University: San Diego State University
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: industrial engineering
Study type: semester abroad
In my 6th semester in the industrial engineering course, I decided relatively spontaneously to do a semester abroad at San Diego State University while I was still doing my bachelor’s degree. In mid-November I attended an event at my university that informed students about the possibility of a semester abroad. There I found out that you can do a semester abroad in the USA for both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, but that a stay during the master’s degree is associated with greater hurdles. 9 months later – beginning of August – I was on a plane to California. See andyeducation for Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona Study Abroad.
This was preceded by a long, sometimes nerve-racking process of gathering information, meeting deadlines, applying and many other small annoying things that had to be done. But MicroEdu offers you free advice on all these thingsand ensures that you can finally get on the plane in August with a clear head. Some of the things you have to take care of in advance are, for example: applying for a visa, looking up course descriptions to clarify eligibility, applying to the SDSU and completing international health insurance.
One point that I have NOT listed is the search for an apartment. I can’t give any general advice here. We (me and 3 other fellow students) decided to look for accommodation first on site. In hindsight, I would do it again and again. The first week is anything but pleasant because you finally want to be certain and want to find something solid, but in our case the exertion was worth it. After 5 days of looking for an apartment, we finally found the right property. The big advantage of searching on the spot is that you can inspect each accommodation with your own eyes before signing. We spent those 5 days looking at accommodations that looked promising on CraigsList but in reality were simply unacceptable for the asking price. Other German students (boys) told me that they had to clean their apartment reserved from Germany for 7 days because it was just so dirty. But I’m sure there were also some who got hold of good accommodation in this way. Everyone has to decide that for themselves.
When looking for an apartment, I would only ask myself two important questions: 1. What is my pain threshold for the price of the monthly rent? 2. Do I want to live close to the university or close to the beach? To this day I’m not sure about the second question. We have near the universityused. Advantage: You can get to the campus quickly and you can also cycle there. I had university 5 days a week, so the proximity to the university was very practical. And you don’t live far from student residences like Boulevard63 and Sterling Apartments. The disadvantage is that you have to drive to the beach in 20-25 minutes by car, with the bus in the worst case 60 minutes. In addition, landlords pay well for the location on the beach and you get less for the same money than in the vicinity of the university. Five of us paid $700 a month rent for a complete house with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and garage including electricity, water and internet.
Having a car is more than practical. It’s true that public transport is relatively easy to get around in San Diego, but as soon as the weekend and trips come up, you’re pretty stupid without a car or the activities are limited to San Diego. We were already on the road in the second week of arrival and have been to Yosemite National Park and San Francisco. Insider tip: If you are interested in airplanes and jets, you MUST go to the Miramar Air Show, which is 30 minutes outside of San Diego!
We rented our entire car for 4 months from Dirt Cheap CarRental and paid around $700 per person for the entire 4 months. We chose Travel Plan 2, which allowed us to drive to San Francisco and the Grand Canyon. In hindsight, we could have saved about $100 per person if we had taken a cheap fare that only included San Diego and Los Angeles. For trips you can upgrade the car for a short time. Here you have to weigh up and calculate how often you plan to drive further away and what is more worthwhile.
The cost of living is a bit higher than in Germany, but I was amazed at how healthy you can eat over there. Organic has also arrived with the Americans and those who cook themselves can eat healthily for 4 months. Fast food is cheap, but not necessarily cheaper than cooking yourself. The bottom line is that I spent around €15,000 in total for these 4 months. A proud sum, from which you can also make a trip around the world. As a tourist you will find it beautiful everywhere. But for me it was important to feel what life in California feels like. I could very well imagine working and living there permanently one day.
The campus at SDSU is not comparable to mine in Duisburg. The colors, the students, the weather – everything makes your heart skip a beat when you leave the lecture hall after 90 minutes and enter the campus. The ALI is the first point of contact on site.No matter what problems or questions you have, they always try to help you here. I had my difficulties with the American university system until the end. It is more like the school system, the ratio of lecturers to students is like that of teachers to students. Compulsory attendance, weekly tests, homework and intermediate exams require constant diligence. You learn more continuously, but also more superficially. If you work hard, you get good grades – in Germany you also have to master the material for this. In the end, the grades are very benevolent. I took the subjects: Fluid Mechanics, International Economic Problems, Solid Modeling 2 and Control Systems Lab. I was partially lucky with class crashing (I only got into the Int. Econ. Prob. by lottery), but got all the subjects I wanted.
In the end, I remembered everything that I experienced outside of lectures. An exception is the subject surfing, which I took and can only recommend to everyone. For 175 $ you can take surf classes as often as you like for 4 months and perfect the Californian lifestyle.
I fell in love with California and especially Los Angeles. Everything is really as you know it from movies and television. The most lasting impression for me is California as the “Golden State”. In the evening hours, when the sun goes down, the full beauty is revealed. The people at the supermarket checkouts are super relaxed. There is no rush or hurry (you won’t be let in at the checkout if you only have 2 items – why? There’s no time pressure here!). And you are always and everywhere approached by everyone. Small talk is the be-all and end-all for Americans. The typical small talk conversation in Germany, where people moan about the weather being too cold or too hot, doesn’t exist over there. The stories here are always positive – which of course is pretty superficial, but I prefer that – andeveryone is in a good mood.
I could report so much more, but my videos that I shot during that time are more descriptive: www.youtube.com/user/timorinosblog
Anyone considering studying in California should stop hesitating and just go for it. It will be the time of your life!