1. Preparation of the stay
First of all, I researched universities that were in my dream country (USA or California). Criteria included that the study time had to be divided into quarters, i.e. trimesters, and that it was practice-oriented (since my studies are linked to the practical and theoretical periods of the DHBW). But that’s not the only reason why I chose the CSUEB, but also because it offered good value for money and received good ratings for its bachelor’s degree programs.
My tip: inform yourself as early as possible so as not to miss a registration deadline and to be able to cope with all tasks without stress!
The application for a possible scholarship must also be submitted in good time, as the deadlines are often very early.
With the help of MicroEDU (www.MicroEDU.com) I did not have to research all the forms myself, but received all the necessary forms or a list of all documents that were otherwise necessary (visa, health insurance certificate, transcript). These were then sent back via MicroEDU, which enables a faster and easier procedure than if you had to clarify everything yourself with the university. It is also important to make sure in advance whether the university also offers courses that can be credited back in Germany.
After I had, among other things, plane tickets, visa, all documents, admission, passport, insurance, accommodation, etc., the journey could begin.
All courses took place on campus in the Hayward Hills. From there you can see the entire East Bay Area with a view of Oakland to San Francisco in good weather. The university has some science buildings, a good library, a health center, a help desk and numerous sports facilities. The CSUEB is located in the center of a good university landscape (Stanford and Berkeley) and in the middle of California, from where many beautiful places can be reached (San Fran, Las Vegas, San Diego, Seattle, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, to name just a few). An introductory week was organized by the American Language Program (ALP), whose on-site employees were responsible for us visiting students, in which we were familiarized with the premises and organizational conditions.
As a DH student in Germany I was not used to being able to choose my courses myself, to compare content and to enroll myself on the Internet at a certain point in time, the day of the final enrollment after a “trial week” was a torture. Unfortunately, foreigners can Students only enroll in courses after the Americans. As a result, many of the courses were already full and so I sometimes had to go to the professors again myself and ask to take part in the course, which was also very worthwhile. In the end, I was enrolled in all 3 courses I had previously selected. As a tip, I recommend not being afraid to put yourself on waiting lists. Even with 10th place on the waiting list, you have a very realistic chance of “sliding” into the course. It is important to advertise again in good time so that no additional fees arise. Every exchange student could take a sports course free of charge, which was thankfully accepted by almost everyone (without credits and grading).
After successfully enrolling, I had access to the university system, the so-called Blackboard, a platform on which one has access to all scripts and documents for the selected courses as well as personal email access for the university.
After some initial inhibitions, I was able to quickly follow the lectures in terms of content and language. The level was very neither too easy nor too difficult. I particularly liked the relatively small classes (30-150 students depending on the lecture), the practical teaching method and the commitment of most of the professors. I was able to contact professors at any time by email or speak in person during the office hours. The group of students is very heterogeneous, in terms of age, practical experience and cultural background.
The workload was quite high compared to studying at the home university, as at least one or two midterm and a final were written in each course, weekly homework, projects and assignments were required. The advantages, however, were that you had several options for getting good grades.
Unfortunately, every professor requires the use of certain accompanying literature, which was usually very expensive (around $ 200). My tip would be to use older editions from the Internet. These are usually difficult to sell, but after a little research you can get comparatively cheap copies there (e.g. 40 dollars).
3. Stay in the host country
Unlike many others, I did not choose the international student dormitory (on campus) as accommodation, but rented an apartment with 2 other German girls downtown (off campus). The advantage was that you had to pay much lower rental costs than in the I-House, and I was able to receive German visitors, which is problematic in the I-House, and to take care of myself (cook).
What was a bit regrettable that the bus line that went up to the university was not in front of our apartment, so we walked to the campus every day, to the amusement of the “lazy Californians”;).
As a tip, I can recommend afterwards to buy an old car with a few visiting students, this would have saved a lot of bus trips, taxis and lugging around shopping. In addition, the gasoline prices are very cheap.
The cost of living (especially food) was a lot more expensive than in Germany.
However, studying at the CSUEB is significantly cheaper in relation to other universities in California (e.g. in terms of tuition fees).
According to toppharmacyschools, Hayward is connected to the BART system (public transport), so you can reach beautiful San Francisco in about 45 minutes.
As a student at CSUEB you can use bus line 92 free of charge.
4. Participation in conferences, workshops, etc.
In addition to the introductory week, the ALP Office organizes weekly (mostly Saturdays) so-called fun trips (free of charge!), Which I recommend to take part in. So it went to San Fran on the first Saturday, then to Napa Valley for a wine tasting or to Sacramento to visit the governor’s seat. In this way you get to know the surrounding area cheaply, receive suggestions for self-organized trips and come into contact with other visiting students.
5. Practical tips
- Acquisition of a dictionary with the vocabulary of economics (translators were not allowed to be used in the exams)
- Know your contact person and always have their contact details ready (financial institutions,
- Health insurance etc.)
- Travel guide for the western USA
- Withdraw money with credit card, open an account with e.g. DKB beforehand (do not charge for withdrawals)
- Buy car
- Rental cars are much cheaper to get from German websites (e.g. Sunny cars)
- Rental cars are cheaper at Oakland Airport or directly in San Francisco
6. Personal evaluation of the stay
Even if the preparations and obligations before and after the semester abroad can sometimes be stressful, I can only recommend everyone to take the step and live and study “abroad” for a few months, it’s worth it!
Especially in the USA it is easy as a German newcomer to make contacts and to find lots of helping and advising hands, because that’s true – the Americans are open and helpful!
California is a wonderful state to travel and live, do not miss the diverse and multifaceted Bay State! In addition to studying, I not only explored San Francisco, it’s also easy to get to: Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Seattle, Lake Tahoe, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruiz, San Diego, Tijuana (Mexico), Hawaii (!), Muir Woods National Park, Yosemite National Park, Los Angeles and and and…!
Many thanks to MicroEDU, the Landesstiftung Baden-Württemberg and my employer, who all actively supported me on my adventure!