University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: chemical engineering, civil engineering
Study type: semester abroad
I’m writing here as one of the few “non-business graduates” because I want to show that it was also a good choice as an engineering student for my master’s degree. Visit mcat-test-centers.com to get information about James Cook University.
For me, of course, it all started with the application process. The whole thing was of course made easier by the checklist from CoCo. This has made everything much more structured and simpler. In addition, the girls from CoCo were very helpful with questions and also quick to answer e-mails. I chose the SDSU because it didn’t require too much proof of wealth (about US$11,530). In addition, SDSU was one of the few universities that offered semesters and not quarters. This is a crucial detail that must be taken into account with the foreign student loan.
Applying for the visa was quick and easy. It is definitely recommended to save everything you need online for applying for a visa and also for arranging and confirming an appointment as a screenshot. Even if everything can be saved at the end of the process, it is better to have more than too little. After I had agreed on my “desired date”, the worst was done. For everyone who goes to the embassy in Frankfurt: If you are not called at the first counter, which is still outside, then simply walk to a free counter. The “desired date” only serves to ensure that there is not too long a queue of people at the embassy. After that there were a few more counters and security checks and, whoosh, I was done. In any case, it is advisable to be there earlier than planned, as you will never wait alone.
The further preparation also included clarifying the financing. For me, the foreign student loan was the ultimate salvation. Nevertheless, I also saved some money through an internship beforehand. A very important point is the nice exchange rate. If the exchange rate is already on a downward curve in the foreseeable future, then I highly recommend transferring the tuition fees in advance. Otherwise you pay unnecessarily. With the foreign student loan, you get €4,600 for the tuition fees. This amount plus €1,000 for the flight and €300 for international health insurance do NOT have to be paid back. Only the monthly amount has to be paid back.
The next thing on the agenda was flight booking and international health insurance. Like everyone else before, I can recommend the HanseMerkur or the ADAC for the AKV. I found the offer from HanseMerkur a bit better. I had to transfer the AKV as a whole amount for the entire period (€259.55). The flight wasn’t the cheapest I’d found, but since I had an “exemption” from student loans, it was all relative. I chose Lufthansa and also a flight that only stopped in San Francisco. I found that in the beginning it would be more comfortable without having to carry my suitcase around in San Diego to arrive That was the case. It was already exciting enough for me to travel to a country so far away. I also booked the return flight at the same time, because I couldn’t afford much more for financial reasons. But it should be mentioned that it is possible to fly cheaper. A friend who was visiting me flew back and forth for a total of €600. So it pays off to search a little more intensively and to sift through different providers.
The language test at the SDSU with CoCo was a little easier than usual. It was enough for me to have my examinations office certify that I had three subjects in English. That was easy for me, since most of my master’s degree is taught in English. But as is so often the case, you can also use a DAAD language certificate etc.
Regarding accommodation, everyone needs to know how they would prefer it to be. Of course there are ways to live next to the campus, but then you have to be aware that there will be a lot of partying there and you won’t really be able to have a break. But at least the accommodation would be secured. The next possibilities are houses on the beach or just looking for something on Craigslist. I used the last option together with my friend and we got off very cheaply. We paid $500 each and had a roommate. The apartment was in Point Loma and was in a gated community. I can highly recommend Point Loma because you are on a “hill” and therefore have the opportunity to see the sea and also something over San Diego. In addition, the temperatures are more than pleasant, as there is a very nice breeze up there. There are also plenty of opportunities to find accommodation on the beach. This can often be determined in advance via Facebook, or you can simply take a look at the apartments on site. It may be that you have to pay a deposit, so it is better to plan a buffer for this as well. For the beach then sometimes $700 rent for one alone.
If you don’t live near the university, then it is advisable to get together with other students and then rent a car together. Estimate about $500 for the car. This price is reduced if you rent one together. You don’t need to worry too much about the fuel. On average, a liter costs about $1.10. This is a lot cheaper compared to Germany. If you then go to Arizona, the price may drop to $0.80 per liter.
San Diego is a very pleasant city. Although it is a big city, it is not yet as crowded as, for example, Los Angeles and San Francisco. There is a lot of rush hour traffic, but not as bad as LA and SF. But LA isn’t as great as people make it out to be. We checked out Venice Beach and also the Dolby Theater. But the most beautiful were the Warner Brother Studios and the Observatory.
In San Francisco we stayed in Auckland via Airbnb. Our roommate was very friendly and gave us tips. For example, it is advisable to explore the city center by public transport, as the search for a parking space is a nightmare. You should also plan two days to visit the city. Three is better. It is also advisable to explore a few hiking trails in SD. There is the Potato Chip Rock and also the Three Sisters Falls. In La Jolla, a district of SD, you can also go hiking quite well.
There is good food on Pacific Beach as well as downtown. For travel, it’s a good idea to do a round trip through the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and then over to Las Vegas and back. Another round trip we did started via Death Valley, to Sequoia National Park, Yosemite National Park, then San Francisco and finally down Highway 1 again. These are round trips that take a week. On Highway 1, the city of Monterey is very famous. Especially for the aquarium. For all the parks, it pays to get the Annual Pass (about $80). This applies to everyone in a vehicle. It’s enough if one person registers, because after the semester in SD you can resell the pass to someone else. This person can then register as a second person.
For grocery shopping, Trader Joe’s, Target and Grocery Outlets are available. The latter is very cheap compared to the others. Of course, one shouldn’t forget Walmart either, but it always seemed to me that not everything can always be bought and it’s not exactly cheap either. But definitely it is a shopping experience. Good souvenirs can be bought at Mission Beach. The most beautiful beach to relax can be found on Coronado. But Pacific Beach isn’t bad either. Other things to do in SD include visiting the famous Zoo and Safari Park. These are really beautifully laid out and if you pay for a membership for a year, then after two visits it will be worth it again. We’ve been there twice, as the zoo itself is very large. Definitive experience was the SuperBowl. It’s worth going to a sports bar for that. Even if you don’t know much about the game.
I’m studying chemical and biological engineering and am doing my master’s degree. As a result, I took part in the “General Program”. I can really only speak for it, since you usually only sit with Americans in courses there. Of course, it’s not very easy, because you only know “shortly” in advance which subjects will be offered this semester. But there is always plenty to choose from. You should know that studying in America is a little different than in Germany. There is homework to be given, midterms to be written and at the end a final. There is also often group work and lectures that have to be given. The note is composed of all these parts. Attendance is also graded, but not everyone checks it.
It is somewhat unusual that questions are usually asked directly to the professor. When choosing a subject, there are still a few conditions for the Bafög recipient. Those who are in the bachelor’s degree must take four subjects from the undergraduate (numbers 100-500). Those in the Master “only” have to take three courses from the graduate level (500-700). If you want to choose a bachelor’s course as a master’s, you can only do this if you choose two subjects from the range (600-700) and take an additional bachelor’s course again. But you can also find out the exact combinations from your Bafög advisor or from the ALI on site. It is also advisable to arrange the courses in such a way that you are at the university from Monday to Wednesday or Thursday and then have the weekend free to plan or even make trips.
All in all I can really only speak positively of San Diego and the semester abroad. In terms of costs, we did our calculations well and always came away reasonably cheaply. Have fun in your semester abroad!