The stress only began afterwards: looking for an apartment , booking flights , applying for a new passport, applying for a visa , obtaining a credit card , finding a German bank whose EC card can be used to withdraw money free of charge in the USA, planning the trip, choosing subjects that Clarify credit transfer at your home university, correspondence – and always expect someone to thwart my plans. After all, there is a country that is more bureaucratic than Germany: the USA! In order to obtain the student visa, a personal visit to one of the consulates general is also necessary.
The price level in California is higher than the German. But I was lucky with my dormitory: I lived in the newly built Boulevard 63. This advertises with the slogan “Luxury Living” with two pool areas, a 24-hour fitness studio, barbecue facilities, security service, a clubhouse and, and, and … A shuttle runs daily between the apartments and the university between 8 am and 10 pm here. I shared the apartment with another German, an American and an Egyptian. Each of us had our own room with a bed, a bedside table and a closet. In addition, we each had our own bathroom, a large kitchen that leads directly into a very large living and dining area with TV, couches and dining table. We also had a nice balcony with a view of the pool .
Once all the formalities were done and the last semester in Germany was over, we could start. I spent the first few days before I could move into the apartment in the hostel. Although there are a lot of run-down hostels, the time to meet new people was very good.
In order to be able to exchange ideas with people before the start of the semester who may have problems similar to mine or who may be able to help me, I have read some experience reports in advance .
Lectures began on August 25th. The orientation week with a campus tour , library tour , beach and opportunities to get to know fellow students was also advanced . I met a lot of new people on the first day. I met German study abroad students in particular. However, since we are all doing the semester abroad because of the English language, I mainly met with other international students in order to speak as little German as possible. After the orientation week, I already knew so many students that I was never alone!
For my stay abroad I have chosen the subjects “Seminar in International Marketing”, “Political Communications” and “Seminar in Corporative Politics”. According to German standards, these four subjects make up 18 credit points (LP) at my home university. Each subject is taught 150 minutes a week (either in one session, two or three). Self-study in addition to the materials made available on the e-learning platform is a prerequisite. In order to get the courses, I first had to survive the so-called “class crashing” . As the US universities do not regard international students as equals – you neither get an email address of the university, nor are you informed about the crime alert – you cannot participate in the course selection beforehand like all other students . Rather, you have to go to all sorts of lectures in the first hour of the semester and hope that there is still a place in the course. For me this unfortunately meant that I couldn’t get three master’s courses and had to take a bachelor’s course. In contrast to Germany, there is a large number of examinations for each subject- for example presentation, term paper, discussion round, exam or similar – which are weighted differently in the final grade. Among other things, participation in and participation in the events is also assessed. To have the opportunity to get to know the country and its people at the weekend, I had Mondays and Fridays off. At US universities, students are shown to be very proactive. The lectures and tutorials serve to convey the basic lecture material, but with the help of books and additional materials, each student has to deal with it without being asked in order to prepare accordingly for the lectures. Due to the large number of exams that have to be taken during the semester, the workload always remains at a very high level. However, the final exam is equivalent to the end of the semester, there are no seminar papers during the semester break. Check andyeducation to see more reviews from current students.
The events in my faculty were characterized by a high workload, but the level at US universities is much lower than I am used to in Germany.
San Diego is expensive compared to domestic US! However, if you deal with a semester abroad and the respective country beforehand, you know this and can prepare for it accordingly. Plus, there are always ways to keep the cost a little lower.
I mostly went shopping at Walmart and Costcos as the prices were mostly lower and the quality was very good.
I borrowed some of my university books from the university’s bookstore. So I was able to save almost 60%. I also bought books on the American Amazon, which was still significantly cheaper than buying the books in a university bookstore.
At the university it was possible to buy a semester ticket for bus and train . In addition, I have already applied for an international student ID in Germany, with which I could sometimes also book trips and flights more cheaply.
We have also obtained offers for trips from the university, the Internet and various travel agencies. So we were able to compare the best offers and sometimes combine them.
I got the internet and mobile phone from T-Mobile as a prepaid tariff. The four of us took advantage of a family offer which included internet, phone calls and texting.
In sports , I was lucky: My university already calculated with the tuition fees, a fee for the use of all sports facilities at the university. This includes the use of the equipment, the pool, the gym, etc., as well as participation in sports courses.
Otherwise, the following applies: The opportunity to spend a long time at the other end of the world won’t come back anytime soon. So take what you can take with you, have fun and, if necessary, go to your savings!
The country – on a journey
The USA and California in particular are a beautiful piece of earth! Once there, you definitely have to see as much as possible. Together with new friends I visited Los Angeles, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Route 66, Joshua Tree National Park, Tijuana / Mexico and San Francisco, among others. I did a skydive as well as a weekly surf course and took part in a whale watching tour .
Last but not least, I am deeply impressed by the beauty of San Diego. San Diego is relatively clean, beautiful and culturally diverse . The sun shone almost every day. The beaches were fantastic and spacious. With its museums, Balboa Park offers cultural facilities in every respect, downtown San Diego is extensive and the sports facilities and sports teams are always worth a visit.
Further travel reports would go beyond the scope at this point. I was particularly impressed by the different vegetation and the animals in the country. Various road trips that led for hours through the desert have shown me the vastness that I will probably never experience in Germany.
I am very happy and grateful that I was able to complete this semester abroad. It has strengthened me both in my personal development and in my choice of studies. I don’t want to miss out on the experiences I’ve had. I miss San Diego, my new friends and life there very much.
At the same time, now that I am back home, I am finding out that I have changed personally in the past few months. I was confronted with new problems and challenges that I had to master during the semester. The completely new study conditions also made me rethink. At the moment I cannot imagine returning to everyday university life in Germany. My life in California, my new international friends , whom I hope to see again, and all the many excursions have certainly given me the best time of my life.
Despite all the positive thoughts, I would like to emphasize at this point that I did not feel that I was completely welcome at the university. While I was fully part of the student community in a previous semester abroad in Australia, an international student at SDSU was shown that you are only there for one semester and that American students are given priority. This relates, for example, to the non-existent possibility of taking courses in advance (although one pays more than an American student), does not receive an e-mail address of the university, neither a real greeting nor a farewell, official graduation certificates (such as only accepted by my university in Germany) additionally has to buy etc. pp.
Many thanks to everyone who made this experience possible for me!