University: San Jose State University
City: San Jose
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Business administration, communication sciences, psychology
Study type: semester abroad
Oh yes, California. sigh. The land of dreams. Who doesn’t want to have been there at least once? Who doesn’t want to zoom down California State Route 1 with the car windows open? Enjoy the sun? And visit exciting cities like LA, San Francisco or San Diego? Anyway, I don’t know anyone.
Last year I was in your place and read through the experiences of other students. How time flies…Today it’s my turn to share tips and tricks for surviving the American college jungle. I hope that after reading this you are smarter and feel well informed. Maybe a little inspired to embark on the California adventure. Because one thing is clear: it is always best to experience it yourself! Visit mcat-test-centers.com to get information about University of California Davis.
Luckily, the tedious application process is made easier by MicroEdu. You don’t have to apply directly to the university. A tip: Do the TOEFL as early as possible so that you are not under time pressure. It’s really easy, especially since SJSU doesn’t require a high score. I wouldn’t take too much time with the visa either. Plan about half a year for the preparation.
In my opinion, California is one of the best states in the USA. If you have decided to study abroad in the USA, California is a very good choice. I especially recommend San Francisco. The Californian landscape is made up of striking contrasts: beaches, palm trees, mountains, cliffs, dunes, lakes… You can find almost everything here (it’s not for nothing that the film industry settled here). There are quiet, natural areas, but also glittering metropolises like LA. Be sure to plan a round trip by car after your stay. Then you not only see your place of study from California, but get to know everything. Santa Barbara is great, as is Pismo Beach, Santa Monica, Palm Springs, and, and, and…
The majority of Californians are easy-going, open, tolerant, and easy-going. Most are always ready for small talk and have a friendly word on their lips. California is a melting pot. All cultures meet here. Asians are in high numbers, as are Hispanics. I have always liked this multiculturalism very much. This allows you to deal more intensively with other cultures and their points of view.
San Jose is located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay. High-rise offices and high-tech companies now stand on the agricultural land of the 1950s. Not surprising, since San Jose is the social center of Silicon Valley. But if you expect an exciting city, you will be disappointed. There wasn’t much going on downtown. Amazingly, San Jose is the third largest city in California. I didn’t have that impression.
But I recommend the following:
- The Valley Fair Mall in the suburb of Santa Clara can be reached quickly and easily by bus. This beautiful mall offers everything a shopping heart desires. And I mean everything!
- Santana Row is a very chic promenade, right next to the mall. There is a lot going on in the evening!
- Planning a trip to church. You have to experience American gospel singing live.
- The Winchester Mystery House is a good place to spend an afternoon. It’s a bizarre 160-room complex with stairs that lead nowhere and windows in the floors.
- The restaurant chain “PF Chang”.
- The WET nightclub.
Anyone who is used to German educational institutions simply has to fall in love with the American version of a university at first sight. When I first took a tour of SJSU campus, I had a hard time believing that this was supposed to be a campus. The meter-high, beautiful palm trees made me feel more like I was on summer vacation. The green campus was laid out like a small, cozy town.
There were countless ways to really enjoy the day: For example, as a bookworm, you were in the huge Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library very well cared for. If you wanted to work up a sweat, a trip to the in-house fitness studio was a must. There were sports courses such as cardio boxing, cycling, hip hop dance, yoga, Pilates and much more. On hot days it was also worth making a detour to the swimming pool.
Since many American students are involved outside of school, there were several associations such as a meditation club or a psychology group. In addition, events such as fashion shows or open-air cinema often took place. There were often self-designed posters that pointed to the next celebration or discussion round. The university newspaper “Spartan Daily” also drew attention to this. She also informed about current events at the university. By the way: A concert in the event arena is a must! Music groups like The Killers and Fall Out Boy performed there. The arena also offered other exciting events. An American basketball game should not be missed under any circumstances. Watching the cheerleaders cheer on the ecstatic crowd really feels like you’re in an American comedy.
I chose the subjects Management Psychology, Broadcast Communication (similar to media theory), Broadcast Performance (presentation, acting, rhetoric) and TV Production. I was very satisfied with all of them and can recommend them. However, I have to criticize one thing, namely the so-called “crashing”, which is mentioned in many field reports. If you pay so much money for the university, it should actually be guaranteed that you get into the courses you want. Instead, you have to run to each professor and ask them to be included in their class.
The American study conditions are fundamentally very different from the German ones. There is no exam at the end of the semester, instead you write papers continuously. But I thought that was good, because the demands weren’t that high and you could always improve. The only downside is that you should plan a lot of time for your studies and sometimes have to forgo a nice weekend trip.
The Internet had a greater influence on the seminars. This was expressed in online tests and interactive remote controls. What I always liked was the positive attitude of most of the professors. Motivation was valued. It was sometimes difficult to do something with the American students after university, since most of them worked and lived outside of San Jose.
The professors are surprisingly easy to understand. Most speak clearly. Other than that, I had few problems understanding it. Many tests are designed in multiple choice format. Over time, however, you also do better in those areas where you have to formulate yourself. Only speaking fluently was sometimes more difficult than expected.
I lived in Campus Village, the student residence. It was ideally located on the university campus. So I could reach all my courses easily and on foot. In this respect, I can recommend it unreservedly. There was a large TV room, a supermarket and laundromats, among other things. Also, the Campus Village made it easier to get to know Americans. The only catch is the value for money. The rooms are just too expensive and too small!
SJSU has the SAL Office (Studies in American Language) for this purpose. The people there are quite nice and help with questions and problems. SAL also offers free workshops such as time management and organizes bus trips to SF and Monterey.
Since Downtown San Jose was a bit disappointing, we Germans undertook trips to nearby cities on some weekends – if time allowed. For such ventures, San Jose is well located. It took about an hour to get to San Francisco on the Greyhound bus. We drove there often. SF is one of the best cities in the world, we quickly agreed (why doesn’t MicroEdu offer San Francisco State University?). But Monterey, Carmel, Santa Cruz or the famous Stanford University are also nearby and well worth a visit. My girlfriend and I even flew to Hawaii during spring break! Aloha! If you have time and can afford it, you have to do it!!! Will remain an unforgettable experience.
Of course, the costs are clearly too high. This applies to the university, accommodation and daily shopping. California is expensive. This is its major disadvantage. You have to reckon with about 700 dollars per month (shopping tours not included). So make sure you try to get hold of a scholarship (DAAD, etc.).
I learned a lot during my semester abroad at SJSU. For the future job. But also for life. It might sound like a cliché, but in a way it broadens your horizons. Whether your experience is positive or negative, you learn so much more about yourself and the world when you take the plunge. Or in the words of the American writer Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did. So cast off the lines. Leave safe haven. Let let the trade winds blow into your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”