University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Education and teaching, performing arts, English/American studies
Study type: semester abroad
- Application to San Diego State University
A semester abroad takes about a year to prepare, and before applying, it is important to find out about the requirements, application deadlines and fees of the universities of your choice. In the course of my first master’s semester, I decided to aim for a semester abroad in the USA, whose universities are increasingly demanding proof of language proficiency. In November 2015, I finally took the TOEFL test, the certificate of which is valid for 2 years and, with the achievement of 80 points, represented the first step in my planning. See anycountyprivateschools for University of California Irvine Study Abroad.
Through MicroEdu, I chose SDSU, which not only offered creditable and interesting seminars for my subject combination ( performing play and English for high school teachers ), but was also in a very attractive place for me. The advantage here was that right from the start I got in touch with a study abroad advisor assigned to the university via MicroEdu, who was able to answer any questions I had about requirements, the application process and financing competently and in a very short time.
With the help of the application instructions for the “Semester at SDSU – General Program” at San Diego State University, I worked through the application form step by step and had an overview of the necessary papers that had to be submitted (language certificate, transcript, courses class preference form, financial confirmation, bachelor’s certificate and passport). At the beginning of April, I finally received confirmation from MicroEdu that I was offered a place at SDSU and a to-do list with the steps to be taken before I left.
According to MicroEdu, it was advisable to budget an approximate amount of around €12,000 to €15,000 for the entire semester, which at first seemed surreal to me. In addition to small amounts such as €250.00 for the TOEFL test and €300.00 for the student visa, there are flight costs of €1,000, tuition fees of around €7,000 and living expenses of €1,200 per month. For this purpose, I drew up a financial plan even before my commitment, with which I was able to list an overview of the needs.
Since I am entitled to receive Bafög, I applied for funding from the Hamburg student union 5 months before the start of the program, which covered most of my costs. Fortunately, I also received a PROMOS scholarship, the MicroEdu scholarship, and I also saved money for my tuition fees through two part -time jobs, half of which I received back through the foreign student loan. To my astonishment, the total money was just about enough, since the costs in San Diego are unimaginably high and there were additional costs from the university.
- Student Visa, Flight Organization and Immigration
After accepting the place to study in San Diego, I organized an interview appointment at the US Consulate General in Berlin for June 2016 to apply for my student visa (F1). After applying on site in Berlin, I received my visa in the mail 2 weeks later. After receiving the visa, I booked my round-trip airfare through travel company STA-Travel, who offer student rates and health insurance information. At an appointment in a responsible branch in Hanover, I bought my plane tickets from Hanover to San Francisco in July and San Diego to Dusseldorf in January with additional travel destinations like New York, which I personally wished for.
Before leaving, it was also important to take care of some formalities such as health insurance, international driver’s license, credit card and the transfer of tuition fees.
- I paid my tuition with a low fee via international bank transfer through my Postbank account.
- I applied for a credit card with low international withdrawal fees from the DKB, which offers student credit cards. In retrospect, I also opened an American account at Wells Fargo Bank to avoid these fees. An international driver’s license is not necessary in California, as the German driver’s license is also recognized and I was able to rent a car without any problems.
- Luckily, medical insurance through the American Language Institute (ALI) was included in the tuition, so I only needed travel insurance for the small amount of time I was in the US before and after the semester. I applied for this with Allianz after very good experiences.
- In addition to my passport and I-20 visa, I also took my confirmation of admission from the SDSU (Welcome Letter) with me for entry, since such proof is required in the event of complications. Immigration turned out to be relatively uncomplicated and after I was asked what I would like to do in the USA, I was warmly welcomed and started the orientation week at the university two weeks later.
- Room search and rent amount
I first researched online about housing options within reach of the university, knowing that San Diego unfortunately does not have a good public transportation system. So-called dorms on campus were out of the question for me, since the majority of the residents were too big a difference in age to me. In addition, there was a high popularity in terms of living on the beach, since in San Diego it’s really a good choice. Many foreign students I met there lived on Pacific Beach, which initially sounded like a dream. Being woken up in the morning by the sound of the sea and relaxing in one of the many bars in the evening didn’t end up tempting us with too few stimuli. However, that wasn’t an option for me either, as you had to share a car to get to the courses, which meant that you had a number of bridging hours on campus before the drive home until all car owners wanted to go home.
Through acquaintances who have already lived in San Diego, I learned about the BLVD63 Apartments, which is a residential complex in the College Area, in which only male and female students live. A double room in an apartment is $665.00 and a single room is $900.00. Through Facebook groups like BLVD63 COMMUNITY and BLVD63 Residents, I looked for existing shared apartments because I couldn’t afford to pay for crockery and furniture and wanted to live with people who already knew San Diego and the university.
The room was already furnished and the two of us shared our own bathroom. The condominium has its own 24-hour gym, two swimming pools, and a clubhouse that provided many study spaces for us. In this way, one could organize leisure activities in the vicinity quickly and easily and made contact with many people. To support social events, BLVD63 organized a variety of events where people could watch films together and enjoy free food.
The only disadvantage turned out to be that the BLVD63 only awards one-year contracts, which meant that we had to look for new tenants in November, otherwise we would have had to continue paying the rent. However, this was not a problem as this condominium complex is so popular and many international students move to San Diego each semester. Our next tenants last took over the fee of $300.00, which is to be paid if names in the contract have to be changed within the term.
- University: San Diego State University
San Diego State University (also known as San Diego State or SDSU for short) is a state university with over 32,000 enrolled students in San Diego, California. The university has an extraordinary campus with modern seminar and lecture rooms, as well as an impressive library, which allows semester-long borrowing of literature and offers relaxation rooms. Due to this large area, the various institutes and rooms for the corresponding courses, I sometimes had to plan 7-10 minutes between the seminars. In addition, there is a free “ARC Membership” for international students who can use the extensively equipped fitness center free of chargewith a wide variety of courses, the sports hall, outdoor fields and a swimming pool allowed. In addition, the campus has a wide range of relaxation options with many friendly green spaces and small ponds inhabited by turtles and fish.
Various food courts are responsible for your physical well-being, offering everything from international fast food to salad bars and vegan dishes. Every Thursday there was an international food festival where you could try delicacies from all over the world. In addition, there are a wide variety of shopping options in the markets for groceries as well as clothing and books in the bookstore. In summary, the campus can accommodate a student ‘s every need from coffee with two Starbucks locations to numerous computers and learning opportunities in the small world of SDSU.
- Academic Life
My impressions of San Diego turned out to be very positive from day one. I was extremely surprised at the friendliness and openness of the Americans and felt immediately at ease as a result. The beginning at SDSU was an orientation week in which we were informed about all sorts of formalities, such as the units to be attended and the choice of course. In addition, there were small social events where we ate together and about various sports activities experienced. We were told right from the start that there was no longer a so-called crash in prices, as was the case in previous years. Since international students are only allowed to choose courses after the graduating students have been elected, it is often the case that these are full. If a course is full, you unfortunately have to resort to an alternative, which shouldn’t be a problem if you have a detailed learning agreement with several courses. Since many courses with the same topics were offered by different lecturers, I was able to take any course I wanted.
Supervision at SDSU felt very different than at my home university. Regardless of the ALI advisors, who always listened to us with an open ear regarding the choice of courses on site and all other problems, I had the impression of very hard-working lecturers who answered all kinds of e-mails with speed and friendliness. In comparison, I found studying at the host university to be easier, despite the higher workload. the grades consist of homework, group work and assignments as well as intermediate exams. In addition, attendance is mandatory. Even though I actually sat at my desk every day until late at night, I felt on the one hand that I learned more and with more interest, but also that grades were awarded more fairly.
Because my choice of subjects at my home university opened up a high degree of flexibility when choosing courses in San Diego, I took four courses from a wide variety of degree programs and levels of difficulty: 102WMNST Women, Images + Ideas, 290DANCE Body Modalities, 350THEA Theater for Young Audiences, 452LING First Language Acquisition . The diversity and variety of topics in my choice of courses was a cognitive enrichment for me.
- Leisure activities in “America’s Finest City”
As the second largest city in California, San Diego has several beautiful beaches where you can spend your free hours and days. In addition to the pleasant climate, the city is characterized by the various districts and the fact that it is in southwest California near the border with Mexico is a place of discovery where you never get bored. My favorite things to do were spending days off with my friends at places like Balboa Park, Pacific Beach, Little Italy, Downtown, Gaslamp Quarter, Ocean Beach, La Jolla, and Coronado Beach, for which the two of us shared a car with mine for the first two months Roommate rented through Dirt Cheap Car. After that, I used Uber Flat (started at $20.00 a month to pay just $3.00 for each trip, regardless of distance) to get everywhere. I only used the public transport once in the said 6 months, as they are poorly developed and it can sometimes take hours to get to the beach.
You can never get enough of San Diego and I can say that even after this long stay I didn’t get to explore everything. In addition, the residents are incredibly friendly to tourists and are happy to advise little insiders on the sights. Added to this was the exploration of the nightlife, which we experienced through the promoters of San Diego Entertainment. We were always picked up from home with a so-called party bus and driven to the hip clubs in the city, so whenever we felt like it we saw new ways of organizing the evening and got in touch with other people.
On free weekends we went hiking at Potato Chip Rock and also traveled to towns outside of San Diego. So we looked at natural sights like the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon or Horseshoe Bend, or made a change program in Las Vegas. Prior to my arrival, like many others, I traveled the west coast from San Francisco to San Diego with stops in Sausalito, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Yosemite National Park, Disneyland, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Los Angeles which was an incredible multifaceted experience for me was.
- After your return: Recognition of study achievements
After returning from sunny California to cold, rainy Germany in January, a slight mood dip is to be expected. Being in San Diego so busy with dues and exams up until the day you leave, it feels strange to return to a place where you might not experience positive, ongoing stress. The fall semester ends at the end of December and thus right in the middle of the semester at my home university, which made it impossible for me to go to courses again as usual. That’s why I planned block seminars at the end of the semester in advance and looked for a part-time job so as not to fall into a low of wanderlust.
In addition, it can prove difficult with some examination offices to get academic recognition of achievements, despite prior agreement. It is extremely important to apply for the transcripts as early as possible. I had an online transcript mailed to me, as well as a certified hard copy (both for $7.00 each). On the whole, there can be no complications after the return journey if you can prove the Learning Agreement and good communication with the course coordinators. Since I was already in regular contact with both universities in San Diego and brought all the syllabi with me, it was very uncomplicated for my achievements to be credited.
I can count the past 6 months as one of the most valuable and instructive times of my life. Since a semester abroad was included in the examination regulations as a compulsory part of my studies, it initially advanced my academic goals from this point of view, but also enormously increased my language skills and my self-confidence. After certain everyday stages, such as shopping or visiting the doctor, I was able to use the language as a matter of course, which surprised me in a very positive way. In addition, I was able to increase my motivation by trying out a different university system, as I was able to experience a kind of refreshment through the change of scenery. I was so fascinated by the friendliness of the employees on site and the willingness to help of the lecturers that I was happy to go to the courses, but I was also able to get through the submissions and finals, which were often perceived as annoying.
In small weekend trips I broadened my horizons by discovering the beautiful natural landscapes of California and Arizona and came back to Germany as a new, creative and happy person. Being able to complete a semester independently in a different place that is unfamiliar to me, organizing my finances responsibly, but also living in an international community have strengthened my personality a lot. There was no mention of homesickness during this time, as there were so many impressions and experiences to process and everything goes by much faster than you think.