University: San Jose State University
City: San Jose
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Communication Sciences, Linguistics
Study type: semester abroad
From August to December 2009 I studied at SJSU with the help of MicroEdu and I have to say that it was a really great time, which also helped me a lot personally.
At SJSU I took two courses from the regular curriculum and two courses offered by SAL (Studies of American Language), the program for international students that is covered by the fee you pay. The American higher education system differs from the German one in that more examinations are required there. Homework is mandatory and in addition to the midterm and the final, there are also small tests and weekend assignments in between. For the comparatively higher workload, however, the level is lower than in Germany, at least for my language and communication degree. The teachers expect less previous knowledge than in Germany and are more interested in ensuring that everyone really comes along. In addition, the relationship is different
The teachers at SAL in particular were all very committed and it was really fun to go to the university because their motivation was also transferred to the students. We also attended lectures by international speakers and later discussed them. Visit mcat-test-centers.com to get information about Universidad Catolica Argentina.
San José is a big city with about 1 million inhabitants, even bigger than San Francisco (which is about an hour’s drive away), but in my opinion San José is nowhere near San Francisco, which is something to be aware of in advance. There are a few bars and restaurants, but if you are looking for (alternative) culture or a city with a charismatic charisma, you will only find it in San Francisco, since San José seems to be all about one thing: working. The city is (in my opinion) correspondingly boring.
Since I knew this in advance and didn’t want to go to California just to study, I rented a room in the small coastal town of Santa Cruz, an hour’s drive away. The all-round website www.craigslist.com is the best place to go for this. Santa Cruz is an incredibly beautiful piece of land and for those who would like to (learn to) surf, love beautiful nature (the sea or the redwood forests are not to be missed there) and want to live a bit more alternatively. I lived with 6 Americans in a big house right by the sea and got to know the American way of life and surf culture up close. Since Santa Cruz is Northern California’s premier surfing town, surfers are a big part of the cityscape and this laid-back way of life makes Santa Cruz a very chilled place. Living there is a dream for those who are environmentally conscious or vegetarians, as there are more organic markets than gas stations in Santa Cruz – and the former are really highly recommended! So much choice (thanks to the Bay Area’s multicultural influences) of organic and local foods has always blown me away. There is a farmer’s market twice a week, which is absolutely worth visiting, since everything is produced locally and you can really “try things out”.
If you don’t learn to surf in Santa Cruz or at least try it, it’s your own fault. My tip: go to the Paradise Surf Shop on the Eastside and book a training session. The small shop, which is run exclusively by female surfers, occasionally hosts concerts and every Friday there is a free yoga class to strengthen the surfing muscles. And of course there’s the latest surf fashion, made from ecologically produced cotton and designed by local artists.
Studying in California is more expensive than in Germany. I paid 400€ for the rent in my shared apartment on the beach, which is about 100€ more than in Germany. The prices for the food are comparable, unless you buy organic, for which you (like here) have to add a little extra.
In addition to tuition, I also paid for books that cannot be copied or borrowed in the States. You can sell them again at the end of the semester, but only for a fraction of the purchase price. In addition, the courses at SJSU cost extra depending on the number of units and are not included in the tuition fees. Since I commuted from Santa Cruz (takes a little over an hour, which was well worth it for me), I still paid $75 for the bus fare (check with transportation solutions at the university for a student discount).
My semester abroad at SJSU was totally worth it. I was able to get credit for all courses at my home university, got to know the American way of life in my flat share in Santa Cruz, was able to learn to surf and had unforgettable hours in San Francisco. Definitely make detours to Santa Cruz, Monterey and especially to San Francisco. There is so much to explore!