San Jose State University Review (2)

San Jose State University Review (2)

North America

University: San Jose State University

City: San Jose

Country: United States

Continent: North America

Field of study: business Informatics

Study type: semester abroad


I decided at the beginning of my studies to do a stay abroad in the 5th semester. That’s why I had a very long lead time to inform myself accordingly, to make decisions and finally to prepare everything.

It was clear to me from the start that I would like to study overseas in an English-speaking country. If possible suitable for my business informatics course. I realized pretty quickly that I wanted to go to the USA, since I had lived there with my family as a child. Visit to get information about University of California Los Angeles.

In the summer of 2017 I had the opportunity to look at various universities in the western United States. On the one hand the partner university of my home university, in Flagstaff, Arizona and on the other hand the San José State University, SJSU for short, in the heart of Silicon Valley, only 20 minutes away from Stanford, 10 minutes away from Google, Facebook & Co.

In the end, the courses offered by SJSU fitted better with my courses, which I would normally have had to take in the 5th semester.

Since the SJSU is not a partner university of my home university and I had a little more organizational effort because I would now be going as a so-called “free mover”, I decided to use “MicroEdu” as support and was supported from the choice of university to arrival in the USA and very well looked after throughout the entire semester.

Thanks to the good preparation by MicroEdu and the excellent support from SJSU, the many organizational things were much more structured and it was easy for me to do everything according to the schedule.

The online application was very easy after I had my English language certificate issued by the language center at my university. Then, in mid-January, the SJSU made the commitment, which started the hot phase of the preparations.

First I booked my flight, which went from Berlin Schönefeld via Iceland to San Francisco.

Then the search for accommodation began, for which I had active support from the “Housing” officer at SJSU. SJSU provided us with a supervisor who was available almost around the clock for questions and answers.

Choosing a course then turned out to be more difficult, since the so-called “class crashing” system is normal in the USA and you only get approval or rejection for the desired courses on site. That turned into a nail-biter for me, since SJSU is very popular for its business and computer science courses. Our Dean and Examination Chair helped me to fill out my Learning Agreement and after I had selected the courses from the SJSU course list, I discussed this with our Dean of Studies and got his approval.

Unfortunately, the faculty at my home university was not particularly flexible when it came to integrating a study visit abroad into my ongoing studies. Luckily, MicroEdu gave me good support here, without whom I would not have known what my home university has to exhibit.

The application for a leave of absence and the formalities for the academic international office were completed quickly thanks to the appropriate help. All in all, there are a lot of signatures and forms, but if you are well organized and informed, it is relatively easy and quick.

The application for the USA F1 student visa was more strenuous, for which you have to travel to the American Embassy in Berlin. After a two-hour online survey about my visa, I found out that the USA has a different passport photo format than ours, which is why I had to quickly take the right passport photos.

In general, there is a lot of confusing paperwork that has to be filled out and brought to the visa appointment. You are not allowed to bring a smartphone or similar to the embassy itself, and before you even get to your appointment, you have to go through a strict security check. The waiting time in the embassy was also very long, but the conversation with the relevant ambassador only lasted 5 minutes. I didn’t get the approval for the visa there, but my passport would be sent with the approval or rejection.

The four weeks until my passport got home gave me a few sleepless nights. You can also only apply for the visa once you have received approval from the university, after which it takes a good 1-2 weeks until the appointment at the embassy and another 4 weeks until the visa is there – so plan your time generously here.

Accommodation in the host country

Since Silicon Valley is one of the most expensive and popular places to live in the world, it was very difficult to find accommodation. So that we international students do not come across scammers, SJSU has provided us with a supervisor. I decided to live “off campus” because the dormitories don’t allocate rooms until the local students are accommodated. You also have to apply for the dormitories in advance and the acceptance usually comes very shortly before the start of the semester – waiting until I’m there and then looking was not an option for me. Two of my friends did this and both had very severe problems and very high hotel costs.

At SJSU there is also the so-called “International House”, which offers accommodation for international students. However, there are only double rooms here, which are typical for the USA, which means that you share the room with a person randomly assigned by the university. International House also requires its housemates to be present at events and outings.

After a lot of research, I found a student residence 5 minutes’ walk from the campus. Here you have to put yourself on a long list of applicants because it is very popular. There were different configurations to choose from, such as a double room with bathroom, a single room in a shared flat with a shared bathroom, or a private bathroom. I applied there at the end of January and was accepted in May. Friends of mine only applied in April and were too late. In general, the housing situation around SJSU is very difficult and very expensive – 1 room apartments here cost around $1500 – $2000. My shared room was around $1200, which is still a lot of money compared to German rents. Luckily the furniture was already in the room, as was the washing machine and dryer.

Studies at the host university

SJSU has a very nice campus and I immediately felt more than comfortable there. The diversity of people is very multicultural and it is very difficult to find someone without non-American roots. I really liked this variety. The people were all very nice and helpful. Basically you can spend your whole day on campus, because in addition to the classrooms there is a fitness studio, a health center with doctors, many sports facilities, a bookstore where you can get almost everything and finally a spacious food court. Unfortunately, healthy food is missing here from time to time, but everything is represented, from Japanese to Mexican to the typical American burger and Starbucks.

The class crashing mentioned above was very nerve-wracking and in the first two weeks I went to a number of lectures only to get no code at the end. My great supervisor at SJSU accepted me in July for the subject “Development of Web-based Applications” and “International Business Strategy”.

For “Marketing” I had to write an A4 page explaining why I would like to take the course and I was quickly accepted here as well – in general, many professors are happy when they have Germans in their courses. Unfortunately, I couldn’t replace Management Techniques, as it’s one of the most in-demand courses at SJSU. After consultation with my home university, I was able to take an exam from the 3rd semester that was still open – computer networks and communication systems. Here I got the confirmation in the 3rd week of the semester.

In general, I was told that the courses in the USA are not comparable to the German modules, as the level would be significantly lower. I can’t confirm this at SJSU – the courses were all very demanding and the “International Business” and “Network Management” classes in particular were very difficult. The professors both came from well-known companies.Here you had to do a kind of homework almost every week, as well as so-called midterms (intermediate exams) and group projects. In general, the system in the USA is more like a school system than in Germany. In each course we had a big group project, which was very strange for me at the beginning, but I really enjoyed it in the end. However, it was quickly noticed here that we Germans are actually “punctual and reliable”; you cannot expect the same thoroughness from your American group members here as you do from your German fellow students.

However, over the course of the semester, I was told from several sources that I had taken the supposedly “most difficult” subjects at SJSU. As expected, Marketing and Web Based Computing was much easier than the modules held in Germany for the subjects compared to the other two courses.

All in all, I liked the SJSU very much, even if the learning (and frustration) effort was very high in some phases of the semester. But the Martin Luther King Library is a great place to learn.

Everyday life and free time

Contrary to my everyday German university life, there is no full timetable, but you usually only have 2-3 days of university. This makes everyday life a little more unplanned and the unannounced homework makes it very difficult at times to plan your free time in advance, as you always have to be prepared to use your days off for homework or group projects.

Away from the university, however, California has a lot to offer. So we made trips to Yosemite National Park, to San Diego, Stanford, San Francisco, Los Angeles and many other places that California has to offer. But also in San Jose itself there are a number of leisure activities and many of the typical outlets where you can find far too many bargains. There are an awful lot of museums and in general you can find a new interesting corner every day or a tip from fellow American students on what to do.

Unfortunately, you can’t get very far in the USA without a car, as public transport is very limited and sometimes dangerous. Knowing this beforehand, I took care of a car from Germany with the help of a friend who lives in San Jose.

10 minutes by car from San Jose is the “Alum Rock Park”, where you can go on short to day hikes. From there you have a fantastic view of Silicon Valley almost everywhere.

The American students are very nice and I quickly made friends and I never got bored. In addition to leisure activities, we also watched almost all SJSU football games, which reminded me a lot of American college films. The party scene in San José and the surrounding area is very diverse and there is something for everyone. Since my friends and I were all over 21, we never had any restrictions here. However, especially as a girl, you shouldn’t be out and about alone in San José at night. Robberies, homeless people who appeal to you, fights and shootings are unfortunately everyday life here, which is underlined by a very high police presence. During my time at SJSU, two students were kidnapped, my car was broken into, and I witnessed three shootings. However, if you are careful and always travel as a group, nothing usually happens. SJSU also has its own police service for this purpose, who will accompany you home if you are alone. The many homeless people are very strange at first, but you get used to it. However, I never felt 100 percent safe when I was out at night and then decided to attend a pepper spray training course. Heading out into the slightly more expensive neighborhoods around San Jose (Mountain View, Palo Alto, etc.) will make you feel a lot safer.

In addition to the “common” places that you should definitely see, we also watched a rodeo in a small town about 30 minutes by car from San José, which was a very nice experience for me.

Competence and learning success

SJSU has very demanding courses and I was able to take a lot of content with me, especially from my business courses. In addition to the learning successes in terms of content, I was able to make a huge learning success in English. In general, the experience of being in Silicon Valley and seeing IT advances firsthand has been a great experience for me.


In addition to 5kg more, I take endless great impressions and experiences back home with me. Unfortunately, my time in America flew by far too quickly and I would have liked to have stayed much longer. I will never forget the many impressions, experiences and excursions and I would like to repeat all of them again. I rarely felt homesick, actually only when I was standing in front of the bread shelf in the supermarket, which only had toast that was much too soft. In general, I recommend everyone to buy a toaster at the beginning, because Americans don’t know bread or rolls like we eat in Europe. But I’m completely addicted to American food – apart from bread – and I often couldn’t decide where I would like to eat. Contrary to the idea of ​​burgers and greasy fries (which of course there are in abundance), San Jose and the surrounding area in particular offers almost all types of food due to its cultural diversity. But I loved going to the Mexican restaurants the most.many valuable experiences. I would highly recommend going to SJSU for anyone who has the financial means .

San Jose State University Review (2)