University: San Jose State University
City: San Jose
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: psychology
Study type: semester abroad
It all started with the desire to study abroad for a semester to gain new experiences, meet new people and a different culture and to expand my knowledge in my field of study, psychology. So I asked my university about opportunities and researched the internet and finally came across MicroEdu. With the help of MicroEdu, it was possible to complete all the necessary preparations for a semester abroad within half a year. Registering at the university was easy and hassle-free, taking the TOEFFL test was relatively easy, it was a bit more difficult to get a place in a student residence, as they wanted some of the money by December, which was not possible online from Germany. In any case, the visa should be applied for some time in advance (2-3 months) and prepared very carefully, but then this is no longer a problem. The latter preparations were an international driver’s license, a credit card, international health insurance and a current vaccination certificate. Visit mcat-test-centers.com to get information about University of Essex.
Then it was already off to San Jose. The first few days were relatively stressful because I had no bed linen, cooking utensils, etc. with me and first had to do some bulk shopping in the new city. Without a car, that can be a real challenge in America. The malls are all at least 45 minutes away by train or bus. But I had a nice dorm roommate who had a car and was very helpful.
The orientation week was very helpful; the campus tour, library tour and the explanations of how to choose courses quickly took away the fear of the new university. However, it quickly became clear to me that my stay was more of a language stay than a normal semester abroad because I was studying through SAL (Studies in American Language) and not applying to San Jose State University itself. As an SAS student you have the disadvantage that you cannot register online for the courses beforehand and in the first few days you have to rush from professor to professor and course to course and sometimes get the worst times and not the preferred professors; the courses that students at SJSU did not take. I would recommend choosing courses from Germany and emailing the professors privately, printing out the confirmation and bringing it with you on the first day. I had 4 courses in total, all psychology courses, but they were all good and interesting. The courses were all more practically oriented than in Germany and very interesting thanks to group work and discussions. The learning effort varied; My concerns about being able to understand the professors or, above all, writing entire exams in English were quickly forgotten and with a little effort, it was quite possible to only write A’s and B’s.
I lived in the dorm right on campus because I didn’t want to buy a car and wanted to live as close as possible. I have not regretted this decision. I had a nice 4-person shared apartment with American women and was able to improve my English well. There were open-air cinema evenings, many parties in the yard and organized meetings for the individual corridors. However, it cost quite a lot, you have to reckon with $1000 a month. You can also decide whether you want to eat in the “Dining Commons” or cook for yourself.
The city of San Jose itself is not very impressive. Unfortunately, there is no real downtown, as we know it in Germany, with shopping streets and cafés. All shops are outside in malls, but there are many small bars, clubs and restaurants and you can go out very well (WET Nightclub). It’s also in a good location and you can be in San Francisco within 1-2 hours, preferably on the Greyhound bus. In addition, trips to Yosemite National Park, Santa Cruz, Monterey / Carmel, or Santa Barbara are easily possible by car. Some trips are also organized by SAL free of charge. We went to San Francisco and Monterey in a group.
In spring break I flew to Hawaii with a friend. Hawaii is beautiful and I recommend everyone to do it. In 6 hours we flew from San Francisco to Honolulu and “California-Tours” organized and booked it well and relatively cheaply for us.
The people in California are all very nice and helpful, very sociable but mostly the contact is only superficial; you see each other in the courses and on campus, but you don’t do anything together because many have to work or live outside. But I did a lot with my roommate and made trips with other Germans. So it’s not a problem to find people to do something with.
Unfortunately, my semester abroad was quite expensive, tuition fees + student accommodation + books + meals. The books are also quite expensive, about $100 per book (used books), and you need at least one book in each subject to write the exams. At the end of the semester you can sell the book again, but on average you don’t get very much for it. It is best to sell the book as early as possible before everyone else sells it.
After the end of the semester you still have several weeks until your visa expires and you have to leave the country, so that you can still travel afterwards. With a rental car we then have the other destinations; LA, San Diego, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Mojave Desert, “the Canyons”… yet to be explored.
All in all, I was able to achieve everything I had imagined and had an exciting, eventful time in California. My English has improved significantly, I’ve met a lot of nice new people I want to keep in touch with, I’ve learned more about psychology than just theory, and I’ve seen a lot of the country.
I can very well imagine going abroad again for my Masters and can only recommend MicroEdu.