the desert is something very special and the area also offers more than enough opportunities to do sports.
Now to the academic:
I have taken English and history courses, which are disciplines of the “Arts Faculty”, so that I can of course only report on them and not in general, although I can certainly draw a few conclusions. First of all, the atmosphere often made me feel like in a school and not a university, which shouldn’t necessarily be meant negatively (at least not for a semester abroad). The professors are usually extremely friendly and not the authority figures that I am mostly used to in Germany. So it is customary to address them by their first name and real rigor is rare. Rather, it is more important to most professionals (in my experience) that you enjoy the course and that you are doing well with everything. Of course, this does not affect the price climate;There is a very pleasant and relaxed atmosphere in the courses and you will definitely learn something, because the lack of rigor of the professors practically never leads to disruptions and discipline difficulties. Something like that just doesn’t seem to exist with Canadian students, because fellow students look at you as punitive if you speak softly to your neighbor in the lecture.
You quickly get used to the uniquely different and unfamiliar climate and maybe learn to appreciate it a little. The Profs are often very interested in where you come from, why you are in Canada and what your plans are for your future life. This often results in very nice conversations. Everything is just more relaxed, friendlier and less complicated than here, I noticed that very often very positively. However, it must be said that the university level is not comparable to what I am used to in Germany. This applies to my disciplines and friends and acquaintances have reported the same from their courses. Although you learn a lot and it is not an absolute sure-fire success, the scope then deviates significantly. There is simply no permanent time pressure and a fixed, tight schedule behind, as is often the case in Germany. So for an exam at the end of the semester you learn a maximum of two days, or three to four half-heartedly, and still an “A” is absolutely feasible. No comparison to the week-long buffalo here. However, this is especially true for Kamloops, from other Canadian universities I’ve heard other stories that remind you more of what you are used to in your German homeland.
And let’s be honest: A little less work and study stress as well as more free time are really not the worst things about a stay abroad, right? An exception to the TRU is the natural sciences – you are permanently sitting at your desk and in the end the top grade is still difficult to get. In general, however, the focus, especially in the “Arts” (all languages and general humanities), is on frequent paperwork. Three or four multi-page essays or a few longer ones are normal. In other words, the trend is to do shorter tasks more often, which are nevertheless quite important for the grade.
Another aspect which is extremely noticeable at the TRU and which differs fundamentally from the German system is that the courses and course content are often designed to be more “creative”. There are also courses such as “Leadership” or “Filmmaking” and, in addition, many professors offer their students the opportunity to learn and work more creatively than scientifically. If one observes daily university life for a while, one inevitably becomes aware that the university is more intended for students to try things out and get to know many different (academic) areas and fields can be shaped as absolute experts. The Canadian students have their chosen subject, their “major”, but they can get a taste of wherever they want, because it doesn’t matter where the many other credits are earned. In addition to the two compulsory English courses as part of the major, you also have a geography and business administration course, and in the semester after that you also have psychology and perhaps journalism, because you’ve always found it interesting.
We are unfamiliar with the system (and the list of pros and cons is long), but this is definitely an advantage for you, as you can of course also take a look at any of the courses that you find very interesting, what you find in your studies at home, or which may not even exist in Germany. Overall, I can say that I felt that I was in very good hands on campus and that it was very interesting to get to know the numerous differences to the university system that I am used to from here. The TRU is a very interesting place that offers a lot to really feel good about. I said goodbye with a heavy heart.
Certainly a very important aspect for your semester abroad. First of all: There are a number of restaurants and shops in the vicinity of the campus. You are definitely taken care of. I already briefly mentioned the travel options under “Kamloops”. For winter sports enthusiasts, Sunpeaks, a very large and popular ski area with a journey time of approx. 60 minutes, is in the immediate vicinity. There are also some really nice pubs, bars and restaurants in downtown. A trip to Riverside Park (next to Downtown) is also a good idea if the weather is good. A must in any case is a visit to (at least) one ice hockey game by the “Blazers”, which are based in the city – for the hockey fan anyway and for everyone else because of the enormous role that the sport plays for the Canadians.
The subject of celebrations and parties is not that easy in Canada. First of all, you should say goodbye to the German idea of clubs and the atmosphere that goes with them as far as possible, unless you are in Vancouver or other metropolises with a million inhabitants. In the other cities in Canada, the “partying” as we know it is unfortunately not as numerous as we are used to in most German cities. Nonetheless, there are also two noteworthy clubs in Kamloops: The CJ’s and the Commodore’s. Both of these only make sense on weekends. Unfortunately, there are no “student parties” during the week in the clubs. In general, however, house and dorm parties are much more the way to go and quite frequent. Anyway, there are definitely opportunities to party if that’s what you want.
The university itself offers a variety of really interesting ways to spend your free time during the day: First of all, the TRU AdventureU Outdoor Club, which offers you numerous absolutely recommendable options for outdoor activities, such as kayaking, rafting, skiing, or even Activities such as hiking + barbecuing, camping etc. pp. This gives you great opportunities to try something out with the supervisors (usually students of the “Adventure Program” yourself – yes, you can do that) for very little money (usually $ 10) really study in Canada!) to refine your skills and knowledge, just have great fun and also get to know many other students. I can extremely recommend the TRU AdventureU Outdoor Club. However, you always have to keep an eye out for the events that interest you on the homepage or Facebook page, as most of them are fully booked within a few days, sometimes just hours. The TRU-LEAP program offers something similar, offering twelve events every semester, including a number of excursions, especially for international students. Here, too, you have to be very fast.
For those interested in sports, there are regular basketball, soccer, baseball or football games played by their own team, the “Wolfpack”, at the university. In addition, entry to the fairly large indoor pool on the university campus is free for students and the monthly fee in the fitness studio is also quite cheap.
If you choose the TRU Kamloops, you will definitely not regret it. The university, the people and the many travel options are guaranteed to help you feel completely at ease, enjoy your stay immensely and later look back with great pleasure and certainly also a little longingly at the great time in Canada.