I handled the entire application process for my semester abroad through MicroEDU GmbH. This company establishes the contact between applicants and the host university and forwards all necessary documents. In retrospect, this step turned out to be very helpful, as you always had a contact person from the German side for all organizational questions. Documents to be submitted were limited to an overview of grades, proof of language skills and financial evidence. I submitted the TOEFL test as proof of language proficiency. Achieving the minimum number of points (mostly between 60-80) was not a problem, but this test is not entirely inexpensive.
After the application was successful, the application for a student visa followed. This process turns out to be very tedious, which is why you should send all the necessary documents to the American embassy as soon as possible. Despite the large number of documents to be submitted, the application process for a visa was still manageable. However, when applying for a visa, the applicant will incur processing and appointment fees.
I would also recommend taking care of scholarships, student loans, etc. at an early stage, as the relevant application deadlines must be adhered to.
After I was able to take care of a foreign health insurance and accommodation, the preparations for my semester abroad were completed.
In terms of accommodation, the general question arose as to whether one would prefer a room on campus or near the beach. I opted for the campus, which made the preparation a lot easier, as I had already found accommodation before leaving. Campus apartments are often rented out by the university, so that you can apply for them in good time. Looking for an apartment on site can turn out to be stressful if you arrive later. I was satisfied with my accommodation on campus. The biggest advantage was the proximity to lecture buildings and leisure facilities. The rent was also cheaper than other accommodations, but far above what I was used to in Germany. I stayed in an apartment with 3 international students. Since Germans make up by far the largest proportion of exchange students at San Diego State University (SDSU), Germans often come together on site when looking for accommodation in order to move into student apartments together. With the campus apartments there is the possibility to express the wish not to live with students of your own nationality, which is highly recommended at the SDSU.
Since the university is located a little further inland, long distances can arise if the accommodation is near the beach.
The apartments were also equipped with kitchens so that you didn’t have to rely on the fast food chains on campus.
My expectations of accommodation on campus were fully met, so that I would choose this option again in retrospect.
- Studies at the host university
The SDSU is one of the top 5 universities in the state of California and is in the middle of the nationwide comparison. However, I found the course easier than what I was used to from Germany. I took four courses, which were intended for students in the final bachelor’s degree. The prejudice of a school-based university system in the USA was confirmed. It was necessary to write a large number of homework and written essays, which, however, cannot be compared with seminar papers in terms of academic status. The workload at the end of the semester was less than in Germany, since at American universities the workload is evenly distributed over the entire semester thanks to “midterms”. The classic “German” exam phase at the end of the semester cannot be compared with the effort required for the “finals” at SDSU. I noticed that the lectures at the SDSU were less theoretically based. There was a strong focus on exemplary applications of the economic fundamentals. This may also have been due to the fact that the theoretical basics are taught at the beginning of the course and later electives in the specialization area value practical content. Learn more about San Diego State University on andyeducation.
The courses were chosen by “crashing” the lectures. Since American students are given priority in course choices, exchange students are only given secondary consideration. Courses could only be taken after consulting the individual professors. Although courses were usually fully booked before the start of the semester, professors were often understandable and accepted a large number of exchange students. I took courses on financial crises, foreign trade and economic policy. I had no problems taking courses, so I got places in my preferred lectures.
- Leisure and everyday life
The SDSU campus can be described as a small town in itself. In contrast to German universities, the individual faculties are not distributed over the whole city, but centered on one area, so that a huge area with university-internal buildings is created. Since students are obliged to live on campus in the first few years, you will find everything there that is otherwise only to be found in large cities in terms of leisure activities. From fitness studios to pools to public tennis courts, no wish remains unfulfilled. Due to the multitude of leisure activities, there is often no reason to leave the campus. In addition, the SDSU offers inexpensive water sports courses for students, which are definitely recommended. In addition to the water courses, camping tours are also offered, which are particularly suitable for exchange students to explore the surrounding nature. I decided to go canoeing down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.
Sport is also very important at American universities. In addition to the multitude of opportunities to do their own sports, the university teams enjoy great admiration among the students. The football and basketball team attracts tens of thousands every week to the stadiums specially built for the university teams. Due to the high density of students in the auditorium, the atmosphere is unique and cannot be compared with the games played by professional teams.
In order to easily find contact with American students, it is advisable to join a sports team. The SDSU offers university-internal tournaments in which registered teams can participate.
The city of San Diego is also a perfect destination for a stay abroad. Particularly noteworthy are the unique weather, the admirable nature and the proximity to well-known travel destinations within the USA. With three rainy days between July and November and an enormous selection of beaches, studying is very pleasant. I was able to use long weekends and the lecture-free time to get to know America better by traveling. I had the opportunity to see Tijuana, Los Angeles, San Francisco, the Grand Canyon and New York during my semester abroad. The different cultures of America are best explored on site, which is why traveling was an indispensable part of every exchange student in San Diego.
I can unreservedly recommend a semester abroad at SDSU. Studying in the USA differs in large parts from studying in Germany, both in terms of teaching and everyday life. During the six months I was able to gather impressions and experiences from an American student life, which I would probably never have gained in this form and which I always fondly remember.