University: San Diego State University
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
Studying a semester in California was a dream of mine for a long time. After long planning and a lot of organization, I fulfilled my wish. The universities in California generally enjoy a good reputation and occupy good places in international rankings. Silicon Valley shines on the universities with its creative flashes of genius and high motivation. It has become San Diego State University because it enjoys a good reputation, especially for its business faculty. I have only heard positive things from feedback discussions with former students abroad. MicroEdu was ahelpful companion with the organization and helped with many questions. The city itself is also considered the “Finest City of the USA” and shines with great beaches. In the end, the choice for the SDSU was easy. See act-test-centers for top 4 law schools in Canada.
The university and courses
San Diego State University is huge. The more than 30,000 students are spread over an area that is larger than my home village. There are two Starbucks stores, various fast food chains, two self-operated markets, a large fitness center including its own climbing wall and much more on the premises. A visit to the Bookstore is enough to get a sense of how proud Americans are of their universities. There is everything with the university logo or that of the “Aztects”, the sports team, on it. From sweaters to notepads to beer glasses. Impressed by the size of the university and the pride the students have in their university, I was even more excited to study at SDSU.
As a student abroad, you are always a guest who is allowed to study for a semester at the university. This is particularly noticeable when choosing a course, since international students have the last right to choose courses. Especially essential business courses fill up quickly. So that there is still a chance to take one of these courses, SDSU offers some of these courses specifically for international students, the so-called “ALIs”. This is chosen online before the start of the semester abroad. This was very convenient for me, because I was already able to choose two courses that I would like to get credited for in Germany. So I have Finance and Operation & Supply Chain Management“ each with a group of 50 German and Scandinavian students. While the “Finance” course was designed like a classic lecture, the “Operation & Supply Chain Management” course was designed as an alternative. The professor uploaded the reading to our online portal as a video. In addition to reading, she uploaded online homework each week, which was also completed online. Prepared with their materials, the attendance time was used as discussion time each week. A test each week served as a follow-up, which had to be completed online within two days of the discussion round.
Although the lectures at my university in Germany are also interactive, it was a bit more interactive at SDSU. This was partly due to the different rating system. In my opinion one of the biggest differences to studying in Germany. The final grade is not made up of an examination at the end, but of several components such as attendance, participation, intermediate examinations, tests, homework, group work and a final examination. Diligence pays off and a slack is punished directly.
In addition to these two courses, I also took two courses on the open campus. These are selected via the online student system. While for the main students the choice is already open several weeks before the start of the semester, it is possible for the ALIs to enroll for courses about 1-2 weeks before the start. Although many courses are already full at this point, there is still a wide range of options. You can also put yourself on the waiting list, because a lot will be postponed in the first two weeks. Students deselect courses and places become free. As a last resort, ask the professor if you can crash the full course – international students are often welcome.
I took another economics course that dealt with “ Organizational Behaviour ”. From sorority girls, female students who are members of a sorority, to those in their fifties who want to brush up on their business knowledge, many different personality types were represented among the approximately 70 students. Since it started at 7 p.m. in the evening, there were a relatively large number of working students in this course. Particularly exciting for this topic because you heard so many different experiences from local companies. In this lecture there were always lively discussions. Large companies like Google, Facebook and Apple from Silicon Valley were often used as examples. As a rule, group work was carried out every week, which relaxed the atmosphere and made it possible to get to know other students better.
My fourth course was part of the “Journalism and Media Faculty”. Since the “ Principles of Advertising ” course has a strong connection to business, I was able to take it. With a lot of media support and current examples, the professor brought us closer to the topic. Advantages and disadvantages of different media, as well as gray areas and limitations of advertising were discussed. In addition to the classic media, the new ones were considered and brainstorming was done on what is possible. It was exciting to learn more about the development and design of advertising in the USA, since advertising is a good reflection of society.
My four courses filled my week well. In addition to the lecture times, I was busy with homework, tests, preparation for intermediate exams and final exams. The surf course, which I took in addition to my 4 courses, brought variety. Every Thursday we went to the beach with other San Diego State students and tried to learn the art of surfing – a must for the California way of life. In the end I can say that it is a difficult sport to learn. It feels like you’re just paddling. But when you feel the power of a wave beneath you for the first time, all the work was worth it.
During the five months I lived in BLVD63 – a student apartment complex near the university. Some said, the area is more like a hotel complex. With two pools and whirlpools, a gym, barbecue and campfire areas, a clubhouse with billiards and table tennis, a room with comfortable sofas and oversized TVs, quiet study rooms, 24-hour security, furnished apartments including balconies, LCD TVs and typical large, American fridge, there’s really no reason to complain. In my apartment I lived with two Americans and one German. I shared my room with an American woman. I can only recommend this division. Living with Americans helps to get in contact with Americans and of course the US house parties. On the other hand, it is good to join forces with other foreign students because you can explore the country with them.
I really enjoyed living together. I can even say that we girls have become friends for life. We have done a lot. We drove in small groups to the beaches of San Diego, tasted our way through the different stalls at the “Farmers Market”, tried out trendy cafés in San Diego, drove to the “Chainsmokers” or to “Spirit” by the “Strumbellas ‘ sang, watched Aztec football or basketball games at the stadium, went to house parties together on the weekends or to one of the many bars or clubs downtown, had campfire nights on the beach or just a quiet evening together with Netflix spent.
I traveled a bit to get to know more sides of the land of seemingly unlimited travel opportunities. New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Laguna Beach, Malibu, a spontaneous “Chainsmokers” night trip to Las Vegas and another real weekend in Las Vegas.
My highlight was a camping trip to Joshua Tree National Park, also because it was a short trip that I would never have done otherwise. With a group of three Americans and two Germans we wanted to camp in the national park. It started as planned, the departure was delayed further and further. It no longer had anything to do with German punctuality… The plan to admire the sunset came to nothing. Since we left so late, it was pitch black when we arrived. When the park ranger informed us that there was probably no more space left to camp, the mood hit rock bottom. But we didn’t want to give up and searched the place anyway. Luck was kind to us, a young, lonely motorcyclist still had enough space for the five of us. We didn’t mind setting up our camp in the dark anymore because we were just so happyAfter that we sat together around our campfire. Our motorcyclist told us about his trip – for several weeks he has been exploring the landscapes of western America with only his motorbike and his SLR camera. While enjoying our barbecue and smore’s, we admired the clear starry sky. Five of us slept together in our tent with a transparent roof. Since it didn’t work out with the sunset, we got up at sunrise. We used the calm of the morning hours to hike through the stone landscape.
On all these trips the ideal weather – pure sunshine and warm to hot temperatures – was a constant companion. However, all the sunshine and the seemingly endless summer also has a downside: there is no Christmas spirit in December. That’s why we did a Santa tour in December– another highlight. At the beginning of our road trip we passed the places “Santa Ana” and “Santa Claus”. In “Santa Barbara” we visited friends from Germany who are studying with me at the Nordakademie. A Christmas party later we drove up the Californian coast, which looked like it was copied from a fairytale landscape, to Santa Cruz. Although the houses are more decorated, the public Christmas trees are more pompous, there are definitely more “Ugly Christmas Sweaters” and more “Santa” in the town names, it’s difficult to jump on the Christmas cheer wave. That’s why I was ultimately happy to be back with my family and friends in Germany for Christmas.
All in all I am very happy to have done this semester abroad. It was a life experience I wouldn’t want to miss. I got to know new perspectives, immersed myself in another culture, grew in character and became more open. With my roommates, I’ve always gained a spot in their homes, whether they stay in California or end up somewhere else in the US. I will always look back on this time with a smile in my heart.