Planning a semester abroad
It was clear to me from the start of my studies that I would like to spend a semester abroad in an English-speaking region. That’s why I started looking for the universities of my choice and comparing the courses from the second semester onwards. A little tip to find the right university and avoid disappointment: Think about what is most important to you during the semester abroad and then compare the experience reports with your goals. The most important thing for me was to improve my English, get to know a lot of American / international students and the typical American student life.
I can only say positive things about the application process for a self-pay place via the free agency MicroEDU. The staff there are super nice and as soon as you have decided on a university, they send you the relevant application documents. The effort is really not high and you can complete the application documents within a very short time. If you have any questions, MicroEDU is really great at helping you.
California State University East Bay
The California State University, East Bay is a small and not a typical American university. It is one of the cheapest universities and a commuter university. Most American students only attend university for courses. At the university there is really nothing offered and there is no typical American student life with football teams, parties, etc. There is a fitness studio and several restaurants (Panda Express, Subway…) on campus. There are a lot of German students studying at the East Bay. Contact with American students turned out to be extremely difficult. As a “self-paying student for a semester”, I was not allowed to participate in group sports activities such as “cheerleading” or in student associations. As a result, the disappointment grew and we were sometimes really very frustrated the first few weeks. In addition, the university made extreme differences between students who came from a partner university and the “self-paying students”. Great trips were organized for the partner students and they were allowed to live in the dormitory of the American students, while we had no chance to get a place to live there.
So we asked again at the university what opportunities there are to improve our English there. We then found out about a “ Speaking Buddy ” program and applied there. 4 weeks after the start, I was assigned a student at the CSUEB, with whom I should meet at least 1 hour per week. I was very lucky and got a super nice “Spaniard” as a partner. We always had a lot of fun and a great friendship developed.
The so-called ” class crashing ” was very nerve-wracking and I didn’t get any of the courses I wanted. For the first 2 weeks I therefore attended around 5 courses every day, in order to receive 3 of them later. Many of the exchange students attend special courses for “international students”. However, since these courses are mainly only attended by German students, I have avoided these courses. However, they are a good way to safely get 3 business administration courses. One advantage of the CSUEB is that you can also choose a master’s course as a Bachelor student. I did this and then received 3 great and exciting courses. Especially the course “ Executive Leadership”(Prof. Martin) and” Health Economics “(Prof. Sabetan) I can recommend. In these courses I learned a lot about the differences in the health system, values and leadership behavior between our countries and took away a lot. There were also many discussions in both courses and it was very interesting to see how differently the students from different countries think. It is often said of American universities that the level is very low and that it is very easy to get very good grades. I can not agree with that. My courses were demanding and very interesting, but the workload is very high. In one course, for example, I had to complete 2 exams, a seminar paper, weekly tests and discussions.
According to jibin123, finding accommodation was also really difficult. Since I was very late due to the cancellation of the free place, I was no longer able to get a room in the dormitory for international students. Therefore, apply very early for the dormitory or look for a flat share with American students on site. Six of us shared a 2-bedroom apartment in the City View Apartments. The City-View-Apartments are located 15 minutes from the university and there is even a pool and a gym.
Leisure / location
As already mentioned, apart from sports courses, the university has very little to offer in terms of leisure activities. The university is also very remote and is located in the middle of a mountain. To get to the city of Hayward or the BART station, you have to take the shuttle bus. Hayward itself offers little, there are few bars and “opportunities to get away”. However, there is a BART station in Hayward. With the BART you can be in San Francisco in about 1 hour. And San Francisco is really a dream. Try to drive into town as often as possible. Since the last BART goes back around 11 p.m., it is difficult to leave San Francisco without a car and the taxi costs around $ 60. Therefore it would be best if you get a car as a flat share.
The city of Hayward is a very good starting point for excursions and you can quickly reach San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Palo Alto (Stanford University), Berkeley, Yosemite Park… For example, we went to a football game in Stanford and it was amazing how the whole university celebrated its team afterwards. The trips were fantastic and had a very positive impact on the semester abroad. There are also great and affordable deals from Oakland / San Francisco Airport to San Diego and Las Vegas. Look early and you can have a great weekend in the beautiful cities. The USA is really a great country and you can experience a lot.
Unfortunately, my semester abroad at the CSUEB was not as I had imagined and think twice about whether you want to go to university. Many students were disappointed after a few weeks there. Since I had some friends who were doing a semester abroad at another American university at the same time, I saw the big differences. In my subsequent 4-week trip through the USA and Hawaii, I spoke more English than in the entire semester at CSUEB. Therefore, take your time and think carefully about the decision. I went there with a positive attitude and I think I made the best of it, had a great time with trips etc. and made a lot of friends. The experiences in a foreign country shape one,Nobody can take away the good memories from you. You see many things much more positively than before and appreciate some things better in your home country.