The semester abroad at San Jose State University (SJSU) was my fourth stay abroad since I started my bachelor’s degree (3 with a study background, 1 for fun). Because of this, this report is likely to be written from a slightly different perspective than the rest of the reports here. I’m not going to write about how to get your visa, how to book a flight, or how exciting it is to be away from mom for five months. I recommend more experienced international students.
For my last semester abroad, I decided on the SJSU because I especially liked its location in Silicon Valley has agreed. Unfortunately, shortly after my arrival, I discovered that San José has very little in common with the futuristic and innovative flair that one might associate with Silicon Valley. The city offers little of a real big city flair and is littered with homeless people. Beautiful places like the centrally located St. James Park are practically unusable because it is virtually occupied by the homeless. Of course, these circumstances have a negative impact on city safety. Despite regularly patrolling police patrols, several incidents occurred during my time there both on campus (which is exactly in the city center) and in downtown. Female fellow students told me. Learn more about San Jose State University on andyeducation.
Apart from the homeless, the population in San José is very diverse and interesting. In addition to Indians and Asians (who make up a good 70% of the population), people from all parts of the world live there, especially from Mexico, of course. So if you are looking for a multicultural experience, San José is the place. But it is probably not the right address to get to know the typical American way of life.
One aspect that makes San José attractive is its geographical proximity to San Francisco and the “better” parts of the Bay, such as Palo Alto or Mountain View. San Francisco can be reached by car in just over an hour, and interesting places such as Google Headquarters or Stanford University in less than 30 minutes. If you are in the mood for a beach and surfer feeling, Santa Cruz is only an hour away by car / bus.
San Jose State University
The SJSU has a very beautiful and spacious campus in the heart of San José. In addition to numerous food courts and green spaces, the campus also has a library, which is also the city’s public library. This means that the city’s homeless people also have access to the library’s facilities and media. This means that, depending on the time of year and time of day, the library is full of people you would not expect in it. Fortunately, the upper two floors of the library are reserved for SJSU students and therefore not occupied by bums.
Anyone attending the SJSU should not expect to be faced with special intellectual or thematic challenges. (at least in the business sector). To be honest, I have to admit that the demands of the courses are roughly comparable to those of the German grammar school, which may have been due to my, not entirely voluntary (see below), course choice. What is also reminiscent of the grammar school is the structure of the courses. Homework, quizzes, papers, midterms and co. ensure that you are busy for the entire semester. The advantage is, of course, that not the entire grade depends on an examination at the end of the semester.
I have chosen the following courses:
Global Entrepreneurship: Very high workload, low learning potential -> not recommended
Marketing in New Ventures: Very little effort, moderate learning potential -> recommended
Entrepreneurship Lab: Here you don’t have a course but do an unpaid internship in a Silicon Valley startup -> highly recommended
Advanced Spanish Conversation: Moderate workload, moderate learning potential -> depending on your own Spanish level, recommended
The organization at the SJSU is basically catastrophic and due to a precedent in the spring semester 2015, our semester abroad was almost over before it had started. As already described in other reports, it is normal at the SJSU to crash coursesand add them to the American student using add-codes. The dean of the business faculty decided at the beginning of January that the courses were already overenrolled (ie too many students had registered) not to issue any more add-codes. In fact, this meant that none of the visiting students could add a course from the business faculty. The International Gateways Office could not change anything about this situation and was not really of any help in solving the problem. As a result, all exchange students had to wrestle for two weeks in an extremely tiring and nerve-wracking battle to get added to any courses. Ultimately, all visiting students have probably managed to get enough courses to keep their F1 visa status,
In general, California is arguably one of the most beautiful, albeit most expensive, states in the United States. Anyone studying on the west coast should definitely take the chance and travel extensively. Places like LA, San Francisco, San Diego, Big Sur or Yosemite are definitely a must-see. But even beyond the borders of California, there are many places worth seeing in relative proximity on the west coast, such as Las Vegas (Nevada), the Grand Canyon (Arizona) or Hawaii.
Silicon Valley is one of the most expensive regions in the US. This can be seen in all areas of life, starting with the rental prices (approx. $ 800-1500) up to the prices for groceries (2 peppers, 5 $).
As is common in the US, public life is centered around having a car. The South Valley (the extended region around San José) does have public transport that you can use free of charge as a student at the SJSU, but these are underdeveloped compared to Germany and frequented by people with dubious social backgrounds.
It is therefore strongly recommended that you have your own car. However, the associated costs (acquisition, insurance) should not be underestimated.
If you are interested in a lively nightlife, San José offers a few options either in the center or a little further south in a district (Campell). Due to the law, all clubs and bars close at 2:00 am at the latest. Those looking for longer-lasting or fancier parties will find them either in San Francisco or at private parties.
As the report may already suggest, studying at SJSU is a special experience. I don’t want to say that it is necessarily a bad experience, but I firmly believe that there are far better places in California to spend a semester abroad. However, I would directly recommend students of business administration to avoid the SJSU, because the uncertain and by no means solved problems at the business faculty can fundamentally jeopardize the success of a semester abroad.