University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
Unfortunately, San Diego State University was not one of my home university’s partner universities, which meant that as a “free mover” I was responsible for planning and organizing the semester abroad, which was not an act of impossibility due to the aid organizations available. In my case, I turned to “MicroEdu” who gave me advice and support via email and phone from start to finish, making a significant part of the organization easier for me. Thanks for that! See liuxers for how to open a bank account in Spain.
To apply to San Diego State, a number of documents had to be submitted, including financial proof (confirmation of the parents’ assets) and confirmation of a certain language level, which can be proven relatively easily via TOEFL or DAAD.Otherwise, the other documents to be submitted were summarized in a “Check List” from MicroEdu. There were no problems with me and my home university with regard to the Learning Agreement (agreement on the choice of course for later crediting), so that after submitting the application and transferring the tuition fees, I received an acceptance from San Diego relatively quickly, which I found immensely was happy.
Shortly after receiving my acceptance, I made an appointment at the embassy in Frankfurt to apply for the F1 visa, which is mandatory for studying in the USA, and booked flights.
Here you are literally spoiled for choice! Do you prefer to live on the beach or near the university? Most internationals live on the beach! Here you really have to weigh up what is more important to you. The beach is about 25 minutes by car (depending on traffic) from the university. Basically, public transport in San Diego is much worse developed than in Germany, which makes living near the beach impossible without renting a car! If you want to save on the cost of a car, you’d better find something in the college area and use Uber or friends who have a car for free time. In the end I decided to live close to the university and I haven’t regretted it, because you can get to the beach often enough.
There are two options for living near the university ! Option 1: San Diego State University offers students the opportunity to register for campus housing when they apply. So you don’t have to go further looking for an apartment and live directly in the student dormitories on campus. However, this variant is very expensive and is around $6000 for five months. Option 2: You take care of an apartment yourself! It was clear to me relatively early on that I would prefer to live in a typical American house with other students, so I consciously decided against the housing option. There are various Facebook groups where you can exchange ideas and/or join forces with like-minded people.
I lived in a house about 15 minutes’ walk from the university with two Americans and two Germans.
It should be clear to everyone that living in California is relatively expensive, which is particularly noticeable when it comes to rental costs! Rent for a shared room including utilities was $695 per month, which was a very good price compared to what many of my classmates were paying.
Range of courses
There are basically two types of courses at San Diego State University: General Program courses and Business Program courses. The “General Program” includes all non-business courses, while the “Business Program” includes all business courses divided as follows: Accounting (ACCTG), Business Administration (BA), Finance (FIN), Management (MGT), Management Information Systems (MIS) and Marketing (MKTG).
Since business courses at San Diego State University are in great demand and the places are usually already taken by American students (who have priority when choosing a course ), there are the so-called special sessions.
Special Sessions are regular business courses that are only offered to exchange students and consist of around 60 students. Every foreign student has to choose two special session courses when enrolling at the university, which once chosen can no longer be changed! My two special session courses were: Marketing (BA370) and Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship (MNG 358). Due to the required 30 ECTS credits, I chose three more courses on site. My choice fell on Management of Media Organizations (MNG 440), Compensation & Rewards (MGT 462) and Human Resource Management (MNG 352).
The university system in America reminded me a little of my school days in Germany. The classes consist of 30 to 60 students depending on the course and homework and oral participation were regularly required. In each of my courses, the grade consisted of two to three midterms, a final, various projects and/or term papers.
The degree of difficulty depends on the lecturer and therefore varies greatly. Overall, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with my choice of courses. Unlike in Germany, you already have your hands full during the semester with homework, term papers and midterms. In terms of level, the exams are not quite as difficult as in Germany, but not much easier either! As mentioned above, I took a total of five courses at San Diego State:
Marketing (BA370) – Dr. Lisa Haddock – 6 credits
The grade consists of homework, three exams and participation.
The lecture is based on a book in connection with an online learning platform where you hand in your homework. The book in conjunction with the online access pin costs around $150 and is mandatory for this course. dr Haddock is a nice lecturer with a sense of humor, but her lectures, some of which I found very boring, have very little to do with the exams! If you would like to memorize vast amounts of material, this course is for you. I would not take this course again.
Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship (MNG 358) – Timothy C. Orlando – 6 Credits
In this lecture, the grade consists of two midterms, attendance and participation. I had high hopes for this course and was disappointed. The lecture consisted of a freely presented monologue without any supporting power point presentation or any other kind of aids. No materials or slides were uploaded that could have been used for learning. You had to prepare for the exams almost blindly using your notes and the book. The grades were consistently in the middle range.
My conclusion on this course: A very interesting and exciting topic, which the lecturer unfortunately did not convey sufficiently. I would choose this course again, but with a DIFFERENT teacher!
Management of Media Organizations (MNG 440) – Dr. Lora Cicalo – 6 credits
The grade is made up of three exams, attendance and short essays. dr Cicalo is a very nice and patient lecturer who teaches in a pleasant and calm way and is always available for questions. The topics covered are interesting and are deepened through occasional group work. Overall, I was very satisfied with this course and would take it again.
Compensation & Rewards (MGT 462) – Dr. Suzanne Zoumaraz – 6 credits
Here the grade is made up of two exams, attendance, quizzes, participation and a project. This course was the best in my opinion! Professor Zoumaras is a very knowledgeable and nice lecturer who always makes time for her students when they have questions, but has high standards! This course is very work-intensive and time-consuming, you have to do non-stop for the whole semester. Nevertheless, this course was one of my favorites because of the interesting content. A very clear recommendation!
Human Resource Management (MNG 352) – Dr. Michelle Dean – 6 credits
The grade in this course consists of three exams, attendance, seminars and group work. The instructor in this course is really nice and always available to answer questions. However, I remembered the lecture as rather monotonous, since a packed Powerpoint presentation with very dry topics was read for three hours. There is a huge amount of information to be memorized for the exams, so if you like to memorize a lot of dry stuff, I highly recommend the lecture. I would definitely not take this course again!
Activities alongside your studies
San Diego isn’t “America’s finest city” for nothing! It is a beautiful city where you can discover and experience a lot. Starting with Pacific Beach (district with many bars and clubs) to Mission Beach (beautiful beaches and plenty of water sports activities) to the Gaslamp Quarter downtown, it definitely doesn’t get boring here! San Diego really is a dream !
Furthermore, the San Diego State University offers a huge range of sports, which you as a student of the ALI (American Language Institute) can use free of charge. The offer includes the use of the Aztec Recreation Center (fitness studio and pool) including a climbing wall and a variety of courses.
Another highlight was the “Aztecs” football games, where the whole university made the pilgrimage to Qualcomm Stadium to cheer on their team. What is certainly a very interesting point for many is the topic of travel! Occasionally during the semester there is the opportunity to go to Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Joshua Three National Park or many other beautiful places for a weekend! I traveled through California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and New York for four weeks after the semester ended, which was an amazing experience.
For me personally it has always been a dream to live and study in America. I can only recommend everyone to take such a step! The opportunity to immerse yourself in American college life and get to know a new culture is something you will never get again. I am very grateful to have had this experience and would do it again and again! I miss California already…