University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
Since I completed my semester abroad as a freemover in San Diego, I will first go into the separate application process. Like all other free movers at the University of Mannheim, I applied for a place at San Diego State University (SDSU) via the website www.MicroEdu.com. Normally, everyone should get a place this way, since the SDSU is very keen on students from abroad who are able to pay. The friendly and competent staff at MicroEdu will send you a to-do list after you have expressed your interest, and then you have to hand in the documents listed there one by one, which greatly simplifies the application process. A little tip: Don’t let the application process drag on for too long, but take care of all the documents quickly, so that you can be sure that that the application was successful. The tuition fees total around $6500, since in addition to the general tuition fees (5900 dollars) there is also an additional registration fee (150 dollars) and we still have to “buy” 2 additional credits, since our University of Mannheim unfortunately does not have the standard 12 SDSU credits not enough and we ultimately have to get to 14 credits. This again causes costs of about 400 dollars. I already tried to start looking for an apartment from Germany, but this turned out to be quite difficult. The Americans live a little more short-term than we Germans, and they tend to be averse to lengthy email correspondence. If you are looking for an apartment using what I consider to be the best platform, Craigslist, it is much easier in most cases, to contact their landlord directly on their mobile phone. Since this is very expensive from Germany, it is advisable to leave for the USA without an apartment and to move into a hotel or hostel for the first week after arrival. Then you should quickly get an American SIM card and contact potential landlords on site. That’s how I got my apartment. If this is too tricky for you, you can rent private rooms in student halls of residence relatively easily, even from Germany. However, these are often expensive (about 700-1000 dollars per month). It is sometimes cheaper to get an apartment through MicroEdu’s housing offer. Here, former exchange students offer their apartments for which they have signed too long a contract, often definitely worth a try. I shared my sublet room with a separate bathroom with another exchange student. Together, the monthly rent was $1,000, a real bargain compared to the rents of many of my classmates. See jibin123 for how do I get a New Zealand student visa.
SDSU is a very nice Spanish style white university. The range of courses corresponds more to that of a full university than that of the University of Mannheim. So there are plenty of opportunities to “think outside the box” in order to study non-business studies. However, the business administration faculty is also very large and offers plenty of interesting subjects, should you be able to get them. This is where the biggest shortcoming of the SDSU lies: As a freemover, you have to “crash” your desired subjects. This means that we free movers are not entitled to a predetermined course choice from the outset, but only have to try our luck to get into the desired course. For this you attend the course you want to attend in the first 2 weeks and hope that that the respective professor signs a specially designed document for you. Now it has to be said that due to the financial and budgetary crisis in California, the SDSU is receiving fewer government funds than in the past and has therefore identified European exchange students as a suitable source of funding. As a result, the capacities are completely exhausted, or in my opinion far too many exchange students are admitted. It’s almost impossible to get originally planned courses, so don’t waste too much time with course lists and course planning in advance, you won’t get what you want anyway! After a week I had one or two signatures for courses, I still needed 3 more courses to get to the desired number of credits. The following week was all about to get the necessary number of courses, strictly according to the motto “I’ll take everything, I just want to get my credits full”. Also tending to be suboptimal and highly counterproductive are the demands of the University of Mannheim to get 14 credits. Since 95% of all subjects have 3 credits, you don’t need to be a mathematical genius to get the required number of credits. It is also important for us business graduates that the SDSU has created a really functionless tool with which the free places in the business administration subjects are to be allocated. What sounds good at first glance (namely a tool that is intended to replace the exhausting course crash process and centrally, through the preferences given by the individual students, to guarantee a distribution of the free places) does not work at all! I expressed my interest in almost all business administration subjects offered and only received feedback for one subject, which I was not even able to take because it was too similar to our statistics in Mannheim. Many of my fellow students never even received a subject suggestion. Those responsible at SDSU will emphasize it at least 10 times and, under threat of draconian punishment, will advise you never to crash the business administration subjects or to contact the professors by email (since the functionless tool was installed for this), but do it anyway if you want to get to any business administration subjects! In this way I got 2 subjects, without my illegal behavior I probably wouldn’t have gotten a single business administration subject. Conclusion on this course selection process and the employees responsible for it: Completely for the bin, and if I were to write a summary of those responsible (namely the American Language Institute, ALI for short), I would probably have to endure reports of insults against me. If you survived the course selection process unscathed, you will have a lot of fun at the SDSU. (Note from CC: The course selection procedure was completely revised after the experiences in 2012, so that the above descriptions probably do not reflect the situation in future semesters.) I would probably have to endure ads for insults about me. If you survived the course selection process unscathed, you will have a lot of fun at the SDSU. (Note from CC: The course selection procedure was completely revised after the experiences in 2012, so that the above descriptions probably do not reflect the situation in future semesters.) I would probably have to endure ads for insults about me. If you survived the course selection process unscathed, you will have a lot of fun at the SDSU. (Note from CC: The course selection procedure was completely revised after the experiences in 2012, so that the above descriptions probably do not reflect the situation in future semesters.)
As miserable as the administrative department (ALI) is, the teachers are great. I have never experienced such great, approachable professors who are enthusiastic about their teaching content as at SDSU. Each and every one of my professors lives for their subject and also fully responds to their students. Email correspondence with your professor is also not uncommon and in some cases even encouraged. The subjects are generally a good deal easier than in Mannheim, but this varies from subject to subject. If you are interested in his courses, you will also learn a lot. The academic year is traditionally structured in semesters, lectures begin at the end of August and the semester ends (including finals) on December 20 at the latest. There are ample options for lunch on campus, in addition to various fast food restaurants, there are also 2 smaller supermarkets. Another little tip: You can print for free in the ALI lab, printing in the library costs 10 cents/page; Money that can certainly be better spent elsewhere.
In general, San Diego is a very expensive place, and more expensive than Germany in almost every respect. Groceries in the supermarket are often very unaffordable and, despite the dollar/euro exchange rate, are 30-50% more expensive than in Germany. Together with the higher rents and a certain standard of living you should already plan with 1000 dollars per month, even 1500 dollars (with car). A car is absolutely essential for survival, as San Diego’s public transport is, to put it mildly, not very good and is only used by the absolute underclass. In addition, there is a bus stop about every 100 meters on each individual bus route, which makes a bus ride a never-ending odyssey. Sample: SDSU to Pacific Beach by car: 15-20 minutes; by bus: 90 minutes. So don’t waste your time on the bus, buy or rent a car.
The climate of San Diego is absolutely outstanding. Apart from December, you will be walking around in shorts for the entire semester abroad. At the end of December, I was still swimming in the university’s own swimming pool when it was over 30 degrees! Of course, there is more than enough to do in San Diego. First of all, of course, there are the many beautiful beaches (Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, all other beaches up to La Jolla). Also worth seeing is the Gaslamp District, San Diego’s hip and lively nightlife district. The Pacific Beach Area is particularly popular for exchange students to live in, and there are also plenty of places to go out. In addition, there are many other attractions, such as SeaWorld or the San Diego Zoo, Point Loma, Balboa Park, etc. You will certainly not be bored, you should be adventurous and have a set of wheels. In addition, you should also consider one or the other trip. LA is a 2 hour drive away, Las Vegas is 5 hours away and San Francisco is approximately 7 hours by car. In my opinion, an absolute must to visit these cities while in San Diego. In addition, the Hawaiian Islands are within easy reach, with a direct flight from San Diego you can be in paradise within 5 hours.
During my stay abroad I saw a lot of light and dark. I really liked the university/city/region/doable travel destinations as well as the casual (definitely weather-related), happy and open way of life of the Southern Californians. An absolute eyesore, however, is the course selection process. I could go on and on about this for hours. The only ray of hope here: This administrative masterpiece by the ALI only affects the lives of the free movers in the first few weeks. If you have survived this and at the end of the crash period you have collected your credits (or not, with or rather without desired subjects), university life then takes its normal course.