I took the chance to spend a semester abroad at San Diego State University in San Diego , USA. I would like to record everything I have experienced, had to organize and my personal highlights in this report for all interested students. Make sure you do NOT go, because you will never have such an opportunity again after your studies !
When it was time for me to deal with the question of whether I would like to do a semester abroad or not, to be honest, I was totally overwhelmed at first. There are so many options and so many countries with different universities in different cities to choose from. It quickly became clear to me that I would like to go to a country where English is my mother tongue and I want to go further away, because you never know when you will get another chance.
So I quickly focused on the USA , since I had already been to New York for a few days and I really liked it there. Then I googled a lot and read information and testimonials on various sites until I came across MicroEDU. There are all the information listed very clearly and also you can always send an e-mail or call and ask any question that is one of the soul. This page not only has information about universities in the USA but worldwide. This is a good tip to get a general overview with courses and pictures of the respective university. After further research and comparison of the courses, I finally decided on the San Diego State University on the west coast of the USA in San Diego. Since HRW unfortunately does not have a partner university in the USA, I was traveling as a so-called “free mover” , which means that I had to organize and pay for my stay entirely on my own. For this reason, I was very grateful for the free and very comprehensive help from MicroEDU.
- Check topschoolsintheusa for more about San Diego State University Rankings.
Due to the fact that it is not a partner university, my top priority was to draw up a recognition agreement for the courses to be taken. This means that I dealt with all the courses and course descriptions ( I also got a list of all courses via MicroEDU, as well as the course descriptions in English on request ) and sorted / filtered which courses are suitable for me or which courses from similar to the description of the elective courses at your own university. At the same time, I also dealt with the forms and applications for my visa , which plays a major role in making it possible for me to study in the USA at all. That’s what I needed F1 student visa. There are several forms and applications that you have to fill out online before you have to go to an appointment at the nearest consulate to apply for the actual visa. You can also find all the information about this on the Internet and you can also ask MicroEDU (CoCo). Once you have made all these preparations , you can actually apply to the university abroad. For this I received comprehensive documents and explanations from CoCo, which I then worked through one after the other. It is also essential to observe the application deadline given by the respective university. In addition to the Recognition agreement for the courses and many other documents, proof of a certain amount available for the semester must also be confirmed by the bank.
Since studying abroad at a university that is not a partner university involves a lot of costs , I found out about possible scholarships. I obtained this information from the HRW website and then deepened it with a phone call to the International Office. After a letter of application and the submission of the performance certificate , I was supported by the PROMOS scholarship. After I received the acceptance from the university, I continued with the preparations. The important things first. A hotel and a flight had to be found.
Initially, my plan was to travel to San Diego two weeks before the start of the lectures and look for accommodation there. I had already read this approach in some field reports. However, I decided to keep looking for possible accommodations until my departure (two weeks before the start of the university). There were some groups on Facebook (name of the university and semester) in which a lot was offered. But I also did further research through acquaintances and searched the Internet. Ultimately, I was lucky and have great accommodation with a host family found where a friend of mine had already spent half a year four years earlier and was very satisfied.
All in all, I was also very satisfied with the choice of a host family. There are advantages and disadvantages in every living situation and you have to decide for yourself what you like best. For me, living with a host family was great as I had breakfast and dinner included. I also had my own room with my own bathroom, which is great for the USA. In the USA it is more common to share a room and bathroom with a roommate.
At $ 900 a month, my room was still reasonably priced for San Diego, especially since I had breakfast and dinner included, as well as a private room and bathroom. I had no “work” with shopping and cooking. But my accommodation was a little further away from the university, about 15-20 minutes by car, but only ten minutes to the beach, and with your own pool you could also endure it in the garden. I had five very nice roommates with whom we also went out a lot. As already mentioned, everyone has to collect the pros and cons for themselves and decide what is best for them. For comparison, a friend of mine from San Diego stayed in an apartment complex for students used to, ten minutes walk to the university and she paid $ 950 for a shared room without food etc. So think carefully about what is important to you.
Another important point when preparing for a semester abroad is to get a credit card if you don’t already have one. Credit cards are practically a “must” when traveling abroad and since I haven’t had one yet, I found out about them and bought a credit card. The DKB is highly recommended. The card and account are free for the first year and you can withdraw money at any ATM around the world that supports VISA. In addition, with the credit card you always have the best possible exchange rate.