University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Business Administration, Psychology, Human Resources
Study type: semester abroad
Semester at SDSU:
You will not get the tuition fees back. But you can apply for foreign student loans. Some German friends had that. See act-test-centers for UCSD Study Abroad.
Yes, the Germans… you will definitely meet them there on campus and in all good clubs! In my semester there were around 300 Germans. If you only want to meet Americans, you have to go to another university or to another city because you also meet a lot of Germans from other universities in San Diego. But I also have to be honest, if you are a very ambitious student who wants to study at a well-known university in the USA…then SDUS is not really suitable. It’s a party university and so is the reputation (at least in California).
As a Semester at SDSU student, you can take 4 to 5 courses and still have plenty of free time. Unfortunately, you have to “crash” the courses at the beginning, although as an international student you pay more tuition fees than US students. I was pretty lucky and got courses relatively easily, some friends of mine had very big problems, especially if you study business administration. The best thing to do in the first two weeks is to go to every course that might be of interest and try to get a confirmation of admission. If you have a choice later, you can also cancel superfluous courses. Unfortunately, I made the big mistake and took the ALI Management and Organizational Behavior course for international students. The level of the course was not high and one had the feeling you are sitting in a basic course lecture in Germany (since international students = Germans), which is held in English. In addition, the lecturer was not a native speaker. I also took an oral course from ALI. Here, too, the level is too low if you have already achieved the required Toefl points, so it is better to only take university courses!
The support in Germany by MicroEdu worked very well and you get a lot of tips before you start your journey. Here are a few “insiders” about me:
The “German flood” was the only “negative point” in San Diego…I really had a great time! Especially the weather and the great places in California and the proximity to Vegas are pluses.
I stayed at The Diplomate Apartment on Montezuma Road (15 min walk to the lecture hall). It is a student apartment complex and there is a free shuttle to and from campus.
In SD there is public transport (trolley and bus) but since my roommates had a car, I used them. If you drive to the university, you can buy a parking permit ($145 for a semester I think).
I opened an account with Bank of America, so the money is safe there, even despite the financial crisis. You need your passport and visa (with all forms) to open an account. You can just go to a branch, you don’t need an appointment. It would be good if you already have an address and a local hand number, but at first I only had the university as a contact person. It is best to tell them that you only want to do online banking, you can create an account directly with the bank employee. The biggest advantage is that you don’t get any mail/bank statements at home, it’s safer because the American mail is rather unreliable and/or you don’t have your own mailbox and your bank statements then fly around somewhere.
As a BoA customer you get a Visa card free of charge, which you can use as an EC card and as a credit card (but without a credit line). You can pay in stores for free and withdraw and deposit money at all Bank of America ATMs for free. If you use an ATM from another bank, it usually costs $3 fees. If you want to withdraw money with your German EC card, it also costs $3 but only $2 at the BoA ATM on the SDSU campus : )
At net10 there is a pre-paid system without a contract. The downside is that minutes are also deducted when you receive a call or text message and you cannot call a number outside of the US, but you can call from abroad. If you make a lot of calls (also to Germany) get a flat rate from t-mobile (also prepaid, no contract) then you can also call DE and have your German contract blocked for the duration of the semester.
Downtown SD has the fancier clubs, but they also usually cost admission. You should always plan ahead where you want to go and call the club by 6pm to be put on the guest list. Then you usually only have to pay less/or no entrance fee and can queue up in the VIP queue. Cool clubs in the Gaslamp District Downtown are the Stingeree, Envy Club, Hard Rock Hotel and Voyer.
Pacific Beach (PB) also has cool bars and clubs. On Tuesdays, don’t miss the Taco Tuesday parties with great tacos and magaritas specials at Fred’s, Taifun, PB Bar & Grill. On Thursdays you can go to PB in Bar West and on Sundays you can watch football at eg the Shore Club right on the PB Pier.
ID: In California, ID checks are very strict in clubs and bars. You must ALWAYS take your ID with you! The best thing is your travel document (they actually accept it everywhere) or possibly your German driver’s license, the Americans don’t like the German ID card because it’s not the card size. I applied for a California ID. You can do this at the local DMV (department of motor vehicle), you need a passport and visa with I20. You also have to register your car in the DMV.
If you ever want to rent a car, all you need is your German driving license and a credit card in your name. An international driver’s license is not necessary (I had one but no one wanted to see it and I’ve hired a car four times).
If you are in California, you should definitely see San Francisco (8 hours by car), Los Angeles (1.5-2 hours), Laguna Beach (1 hour), Carlsbad (45 minutes), and of course Las Vegas (5 hours). I also flew to Hawaii for a week because the deals are really cheap compared to Europe!
The service personnel in the USA only get a very small salary and earn most of it through tips. It is an unwritten law that you ALWAYS have to tip… between 10 and 20% of the bill, depending on the quality of service.
For shopping you should go to Fashion Valley or Horton Plaza Downtown. When you go shopping at the supermarket, ask if they have a “club card” “reward card”, then you can save money on every purchase. The drugstores like CVS and Right Aid definitely have it! Ralph’s is a well-stocked supermarket, but it’s also a bit more expensive. So we mostly went shopping at Food4Less (University) and WalMart (College Grove).
You have to take out international health insurance, SDSU students can go to the Medical Center (opposite ALI) for free. If you’re just a little sick, go to the pharmacy (CVS or Right Aid or any big supermarket) first. There you can buy a lot more medicines without a prescription than in Germany.
In conclusion, I can say that I had a great time in San Diego, which of course is also due to the great people I met there. California has a lot to offer and to discover.