University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
- Selection of the foreign university
Already at the beginning of my studies I had made the decision to spend a semester abroad. Since I wanted to use the semester abroad to improve my English, to get to know different cultures and to experience a lot, my decision was made very quickly. Located near the border with Mexico, San Diego State University in California offers a place to study for a wide variety of nations. Distinguished for their marketing faculty, which I chose to major in my undergraduate degree, SDSU (San Diego State University) also convinced me on the subject matter and the factors that San Diego is a city by the sea, where it feels like the sun is always shining, a lot of sport is done and mostly younger people live, finally confirmed my decision and I was able to take care of the registration and application. See jibin123 for what score do i need on the GRE or GMAT.
Since SDSU is not a partner of my university and the application process is a bit different, my first step was to go to the free organization MicroEdu, which offers advice and extensive application support for numerous foreign universities. All registration was through MicroEdu. The very helpful and friendly employees take the place of the SDSU, so to speak, and are therefore the contact persons for any questions. In October 2013 I contacted MicroEdu for the first time. The employees were already familiar with the application process for San Diego State University and so I had to send the organization the following documents for a successful application or acceptance for the SDSU (acceptance is a formality if all deadlines and necessary forms are met):
– Language proof : Toefel test or DAAD language test (I took the free and much fairer DAAD test at Ostfalia with my English lecturer Mr. Zimpel)
– Financial proof of the bank (approx. USD 11,000 must be proven, whereby assets of the Parents may be included)
– Copy of photo ID
– Contact form and other MicroEdu application forms
After all documents have been received and checked, MicroEdu will forward the application to SDSU. A one-off fee of €175 is now due here. About 6 months before the start of my studies, I received confirmation of the reservation of a place on the course, a number of forms and a checklist by post from MicroEdu, but I was still not enrolled.
Another important and unfortunately very time-consuming step is the visa.
Registration is online (www.us-botschaft.de or www.germany.usembassy.gov) and here it is very important that you take your time so that everything is filled out correctly. I recommend printing out all the documents when registering, as it can be difficult to get hold of any documents afterwards. After registration, an appointment will be made at the American Embassy (Berlin or Frankfurt). The minimum waiting time for the appointment should be 1 month. Evidence that requires a return from the USA must be taken to the appointment(e.g. return flight ticket, certificate of enrollment or employment contract). I didn’t need these documents for my appointment and my appointment only lasted two minutes, but better safe than sorry. Unfortunately, the motto at the embassy is “first come, first served” and so my appointment was only theoretically valuable. Before the two-minute interview, I was allowed to wait two and a half hours. The following costs have to be borne for the visa:
– SEVIS fee 200€
– Appointment arrangement 10€
– Visa fees 98€
As a final step, I transferred the tuition fees, selected my special session courses in advance and had the Transcript of Records (English grade sheet with average grade) issued by my home university. You should always have the ToR with you at the SDSU, as it is very helpful the choice of course could be, because for some courses you have to prove that you have already passed examinations. More on this under point 4.
- Study organization
At the SDSU, international students are looked after by the American Language Institute (ALI), which is available as a local contact for all questions and concerns. At the beginning of the semester, the registration is carried out by the ALI, where the student ID card with photo is issued. In addition, at the beginning of the semester, the “Orientation Week” takes place with numerous events, BBQs on campus and a bus tour through the various districts of San Diego, which is also organized by ALI. During the semester, you will be kept up-to-date on university life and events via a newsletter via e-mail. As an ALI student, you get a free pass to SDSU Aztecs football and basketball gamesdeposited, which should also be picked up as soon as possible after the date has been announced, since the rush is enormous.
In addition, one has free access to the Aztec Recreation Center (gym) and swimming pool, which are also located next to the basketball arena, soccer stadium, baseball field and several food courts on the huge campus of San Diego State University. I highly recommend going to a college game.
- Courses offered and course selection at the foreign university
San Diego State University offers a wide range of courses, but not all courses can be taken by ALI students. Well before the start of the semester, I was supposed to answer a survey about my desired subjects for the SDSU – the results were then used to determine the popularity of the courses and the courses offered in the form of special sessions (courses that are only attended by foreign students) were flexibly adapted to the upcoming semester. Shortly before the start of the semester, I received an email asking me, as an undergraduate ( bachelor’s student ), to choose my two special sessions of 8 units in advance. I chose the Direct Marketing courses at Mrs. Haddock and Internet/Interactive Marketing at Mrs. Honea. The two special session courses were only attended by German and Scandinavian students. With these courses, I already covered the 15 ECTS quota required by Ostfalia with the two courses (8 units = 16 ECTS).
For the I20 student visa, however, you need a total of 12 units and so I still had to take courses totaling 4 units. These courses could not be selected in advance, but had to be “crashed”. The “crashing” course works as follows: On the welcome day, ALI gives you a list on which to enter the desired course and course number. Then you go to the desired lecture with the list and the transcript of records and hope for the signature of the lecturer. However, more detailed explanations about the course crash are given again on the welcome day. To cover the 12 units, I also chose the Management of Media Organization (3 units) and Surfing (1 unit) courses.
- Arrival/ mobility
As soon as you have received a confirmation from the SDSU and the visa you can book the flights. Here I can recommend the price comparison site www.skyscanner.de. I wanted to arrive in the States three weeks before the semester started and travel a bit beforehand. So I booked a flight from Frankfurt to New York City and flew 5 days later from NYC to San Diego. Together with the return flight from Los Angeles to Frankfurt, I paid around €1,000.
When you arrive in San Diego, you absolutely need a car, since the various districts are a bit further apart and the bus and trolley connections (there is no train) do not meet German standards
. Here the question arose whether it would be better to buy or rent a car. When buying, you naturally bear the risk of unforeseeable repair costs, which you avoid with an exchange when renting a car. However, if you sell after the end of the semester, you have the opportunity to make less loss. I decided to rent a car and split the cost with a fellow student. Dirt Cheap Car Rental (www.dirtcheapcarrental.com) has deals specifically tailored for studentsand is as far as I know the cheapest way to rent a car in San Diego. Since you rent the car for a longer period (6 months), you should definitely negotiate the price. We paid around €450 per month, i.e. €225 each.
When it comes to the apartment, the question arises whether you would rather live in the campus area, where the fraternity parties take place, or whether you would rather live near the beach in Pacific Beach or Mission Beach. I really wanted the chance to live near the beach for the first 6 months of my life and chose Pacific Beach. Since I wanted to save myself the hassle of looking for a house and setting up a flat share via Facebook or something similar, I decided on the apartment complex ‘Bay Point Apartment’. Here I moved into a shared room for $700 a month. The apartments are fully equipped with 2 bedrooms (each for 2 people), 2 bathrooms with shower and a living room and kitchen. The complexoffers a pool, tennis and basketball courts, a BBQ area and a gym, is located in the BayArea and you can walk to the beach in about 5 minutes. Since you share the apartment with 3 other people and the Bay Point office makes sure that you meet international students, you quickly meet new young people. The area is also in close proximity to Garnet Avenue, where surf and bar life in Pacific Beach takes place.
The tuition fees, the visa and the flights are the costs that you have to bear in advance. On site I had fixed costs (car and apartment) of about 800€. Unfortunately, healthy foods in the US are very expensive. Since I didn’t want to live off burgers and tacos every day, there were additional monthly costs of 600€ for food (beverage costs are also included here). There were also costs for excursions, travel and, of course, clothes.
- Funding Opportunities
There are many funding opportunities. The MicroEdu site lists a number of scholarships to apply for. The most important thing with all funding opportunities is to take care of them in good time, since the deadlines are set very early and no more applications will be accepted after that.
- Cultural experiences
In San Diego and California people are super nice, helpful and very open. You get into conversation very quickly and the Americans in particular are always happy to meet people of other origins. However, it is often rather superficial and it takes time for a deep friendship to develop. So you shouldn’t overestimate the open nature of the Americans.
I spent most of my time in San Diego with Spaniards, Swedes, an Arab and an American. After a while we became a tight-knit group and got to know new people every day. The mix of our group often presented us with amusing cultural discussions that were specifically religious based. I can only recommend going into the semester abroad with an open mind, being enthusiastic about other countries, cultures and customs, or accepting them in a diplomatic way and not always judging.
- Professional, linguistic and personal development
The semester abroad brought only good aspects for me, apart from the empty purse. I’ve met a lot of great people from all over the world, made new friends and learned how to ride the waves with a surfboard. For this feeling alone I would do these 6 unique months again and again and I can only recommend everyone to do it. I think the relaxed and quiet way of life of the Californian lifestyle has rubbed off on my person a little, but during this time I had to really learn to organize myself for the first time, whereby the language barrier was not an obstacle, since the Americans, as before described, are super helpful and patient and so you don’t have to be afraid of a lack of English skills at all.
In addition to all the experience outside of the university, I got very good grades and continued to develop myself professionally, especially in the IT area in terms of internet marketing. I especially liked the learning system. Every week we had to hand in homework, write exams or give presentations, so that you stay on the ball throughout the semester and not, as is often the case in Germany,
prepare for the exams just before the exam phase. The continuous flow of learning shaped my technical knowledge and improved my use of the language.
San Diego is an incredibly beautiful city that actually has everything to offer. You can surf and be on the ski slope two hours later. The sun shines almost all year round. Cities like Las Vegas and San Francisco are not too far.
College life as you know it from TV is actually so cool and suddenly you’re in the middle of it. You like to go to the university, study from time to time in a huge library until 3 a.m. on Saturdays. and even at this hour you are surrounded by a hundred students. The bad thing is, it was fun too. You learn to love days like Taco Tuesday, Thirsty Thursday and Sunday Funday and suddenly you don’t just live from weekend to weekend.
I will definitely be back – San Diego is my city!
I am very happy to answer any questions or provide further information and would be happy to help anyone to complete a semester abroad at SDSU!