University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Study type: language courses
In order to improve my English skills and gain experience abroad, I decided to go to the USA in the summer of 2013.
So I applied to the Business English course at San Diego State University. On the one hand, because there are not many universities that offer such a course for a short time (or it is very expensive), on the other hand, San Diego is a great city, which a friend had previously recommended to me. See andyeducation for University of California Berkeley Study Abroad.
The Business English course is part of the overall program IEC (Intensive English for Communication). The sub-course is called BGP (Business for Global Practices). In order to do this, you have to achieve a minimum number of points in the pre-test, i.e. prove an advanced level. This course is divided into Session A and Session B. In total, it is the length of a normal semester. I only took part in the program for 4 weeks and so my program is only called Business English. I still took part in the normal classes like everyone else.
The reason why I only attended for 4 weeks is quite simply that studying in the USA is a very expensive affair. The longer, the more expensive. For me it was all about the experience. So my stay was more than 4 weeks, namely 3 months, during which I traveled.
San Diego State University is really a great university. One notices very quickly that the students identify very much with their university. I’m guessing about 50% (or more?) wear SDSU sweaters/ t-shirts/etc., drink out of SDSU bottles, have SDSU stickers on their cars, etc. on a daily basis. It’s very Mexican in visual style, presumably because San Diego only 30 minutes from the Mexican border;-).
The Business program takes place in the ALI (American Language Institute) building (like the other language courses), which is for international students only. The people here are very accommodating and everything is taken care of. For example, directly opposite is a building for the health of international students (Health Care Center). So if there are problems, you can simply contact them and they will help you, or they will give you tips on where to get medical help. I’ve never been there myself, but that’s how it was explained to us.
There is a wide range of possibilities in every respect:
There are West Commons and East Commons on campus where there are numerous dining options. There should be something for everyone. There is even salad;-) and a supermarket. So you don’t have to eat greasy. There are also ATMs from 4 or 5 different US banks and a bookstore where you can also get all SDSU clothing. There is
also a huge library for all students to study or read or whatever.
There are an incredible number of sports opportunities: as an ALI student (International student) you can use the ARC, the fitness studio, free of charge. There is a lot of equipment there, as well as sports courses, you can play boxing, squash (here it’s called racquetball), volleyball or tennis, etc. There is also an outdoor pool, which is also free
As I think almost all universities are of course also at the SDSU college teams for all kinds of sports. So it’s really worth watching a football game or basketball game of the Aztecs (college team). As a student you get the ticket for free and the games are designed huge. So not comparable to German university teams. The stadiums are packed and huge and the games are even televised. There is plenty of entertainment with cheerleading etc. So you have to see it! : -) Students
can also get cheap tickets to concerts on campus or in San Diego, and concerts like this happen quite often
(In general, you can buy all tickets on campus cheaper with the SDSU student ID. So also San Diego Zoo, Sea World, Universal Studios LA, etc.)
The ALI itself also offers a lot for international students, such as afternoon communication classes, discounted excursions, small celebrations like Halloween and any kind of support
I think there is a lot more, but that’s the most important thing for now
In general, one can say that some Germans study at the SDSU, especially as a normal semester abroad. So it’s impossible not to meet the Germans here;-), which I personally didn’t find that exciting, since you go to the USA to learn English. But that is probably due to the extreme contrast to Germany: lots of sun and a very relaxed lifestyle : -)
At the ALI itself there are not that many Germans who attend the English courses, as I said, most of them do a semester abroad and take part in the university lectures. The ALI is mostly Asian and Arab, but there are also a few other nationalities like Norway, Belgium, Brazil, France, etc. represented.
Outside the university, student life offers a lot. There are numerous clubs downtown that are highly recommended. Among them the Stingaree, the Fluxx or the Bassmnt. Anyone who lives in the college area, as was the case with me (I would also recommend it that way), has the opportunity to take the party bus to these clubs, especially on Thursdays and Fridays. They usually leave the university at around 10 p.m. As a woman you can often ride for free or for little money, sometimes there are even free drinks and entry to the club is included in the price. These party buses have their name rightly so, because the ride is accompanied by party music and lighting effects are also provided. At 2 a.m. they usually drive back to the college area, since the clubs close at this time.
Otherwise, home parties often take place around the university, with beer pong or flip cup, really recommendable and always a lot of fun. You can also party well during the week. On Tuesdays, we recommend the Typhoon in Pacific Beach, where you can get very cheap drinks until midnight. On Thursdays, most people go to the Beachcomber in Mission Beach, because of the discounted drinks until 11pm (then the place is usually full of Germans).
As already mentioned, there are also concerts, sports matches and much more.
Of course, the food doesn’t play an unimportant role either. What I would really recommend for snacking: The Baked Bear (2 cookies of your choice + ice cream of your choice in the middle = cookie sandwich) and Yogurthland (make your own Frozenyogurth) in Pacific Beach. Otherwise Buddies Burgers in the College Area or Pandaexpress in the East Commons. But there are a whole lot more delicacies.
For the sunny days, the most beautiful beach is definitely in La Jolla, with seals and other animals in the wild and rocks.
Pacific Beach is also very nice, I saw live dolphins swimming at the pier there. Ocean Beach is recommended for the sunset (Sunset Cliffs), really incredibly beautiful, in Mission Beach the university offers numerous water sports activities for little money. You can also take surfing as an elective at ALI or anywhere else at the university. There is also Coronado Island across from downtown, also with a beautiful beach.
For exploring the city I recommend Downtown (Gaslamp District with small shops and restaurants, Horton Plaza for shopping, Little Italy for dining, Seaport Village with museums etc.), Balboa Park, Mount Soledad (view over San Diego), the Beaches, etc.
Since the public transport network is not nearly as well developed as in Germany and there are only 3 trolley lines and a few buses, it is really advisable to get together with a few people and rent a car for a short stay, maybe even for a longer stay to buy. Personally, I didn’t have a car and always found it very inconvenient to have to rely on buses and trains. But it can be done if you have patience.
As I said, I would recommend the College Area for living, because you always come downtown to party by bus or, if necessary, with several people and a taxi for $40-50. If you live in the beach area, you definitely need a car to get to the university. There are numerous apartment complexes around the university. You should apply early, but they are not cheap, like almost everything in California.
I personally really liked the course program. You have a few fixed subjects, such as writing, listening, reading, and you can also choose some subjects yourself. For example, I had Business through Video, where films were watched that had to do with business or similar and were carefully analyzed. I also had a presentation class in which presenting projects or presentations was practiced, which I also found very useful. On Fridays you always have electives, where you can choose surfing or other subjects that you like.
Lessons take place every day from 8am-1pm (Fridays, depending on what you choose) with 2 breaks in between. I found that very good as I wasn’t forced to eat at uni and could use the day.
The teachers are all super nice and you address them by their first names. In addition, unlike most Americans, they speak very clearly and understandably (probably because they are used to talking to internationals;-))
I found out about MicroEdu from a friend. Normally one is used to having to pay quite a lot of money for any kind of mediation, so I was very grateful to find something that I didn’t have to pay separately for.
I have to say that the support I received was really excellent, even better than many paid placement companies I have had experience with. A lot of work was done for you, all you really had to do was fill out the forms and MicroEdu made sure they got to the university. If you want to live on campus, you can apply directly and they will take care of it. Even if you want to stay with a host family. Since both were out of the question for me, I took care of my own accommodation. This turned out to be difficult because the semester had already started at the time and most of the apartment complexes were fully booked.
During my stay in the US, MicroEdu had called a number of times to ask if everything was going according to plan and that I could contact them with any kind of problem.
So I can truly say that MicroEdu did an amazing job helping me to have a unique, wonderful experience. I would recommend you anytime.