University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: engineering
Study type: semester abroad
The first preparations for the semester abroad at San Diego State had to be made six months before departure. At this university it is only possible for international students to participate in the winter semesters. Before applying to the university for $175, numerous discussions with the responsible professors in Rosenheim were necessary. San Diego State University is not a partner university of the Faculty of Wood Engineering and Civil Engineering, which initially led to various complications. But that should not be a deterrent, because despite the lack of a wood faculty in San Diego, many engineering courses can be selected and credited. Visit mcat-test-centers.com to get information about Massey University.
In addition to a DAAD language certificate, further preparations include issuing a student visa, which can be issued, for example, at the American Embassy in Munich. A valid passport is also important. In order to save money, you should apply for an international BAföG in good time. This can even be combined with the PROMOS program from the DAAD.
I decided to look for an apartment locally first, which can be risky on the one hand due to time pressure, but on the other hand there are no nasty surprises on site. I spent my first 3 days in the HI hostel in the Point Loma district. From there I was able to look after an apartment. A hostel in combination with a rental car is recommended at the beginning, as you can search for apartments online and visit them quickly. It is also positive that you can find like-minded students right from the start and make initial contacts. You should basically consider whether you would rather live near the beach or prefer to stay near the university. There is no difference in price, you have to go with you everywhereExpect monthly rents between $700 and $900.
The apartment search took me a full three days and a lot of phone calls. A wide range of apartments can be found on the craigslist.com website. It is advisable to quickly get a prepaid mobile phone contract and call the landlord directly, as email has turned out to be unreliable and tedious. Spontaneity and speed are also required, as the apartments are rented out very quickly. Nevertheless, don’t bury your head in the sand, some people found it took longer to look for an apartment, but in the end everyone got their money’s worth. Last but not least, I got hold of a very nice furnished apartment in the Mission Beach district, which I was able to share with my college friend.
Studies at the host university
Before you start your trip, you can make a rough pre-selection of courses online. At the beginning you don’t have to worry about being thrown in at the deep end by the university. The first week of study consists mainly of information events, campus tours and introductory offers. These events were all very helpful and you should use them so that you don’t stand aimlessly on the huge university campus with about 30,000 students on the real first day of study. They also offered a free bus tour of San Diego and the surrounding area, which I highly recommend to any newcomer. This makes it easier for you to orientate yourself in this sprawling city and make friends for the semester.
The correct choice of course took place via so-called “ class crashing ”, where you ask the respective professor directly on the first day of the lecture whether there is still a place in the lecture hall. Here you should make sure to wait early enough in front of the lecture hall, as many lectures are very popular with international students. Unfortunately, the class crashing is not always as organized as a German student is used to. Many a course was literally overrun by international students.
The library is large and equipped with many study and computer rooms. Due to the always warm climate, there is always a shady place to study on campus. In terms of canteen technology, the university has all sorts of American facilities in the food court to offer. With, for example, Starbucks, Panda Express, Subway and various Mexico and burger chains, you can eat healthily or less healthily, depending on your taste. For smaller snacks or a smaller budget, you can head to one of several supermarkets distributed on campus. International students can use the huge fitness and swimming center free of charge. In addition to the theoretical courses, sports courses such as surfing, sailing, golf and many more are also possible. Free sporting events like college football were also very popular with students.
Everyday life and free time
San Diego has a lot of recreational opportunities to offer. Especially in California it is easy to make new acquaintances and find new friends because of the warm and relaxed nature of the people. I took advantage of the proximity to the surf spots known all over the west coast and lived out my hobby. San Diego County has a variety of beaches and stretches of coastline that are particularly popular in the summer months. Apart from the surf-oriented districts of Pacific Beach and Mission Beach with many beach bars, cafés and surf shops, downtown also offers numerous options for city lovers and night owls. Those who dare can the proximity to Mexico and take a trip to the border town of Tijuana. City trips to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, which are often organized by the university, are also popular.
In any case, buying or renting a car is worthwhile, as America is very spread out and San Diego has only a sparse bus and train line. The student visa allows you to stay in the country for another six weeks after the end of the semester, which you should definitely use for travelling. After the semester, I drove with a friend to the national parks and big cities in California.
In retrospect, I can recommend everyone to do a semester abroad in San Diego. All the paperwork and the costs paid off with half a year of summer climate, perfect waves, new friendships and simply enjoying Californian life. You’re guaranteed to enjoy your semester in America’s Finest City and have plenty to talk about when you get home.