University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Linguistics and cultural studies
Study type: semester abroad
Even before I graduated from high school, I was sure that I wanted to go to the USA. California was number 1 on my wish list and at some point I had the idea of combining the whole thing with my studies. After some recommendations I decided to plan the whole thing together with MicroEdu. However, now there were hundreds of different universities in the US to choose from. Since I was sure about California, the choice lay between San Diego State University and California State University Long Beach. After a lot of impressions of the two universities I knew that I was in San Diego wanted to study. See act-test-centers for study in Latvia.
After the decision, I still had the hardest part ahead of me: the application process. Starting with the documents for the university application to the visa application, MicroEdu helped with every step. Even if my nerves were strained after filling out the DS-160 for the visa and Tatjana or Katharina received the hundredth email, they were always friendly and encouraging.
But after all the effort, I knew it would pay off when I was about to fly at Dusseldorf Airport and couldn’t realize that my longtime dream was about to come true.
Even before I left, I met people on Facebook with whom I wanted to share a flat in America. From here we started looking for student apartments like the 5025. After a lot of communication difficulties, we finally decided to look for an apartmenton site, which in retrospect turned out to be the better alternative. At first we stayed at Lucky D’s for a week, where it felt like everyone was from Germany. Lucky D’s was good by hostel standards and definitely worth getting into San Diego.
When we got there, we didn’t bother looking for an apartment at first, but were looking for a mobile phone card, because the wifi in the hostel was unfortunately not usable and it was easy to get lost without internet. It can be said that you should not go into the first offer that Telekom offers you, for example, because you will easily be ripped off. We have opted for a prepaid card with Lycamobile, which offers you different tariffs, partly in combination with International Plans.
Once this was clarified, we started looking for an apartment. Unfortunately, the student apartments were already full or required one-year contracts, so we wanted to look for private apartments on Craigslist. From there, after a long search and a few visits, we found an apartment near the university. The house was unfurnished, but since the kitchen etc. is already included in America, this was not a problem. You only had to worry about beds etc. and the internet.
Don’t stress about looking for an apartment. It’s definitely easier to look for something on the spot than you apply from here and people ask you for a deposit even though you haven’t even entered the country yet.
The studies and the university
The lectures started on August 25th and before that there was an orientation week, in which there are tours through the university, you are introduced to the course selection and you get your student ID. Since I wanted to take general courses, I had to “crash” the courses, whereby you simply go to the respective courses with a form and have them sign it. That wasn’t a problem at all and as an international student, people were happy to see you in the courses.
The subject matter of the course was more extensive than my course in Germany, since we had a lot to read and write. There were also quizzes and smaller tests every week, as well as essays and one midterm and one final. However, although the subject matter to be covered was much, the content was not that difficult and thus easy to deal with. In addition, the lecturers were super nice and although we had not handed in the midterm on time, we were offered to hand it in as soon as we were finished. However, not every lecturer would probably do this, so you should look at the ratings of the lecturers and the courses on RateMyProfessors.com before you decide on your courses. The fellow students there were very nice and helpful, generally like all Americans there. You didn’t feel lost either in the courses or outside.
The university itself almost looked like a holiday resort with all the palm trees, the white and turquoise colors under the sunny California sky. There were many places to study at university, be it in the library or on campus. The university also offers a 24-hour gym as well as many on-campus fast food restaurants with a wide variety. In addition, there are always games of the AZTECS (the basketball and football team of the university) for which you always get free tickets as a student of the SDSU. The games are always worthwhile as the atmosphere in the stadium is always upbeat.
Life in San Diego is quite expensive, especially compared to Germany. If you have studying abroad in mind, you should start saving years in advance, which unfortunately I didn’t do. You can’t get by with the Bafög money alone and every month my parents had to send me money so that I could manage everything well. Most of the money went to food, which was overpriced in supermarkets like Vons, Ralphs or Walmart. Since cooking and eating outside was the same thing, we only ate outside, which wasn’t that difficult given the variety, but unfortunately it was mostly fast food. Unfortunately, healthy food and America cannot be reconciled.
In addition, of course, there are costs for the rent and since you also need mobility for bus and train tickets or alternatively renting a car. We first got a semester ticket, which can be purchased at the university for about 175 dollars. After two months we decided to rent a car because you are much more mobile and don’t have to rely on a taxi if you missed the last bus at 10/11 at night. In total, you have to reckon with around 1,500 to 2,000 dollars a month, because although I have tried to reduce costs as best I can, unfortunately you do not get below this range.
San Diego is by far the most beautiful city I have visited in America. No other city was so diverse and full of character. On the one hand, San Diego offers a variety of stands like Coronado Beach, Mission Beach, La Jolla, Pacific Beach etc. and on the other hand, city life with lots of malls. San Diego is also known for being the party town par excellence, which is confirmed by the numerous clubs, personally I found Onyx to be the best, although we didn’t try many clubs. Of course there are also other sights such as Balboa Park, the Military Museum or the Potato Chip Rock. San Diego is simply very diverse. The weather has always played along with lots of sun and tropical temperatures.
Travel and USA
When you hear San Diego, you probably immediately think of Mexico, which shouldn’t put you off because you hear too many negative things in the media. But if you plan to stay there overnight, it is advisable to at least take some Mexican friends with you who will introduce you to life and the people there. You should definitely try cities like Ensenada and Rosarito. Your impression of Mexico should not be limited to Tijuana. You can go to Los Angeles several times for day tripssince it is only 2 hours away. Concerts and other events often take place there.
Las Vegas is probably on most people’s itinerary too. I was there on a tour that included accommodation and all the trimmings. Once you’re there, you can drive a little further and see the Grand Canyon, which is always worth it.
San Francisco is also easy to travel around. While many fly there, we drove there via the Pacific Coast Highway, which I think is worth it despite the long drive, as you can see the entire Pacific Ocean.
Doing my semester abroad in San Diego at SDSU was the best decision I could have made. Not only have numerous new friendships been formed that will last a lifetime, but countless memories as well. Now that I’m back, I realize I’ve changed a lot. Not only do you become more independent, you also change a lot on a personal level.
I will always remember San Diego with the overly friendly Americans, great people and this beautiful city, because a part of you will always stay there because it was your home for half a year.
I can definitely recommend a semester abroad there ! The university, the people, the city, everything was beautiful.