University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
After I toyed with the idea of spending a semester abroad for the first time, I looked it up on the homepage of my home university and attended various information events. The alternative to a partner university of your own university is to go abroad as a “free mover”. See liuxers for how to open a bank account in New Zealand.
The next step for me was MicroEdu. In addition to support with the application process, I also received information in advance that made it easier for me to choose the university and then later to start my studies abroad. The friendly staff at CoCo told me which documents ( Transcript of Records, DAAD language certificate ) I had to collect. I then sent this to the German office and it was then forwarded by the team to the SDSU in America. It was really easy and worked very well.
choice of university
So where should it go? For me, the decisive selection criteria were the English language, warm climate and feedback from students from previous years. That’s why I chose San Diego State University in southern California. The SDSU offers optimal courses for my main areas of focus: management in SMEs and marketing. It was important to me to continue my professional training in addition to linguistic and personal development. SDSU has a large number of internationals among nearly 34,000 enrolled students. That promised me a semester at a large university with many nationalities and plenty of variety.
The first choice of course was already pending for me in Germany via an online procedure. You can see an overview of the courses with course descriptions (syllabus) and then submit a priority list. Of these, I was then guaranteed places in two courses. In the first few days on site, the further courses will then be selected in a joint event with all other internationals. It should be noted that a distinction is made between on-campus courses and special sessions. On-campus courses are the normal courses and Americans take precedence. In the special sessions, only international students are in the courses. Both are quantitatively limited. This means you can take the risk of enrolling in or not enrolling in the on-campus courses on the day you choose the course. to be put on the waiting list – there are often still a few places available in the courses in the first two weeks of the semester – or you can opt for the safer variant of the special sessions. However, it can also happen that on the day of the course selection, too many international students come before you and your favorites are already full. At SDSU, the American Language Institute (ALI) is responsible for international students. Spencer Hom is the ALI employee responsible for us and is always available for questions and accompanies the process of your choice of course. that on the day of the course selection, too many international students come before you and your favorites are already full. At SDSU, the American Language Institute (ALI) is responsible for international students. Spencer Hom is the ALI employee responsible for us and is always available for questions and accompanies the process of your choice of course. that on the day of the course selection, too many international students come before you and your favorites are already full. At SDSU, the American Language Institute (ALI) is responsible for international students. Spencer Hom is the ALI employee responsible for us and is always available for questions and accompanies the process of your choice of course.
It makes sense to read the syllabi carefully while you are still in Germany. The courses are sorted by level with numbers from 300 upwards. However, a course with a higher number does not necessarily mean more effort – so note the requirements in the syllabi. In addition to the two exam periods (“Midterms” in October and “Final Exams” in December), there are also a number of other services that must be provided. Readings are required in every subject and I often had group work, projects, presentations, term papers and case studies.
Some courses in the areas of marketing and management are offered in the special sessions. After choosing the course I was more or less satisfied. I didn’t get a course that I would have liked. Ultimately, however, I liked the course I took instead best. I decided to take four courses with a total of 13 units. ATTENTION: The Marketing course (MKTG) I chose has 4 units – since only 12 units are included in the tuition, I had to buy an additional unit for about $250.
MKTG 377, Selling Strategies and Practices, D McGinley, 4 Units
This course is divided into two parts, dealing with general information about sales (B2B) and the final presentation. That is why the second part has always been related to practice. You should always read a chapter in the associated book for the next lecture and there was an exam as a midterm as well as a final exam. The lecturer is very nice, speaks very clearly and often repeats information. That made it a lot easier for me to follow the lecture, especially at the beginning. I can only recommend this lecture and would choose it again.
MGT 460, Business Plan Development, K. King, 3 Units
In addition to two readings, you also have to read various articles every week, the content of which is not really discussed in the lecture. This lecturer builds her lecture with presentations, case studies and guest lecturers. It’s about gradually understanding the Business Model Canvas and applying it to your own group project. Group meetings and preparation of various presentations take place outside of the lecture period. Unfortunately, for what was by far the most effort, I learned the least from this course and would not choose this course again.
MGT 475, Leadership in Organizations, M. Nicholson, 3 Units
The title of this course reminded me a lot of the “Organization and Leadership” lecture that we had at Ostfalia. For this reason, I didn’t actually want to take this course and then only chose it because I couldn’t get into another one. Lucky for me! Ultimately, this was my favorite course. Some of the content was similar to our lecture in Germany, but the approach was completely different. We also learned a lot about ourselves and we looked at the topic of leadership from a different perspective. That was a very useful addition to my studies in Germany and I wouldn’t want to do without it either. In addition, the topic of cultural differences becomes really tangible in a semester abroad.
MGT 358, Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship, T Orlando, 3 Units
The lecturer in this lecture is very warm and easygoing, but also demands commitment from each student. He has no script or a presentation but talks to the students about the topic or invites guest speakers and then lets them discuss. Since Mr. Orlando speaks very quickly and has an accent that I couldn’t understand very well at first, it was difficult for me to follow this lecture at first. Despite that, I enjoyed it and got better and better at it over time. I would choose this course again.
When it comes to living in San Diego, you initially have to decide between being close to the beach or being close to the university. There are various residential complexes in the college area, in which mainly students live and the university can be reached on foot or by shuttle. If you decide to live near the beach, you have to put up with the approximately 15-minute drive to the university – in return you can quickly reach the sea and the restaurants and bars in “Pacific Beach”. The locations do not differ much in price.
I decided to live on the beach and joined a few Facebook groups about living in San Diego or international students at SDSU. Exactly the same was exchanged in the MicroEdu group on Facebook and then I found 3 of my roommates. One of my roommates was already in contact with a landlady through a student from last year. On site we then looked at the apartment in a house on Mission Beach and decided on it. The last two roommates found each other through further ads in groups on Facebook and we moved in together without really knowing each other personally.
In our shared apartment there were three Germans, one Austrian, one Swede and one Norwegian with me. It was culture shock through and through and I was fortunate to not only get to know American culture but also the various Scandinavian cultures. I would like to recommend everyone not only to live with other Germans. This is of course familiar and gives a kind of security, but the English language will not improve as a result. Moving in with complete strangers is definitely a challenge, exciting and has also allowed me to grow personally.
A semester abroad in the USA involves considerable costs for a student as a free mover. However, there are various contact points to be able to handle the financial burden. I would definitely recommend checking whether you are eligible for foreign BAföG. In addition to a flat rate for flight and study materials, there is also a considerable monthly support. In addition, a partial scholarship can make a small financial difference.
The biggest financial expense of studying at SDSU is tuition. These increase from year to year and make up almost half of the total costs. There are also some things you can save on, but you should expect a budget of between €15,000 and €20,000. Booking both flights together definitely saves some money, but you are no longer flexible and can no longer change your travel plans without additional costs for rebooking flights. The costs for travel and free time are definitely individual and variable, but consider: You don’t normally go to California or the USA in general that often !
Freedom, football, friendliness, fast food – these are typical thoughts that have always come to mind when I think of the USA. Some stereotypes have been confirmed for me, but I have also noticed many differences and some have surprised me. A real culture shock, even though I really didn’t believe it.
Many people find the “superficial” friendliness of Americans negative. But I was always happy to exchange a few words with the lecturers, service staff or supermarket salespeople. A nice conversation, a compliment or a smile are such nice gestures and bring joy. I will try to implement this openness in Germany as well. The same goes for the laid-back Californian way of life, not taking things too seriously and being more relaxed. A middle ground between that and our typical German habits is ideal for me.
Of course, fast food and football are also typically American ! While I’ll probably never be the ultimate football fan, it’s a great experience to see the varsity team play a few times. The atmosphere is just great and for the game everyone is an “Aztec” and part of the team!
California has a lot to offer in terms of landscape. There is everything from ski resorts to beaches to great cities and small coastal towns! I’ve explored a lot around San Diego in my time and have been to Tijuana, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Driving south from San Francisco back to San Diego offers a great route for a road trip right up the coast (Highway 1).
Advantages of a semester abroad
I am really happy that I made the decision to go abroad for a semester and I can only recommend it! The semester helped me professionally and I also learned a lot personally.
I have definitely improved my language skills. Before the semester abroad, I was rather weak in English. It takes a certain amount of time to get used to, but little by little the words come naturally and you no longer have to think about the sentence structure. The friendship with non-German-speaking fellow students definitely contributed a lot.
Not only dealing with Americans helped me to make cultural experiences. There were a few Scandinavians in my courses and in my close circle of friends. They often have the same opinions, values and approaches as we Germans. Nevertheless, it helped me to get a different, broader perspective on some things.
It takes a bit of courage to start the semester all by yourself, but I have the feeling that nothing can unsettle me so quickly after the semester. There are many things that you have to do that you are on your own and that you are responsible for. That only makes the personality grow. On the way I met a lot of great people and developed friendships. However, I also met people I didn’t get along with very well and with whom I had to deal. In the process, I learned to say clearly what I wanted and to stand by my opinion. I’m really incredibly happy to have dared to take this step and would do it again and again!