The American culture has interested me as a small child. It was always clear to me that I would like to spend a longer time there. In California, I fell in love during my au pair time. Since I am studying international business, a semester abroad fit well into my planning to return again. MicroEDU was my first point of contact as a friend of mine had already visited another university with the help of the agency.
Choice of university and application
The team was always on hand to answer all of my questions and was able to help me very well in choosing the right university. When the decision was made to go to Sonoma State University (abbreviated as SSU on abbreviationfinder), I started writing my application, which was not a huge effort. The CoCo team then checked it for completeness and forwarded it to the SSU. A little later I received a confirmation from the International Office of the SSU so that the planning could really start.
Course selection and crediting
Now I had to choose the courses I would like to take at the SSU and compare them with the courses offered at my German university. That was the hardest part of the whole semester abroad. I had to make arrangements with the German professors and show the comparison between the German course and the course at the SSU and, so to speak, convince them that the course in America can be credited to me at my German university.
It is also difficult that the American and German universities (or my university) have different ECTS or credit ratings. As a result, I was unable to get credit for everything that I actually did in America or received fewer ECTS for it. My tip would be to choose as many courses as possible, which you want to / can credit yourself. Since there is a very large range of courses for business administration students, this is not a problem either.
It is also possible that not all courses are offered in America that semester or that you do not get the course you want. The latter, however, is very unlikely, since as an international student you can choose your courses before the “normal” students. Becky, my reference person at SSU, also helped me a lot with the design of my timetable and made sure that I got the courses I wanted.
Everyday student life
Then it was so far that my journey could begin. One week before the university officially begins, there is a compulsory week for international students. This week prepares you for the differences between different cultures and American student life. This is where you get to know all the other “internationals” and make connections easily. About the campus life but I can not tell, because I with a friend in San Francisco have lived and went for my courses after Rhonert Park. However, I have only heard good things from the other international students.
Since I didn’t live on campus, I thought that it would be difficult to make friends at the university. However, I was convinced otherwise. At the beginning of each course there was a small introductory session and my classmates showed great interest when they heard that I was an exchange student.
At the end of every first lesson, I introduced myself personally to each professor and found out how best to prepare for their courses. If there was a language blockage in the course, the professors were always very helpful and understanding. However, I had little trouble following the course. It is very important for American professionals to come to their courses prepared. Many also took a popup quiz at the beginning of an hour. This is announced by the respective professors in the very first hour. The books for the courses are very expensive in America. I can therefore only recommend borrowing them from Amazon for the semester.
While studying, there is still enough free time to explore the area. I stayed in San Francisco a lot because I lived there too. There is a bus connection from the SSU and soon the so-called “SMART” train should also go to Marin. From there it goes on with the ferry. Many of the international students got along very well with their roommates and were happy to be taken with them in their cars.
San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. However, the area around the SSU also has a lot to offer. After a few minutes’ drive you are in the Sonoma wine region with many wineries that offer recommended wine tastings. However, only for people over 21. It is the official age from which one can visit clubs / bars. But pack enough clothes on every trip, because it gets cold in the morning and in the evening and hot at noon.
In general, California has a lot to offer. Be it beautiful cities, wonderful nature, beaches or even ski areas; there is something for everybody! The two semesters abroad were really enriching for me and one of the best decisions I have ever made.