University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration, economics
Study type: semester abroad
From August 2013 to May 2014, I spent two semesters abroad at San Diego State University in San Diego, California, as a Bachelor of Business Administration student at the University of Bremen. I would like to share my experiences and tips to make it easier for students who are also doing a semester abroad to start this exciting time. Visit ehuacom.com to get information about MU study abroad program.
When choosing the right country and the right university, you should take your time and compare various universities with each other. The first thing you have to do is determine for yourself what you expect from the exchange university and what experiences and new skills you would like to gain through living in another country.
It was important to me to improve my English. That’s why I wanted to spend my semester abroad in an English-speaking country. At first I wasn’t sure whether to focus on England or the USA. Ultimately, however, my decision fell on the USA. Arguments for it were the costs (England usually had higher tuition fees), the weather and a completely different culture that I have not experienced before.
The decision to go to San Diego State University (SDSU) was based on the following points:
The semester times matched perfectly with those at my home university. So when I come back to Germany, I can start the next semester straight away and I haven’t missed any lectures.
The option to choose a course was also very important to me. The SDSU has a wide selection for the business administration area and I was able to get credit for all my subjects in Germany.
The cost aspect should also not be neglected. Here the SDSU is still quite cheap compared to other American universities ($5630 per semester).
Preparation and formalities
Application to SDSU
My application went through the placement agency “MicroEdu”.
This was free of charge and took care of all the formalities that came about in connection with the application to the SDSU. The good thing about such agencies is that you always have a direct German contact person, especially during the preparation time.
I had to submit a transcript, a B2 English certificate (editor’s note: the required level has now been raised to C1) and proof of sufficient financial resources from a bank (all in English) with my application. The application deadlines for the respective semesters are on the SDSU homepage and can also be obtained from “MicroEdu”. In most cases, however, these are about 4 months before the start of the course.
After I received the SDSU’s approval, I took care of my visa. I made an appointment at the American Embassy in Berlin and filled out the online documents.
The visa should be applied for at least 6 weeks before departure. The waiting time for an embassy appointment was three weeks. You also have to pay a lot of fees and prove the receipt of payment on site.
It is therefore very important to make sure before the embassy appointment that you have paid all the necessary documents and fees to obtain the visa, otherwise there is a risk of another time-consuming visit to Berlin/Frankfurt or Munich.
You can find out which documents are required and which fees apply when applying for the visa online.
The flight booking
I booked the flight about 6 weeks in advance. However, I recommend booking as early as possible because then the flights are cheaper. If you still want to travel to the USA after your semester abroad, it is best to book this as a complete package. The travel agency can then specify the trip as a round trip and you get more favorable conditions.
Means of payment in the USA
In the US, almost every payment is made by credit card. That’s why I had my German bank create one for me. If you don’t get a credit card from your bank as a student, you can also have a so-called “prepaid card” issued. You can pay with this card in the same way, you just have to load it with money every time. The advantage: you have an overview of your expenses and cannot slip into the red.
international health insurance
A foreign health insurance usually costs between 200 and 300 euros for 6 months and is mandatory in order to be accepted at the SDSU. I booked my health insurance through “Horbach Wirtschaftsberatung” and was very happy with it.
Arrive in San Diego
Since I decided to look for my apartment locally in San Diego, I only booked a hostel from Germany for the first two weeks. But there is also the possibility to book your apartment/room directly from Germany. Both have advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, you don’t have to worry about looking for an apartment when you arrive here, but you also don’t know whether the rooms really look like they did in the photos.
I opted for a room in an apartment right on campus. The decisive factors for me were the price (about 400 euros cheaper than a room on the beach), but also the distance to the university and the people you meet here. I now live in an apartment complex with about 150 other students or professionals. The proportion of Americans among exchange students is approximately 50 percent. This makes it incredibly easy to make new friends here. Compared to other students who live in their beach houses (Pacific Beach or Mission Beach are the most popular places for students), I really got to know a lot of American students since most American students live on campus. The disadvantage of campus life, however, is the distance to the beach or downtown.
I searched for suitable rooms in various ways. There are various pages on Facebook specifically for exchange students. There, students who are already going back to Germany put their employment contracts in. The leases here usually run for a year, so you have to look after a successor yourself. There is also the possibility to get an apartment via Craigslist, but the offers are sometimes quite dubious. In the end I just drove to the campus and looked at the individual rooms and then found the one that was best for me.
Facebook groups for exchange students in San Diego
https: // www.facebook.com/groups/600260333371736/
orientation at the university
The orientation phase usually begins two weeks before the actual start of university.
You shouldn’t miss them, because during this time you have to register at the university, pick up your student ID and also have to “crash” the courses. As a bachelor student you have to take at least 12 units, which corresponds to between 3 and 4 courses. If you take more units, you have to pay about 250 dollars in addition to the regular tuition per unit. Two of these courses can be booked in advance through ALI (American Language Institute) (the so-called special session courses). These courses are already selected from Germany and later no longer have the opportunity to “drop” them. However, I am only speaking for my business courses here. In other departments there were sometimes no special session courses. The advantage of these courses is that you already have two courses for sure and don’t have to “crash” them.
The American Language Institute (ALI)
The ALI is the contact point for all international students who spend a semester abroad at SDSU. The office is right on the SDSU campus. If you have any questions about your stay abroad, their website is a great help!
http: //ali.sdsu.edu (Is the general site of the ALI)
The following link provides all the information you need as a new student at SDSU. (Eg visa matters, forms, housing, health insurance etc.)
the “crashing” comes about because the exchange students can only take the courses in which there are still places available. That is, which have not already been occupied by the regular students.
The ALI gives you a form which you have to sign from the respective professor who teaches this subject. This is considered a course confirmation and only then can you take the course and write your exam. I would definitely choose several courses and get the signatures, even if you only need two courses. This gives you a choice, because sometimes some courses overlap in time.
When “crashing” it is important to be in the respective classes on time. Because in some courses the motto applies: whoever is there first gets the place. In some cases, 70 exchange students applied for 5 places and the first 5 students got the course. But there are also courses in which decisions are made by lottery or where there are enough free places for everyone.
If you end up getting more courses than you actually need, be sure to think about “dropping” the courses, otherwise you will have additional costs. This is another form that must be submitted to ALI in order to be re-enrolled from courses already enrolled. (Not possible for special sessions).
When choosing a course, it is important to ensure that the courses you choose are also recognized at your home university. I looked at all the possible SDSU courses while I was still in Germany and went through them with my foreign representative. This gave me an overview of which courses were credited to me.
The SDSU courses can be found under the following link:
(here you can view all subjects for your department and get a short description)
The following websites helped me to find my way around when choosing a course:
http: //www.ratemyprofessors.com (rates the professors and is really often used here)
I also found http: //ali.sdsu.edu/ very useful
. Here I discovered so-called syllabi. For each individual event, these are the study contents created by the respective professor and their requirements.
As I said, “crashing” is a bit time-consuming, but the ALI is there to help you if you have any questions.
Means of transport
Most students have rented a car. If you share this with 2 or 3 people, it’s also a really cheap thing. Otherwise you have to reckon with at least 400 dollars a month (including gas and insurance). Make sure your rental agreement allows you to drive outside of San Diego’s borders. Otherwise you have to rent an extra car for tours to Las Vegas or San Francisco, for example.
I decided against a car and in favor of a semester ticket. This cost $155, is valid for the entire semester, and can be used on all forms of public transportation (trolley and bus).
However, it takes significantly longer to get downtown (about 35 minutes) and to the beach (1 hour) from the university.
In the evenings we usually shared a taxi when the buses stopped running (unfortunately they don’t go through, not even on weekends). However, if you want to go to parties (which tend to be downtown), don’t worry about not getting away from the beach or campus. There are the so-called party buses. These drive from the campus or beach directly to the clubs for a total of 10 dollars there and back. A very cheap and fun alternative to taxis.
Internationals are only allowed to work on campus.
A great experience that I wouldn’t want to miss and would do again and again.
San Diego and SDSU are great and I’m really excited. What bothered me is that exchange students were disadvantaged when it came to choosing a course and the special sessions, since there were almost only Germans there. Ultimately, however, it depends on you who you come into contact with. I’ve really made a lot of American friends by now, so I speak a lot of English.
What I didn’t expect is the enormous workload I had with my subjects. I wrote between 3 and four exams per subject, at least one test per week, had to hand in homework, give presentations and carry out 5 group projects. However, this way of learning made it possible to deal much more intensively with the content of the event. Despite the high workload, I really liked it.
Participation in city tours and events.
During the orientation week, there are so-called city tours that ALI offers. I would definitely recommend this to make initial contacts and get a first impression of the city.
A big problem (especially at the SDSU) are parking spaces. I’ve heard from many students that they sometimes spend 45 minutes looking for a parking space. You should plan enough time or rent a parking space. Once you have found a parking space, be sure to pay attention to the color of the curb where the car is parked. No color or white is good, avoid red at all costs! The police are very strict about illegal parking and tickets range from $70 to $150.
There is a great gym on campus with lots of equipment, courses and a swimming pool. The ARC is free for ALI students!
Be sure to watch varsity football and basketball games. Tickets are free for SDSU students and it’s incredibly fun.
It’s a tradition at football games to gather and have a barbecue in the stadium parking lot a few hours before the game. You can make great contacts there and have a lot of fun.