In the second semester of my studies, I decided to do a semester at a university abroad. To get more insights, I attended several information events at my home university and thus came into contact with MicroEDU, among others. The choice of universities, especially in the US, and the nice and extensive advice ultimately led me to go to California State University East Bay with MicroEDU. At information events, I was informed that the best time to do a year abroad is after the fourth semester. After taking a DAAD language test, I applied to CSU East Bay for the period from September 2013 to June 2014 (a total of 3 trimesters) and was accepted at the end of the third semester. Visit existingcountries.com to get information about Sweden higher education.
When it comes to looking for an apartment, it is advisable to think about it in advance. There are usually three alternatives for accommodation: dormitory, host family or shared apartment. Since the dormitory (I-House) was fully booked and a host family was out of the question for me, I decided to look for an apartment on site. I got to know two other fellow students via Facebook in the MicroEDU group, with whom I arranged to meet in Hayward to look for an apartment. With a lot of luck we got one of the most beautiful apartments in Hayward with a balcony view of San Francisco and the entire Bay Area for a reasonable price. The apartment was part of a huge apartment complex, Hillcrest Apartments, and it was only a 10-minute walk to the university. Other complexes, which are close to the university are the City View Apartments and the Sunhill Apartments. Since these are often fully booked, however, it is advisable to go to a complex near the BART station (e.g. City Center Apartments), as you can take a shuttle to the university from there without any problems.
In the first few weeks, the main focus for the approximately 80 newly arrived German students was on registering for the courses at the CSU East Bay. Since American students are preferred when choosing a course, it can happen that the courses preferred by German students are already fully booked. Nevertheless, you have the opportunity to talk to the professor if he doesn’t want to take on additional people. For me, the course selection went without any problems. I was able to quickly enroll in three finance courses, each with four units. In terms of teaching, I had to move from overcrowded classrooms with 600 students to small classrooms with 35 students (Bachelor courses) or even classes with only 10 students (Masters courses). The atmosphere within the class is also different. The professors endeavor to involve the students in the classroom. There are many group discussions, projects and homework that are then presented to the class. The professors are very helpful during the presentations and put more emphasis on content-related aspects than on linguistic correctness when grading. During the trimester there are usually two to three exams in bachelor subjects, which are written over the trimester. In the master’s subjects, on the other hand, the final grade is more composed of projects and homework, so that often only one exam is written in the last week of the finals.
In addition to university activities, free time was another important point in the first trimester. Since many students only had classes three times a week, we students had a lot of free time in which we had the opportunity to explore the Bay Area. In addition to private day trips that we students organized ourselves, the ALP office, responsible for the visiting students, also organized a series of so-called fun trips to various locations in California (Yosemite, Muir, Alcatraz, San Diego). In addition, football was offered to the “visiting students” every Friday in the university stadium.
Since you want to get the most out of your time in the USA, it is advisable to think about what you want to do during the lecture-free period during the trimester. For those who want to spend Christmas on heavenly beaches, Hawaii is ideal. Those who want to enjoy a nice Christmas atmosphere, on the other hand, should go to New York. The flight tickets in the US are pretty cheap, and there are three airports in the Bay Area (Oakland, San Jose, San Francisco), so there are plenty of options to plan a vacation. If you book early enough, you can get a return flight to Miami for $ 300 at Springbreak, for example.