University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Business administration, organization and leadership
Study type: semester abroad
After it was clear where I was headed, namely at San Diego State University, I looked for a suitable organization that would help me with the application and placement. San Diego State University is not a partner university of the University of Bremen, so I had to organize the semester abroad myself as a ” free mover “. That’s why it was very important for me to find a suitable organization that would help me with the entire application process, since the documents to be submitted and all the documents needed for trouble-free entry into the USA is certainly not an easy process. After doing some research on the internet about organizations and friends and acquaintances, I decided on MicroEdu. MicroEdu provides instructions for each individual application step and also checks all submitted documents before they are sent to the target university. All other information about the entire semester, be it information on insurance, accommodation, opening a bank account in the USA or even simple information such as the best offers for a mobile contract, was provided by MicroEdu. See andyeducation for University of California Santa Barbara Study Abroad.
The first contact with the organization should be made about four months before the start of the semester. The MicroEdu staff can be reached both by telephone and e-mail throughout the application process and will answer any question in a very friendly and detailed manner. The application deadlines vary. Depending on whether you are in the “spring” or “fall” semester, there are different application deadlines. MicroEdu communicates these deadlines very clearly and notifies applicants near the end of the paper submission window. Finally, MicroEdu checks all the application documents sent to avoid any problems.
A lot of documentation was required. There were documents that were very easy to obtain, but there were also documents that took more time and organization. The following documents are required for the application to the SDSU:
- Application form
- Language certificate B2
- Transcript of Records
- Proof of Funding
- Bachelor certificate
- Course wish list
- Motivation letter
The proof of financing is by far the most cumbersome document. It is a confirmation from your own bank that shows that a sum X (about 10,500 euros) is available in your own account or that person X vouches for you personally. For this letter from the bank, you should know in advance how to deal with it so as not to influence the process of applying and obtaining the visa.
Formalities in the host country
To enter the USA, you need an F1 visa, which applies to students. From the preparation to receiving the visa, MicroEdu supports the applicants at every step and gives very clear instructions on what to do and how, so this was also done without any problems.
In addition, there were no special formalities in the host country. All I had to do was take my I-20 to the American Language Institute (ALI) to have it signed there. This was only necessary to avoid problems with police checks if, for example, you wanted to re-enter the USA from Mexico. The I-20 had to be shown repeatedly when entering the USA.
General information on the partner university
The SDSU campus is very large and has a wide range of sports activities. Students have access to a gym, surf lessons, free soccer fields, free outdoor pool, and free bowling center, so there is plenty to do at the university during free time or on a day off. There are also many shops and a large library where you can study in peace for the exams. There is no canteen at the SDSU like in Germany. Instead, there are numerous fast food restaurants and cafes both inside and outside the university.
Before the semester begins, there is an orientation week designed to provide an insight into academic life in the United States. A city tour is also offered during this week, where you can explore the city yourself. It is important to attend the orientation week as it explains exactly how to register for each course and who to contact if you have any questions.
Course selection, course offerings and restrictions for exchange students
As a master’s student, you can take nine units, which corresponds to three courses. If you want to take more courses, you have to pay for it. During the orientation week we learned that the exchange students can only register online for the respective courses once the American students have already registered for the courses. The problem here was that it could mean you didn’t get any of the courses you actually wanted to take. I myself had to take courses in business administration. Especially in this area it was very difficult to get the courses, which one wanted, since most of the courses were already fully booked. But I found out through fellow American students that things should be different in the “fall semester”. There is probably the so-called “class crashing”, where you ask the respective professor on the first day of class whether there is still a place available in the course and whether you can register for the course.
Compared to Germany, you can say that in America you have to spend significantly more time on the courses. A course includes, for example, three final exams, weekly tests after each lecture, several individual and group presentations and several small homework assignments. However, it should be mentioned that the exams are in multiple choice format. In addition, exchange students were allowed to use a dictionary in the exam. Professors were always helpful if there were further questions about understanding the language during the exam.
Most students live either near the beach or in the direct vicinity of the university. I wanted to live near the university. MicroEdu also assists students with finding housing and offers some accommodations via email after successful admission to SDSU. Personally, I would not recommend this because the apartments are mostly a bit older and almost all apartments that are offered have a shared bathroom. For the same price (between $850-$1200) there is a housing estate built more for students. There are different room types, such as single rooms(between 850 and 1150 dollars), double rooms (between 700 and 1400 dollars) or even your very own apartment (1800 dollars). The apartments are very modern and equipped with furniture. All you need is bedding and other personal items, which you can easily buy from nearby IKEA. The apartments are also very close to the campus (15 minutes walk). If you don’t want to walk, buses run to and from SDSU every 15 minutes every working day. The rooms can be rented via the website of the apartment complex “www.blvd63.com” or through Facebook groups such as “BLVD63 Community” and “BLVD63 Residents”.
In order to finance my stay abroad, I first applied for foreign BAföG. You should submit the application six months before the start of your studies, as the application takes a long time to process and you have to collect a lot of documents. This is the only way to ensure that everything is completed on time and that you don’t have to advance everything. You can find out more about this from the BAföG office in Bremen, but you will be forwarded to the Studierendenwerk Hamburg, as they are responsible for the USA. Through the information events at the university, I also found out before my stay abroad that the PROMOScan be funded even if you already receive BAföG. I wasn’t familiar with that combination before.
What is to be avoided?
In California, marijuana consumption is legal, but this is not tolerated on campus. It is therefore strictly discouraged. In addition, professors will expressly inform you before the exams that if you attempt to cheat, the exam will be assessed as failed and a return trip to Germany may follow, since the professors are obliged to report fraud and students will have their visas revoked after such an incident.
After the end of the semester, the SDSU sends a certified PDF file with the completed courses with the application for the Transcript of Records within 24 hours after the application. The document contains the exact title of the course, the grades and the overall average for the semester.
The recognition will take place very easily and without any problems due to the prior clarification with the International Office (Learning Agreement). Before the semester, you have to fill out a Learning Agreement from the University of Bremen and clarify the courses you want to choose with the respective international representative in advance, so that everything runs smoothly in the end and the courses are 100 percent credited.
Through the semester abroad, I was able to make new contacts and thus build a new community. For this, however, it is also necessary to exchange ideas openly and actively with the students. This is not so easy even for open-minded personalities. Only by getting to know the different cultures does it become much more pleasant to deal with.
In addition, financial planning is now particularly important. Because of the semester and the high costs in the USA, I simply had to learn better how to deal with costs.
The greatest added value that this study abroad brings me is above all the command of the English language, which is expected by many international companies these days. In addition, the USA appeals to me as a target country, particularly because of its enormous size and the wide variety of cultures. Due to my voluntary commitment as a dialogue officer for intercultural and interreligious cooperation, the USA, through its diversity, offers me a place where I can develop myself personally and learn something new by getting to know new cultures and customs. I hope this will have a positive impact on my volunteer work. I also sense the opportunity to make new contacts with professors, who may work in a practical way, in order hopefully to enter international professional life in the USA in the future.
Specifically, I applied to SDSU because of the modules I selected. These include a deepening of my previous modules in the master’s program, because at the University of Bremen the modules in the field of logistics were kept rather general. This gives me the opportunity to take my know-how to the next level within my specialization.
In itself, the experiences I was able to gain here have little effect on my further studies. Career considerations, on the other hand, are now quite internationally oriented. During the semester abroad I got to know many new students from different countries with different ideas and goals. This then awakens a new perspective on the world of work through one or the other meeting with different people. In Germany, I was generally only interested in German companies, but the discussions among the students brought to the fore some new foreign-based companies and professions that are rather unusual in Germany. That’s why I also think that my life planning has changed so much that I now see myself abroad againin a few years, this time for work.