University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: psychology
Study type: semester abroad
Brief portrait of the host institution:
In August 2017 I traveled to California to complete my semester abroad. I started planning almost a year in advance. Through a friend I heard about the organization MicroEdu, which helps students with applications for stays abroad. So I got in touch with the MicroEdu staff after I had already clarified the most important things at the university. I quickly decided on San Diego State University because it has a very good reputation and everything was perfect for me there from start to finish. See mcat-test-centers for is there an ideal GRE score.
San Diego State University is a public university in central San Diego, California, founded in 1897. It has a huge range of courses and degrees. I was particularly impressed by what the psychological institute had to offer. SDSU’s motto is “Leadership Starts Here” and I quickly realized that the university was very motivated to implement this motto. SDSU is also the fifth largest university in California. With 32,688 students (as of 2016) and 1.15 km², it wasn’t hard to believe. The campus even had its own tram, and since I always walked the distances, you always had to allow enough time to get from building to building.
Working area in host institution:
Although the university is generally very economically oriented, the psychological institute of the SDSU is also very scientifically oriented. I learned that becoming a psychologist can go in different directions even as a university graduate. When a student chooses to do the PhD based on the scientist-practitioner model in psychology, both practice and research are involved. The PSYD specializes according to the “practitioner-scholar model” more for practice than research. Students are prepared early on to choose the direction that interests them the most. I chose two psychology courses and two non-psychology minors. For 15 weeks I attended the lectures and wrote exams and essays, which resulted in my overall grades.
First weeks, formalities such as registration, administrative procedures, etc.:
Even before the first week of lectures, there were introductory events for international students and many opportunities to get to know the university and the city of San Diego. You were taken by the hand in everything and always knew who to turn to if you had any questions. Since the SDSU is very committed to international students, the “American Language Institute” was created for this purpose. I applied to SDSU with the help of MicroEdu and enrolled for six months before I started my semester abroad. You should take care of the visa early enough, but it was not a problem to get the residence permit.
Implementation of the research project:
As already mentioned, I took two psychological courses and two non-psychological minors, all of which could be credited to me at Goethe University. Many courses had a very limited number of participants and the lessons were more formal than I was used to in Germany. In all courses there were two to four exams spread over the semester. There were also additional work assignments, such as essays or research assignments. Even if I only attended lectures, there were often group or individual tasks that were worked on during the lecture period.
Grades were always uploaded directly to the university platform, so you had an early assessment of your overall grade. My psychological courses were called “Introduction to Counseling and Psychotherapy” and “Personnel and Industrial Psychology”and overlapped to a large extent with the in-depth modules “Work and Organizational Psychology” and “Clinical Psychology”, which my fellow students attended at the same time in Frankfurt. The exams consisted of multiple-choice questions and some questions should also be answered with self-formulated sentences. In my clinical course, it was additionally part of the performance to write an essay and an admission report on a fictitious patient. Since I had to write an essay in English for the first time during my studies, this was a major challenge for me, which helped me enormously both linguistically and professionally.
In each of my courses, extra points could be collected if you processed additional orders. This included, for example, supporting research or delving deeper into topics covered in class. Particularly motivated and ambitious students were given the opportunity to improve their final grade a little with diligence.
Libraries and department information, free/restricted choice of courses:
At first I had a little bit of respect for the choice of course because I was told that international students who study as “free movers” at American universities have a hard time choosing a course, as national students are given preference. Accordingly, the voting portals were first opened to all American students before we were given the opportunity to vote. As a result, I was on the waiting list for a long time in some of the courses I wanted and had to wait until the courses had started. My timetable was not fixed until the first week, which I was used to in Germany. However, the lecturers were very open to discussionsand were always willing to make exceptions and let someone who really needed the course still attend. In general, communication with the lecturers was very personal and easy. The procedure for the recognition of academic achievements was quick and easy and didn’t cause me any problems. Since I was finally able to take the courses coordinated with the module coordinators at Goethe University and had also successfully completed them, everything was credited to me. The two other lectures that I attended, “Principles of Advertising” and “Interpersonal Communication”, could be credited to me as the compulsory non-psychological minor.
Travel costs/recommendations, luggage tips, theft warning in certain pubs/regions, international and luggage insurance:
From San Diego you can embark on a wide variety of trips. In addition to camping, national parks, hikes, beaches and other major cities, there is much more represented here. Mexico is also only a stone’s throw away and entering the country involves very little effort. You have to take your I-20 and visa with you and after a few minutes of waiting you can cross the border 24 hours a day. In addition to a full weekend, I also traveled to Mexico with friends for a few days. However, one should be very careful here as the border city of Tijuana is considered to be the most dangerous in all of Mexico. In addition to corrupt taxi drivers, you should always keep both eyes on your bag and not walk around alone.
I’ve always felt safe in San Diego itself. However, the homeless rate here is not low and, as in any city, one should be careful. With regard to health insurance, you should inquire beforehand with your own KV how far this extends abroad. You are automatically insured by the university and can go to the university doctor, but only a little is covered by the insurance. In the case of major accidents or emergencies, it can quickly become expensive. A friend of mine injured his head while surfing and had to pay a very high bill for ambulance, hospital, etc. which luckily was covered by his home insurance.
Student benefits, transportation:
When it comes to transportation in San Diego, there are really only two options: renting your own car or using the “Uber” to travel distances. Although the city has a tram and bus network, the distances here are so great that it takes hours if you use public transport. The university is less than half an hour ‘s drive from the beaches . Many rented a car together and took those who didn’t have one with them. Often, however, a joint “Uber”, a taxi that can be ordered via an app, was called and the costs shared.
There were a few student perks. Students got free entry to all sporting events, such as American football and basketball. In addition, there were generally many discounts on certain days. This includes the “Taco Tuesday”, on which there are discounted tacos in different restaurants. There are special offers in almost all shops on public holidays. Black Friday is particularly recommended for online shopping and the university’s own bookstore, where you can buy more than just books.
As already mentioned, San Diego is ideal for short trips. Since very few university events fall on a Friday, there are good opportunities to go to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite or Joshua Tree national parks over the weekend. In addition to camping, you can also book a tour to Las Vegas, which is about 350 miles away, through “San Diego Entertainments”. A great way to see more of California is to rent a car and drive north on Highway #1. Beaches such as Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Long Beach are worth seeing here. You should also plan stays in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Malibu and Santa Barbara. If you want to go even further north, you shouldn’t miss San Francisco. There are also relatively cheap domestic flights for this purpose.
But I especially enjoyed the weekends in San Diego itself. Trips to one of the different beaches, to Balboa Park or to one of the nearby hiking trails were always great. My favorite beach was Coronado Beach, a small island accessed via a stunning bridge. The downtown harbor and its military base are also worth a visit. In San Diego, Tuesday is our actual Friday. On Taco Tuesday, downtown American Junkies has $5 all-you-can-eat tacos. There you can also spend the evening in large groups. At Pacific Beach there is the “Duck Dive”, where you can celebrate Tuesday evening just as appropriately. If you want to have your palate enchanted at a happy hour with little money, you should appear between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the “Rustic Root” on the roof terrace, an absolute insider tip. If you still haven’t had enough of good food, you should also drop by the “Liberty Public Market”, a market hall with the most delicious and varied dishes. Although I’ve never made it there myself, The Lot is meant to be a stunning cinema.
Since SDSU is a large university, there are many international students from all over the world. Since everyone is very open, it is very easy to meet new and very interesting people. But I’m also very happy to have met a few Americans. I was able to do this mainly by taking part in a beginner’s surfing course, where you could quickly make friends.
The cost of living in San Diego is very high. I lived in a condominium near the university and paid more than $900 a month for a single room in an apartment for six, while a double room cost just under $750 a month. We did eat out from time to time, but as a student, we often cooked at home. However, even the groceries in the supermarket are quite expensive and cannot be compared with the German discounter. You should get a customer card in every supermarket, because you can only get reasonable prices with the discounts. Since you want to take everything with you in San Diego and don’t want to miss anything, you should definitely save up a little beforehand.
I can say after my five months in California I had the time of my life ! I particularly liked the diversity of this beautiful country, that there was so much to do and that everyone was so open. The experiences at the university have helped me professionally and I have made great progress in the English language. I would recommend a semester abroad to anyone who can combine it with their studies. Even if America is not the cheapest alternative, you get the best impressions and a full load of experience abroad.
At first I had serious concerns about coping with the language and the new culture. In the end, it was so easy for me to connect and adjust to life in America. Also, I picked up the language so quickly that it wasn’t long before I was even daydreaming in English. In any case, it was worth all the effort! Thanks again to MicroEdu for the support. Last but not least, I have attached some photos to support my stories with a visual impression.