University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Business administration, economics, international business administration, organization and management
Study type: semester abroad
San Diego State University is just outside of town. To get to the city or to the beach you need about 20 minutes by car. The area of the university is called “College Area”. There are countless shops and many restaurants. See liuxers for Australia higher education.
There are approximately 35,000 students at SDSU, with a large proportion of international students. The university is also very popular with European students. Students at the University of St. Gallen (HSG) are registered in the ALI (American Language Institute) program. This allows you to make acquaintances with the many exchange students.
The ALI (American Language Institute) is the support service which, among other things, is responsible for the HSG students. I have to say that the willingness to help is lacking. In the course of my course selection, I asked the institute for help to get my desired courses. In response to my query, the representative said, “Prepare for the worst.” Other students also had problems.
The university campus is huge and also very well equipped: fitness (open 24/7), library with computer (open 24/7), soccer fields, other sports fields, water sports, jacuzzi and even a small bowling hall.
HSG students are usually enrolled in SDSU’s Business Courses program . You have the opportunity to take courses from the core areas. These include Accounting (ACCTG), Business Administration (BA), Finance (FIN), Management (MGT), Management Information Systems (MIS) and Marketing (MKTG).
In addition, ALI students must attend at least two so-called “Special Sessions”. Special Sessions are courses that can only be taken by exchange students in the ALI program (although it later turned out that regular SDSU students could also take these courses). Normally only exchange students are assigned to these courses, so if you want to make American acquaintances I would recommend avoiding these courses. Although at least two of these courses must be taken, you can submit a request to drop these courses (which has been approved in many cases). In addition to the special sessions, there are “open university” courses, which include all other courses at the university, for exampleMacro 2 (ECON 320) or Micro 2 (ECON 321).
Course selection is rather tedious, SDSU regular students have priority over ALI students on waiting lists. Furthermore, students in specific faculties can take their specialist courses earlier. The date for the course selection of the Open University Courses is communicated in the introductory week, course selection usually takes place at midnight one week before the start of the course and follows the “first come, first serve” principle. It can therefore be recommended that you sit down in front of the computer at midnight. Personally, I had trouble getting a seat in Micro 2 (ECON 321) and Macro 2 (ECON 320). After two weeks on the waiting list and regular discussions with the lecturers, I managed to get my courses.
Culture Worlds (6 ECTS, GEOG 312)
- Lecturer: Dr. Alan Osborn
- Grade: A
- Effort: low
The course can be credited as a Reko at the HSG. It is a geography course, you look at all the continents of the world and learn exciting facts about the respective regions. The lecturer is entertaining and has a good sense of humor that is rarely found in Switzerland. Unfortunately, the lecturer had a few medical incidents during the semester, resulting in a few hours being lost. The grade consists of four very easy online tests, four essays and three exams.
Overall, the course builds up general knowledge and is therefore also recommended.
Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship (6 ECTS, MGT 358)
- Instructor: Tanya Hertz
- Grade: A
- Effort: Medium
The course is a special session of the SDSU and can be credited as a compulsory elective at the HSG. The lecturer is very helpful and ambitious. Entrepreneurship is the core topic of the course, as the title already suggests. In addition to theory lessons, the group works on a pitch and guest speakers come regularly. The content and guest speakers were interesting and showed the similarities and differences between American entrepreneurship and that of Switzerlandon. I can only recommend the course to students who are interested in this topic, especially if students are also interested in starting their own business. The lecturer provides ample information and support for these students. The grade consists of attendance at the course (minus points if missing more than once), a short interview paper with an entrepreneur, attendance at an entrepreneurship event, the pitch and three exams. In addition, we have been allowed to earn bonus points by participating in up to two additional events.
Intermediate Macroeconomics (6 ECTS, ECON 320)
- Instructor: Scott Kolman
- Grade: A
- Effort: high
This course can be credited as Makro 2. From my personal point of view, the course was the most exciting. The lecturer can convey the content well and also discusses current events in the US economy. He also shows interest in the European economic area and regularly gets into conversation with exchange students. The grade consists of an online quiz, online homework (both every week), small group work on an article from a business newspaper and three exams.
Intermediate Microeconomics (6 ECTS, ECON 321)
- Instructor: Ronald Shadbegian
- Grade: A
- Effort: high
This course can be credited as Micro 2. The professor designed the lessons with a strong focus on mathematics, sometimes the connection to reality was somewhat missing. However, the course builds well on the material from Micro 1. The professor gives homework every week, and there was a quiz every hour to check it. Because of this, the course was very time consuming (a minimum of four hours a week I would allow for homework and preparation for the quiz). The grade consisted of the weekly tests and two exams.
Introduction to Operations and Supply Chain Management (6 ECTS, BA 360)
- Instructor: Y Helio Yang
- Grade: A
- Effort: high
This course is a special session course. The course shows many parallels with the IMT course at the HSG. With a lot of diligence you can get a good grade here. In every exam you can take a so-called cheat sheet with you, where you can write down everything you want (e.g. formulas, etc.) and then use it as a cheat during the exam. The exams are multiple choice. At times it was tiring to listen carefully to the lecturer as the lessons lasted 2h 45min with a 15 minute break in between. Overall, however, you could learn a lot in this course, such as forecasting, which you could apply directly in the world of work.
Before the exchange
Registering at the university is quite easy with MicroEdu. The staff will give you the necessary documents for registration. The service is free. The requirements for the semester abroad at SDSU should normally be met, you just have to provide proof of English language proficiency. A TOEFL with 80 points or another language certificate is sufficient.
After registering via MicroEdu, it is your turn to obtain the F1 visa. After successful registration, the SDSU will send you an I-20 document with which you can make an appointment at the US Embassy in Bern. The appointment at the US Embassy should not be a problem as long as the desired documents are available.
I then traveled to the USA two weeks before the start of university to tour the west coast of California.
San Diego – United States
San Diego is one of the most beautiful cities on the west coast of California, with beautiful weather, many beaches and a big city feel. Activities in San Diego are plentiful, I recommend trying the different beaches (Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, Coronado Beach and La Jolla), watching the sunset at the Sunset Cliffs, exploring downtown San Diego and visiting the aircraft carrier “USS Midway”..
After a few weeks, you’ll know San Diego pretty well and will want to visit other cities and towns. With a car you can travel very well from San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco and countless national parks are among the most popular travel destinations. My personal favorite was Sequoia National Park. In addition, you can also visit other cities in the USA or Canada, for example, flights to New York, Toronto and Seattle are quite cheap, so I also used these services.
A fellow student stayed at BLVD63 near the university but would not recommend this accommodation. In the run-up to the registration, the well-equipped apartment complex was advertised, including a pool, outdoor grills, a gym and even a jacuzzi. However, the condition of the equipment left a lot to be desired, grills were unusable, the jacuzzi was dirty and the fitness room was completely run down. The only advantage was the proximity to the university. Luckily, there are plenty of other locations to live in, so he recommends looking into Pacific Beach.
I, on the other hand, lived in a house with other students. I had rented a shared room through roommatehero.com and the landlord was completely uncomplicated. The house was a six minute walk from SDSU. Because I attended five courses and was therefore not infrequently at the university, the location was excellent for me. We were six students in the house. We were able to share a car, cooked together and exchanged views on college matters. Our garden was huge, the rooms were ok and we had a TV with Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime in the living room. There were also many houses in the area that were inhabited by students. As a result, home parties were the order of the week.
San Diego is certainly one of the most expensive exchange semesters. The semester fee is around USD 7000, which is rather low for American universities. The price of accommodation can range from USD 800 to USD 1200, but it will certainly be more expensive than in St. Gallen. The cost of living is similar to Switzerland, but I would still expect more as you will be traveling a lot. The total budget will be around USD 25,000 to USD 30,000.
We transferred the rent using “Transferwise”, the service is free and is suitable for avoiding transaction costs. In addition, I recommend opening an account with “Revolut” for the semester abroad, so you can avoid conversion fees and save a lot of money.
Overall, one can say that the exchange in San Diego was a very instructive and exciting experience. The American school system takes some getting used to. Compared to the HSG, I would describe it as paternalistic because you have far less freedom in shaping your own learning process. Rather, the HSG is based on personal responsibility and is therefore strongly preferred by me.