University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: media studies
Study type: semester abroad
Semester abroad at San Diego State University in California
My studies at the University of Cologne are coming to an end and so I decided to get a taste of foreign life and spend a semester in America. Since I couldn’t find a suitable partner university in North America that would appeal to me, I applied on my own initiative to San Diego State University in California, USA. The winter semester ran from August 23, 2011 to December 17, 2011. See mcat-test-centers for cost of living in Amsterdam.
Why San Diego State University?
Most of the students I met at San Diego State majored in business or economics. With my degree in media studies, I was in the minority, which I consider to be an advantage, since I had very few Germans in my courses. If you come here to improve your language skills, then it is best to meet local people as often as possible, because many international students also do a semester abroad at this university.
In general, SDSU has a very interesting and wide range of courses, which is best viewed on their homepage:
As an international student, you have good local support and a reliable contact person in the American Language Institute.
The campus is beautifully laid out and there you will find everything you need from various shopping facilities, restaurants, sports fields, stadiums, a huge gymnasium, a pool and a very modern library.
If you want to study business administration or economics at SDSU, you have to be patient at the beginning of the semester. The dial-in to the courses works via the so-called course “crashing”. This means that at the beginning of a course you go to the professor personally and ask if there is still a free place. Unfortunately, as an international student you are at the very end and it can happen that you do not get into the courses you want. For all other subjects and for me, as a media studies student, this is not a problem at all.
There are several options for staying in San Diego:
If you want to be as close as possible, move to the University Towers. This is the student residence, however it should be noted that all rooms are double occupancy and there are slightly stricter rules.
You can also move into the Piedra del Sol and the Villa Alvarado Apartments, where you have a little more privacy than in the student residence. The apartments here are also designed for two to four people. It is important to register early as this accommodation seems to be very popular with students.
You also have the option of staying with a host family. I think this opportunity is ideal if you want to speak English continuously and be involved with a family in everyday American life.
Ultimately, of course, you have the option of moving into a shared apartment. I decided to do this because I have had very good experiences with it in Cologne for years. The advantage is that it is usually a bit cheaper than living on campus (although my house was only a 10-minute bike ride away). And the best thing is, of course, that you have people your own age around with whom you can speak English continuously. Another advantage is that the locals know the city very well and can recommend a lot.
The best way to find out about flat shares is online at http: //sandiego.craigslist.org/.
Basically, I have to say that a car makes a lot of sense. I was lucky that most of the time American or other exchange students took me with them, but you are so dependent on other people. If you live close to the uni, I recommend getting a bike, which can also be found cheaply on craigslist.org.
Regarding public transport, unfortunately, it has to be said that there are only 3 tram lines, otherwise you have to take one of the many buses, which is a bit difficult if you want to get from the college area to the beach or downtown, as the journeys are usually up to take an hour.
San Diego Sightseeing
For sightseeing, I recommend the San Diego Zoo first and foremost. It is very practical to buy a membership card, as it is cheaper for students than a simple day ticket. It also gives you entry to the Safari Park, which is just outside of San Diego, but is also worth seeing.
Balboa Park is right next to the zoo. It is ideal for a long walk in the countryside or a picnic. In addition to water features and landscaped gardens, you will also find various museums here, including the Aerospace Museum, Museum of Man and the Natural History Museum. The park is very spacious, so there is a free trolley that comes in handy when you can’t walk everywhere.
Furthermore, you should definitely look at the port, there you could visit the aircraft carrier USS Midway, you get an insight into the accommodations of all ranks, the hospital, the kitchen, the aircraft deck, the prison, the ready rooms and a few other areas.
The Seaport Village, which is also located directly at the port, is also very nice for a trip. The village is nicely decorated with small shops and restaurants. In the summer there are musicians and small concerts that create a certain atmosphere. It’s great for a walk, a little shopping and a small lunch or dinner at the port.
A nice neighborhood downtown San Diego is the Gaslamp Quarter. As the name suggests, this is a historic district made famous by gas lamps. The restored houses are worth a look during the day, otherwise people go there mostly in the evening since it is San Diego’s nightlife district. San Diego has some beautiful beaches to offer, including Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and Coronado Beach, which is a small island and can be reached via the Coronado Bridge. Many students have looked for a shared apartment on the beach, these are usually more expensive and you should not do without a car to get to the university. However, if you like surfing or would like to learn how to surf, this is of course the right place for you.
Sightseeing outside of San Diego
San Diego is geographically very convenient, so many students take the opportunity for a road trip. You can also be lucky in terms of price with domestic flights, for example via http: //www.southwest.com. We definitely recommend San Francisco, which is about an 8-9 hour drive away (there are also cheap domestic flights, the flight time is just over an hour). Driving along the coast has the ideal road trip as you pass many great cities including Los Angeles which is just 2 hours north of San Diego. There you should not miss the Hollywood Hills, Beverly Hills and Universal Studios.
Highly recommended, especially at night is Las Vegas, which is about a 5-hour drive away. At night, the Strip offers a great sea of lights, which is framed on the right and left by the most famous hotels. The fountains in front of the Bellagio Hotel, accompanied by music, are particularly beautiful.
While you’re on your way, don’t miss the Grand Canyon. This is another 4 hour drive from Las Vegas. From personal experience, I recommend not just taking a day to go to the viewpoints, but staying 1-2 nights, (if you book early the hotels are very cheap, plus you can rent rooms too four) so that you can go on a hike. There are different lengths of routes, we took the shortest hike to Cedar Bridge, which is about 3 miles in total. So you really see the innermost part of the Grand Canyon, the view of so much nature is breathtaking.
San Diego State differs from our German university in that it does not place high priority on scientific work in many subjects (e.g. homework and presentations), but experience has shown that you have a little more to do with homework and group projects during the semester. However, the courses were very interesting for me and I had fun.
San Diego is the ideal city if you would like to combine everyday student life with a holiday feeling. The consistently sunny weather and beaches provide the perfect place for relaxation and leisure activities. It’s also in a great geographical location, so you can still go on a road trip on the weekends or after the semester. In general, you can make a lot of contacts very quickly and get to know the American lifestyle.
In summary, I can only emphasize once again that a semester abroad is very worthwhile, in every respect. You collect a lot of great experiences that contribute to your own personality as well as to your education.
With this in mind, I would like to encourage you to apply in any case : )