It was clear to me from the start that I wanted to do my semester abroad in California . I have always found America and the American way of life fascinating and I always wanted to experience it myself . I decided on Sonoma State University (SSU) pretty quickly . The proximity to San Francisco and the, by American standards, low tuition fees were decisive for me. The College Contact team have been a huge help and made the application process very easy! The documents were checked and passed on to the SSU, where I received approval after a week.
Now it was time to apply for a visa, but that’s not a problem either. You fill out a few forms online and make an appointment at the embassy. Here a few questions are asked and then you get the visa in the mail. As a rule, this is all very quick and easy.
Before it happened on 08/16. Orientation week started, I went on a two-week road trip through California with a friend. I can only recommend it to everyone, California is beautiful and has a lot to offer! For example, we’ve been to Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Yosemite National Park and many other great places.
On 08/16 I then took the Airport Express from San Francisco to Sonoma, where Becky from the International Office picked me up. Becky is super nice and was always there if something happened.
To experience what American student life is like, I decided to live on campus. The application for this is quite easy and as long as you get there early enough, you usually get the apartment you want. I chose a 4-room apartment, where everyone has their own bathroom and the kitchen and living room are shared. The residential units are divided into different villages. My apartment was in beautiful Beaujolais. You feel like you’re on vacation there and you can use the pool and spa for free.
The good thing about the SSU is that you can choose the courses before the start of the semester and not, as at many other American universities, the courses have to “crash”. It is still possible to swap courses within the first two weeks. Here, too, Becky is a great help and tries to fulfill all wishes.
Choosing a course was a bit difficult for me, as I had to make sure that the courses at my home university are credited and that I had the necessary preliminary courses. But that was also quickly clarified and my courses were as follows:
- BUS 225 Legal Environment of Business
- BUS 316 Operations and Supply Chain Management
- BUS 365 Introduction to Event and Hospitality Management
- BUS 367 Consumer Behavior
My lecturers were all very nice and helpful, especially when they knew that I came from Germany. The effort during the studies is higher than in Germany, there is compulsory attendance and you always have to do homework, write homework and give presentations. In addition, you write two to three exams per subject per semester (it always depends on the professor).
In principle, the exams are shorter and not as demanding as in Germany. That all sounds like a lot now, but it is absolutely feasible . Above all, in my opinion, it is so easier to get good grades, since the final grade does not only depend on an exam, as in Germany.
Leisure time & campus life
Since I only had four courses that were held twice a week of 90 minutes each , I had a lot of free time . Although the campus is small by American standards, it has a lot to offer. On the one hand there is the Recreation Center, here you can use a fitness studio for free and there are various free courses, such as Zumba, on offer. There is also a climbing wall, table football, table tennis and pool tables.
What’s also cool, there are different trips on offer , such as a backpacking tour to Lake Tahoe or Yosemite National Park. These tours are usually very adventurous and you get to know new people. It was a lot of fun, even if after two nights in the tent you were happy to sleep in bed again. The seawolf living website is also highly recommended, as various events such as “Paint the Night” are always offered here.
Unfortunately, as an international student, you don’t have a car because it is not worth buying one for the short period of time. But you can still get around a lot, by Uber, Zipcar or by bus. In a pinch, you can always ask the Student Ambassadors, who will be happy to help you at any time. The said Student Ambassadors work in the International Office and have also been abroad themselves and are there to support the international students.
If you want to party, you can do it on Thursdays in Cotati at the Cotati Crawl or go to San Francisco for a weekend to party. From time to time there are “house parties”, but they are rather cozy. In short, there is always something going on on campus and you never get bored.
I had an amazing time in Sonoma that I will never forget! The semester abroad helped me develop myself further and became much more confident. It was the best decision of mine to go to Sonoma State University. I haven’t regretted a single second! Thanks again to the College Contact team for making this possible!