The semester abroad at San Diego State University (SDSU) in San Diego was absolutely great. I was fascinated anew every day and had an incredible number of good experiences. My expectations for the semester were exceeded by far.
A brief description of the courses I have taken:
Crime Law & Justice 3 Units
In the course Crime Law & Justice you will be introduced to the American legal system. The aim of the course is to get a basic understanding of how crime and certain human behavior are to be defined. It is analyzed why certain people do not obey the law and others do.
The course was very interesting, as the topic cannot be more topical at the moment. The level was very similar to the German. However, at SDSU and at most universities in the USA , you have to be prepared for regular tests and homework submissions. Check educationvv to see more reviews from current students.
Law in Society 3 Units
Through legal sociology and legal anthropology, law is seen through completely different eyes in this course. US law is analyzed with the help of well-known sociologists such as Émile Durkheim, Karl Marx or Max Weber and questions such as “What is law?” Are reevaluated.
The level in the course was a little more demanding than in Germany, but it was also very manageable.
Criminal Justice & Social Control 3 Units
Criminal Justice & Social Control explores US criminal law. In various discussions it is discussed how criminal law can control people. Furthermore, social control by the criminal justice system is discussed and examined whether it makes differences in origin, gender, class or other delimitations. In this course, guest speakers are invited to give very interesting speeches. The level here is similar to that in Germany.
Cinema as Art & Communication
This is particularly about film history. The themes are, for example, the making of films and film techniques from earlier to modern times. At the beginning of each lesson film techniques are presented and explained and at the end of the lesson a selected film is watched.
The professor is very passionate about it, which also fascinates the students.
Overall, I imagined the courses and the level to be the same. As long as you are diligent and attend the courses regularly (the Americans attach great importance to attendance, so there are often attendance lists) you can take all courses with a good to very good grade.
Where did i live How did I get the accommodation?
I lived in the Alvarado Sterling Alvarado, a large apartment complex which is mostly inhabited by students. However, singles and families also live there. The Sterling offers single rooms and shared rooms. Personally, I decided on a single room because I found my own room very important. I also had visitors from Germany from time to time, so there was enough space. I lived in a shared apartment with three other foreign students. I shared the apartment with three very nice girls from China. The Alvarado Sterling offers two outdoor pools, a fitness studio, a small cinema, a games room with an X-Box with various games as well as three study rooms with a few seats and a lot more. There you are among students and can make contacts very quickly.
I found the apartment through an ad on Facebook . I was there in a few groups that offer rooms, furniture or other things.
What is the infrastructure of the host university like?
The infrastructure was surprisingly good. From my apartment I got to the SDSU very quickly. A station with the trolley (a mixture between tram and S-Bahn) was right on campus . The university also offers many parking spaces, but these are chargeable. Most Americans travel by car, so there weren’t many bus options. The university has more than 32,000 students and is very spacious. The campus is kept nice and green and has a few bike paths. The typical cafeteria, as is the case in Germany, is not offered there, but there are dining areas that are equipped with fast food chains. Subway, Panda Express and others have found each other there.
What should be considered when entering the country / obtaining a visa?
The visa must be applied for in good time as it can take a while until an appointment is made at the American consulate. It is important that you bring all documents with you. It took at least a month from the application to the receipt of my passport. This should be expected in any case.
The entry was totally relaxed. However, I can only recommend flights that offer enough transfer time, as passport controls for people entering the USA can take a while. Two hours is a good recommendation. The costs that are incurred for this amount to around € 450.
How did it go with the language?
Overall, it worked out very well with the language. At first I was a bit taken by surprise, but it happened very quickly. Everything in class was a matter of getting used to. The lessons were quick and not easy due to a lot of specialist vocabulary, but this has improved over time. From day to day the lessons became more understandable and I enjoyed it all the more. Through many acquaintances and my roommates, I was always busy. In the end I got to know some German students who became good friends. Unfortunately, the English language was far too short at the time. Inevitably, the language can only get better, so I wouldn’t be afraid.
How was university and social life (everyday & free time)?
The university life is much more present than in Germany. This is also due to the fact that the SDSU has a really large campus that has a lot to offer. Since the campus is beautifully green and the weather in San Diego is regularly nice anyway, you can spend a lot of time on campus. You can relax on the premises before and after the lectures. There were two Starbucks on campus, a bowling arena with a few table football and pool tables. Every Monday the university offered a film that could be watched in a lecture hall. So there was always variety. The library was open all the time and always well attended.
In my free time, I was on campus every now and then, where I played soccer with some Americans in the meadow. I occasionally showed up in the university fitness studio.
In my free time I was often at PB (Pacific Beach), because there is a beautiful beach there. There are many bars and restaurants around the beach. Otherwise there was always something new to inquire about. There are a lot more beaches in San Diego than just the PB. We have made trips to Los Angeles, Tijuana, Las Vegas, and San Francisco. It was definitely never boring .
How was the stay financed? How high are the costs?
I financed my stay with a foreign student loan, my own savings and the PROMOS scholarship . The total costs are around € 15,000 – € 18,000. A stay would also be possible with a few thousand euros less. The tuition fees cost around € 6,600, for which € 4,600 was reimbursed by the Bafögamt. The flight price was around € 1,000 and I spent around € 1,600 per month including rent (which was € 800). In terms of rent and expenses, you can certainly get away cheaper. However, you have to be aware that the maintenance costs in America are a little higher than here. I also made a few trips to Las Vegas, Los Angeles or San Francisco.
What health insurance did I have?
I had health insurance through San Diego State University. This was the first semester that health insurance fees were integrated into tuition fees. However, you should take out additional health insurance for a stay before and after the semester .
Other tips and hints (e.g. about the city, contact with home, transport, etc.)
An American SIM card is absolutely necessary. There is wifi on every corner , but in order to be in contact with the people there, it is essential to get an American number. In the USA, the cell phone contracts are a little different than ours. The contracts are automatically renewed from month to month until you cancel them. The termination is completely unproblematic. As a tip I can give you some friends / acquaintances with whom you (at least four people) conclude a “family contract”. These are a little cheaper ($ 35) but offer 6 GB of Internet and an all-network flat rate for calls and SMS.
Tuesdays in San Diego and the surrounding area have Taco Tuesday . On this day, all bars and restaurants offer tacos for a dollar or a little more. The Fett Fish on Pacific Beach comes highly recommended. The best taco is the shrimp taco.
In order to be flexible and mobile, the use of UBER is recommended. This is a mobile phone app that can be used to order travel services. It works like a taxi, only private drivers offer their services. The UBER is cheaper than a taxi and therefore interesting.
What I can absolutely recommend is to watch public court hearings live . It’s very interesting how the courtroom is set up, where the jury sits. How the judge sits in his or her seat and leads the process. If you’ve seen this in movies before, it’s all the more interesting to see it in real life. The Superior Court Central Courthouse in Down Town has many public trials.
Best & worst experience:
The American professors are very friendly and helpful , which made me very happy.
On the whole, I have hardly had any bad experiences to speak of. But what I can advise everyone is to sign a rental agreement that is only valid for the actual length of stay. Unfortunately, I had a lease that lasted until the end of July. I flew home at the end of May. So I had to look for someone for two months to take over my contract. In itself that was not a problem, it became critical when nobody wanted to pay the required deposit of almost 1500 €. Contracts that would only have been for the duration of stay until May are more expensive, but you save yourself all the stress of looking for new tenants.