University: San Diego State University
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Chemistry
Study type: semester abroad
Hi, my name is Kay M. and I am now in my 4th semester of the master’s degree in chemistry at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. I spent the second half of 2016 in San Diego, Southern California, where I completed a research internship in organic chemistry. See liuxers for how to open a bank account in Italy.
I always wanted to go to America to get to know the country and people there and to improve my language skills. About a year before I left, I wrote an application to one of the professors at San Diego State University, asking to be an intern in his lab and do research. He quickly said yes to me.
First, I clarified with a professor from the HHU whether the possibility of recognition of a research internship carried out abroad is generally guaranteed. He said yes to me, so towards the end of 2015 I applied to San Diego State University with the help of MicroEdu.
At the beginning of 2016, I was accepted by the American university. Next, I had to travel to the American Consulate General in Frankfurt am Main for the required F1 visa and apply for it there. After receiving the visa, I arranged an apartment on the SDSU campus and booked the flights. On the subject of looking for an apartment: I was written to in May 2016 by an SDSU employee who was responsible for international students and asked if I wanted to move into one of the apartments directly on campus. I gladly accepted the offer.
At the beginning of August 2016 I flew from Düsseldorf to the States. I’ve never been to the States myself, so I was very surprised that the Atlanta airport takes you from gate to gate by subway, as the distances are simply too great. After a very short stay we flew on to San Diego. Since I already had to attend introductory events (general information events) in mid-August, but was only able to move into my apartment at the end of August, I initially lived in a motel and used the first few days to settle down a bit in San Diego and to make initial contacts tie.
Shortly after arriving, I spoke personally for the first time with the professor who was to supervise my research internship. The planned research internship should last the entire winter semester of 2016 and deliver 6 credits (study credits). But since I had to collect 9 credits per semester as a foreign master’s student at SDSU, I looked for another course locally. MicroEdu informed me several times in advance that I had no guarantee of receiving the courses I wanted. In my case, however, it didn’t matter because I had already secured the internship and only had to choose a single course on site. Choosing a course locally, I easily enrolled in a graduate course in physical chemistry. Back in Düsseldorf, my home professors recognized my research internship so that I didn’t lose a semester. All in all, everything worked smoothly.
The apartment I stayed in on campus was a 4 person apartment with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, living room and balcony. I was lucky with my roommates. I shared my room with a fellow student from Düsseldorf who was doing the research internship with me. The other room was occupied by two Chinese who were really very friendly and tidy. There were no cultural problems at this point. The apartment cost $3200 per person for 4 months. Although this is quite expensive, San Diego is generally an expensive place.
Luckily, working in an English-only working group and the fact that my flatmates were Chinese forced me to speak English all the time. This was difficult for me at first, but got better and better over time.
In addition to working in the laboratory and attending the evening lectures, I traveled extensively and made extensive use of the free time programs offered on campus. In addition to going to the fitness studio and the bowling alley, as a passionate swimmer I really enjoyed going to the university’s outdoor pool. Since I lived directly on campus with many other international students, it was easy for me to make social contacts quickly. After work, I regularly went bowling/billiards with my roommates in the laboratory, or we cooked together and played cards.
I also took a beginner’s surfing course, which was a lot of fun at first. But as the temperatures got colder and colder, it became more and more difficult for me to take part in the course. Unlike at German universities, university sports in the USAare followed with great interest. SDSU has an excellent football and basketball team. As a student at SDSU, I was able to get free tickets to the games being played in San Diego. I attended almost every home game of the “Aztecs”. I particularly liked the “warm-up” before the actual game. For example, a big celebration was held in the parking lot in front of the football stadium before each game to get in the mood for the game. This so-called “tail gating” was also a wonderful opportunity to meet new people.
Halloween was just around the corner at the end of October. Unlike in Germany, Halloween is celebrated in a big way in the USA. The entire week before October 31st. Halloween celebrations took place and costumed figures were seen walking around every day – comparable to the Rhineland carnival.
Presidential elections were held in the United States in November. It was interesting to follow the election campaign and the election itself live. After the election result was known, there was some rioting and many of my American friends were dissatisfied with the outcome of the election.
Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed with the way Americans celebrated Christmas and the New Year. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any decorated houses during the Advent season and the general mood wasn’t exactly festive either. At this point I really missed the German Christmas markets. I didn’t see any fireworks on New Year’s Eve and there was almost no one out on the streets at midnight.
Besides San Diego, I got to know Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, the Grand Canyon and Maui. I found it extremely exciting to see these places, which are otherwise only known from television, in real life. I found Las Vegas particularly impressive, where I celebrated the birthday of a German I met there.
In summary, I had a lot of fun at San Diego State University, met a lot of new people and improved my language skills significantly. My work at the SDSU also helped me professionally and since the semester abroad was fully recognized, I did n’t lose any valuable study time.
The entire semester was very expensive, but considering what it did for me professionally and socially, it was totally worth it! I can only recommend a semester at SDSU from my side. If anyone has any questions about my stay, don’t hesitate to write to me.