University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: economics
Study type: semester abroad
Semester abroad in: San Diego, USA
Period: January – May 2011-06-27
On January 9th, 2011 I boarded the plane in Vienna/Schwechat, which was to take me to San Diego with a pit stop in London and LA. However, the preparations for the semester abroad started about 6-7 months before! Visit mcat-test-centers.com to get information about Riga Stradins University.
As a “free mover” I wasn’t exactly sure where to go at first – the biggest challenge was initially the fact that I was studying part-time and the question arose as to what to do with my job. After consultation with the AMS and employer, I was able to agree with my supervisor to take educational leave for the months of my absence and to start my professional life again immediately after my return!
Finally, together with 3 other fellow students, the goal of our semester was chosen – San Diego, California!
There were a number of reasons for our choice of destination country – not only the climatic conditions being in the foreground, but also the training that awaited us there!
However, the preparation for our project turned out to be a bit difficult:
On the one hand, for a 5-month stay in the USA you need a special visa for which you have to pay about 300 euros, on the other hand, it is also quite time-consuming until you finally hold the visa in your hands . In addition to filling out various questionnaires, you also have to go to the embassy in person and conduct an interview with the employee there in order to be able to complete the visa application.
In the run-up to the lesson planning, it is relatively tedious: you look for the required subjects via the university homepage, although you cannot say until the beginning of the university at the host university whether you will ultimately be able to take the subjects or not, since the local students initially have priority and one is also dependent on the favor of the lecturers whether one is allowed to take part in their courses or not! With the exception of one subject, I was able to take all of the subjects we had chosen! After consultation with my course director, however, a replacement subject was quickly found.
The help from the International Office on site can be described as very good – because you get answers to questions asked within a very short time.
In all subjects there are 2 lectures per week, which extend over the entire semester. In most cases, 3-4 written exams and 2-3 written assignments are required for each subject. Apart from vocabulary “difficulties” at the beginning of the semester, you quickly get used to only speaking English – you even partly forget your own language and you sometimes even have to “search” for the right German word in conversations in German!
The university itself is very big and it takes some time to get used to it – but the campus is really nice. There are also freely accessible standing computers and free internet access throughout the university campus – but having your own laptop is highly recommended!
You can find almost every book in the university’s own library – but here, too, you have to find your way around first – but the staff here is also very friendly and helpful!!
A big disadvantage of a semester abroad in San Diego is the cost factor – in addition to the tuition fees, which have to be paid in full, you have to pay extra for every service. In addition to the books (which are also very expensive), you also have to pay for certificates and the like! Nevertheless, we were still lucky because the exchange rate that was current at the time was very beneficial to us! : -)
The apartment search itself turned out to be pretty easy – from Austria we only booked accommodation for the first night to finally find our place to stay for the coming months! Within 3 days we were able to move into an apartment near the university – although it has to be said that a single room in an apartment is not exactly cheap! However, there was a shuttle bus that took us to the university and back every day! Otherwise, however, the purchase of a car was unavoidable, since the city of San Diego is very large! Buying a car in the USA involves the same logistical effort as buying a car in Austria: you need insurance, you need license plates,
The recreational opportunities in San Diego are more than plentiful – but as mentioned above, a car is essential. It often takes a 15-20 minute drive to get to your destination, as the area is very extensive. Otherwise, of course, a road trip should not be missing during a semester abroad in California: You have to see cities like LA, San Francisco or Las Vegas! : -)
It is advisable to take a rental car for such an excursion, as the insurance is automatically included – but be careful here – the prices for rental cars can vary greatly!
In summary, one can say that a semester abroad in San Diego is definitely worth it! The preparations for such a venture are quite extensive (agreement with the employer, visa, timetable, looking for an apartment, buying and selling a car, etc.), but once you have overcome all the organizational hurdles, you really enjoy the friendliness of the locals the newly made friendships, the beauty of the country and the experiences that you have gained over the course of the 5 months.
The only really big disadvantage here is the question of costs – since you are not an Erasmus student, there are no subsidies from various agencies and you have to pay for all the costs yourself!