University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: industrial engineering
Study type: semester abroad
TU Berlin has no direct partnership with San Diego State University. As a result, you had to organize yourself, but there are some agencies that make it very easy for you. I organized my semester abroad through “ MicroEdu ” and I can only highly recommend this agency. They support me from start to finish and all I had to do was check off the to-do list they had prepared and gradually send them the right documents. They were also very helpful and answered every question competently. Kudos again here to MicroEdu and a huge thank you. See jibin123 for what are the largest universities in the world in terms of student numbers.
At the beginning of my preparation, I talked a lot with students and friends who had studied at San Diego State University (SDSU). I have tried. find out the most important information, write it down for me and come up with some kind of strategy on how best to proceed. The many experience reports on the Internet and also on the “MicroEdu” website have also helped me a lot. It is also important that every student should always try to apply for foreign BAföG. Often many students don’t even know that they are entitled to the foreign BAföG. You have nothing to lose and if you are lucky and get funding, BAföG will help you, the enormous tuition fees payable at SDSU. BAföG took over about $5000 of the $7215 tuition fees.
I booked the flight to San Diego relatively late. However, for booking it so late, I was a bit lucky with the price. I paid 875 euros for my flight. Others who booked that late had to pay at least 1000-1300 euros. The cheapest flights I heard about were around 700-800 euros. If you are then sure that you want to do a semester abroad, then you should definitely keep an eye on the prices of the flights and strike early on cheap flights. With the Auslands-BAföG you will receive 1000 euros for the flight in addition to the tuition fees.
At the beginning there are a few decisions to make. These decisions are very important because they determine a large part of the later course of the stay. So I go into detail about these things. Before I left, I was particularly busy trying to figure out the pros and cons of some things, as I didn’t want to make any ill-considered decisions myself.
a) Stay on site or rent from home
The first decision relates to staying on site. You have to decide whether you want to rent an apartment/house from here in Germany or only on site.
The advantages of booking from home are that you already have a safe place to stay, save yourself the stress on site, can enjoy your stay immediately and theoretically could still travel there and that you can already include the costs of the accommodation in your financial planning in advance can calculate. The downsides are that you can’t be sure that the apartment really looks like the pictures, that you don’t get to know the roommates beforehand, that the deposit can be relatively high upfront and, in the worst case, you can also get ripped off because, for example, the apartment doesn’t even exist (I’ve heard of this case, but haven’t personally met anyone who has had this happen).
The advantages of renting the place on site are that you have the opportunity to get to know your roommates before you move into a shared house, you can also have a look at the place first, you get to know a lot of people in the process and you get to know each other to the last moment you can decide whether you would rather live near the beach or near the university. The disadvantages are that the first time you are definitely busy finding a place to stay, you cannot fully enjoy your stay at the beginning, you have to stay in a hostel or something similar for the time being and you have to network a lot (although this also can be a great benefit!).
I decided to take the last option. Since I’m generally a fan of networks, this was the most promising option for me. I also wanted to make sure that the house I was moving into was really nice. However, after the first three to four days of searching, I felt like I regretted it. But after the fourth day I found a suitable house with four other German students whom I met in my hostel “Lucky D’s” downtown, a load fell from my heart and I was just happy, such a nice one to have found a house. The search was exhausting and sometimes very exhausting, but it was worth it in the long run and I would do it the same way again at any time. A little luck always has to be there, but if you don’t risk
b) beach or campus
The second important decision, on which my decision was made relatively early, relates to the place to stay. The question arises whether you would rather live near the beach or the university. I’ve read in many reviews that the people on the beach are much more relaxed, that you get the opportunity to really live the “California lifestyle” and have the opportunity to be on the beach in just a few minutes at any time.
I chose the beach from the start and I have to admit it was the best decision I could have made. It was exactly how many students described life on the beach. The beach wasn’t far from me, the beautiful Bay Area (Mission Bay) was just around the corner and above all I could go surfing almost every day. The so-called “Aquatic Center” in Mission Bay also gives you the opportunity to take courses in various water sports for a semester for relatively cheap money.
Most students then live in either Mission Beach or Pacific Beach. Both are close together and there is really a lot to experience on the beach.
In addition, Pacific Beach in San Diego is also very well known for its nightlife. In the so-called Garnet or Grand Street there are many great restaurants and bars. However, the downside of living on the beach is the distance. It’s actually a requirement that if you want to live by the beach, you need a car. Above all, you need a car to get to the university. I shared a rental car with my roommates from Dirt-Cheap-Car-Rental and then paid about 130 euros a month plus gas for the car. Some have also bought a car and have been able to save quite a bit. However, I made a conscious decision against it because, firstly, I don’t know much about cars and therefore could not have checked whether the car had any hidden damage, and secondly, at the end of the semester you would have to worry about getting the car sold again. I saved myself the stress by renting a car.
The university is about 20-30 minutes away from the beach by car. You could also have reached the university by bus and train, but then you would have had to change trains two or three times and plan at least an hour’s travel time.
For these reasons, living near the university also has certain advantages. So you don’t have to get a car and you save a lot of money, you get more of the typical American student life, it’s usually always a bit warmer than near the beach and if you’re lucky, the apartments are a little cheaper. I also felt that most of the students who lived close to the campus were mostly undergraduate students aged 19-23 and the students who lived near the beach tended to be masters students and therefore older. According to my experience, the prices for a “shared room” near the campus were around $600-800 and for a “single room” around $700-900 and near the beach the average for a shared room was around $700-900 and one Single like that at 800-1100$. Exceptions prove the rule. I paid $825 for a single in Pacific Beach, but I was lucky.
The beginning of university
My university started on 08/16 and my flight was on 08/03. Since I decided to look for a place to stay locally first, I was afraid that there would not be enough time and that the best houses or apartments were already sold out. On the one hand, this was confirmed a little, but on the other hand, there were now and then a few hidden beautiful houses that were discovered again and again with a little effort and luck. Of course, the houses have also become more expensive over time, so you shouldn’t arrive too late.
My goal was actually not to live with German students, but it’s really difficult because a lot of German students spend their semester abroad in San Diego. In the end I was sharing a flat with four other German students and two French students. Thanks to the two French women, we were at least often forced to communicate in English in the flat share.
As a master’s student in industrial engineering, if you organized yourself privately and not through a university partnership, you were only allowed to enroll in three courses at San Diego State. At least two of these courses had to be “Grad Courses”. However, the bachelor students were not allowed to take a “degree course” and had to choose four “undergrade courses”. The justification was that the degree courses (master’s courses) are more difficult and time-consuming. I could have enrolled in another course, but then I would have had to pay at least another $900. I have the courses “Strategic Brand Management”, “Product Innovation Management” and “Adaptation to US Culture”chosen. My favorite subject was Strategic Brand Management with Prof. Miro Copic, because a case study was carried out every hour and interesting guest lectures were given from time to time by famous CEOs such as the founders of the company “Nixon”.
The courses differ fundamentally from the courses at the TU Berlin. Unlike most courses at the TU Berlin, the final grade does not only include the exam, but rather the oral participation, presentations, homework, attendance, an intermediate exam and the final exam. Although this is felt to be more complex, the exams are therefore also simpler and mostly on a multiple-choice basis.
Many courses started very late. I also had a course that ran from 7: 00 p.m. to 9: 40 p.m.
College life at San Diego State University was really great. SDSU is just a wonderful university. The campus is huge and very clean, the buildings are very new and beautiful, and the people were cheerful and very friendly. What I particularly liked were the various sports facilities. Thanks to the free “Arc Membership” for the international students, you could use a lot for free, such as the fitness center, the large sports hall with 3 basketball courts and a football/volleyball field, the tennis courts and the swimming pool. The rental of towels, rackets, balls and much more was possible at any time and also free of charge. I used the basketball hall many times and really appreciated that I never had to take a ball or towel with me and that the hall was just always open.
If you came to the university by car, you had to get a parking vignette for the semester for the parking garages on campus and this cost $165. It was a little annoying that the well-located multi-storey car parks were often full by 10 a.m. and you had to park a little further away. You can always find a parking space in the more than 20 multi-storey car parks, but accordingly you often had to walk longer.
Life in general
There is just so much to see and do in San Diego and California in general. When you’re not in college and you decide not to sunbathe on the beach all day, you can go hiking, go fishing, visit the national parks, play a lot of sports, ride a bike, watch the sunset, visit museums, eat at restaurants, drive or fly to Mexico and much more.
I could list a thousand things now, but that would go beyond the scope of this report and that’s why I’ll list a few things that I particularly enjoyed doing or that I found particularly special.
I’ll start with things close by:
I loved going for burritos at The Taco Stand and Trojillo, the latter of which was actually close to the uni. I loved the tacos in Mexico, in Tijuana for example, but you should eat them with caution if you have a sensitive stomach. However, I never had any problems. Whenever I had friends over, I usually took them to see one of the La Jolla sunsets. I had a fun short day of hiking to the “Potatoe Chip Rock”, but the “Annies Trail” was also very exciting. Being an avid fisherman, I bought a fishing license and have visited many of the lakes and reservoirs in the San Diego area.I found Lake Murray and Lake Santee great for fishing, otherwise I was very often just at the bay. Furthermore, you should have visited the “USS Midway” and then eat delicious burgers at “Hodads” in downtown. Of course, sports fans can also watch all kinds of games from the clubs in San Diego. I also watched an NBA game, but I went to Oakland specifically to do so. The NBA game of the “Golden State Warriors” was also one of my personal highlights.
So we come to the things that are not close to San Diego:
My favorite was definitely the Grand Canyon. I’ve never seen anything as impressive as the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. On the “North Rim” you can also go hiking, but you shouldn’t underestimate the way back up and take enough water with you. Other beautiful national parks are: Zion, Antelope, Bryce and of course Yosemite. For the national parks there is also a card to get into all parks for free. If you visit many parks, then the price is definitely worth it. Otherwise typical places like Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco, cities not to be missed. I’ve been to the theme parks “Six Flags” and “Universal Studios”, but there are also “Disneyland”, “Warner Brothers Studio” or the zoo and the “Sea World” in San Diego. As a student, you often get discounts at the attractions. We also had a breathtaking view on Highway 1 to San Francisco. You simply have to take this road on your road trip on the way to San Francisco.
A particularly worthwhile investment by my roommates and I was our bicycles. At the beginning of the semester we each bought a bike from Walmart for $80-$100 and I would do it again anytime. Many also bought a bike from Craigslist (American version of Ebay Classifieds), but the advantage of buying from Walmart was that we had a guarantee on the bikes, so in the event of various types of damage, the bike could be repaired free of charge up to a certain period of time could. I gave my bike away, but many have been able to resell their bikes for more than half the purchase price because the bikes weren’t even half a year old. Just renting a bike for a few hours near the beach would have cost 10-20 euros. Pretty much all of Pacific Beach and Mission Beach were bike rides. Beach Boulevard in particular was just incredibly beautiful on warm, sunny days, both during the day and at night.
However, there are also things I would do differently now. For one, I would have gotten a skateboard because the campus was so huge that a skateboard would have come in very handy. In addition, I could have improved my balance for surfing a lot. The second thing is related to surfing. I was faced with the decision of either taking the university surf course and paying $175 and having everything provided, or getting my own surfboard and wetsuit. I have to admit that I regret taking the course and not buying a board. The reasons are as follows:
I was provided with a board and wetsuit for the course, but I was always bound to the times of the courses. You could actually “crash” any course, so that you could go three times a week instead of once a week, for example, but you were always dependent in a way. While I’m grateful for the instruction I received, I find that a lot of surfing is learned through experience and that being out in the sea is more important than the instruction of the surf instructors. I realized that towards the end of the semester, but by then it was already too late to buy my own board.
I can also recommend every student to have at least two credit cards to take with you in the States. From my own experience, I can say that some banks are not at all cooperative when there are problems or card losses. So it’s incredibly important to simply have a backup. In particular, I would not recommend Consorsbank to any student, because I really had a lot of problems with this bank. It took me two months to get a new card after losing the old card. Additionally, I tried to make an international transfer through the bank and they failed to transfer the money within a month and couldn’t even tell me where the money went. I had to call 20-30 times and eventually threatened to call a lawyer before I saw the money back in my account. I really wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone!
My semester abroad was just incredibly beautiful. I really saw a lot, experienced a lot, gained priceless experiences and made acquaintances that I wouldn’t want to miss in my life. I am very grateful that I got this opportunity.
However, I also have to say that I did a semester abroad in the USA, mainly to get to know American culture, to make American friends and, above all, to improve my English language. If someone really focuses on these three things for their semester abroad and plans to go to SDSU, then I don’t think this school is necessarily the best choice.
For a very simple reason: there are really a lot of German students at the SDSU and if you sit in an “International Course”, for example, it can happen that 80% of the students in the course are German students. What I just want to say with this is that you will always come across Germans at the SDSU and, for convenience and the circumstances, you will be traveling a lot with Germans. Unfortunately, this also means that you will speak a lot of German yourself and the desired goal of improving the English language and getting to know American culture better could then come up short.
I don’t want to be misunderstood. I really got to know a lot of German students and really deep and close friendships developed, but the fact is that the environment sometimes felt like home again. Because the German students often kept to themselves, you were still in your comfort zone, which made it difficult to establish contact with the Americans. For these reasons, I also consciously joined an American fraternity in order to get to know the culture better. I was also able to improve my language a lot.
I just want to consciously emphasize this, because if I had known that there really were so many Germans at the SDSU, I might have thought twice about choosing this university. Despite everything, I enjoyed every day in San Diego and had unforgettable experiences at SDSU.
San Diego is one of the most amazing cities and there is something new to experience every day. There’s never a dull moment in San Diego, “America’s Finest City”.