University: San Jose State University
City: San Jose
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
First of all, I would like to anticipate that my semester abroad in San José was a great experience that I would repeat at any time. It is not only worthwhile for your CV, but also helps you personally.
The organization of a semester abroad should not be underestimated. From the crediting of individual courses in advance via the Learning Agreement, the application to the university, the application for a visa to booking the flight and finding a place to stay on site, there are a number of things to organize. That takes a lot of time. MicroEdu is extremely useful here, for example by providing a checklist of things that need to be done before the start of the semester abroad. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to do – but it’s worth it. Visit mcat-test-centers.com to get information about University of Melbourne.
The semester abroad in San Jose was my fourth time in the US, so I thought I knew what to expect. That wasn’t the case. San Jose State University and San Jose are more ethnically diverse than almost any spot in the United States. The Asians make up the largest population group, closely followed by the Mexicans. This is also reflected in public life. So these cultures are very well represented in terms of both food and culture. In general, California cannot be compared to the rest of the USA.
I found the great advantage of San José that the university is not overrun with Germans. In my semester there were around 60 Germans among over 30,000 students at SJSU. You meet Germans in one or the other course – especially in business administration – or in everyday life, but that is limited. Other universities in California, such as San Diego, have several hundred students from Germany. In some courses at these universities, Germans even make up the majority. Since these are usually also housed together in the student residence, this has more to do with a holiday in Mallorca than with a semester abroad. I see that as a plus for San Jose.
Although San Jose is one of the safest cities in the USA, you have to be aware that the security situation is not entirely German. There is a police station on campus, which is justified due to the crime in downtown San José. Personally, though, I never had any problems, no matter where I was.
I spent my semester abroad in the dorms (CVB). The apartment was handed over in a dirty condition, but was otherwise okay. Nevertheless, it is not exactly cheap to live there. A clear advantage, however, is being able to be in the classes within 5 minutes and always having people on site with whom you can do something. Take the opportunity to do something with students from other countries in this way. Some Germans spent the semester exclusively with Germans, which may be the easy way, but will not help you linguistically, culturally and personally. I myself have spent most of my time with Japanese from the CVB and have no regrets. If you live in the CVB: Make decent living agreements with your roommates, so that there can be peaceful coexistence. Otherwise, it can sometimes be difficult to spontaneously combine interests in one direction or the other.
As positive as I found living together in the CVB, one thing you have to know: strict rules apply. The hallway supervisors search the apartments for alcohol if someone in the shared flat is under 21 years old, and if it’s a little louder in the evening, you’ll get visitors quite quickly. In addition, the Internet is filtered.
As is usual for most US universities, as a foreigner you cannot simply select courses in advance, but have to do class crashing to do so. In other words, at the beginning of the semester you go to all the courses that interest you and ask the professor if you can take the course. It is helpful to write an e-mail to the professors in advance, explaining exactly why you want to take this course and what makes you predestined for it. Courses with particularly good professors are often already taken by Americans, which is why you may have to switch to courses from less experienced professors. Getting into four courses was not a problem, at least as a business graduate.
The level of the course is well below German standards and if you put in a little effort, it is absolutely realistic to get good to very good grades everywhere. You can also imagine the lectures more like school lessons. There are classes in which attendance lists are sometimes kept, and homework and group work are absolutely normal. Instead of a final exam, there are grades for tuition, projects, midterms and a final exam.
You have to pay for the courses on site. This is done via a financial service provider, who will charge you an additional fee of several percent for the transfer. In general, you will pay extra for many little things.
The books, which are absolutely obligatory for most courses, are also quite expensive. Borrowing from the library is not an option, nor is buying from the overpriced bookstore on campus. Since you hardly have time to sell your books at a reasonable price at the end of the semester, it can make sense to borrow books from Amazon.
San José doesn’t have much to offer as a city. Anyone planning a party semester a’la San Diego is definitely in the wrong place here. There are a few clubs and various affiliations throwing a party or two, but the SJSU is simply not a blatant party university. If you want to party, you should go to another city or get in touch with the connections.
Shopping at the university is limited to smaller stores, such as the on-site Safeway. For everything else you have to accept longer journeys. Especially with the public it’s no fun. “Just” going shopping at Walmart can take a total of around 3 hours and the nearest beach (Santa Cruz) is also just under an hour by bus. A car is therefore an advantage here, but not a must.
I would definitely watch local sports team games and make contacts with locals to get to know the more interesting spots in the region.
With only four courses, you have a little time that you can and certainly should use to travel. Simply rent a car (billiger-mietwagen.de) and drive somewhere with a few people for a few days. You will be able to inspire the majority of internationals for this, since the Americans are less likely to travel. I have personally visited Yosemite Nation Park, San Francisco, LA, Santa Barbara, Malibu and Las Vegas by car and Chicago and Milwaukee by plane. Other students have also visited and approved of Hawaii, Lake Tahoe and San Diego. Since cars, petrol and flights are really cheap, you should just take advantage of that. The USA is an incredibly diverse country and especially if you have never been there,
For me, spending a semester abroad in the USA was absolutely the right decision, which I would make again at any time. I took a lot with me, both linguistically and personally, and I can only recommend everyone to take the step abroad. I can particularly recommend you to go to a place that is not overrun by Germans – be it San Jose or another city.