University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: psychology
Study type: semester abroad
I would like to try to address other things that have not already been mentioned in the many field reports. See liuxers for how to open a bank account in Australia.
2 things that strongly influence the study abroad experience in San Diego:
- Living on campus or in the other parts of the city: I have to say that I was very lucky that another German, whom I already knew from my home place of study, had already been in San Diego for a semester when I arrived and had a room became available with him and I was allowed to move in there. This meant that we lived in an apartment in Ocean Beach, 2 minutes from the sea. Ocean Beach is San Diego’s laid-back “hippy” beach side. It was incredibly great to live there and I was very happy not to live in the dreary campus area. If I hadn’t already had this contact, I probably would have moved to the campus or the campus area, because otherwise it might be difficult to get to know people. The Americans are actually sociable and friendly, However, deeper friendships are rather rare, as I have noticed. On the other hand, I was lucky that I already had (American) friends through my roommate. Having said that, I would really recommend strongly considering living on the beach as it was just gorgeous. I’m very fond of Ocean Beach, but I’m sure Mission Beach and Pacific Beach are great too. Otherwise there is a real danger that you will spend far too much time at and around university and not enough on the beautiful Pacific Ocean
- A disadvantage of living on the beach is, of course, that in addition to the not exactly cheap rents ($1350 for two, but with a huge living room and pool in a secure community), there are also the costs for a car. We rented one, but of course you can also buy one, we paid $350 a month for rent; the gas is dirt cheap. However, everyone I met who lived on campus and didn’t have a car regretted it afterwards because they couldn’t do much. The costs are of course quite high at first, but I think that if you prepare for it beforehand, save money and possibly save money on things like eating out or going on campus and cooking yourself, it’s doable and definitely worth it,
Personally, I’m quite a special case, I think, since I haven’t seen any other report by a psychology student. There, too, I saw few psychology students who tried to crash the courses, especially not in the graduate/master’s course area. That was of course very fortunate, as it meant that I had almost no problems getting into the courses that are credited to me at my home university. Since I’m already in graduate school, I knew I had to attend graduate courses to get credit. However, at the introductory events, the ALI (American Language Institute) strongly advised us not to attend graduate courses because it was too demanding and we would also do it in another language and we shouldn’t overestimate ourselves there, because ALI will have problems later if we get bad grades or fail the courses. This would then damage the reputation of ALI. Maybe I would have let that intimidate me if I hadn’t had a fellow student from my home university who had already attended graduate courses in psychology the previous semester and could tell me what to expect there.
In 721 (Personnel Psychology) I had to send in my transcript and convince the professor that I had the necessary prior knowledge as this was an “advanced” course and everyone else except me in the course (8 in total) had a special preparation course in the previous one semester and I am not the only one. However, my experience was enough for her to allow me to participate. However, the increased workload compared to seminars in Germany far exceeded all my expectations. Nevertheless, it was great fun, I learned an awful lot even if my free time suffered a bit.
In 745 (Advanced Social Psychology) I was lucky because at the time I wrote the professor an email asking if I could participate, someone had just dropped out and he promised me this place. He knew my professor from my home university, which was probably enough for him and he didn’t want to see a transcript.
Since 2 graduate courses were more than enough workload, I took 407 (Health Psychology), an undergraduate course, to get my credits. I also did surfing, which kept me more than busy.
As you can read, I wrote emails to the professors despite being advised against them by the ALI, which was very helpful, since I also had to prepare texts for 721 for the first hour. However, you should probably listen when you apply for one of the mass courses in business administration or something like that, because otherwise the professors get thousands of emails. In psychology, I thought to myself that that wouldn’t be the case and that they wouldn’t be annoyed by my emails.