University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: industrial engineering
Study type: semester abroad
Preparation and planning
About a year before the start of my actual stay abroad, I started planning my semester abroad. I quickly became aware of MicroEdu and applied to San Diego State University. The application process at MicroEdu is very simple and with the friendly help of the team, questions are answered quickly, so that I got my acceptance in March. In San Diego, the ALI (American Language Institute) is responsible, which also has very friendly and helpful employees. Visit toppharmacyschools.org to get information about University of New Brunswick study abroad program.
When the promise has arrived, you have to take care of the visa. Especially in summer you should take care of this as early as possible, since the embassies are very busy in June/July and there are long waiting times of several weeks. German foreign health insurance policies are actually mostly recognized at American universities because they easily meet the requirements. Personally, I had ADAC insurance, which was recognized without any problems. The requirements are manageable, so that everyone can quickly check them themselves before taking out the insurance. The insurance of the American universities should be avoided if possible, as they are much more expensive.
After receiving the confirmation and the visa, the question of accommodation for the semester abroad arises. Most students live either near the beach or in the direct vicinity of the university. “Hip” areas like North Park or Hillcrest are also good options. I wanted to live close to the university and spent the weeks before leaving looking for suitable rooms on Craigslist and the like because I really wanted to live with Americans. In the end I found a great room in two weeks and lived with several American students in a house near the university.
Many opt for the apartments at Boulevard 63, although I didn’t want that because a lot of Germans and Scandinavians live there, there is hardly any contact with Americans and the contracts can be very suboptimal. Of course, the houses on the beach have their advantages, but they are correspondingly more expensive, whereby rooms in San Diego generally cost a lot. So $600 for a shared room and $800 for a single room are almost cheap. Many people arrive a few weeks before the start of the semester and look for accommodation on site. As far as I know, this has worked for everyone, but it’s very stressful.
Living in San Diego
San Diego is just a great city in California. The weather is sunny all year round, so you can still go to the beach even in December. Only in winter does it get cold (below 10°C) as soon as the sun goes down. There is so much to see and do in San Diego. From relaxing beach days or hiking days to cool parties, everything is included. The people of San Diego are extremely friendly, laid-back and always open to small chats. Furthermore, San Diego offers many interesting destinations such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and the many national parks in the area worth seeing, which are perfect for a road trip at the weekend.
As is typical for a large American city, public transport in San Diego is rather poor, which is why it is advisable to have a car in front of the door, depending on where you live. I had bought an old car through Craigslist for my time in San Diego, and the buying and selling process went smoothly. If you don’t want to take the risk and don’t feel like buying a car, you can rent a car from one of the cheap providers like Dirtcheap for around $700 – $800.
Basically, you should be prepared for the fact that life in San Diego is a bit more expensive. Going out and eating healthy are two popular examples of this. In the US, there is no getting around having a credit card. It may also make sense to have a second credit card for emergencies.
There are more than 30,000 students at San Diego State University, making it the largest university in the area. The campus is about a half hour drive from downtown or the beach areas. You can easily park your car in one of the many multi-storey car parks if you have a parking permit. These can be purchased for around $170 per semester.
The campus itself resembles a small town during term time, where there is always something going on. There’s a huge fitness center, pool, tennis courts, etc., tons of dining and study options. There is an international food market every Thursday and the Aztec Nights, which are evening events on campus such as the beginning of the semester party or the cinema evening, take place regularly. I can only recommend everyone to take part in such events.
The sports teams of American universities are very popular, so the football and basketball games in particular are very well attended. I can only recommend watching one or the other game to experience this special identification with the university and the cohesion. Tickets are free for ALI students.
I noticed that many exchange students had little or no contact with Americans, which I think is a shame. To get this easier, I highly recommend joining one of the hundreds of clubs at the university. The offer is very large, so there is a club for pretty much every interest. It’s relatively easy to make friends with American students there. Among other things, I was in an outdoor club that regularly organized excursions. At the beginning of the semester, many clubs present themselves on campus and are looking for new members, which is the best opportunity to find a club or two.
The course selection itself takes place directly before the start of the semester on site. Some institutes hold information events for foreign students in order to “recruit” them. Ultimately, you can take one or two courses that interest you during your semester abroad, even if they don’t fit into your studies. Whether it’s psychology, culture or philosophy, I would advise everyone to be open to such courses. The choice of course has to be available two weeks after the start of the semester, so you can take a look at one or the other lecture. Why not try something new while you have this once in a lifetime opportunity? I would rather advise against additional business or economics courses, since there are almost only other exchange students there, mainly Germans and Scandinavians.
The actual lectures are more reminiscent of school days, since most courses have a maximum of between 30 and 50 participants and are designed to be interactive, ie dialogues with students during the lecture, homework, projects and small tests in between are all part of it. The courses in America tend to be simpler in terms of requirements, but they are much more intensive because you have to constantly deal with the content of the lecture. However, it is easier to get a good grade due to the many graded performances. I found it very good that the professors held regular consultation hours. There you can clarify possible questions and the professors also expect that you come to them if there are problems. They are very helpful and take the necessary timeto clear the world of ambiguity. Again, I didn’t like that most of the lecture books cost $100+. So I would ask if the book is absolutely necessary before buying it.
I can still recommend the water sports offered by the university to everyone. For an affordable price you can take all water sports courses at Mission Bay Aquatic Center. I can recommend surfing, sailing or kayaking to take one of these courses.
I had a wonderful time in San Diego which I miss a bit but will always remember with a smile. I met great people, experienced some adventures and learned a lot. Even if San Diego State University is not the greatest academic challenge, it was a semester full of experiences that helped me in many ways.