University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Business
Study type: semester abroad
Preparation (planning, organization and application to the host university)
After my decision for the SDSU was made, some formalities had to be taken care of. DAAD test, proof of sufficient financial means, application at http: //www.MicroEdu.com, application for an international driver’s license (but you can save yourself), plane ticket, visa. At first glance it looks like a lot of work, but it wasn’t that difficult. All in all, it went smoothly as long as you keep to all the important dates (check the MicroEdu info sheet). If you have any questions, you can ask the MicroEdu Team at any time. In any case, you should have the tuition fees available about a month before the flight so that you can transfer them to the university bank. Visit mcat-test-centers.com to get information about Rmit University.
At the beginning, the lecture planning is relatively extensive: You choose your subjects on the homepage (https: //sunspot.sdsu.edu/schedule/). You just have to look for the plan of the previous semester and plan with it. Your semester plan will only be published shortly before the start of the university. You should also select more than the subjects you need, because you will not be assured of the course assignments. The local students have a kind of privilege on the course places. Furthermore, since you are still dependent on the goodwill of the professors, whether you are allowed to take part in their courses at all or not. The MicroEdu advisory team was also always a great help to me with questions regarding the semester at SDSU and you will get answers to your questions within a very short time. I would also include a road trip on the west coast in your considerations. Above all, a trip to Lake Tahoe or Yosemite National Park (see photo) would be a highlight of your semester abroad.
The search for an apartment itself turned out to be quite difficult. It depends on when you arrive in San Diego and where you want to live. I would recommend you to live closer to the campus. Since most of the activities are there and you don’t go to the beach or downtown as much. I would spend the nights looking for an apartment in a motel (e.g. Motel6). Within the first few days you have to drive around a lot (a car definitely makes sense for that) and look at the offers (Craiglist, I had less good offers there). Since the private landlords always wanted to see collateral (proof of income, bank statements, etc.), either on campus (very expensive) or a residential complex came into question. It has to be said here that a single zap apartment is hardly affordable for the average citizen. Therefore, for better or for worse, you will have to live with several students. Which in turn is linked to mutual dependencies. There were several complexes to choose from, the shortlist being Sterling Collwood and Mission Pacific. Since everything was already booked in the Sterling, I lived with three other Germans in a triple apartment in the Mission Pacific. Initially, Mission Pacific looked good and was among the best in terms of monthly costs. However, at the end of the semester, electricity, internet, sewage, water and garbage fees were added. Furthermore, you had to organize everything yourself in the Mission Pacific, which was associated with a high stress and time factor. Therefore, in hindsight, I would lean more towards Sterling (at least ten months lease and bonus for advertising other tenants).
Studies at the host university
In most subjects you have two lectures per week (exception: special courses are once a week, relatively late in the evening or early in the morning), which extend over the entire semester. In general, one can say that three to four written exams and regular homework are required for each subject.
The university campus itself is very large and it will take you some time to find your way around – but the campus (a small part of it, see photo) is really nice. Everywhere green groves, palm trees, fountains, benches and other seating outside. There are also freely accessible PCs in the library and free internet access throughout the university campus. At least a netbook is recommended for this.
Course crashing is the first and biggest obstacle to the enrollment process. You have to introduce yourself to the professors in the first two weeks. So really brace yourself for a tough few days. Even if the electronic course board says there are still more than 50 percent free places, it does not mean that these places are free for you. American students always have priority over you. You will then be told by the management to remain friendly, polite and patient. Therefore, look for enough alternative courses and check your potential professor beforehand (e.g. ratemyprof).
Another disadvantage of a semester abroad in the USA is the resulting high expenses compared to a German semester. In addition to the tuition ($5900), you have to pay extra for each service. I recommend that you pay the tuition fees in advance by bank transfer (approx. 30 euros fee). Because if you pay by credit card on site, the university charges around 150 euros in fees (for nothing). You also have to pay again for the transcript, which is the official certificate with your grades.
In the library, you can borrow almost any book for just a few hours. You can also rent the books (prices vary, but are around $60). Unfortunately, you cannot buy the books cheaply beforehand, as it is very difficult to say which courses you will get. Therefore you have to buy the books either in paper format for expensive money or possibly in electronic version a bit cheaper. If you are lucky with your courses, you may not need a book, but this is unlikely. Ultimately, I would calculate with 360 dollars for books.
Everyday life and free time
In general, you should have your visa with you everywhere you go in San Diego, whether you just want to have a soda or play pool. The Americans do not accept German IDs. It’s crazy. Didn’t need the whole four weeks on the west coast, but always and everywhere in San Diego.
A car for the study period is not a must if you have planned your road trip outside of the study period. For $155, you can get a bus and trolley ticket from the ticket office at the ARC, which is great for getting around San Diego. However if you want to go to the beaches or late at night (after 11pm) a car (or carpool) would be better than public transport. Because buses and trolleys only run until about 12 p.m. and you often meet strange characters on the buses. If you still want to rent a car, we recommend Dirt Cheap Car Rental. There’s almost always something going on somewhere on campus or downtown San Diego. For example on Tuesdays Taco Tuesday is held in PB or Downtown or most bars have specials like Effin’s (El Cajon Blvd/College Av, Wings for 40 cents) or Hooters (just google, all you can eat wings for 14 dollars) on Wednesday Wingsday. Taco Tuesday every restaurant participates, I can z. B. Recommend the Typhoon (Garnet Ave) in PB. They have good music and delicious tacos. There are also vouchers (free tacos/wings or sliders) for Effin if you pick up your basketball or football tickets at the Ticket Office (ARC).
At the weekend you can go downtown, where there is rel. is expensive (compared to PB). Definitely dress smarter for downtown. Putting your name on their guest list a few days before you want to go to a club will save you most (or most) of the entry fee. For clubs in Pacific Beach you can dress “normally”. There are almost no entrance fees and the drink prices are very cheap compared to the rest of San Diego. Some house parties on campus are also recommended. You just have to be there early (8-9 pm) because in most cases the cops end the party before midnight if it gets too loud.
One of the best (even for free) things to do at the university is the Aztec Recreation Center (ARC, see picture). There are plenty of sports on offer here, from spinning, strength and endurance training to football, volleyball and basketball. There is also the Aquaplex, a large outdoor swimming pool, where there are lots of activities and pool parties in the summer.
Recreational offerings in San Diego are perfectly adequate. You can’t experience everything alongside your studies. I only had lectures on two days, tried to take everything with me – but it’s hardly possible to really explore everything in just under six months. You just have to set your priorities, whether you want to party more or get to know the country.
The best way to experience West Coast culture is to take a road trip in one go (not in bite-size weekends). Plan the route, car and motel room with several people a few weeks before your departure and then the vacation can begin. However, back in San Diego at least a week before classes start, since the enrollment processes always begin a few days before the actual start of the course.
For such an excursion I advise you to take a rental car, since the insurance is automatically included. Another highlight at SDSU is the college’s basketball and football games. You always get free tickets at the ticket offices at the ARC before the games. But don’t wait too long to pick them up, as the free tickets are usually sold out on the same day.
Conclusion (best and worst experience)
Since I entered the USA 30 days before the start of my studies, I had enough time for an extensive road trip along the west coast (Long Beach, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park, Death Valley, Las Vegas Grand Canyon). I can only recommend a trip like this before or after the lecture period to everyone. It is best to travel with two or three colleagues so that all the fixed costs are spread out nicely. My highlights on the west coast are definitely Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park. These landscapes, fauna and wildlife are awesome. In San Diego itself you should have watched a basketball or football game. With Coronado Island you have one of the most beautiful beaches in America on your doorstep.
Of course, cost is the major downside of going to San Diego (though SDSU still has the cheapest tuition of any West Coast college). Cost of living, car and free time are considerably more expensive than in Germany. You have to take this into account before you make your decision. I also had two not so nice experiences on the west coast. On the one hand in LA: our suitcases were stolen from our car right at the motel parking lot overnight. On the other hand in San Diego in broad daylight on the bus (line 15, El Canjon Blvd) my brand new smartphone was ripped right out of my hands. Although the cops came very quickly, the thief was already over the mountains. So be vigilant at all times and everywhere.
In summary, I can say that a semester abroad in San Diego is definitely worthwhile. The preparations for this six-month period are comprehensive (visa, timetable, house hunt…), but once you have cleared these hurdles, you really enjoy the hospitality of the locals, new friendships, the overwhelming diversity of the country and all the impressions, which one was allowed to collect in the course of almost six months.