My stay in the USA and especially in California was a wonderful experience that I will never forget. A stay abroad is an experience that everyone should have once.
California is a beautiful state with a lot to experience. Above all, San Francisco is a city with a lot of different things to see. The city is not very far from the university on the other side of the bay. It is relatively easy to get to SF during the day in the BART, at night it is a bit more difficult (but there are still limousines ;-)).
If you rent a car over the weekend from the many really cheap car rental companies, you can also see all of California’s other attractions. We have visited Stanford and Berkley, Sacramento, Muir Woods, Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, for example. And LA, San Diego and Las Vegas can also be reached in just one day. So you see, there is a lot to do! In addition, the weather in Cali is almost always perfect – plenty of sun and wonderfully warm.
The university is in Hayward. It’s a very quiet city that looks more like a very large suburban settlement. The campus is on a hill outside the city. It’s very beautiful and idyllic, but there isn’t much to do on campus either. There are enough places to eat and drink – Dining Commons (cafeteria), Panda Express, Subway, Starbucks. However, most of them are closed in the evenings and on weekends. Parties can only be celebrated privately with friends or in SF. (Private parties actually run exactly as you imagine them to be based on the teen films!)
According to EHUACOM, the International House is a great way to get in touch with a lot of people quickly. You can also live with a roommate for the time being. However, the regulations are very strict regarding attendance and parties / volume. You often get visits from the nice RAs (students who play watchdogs), who warn you or throw people out if it’s too loud and too late. It is especially nice that the fitness center is right across the street and you can immediately work off the fat food from the Dining Commons.
The support from the American Language Program ALP (through which you apply) is rather poor. The employees themselves do not know how things are going at the university and are mostly stressed and no help. So: Better help yourself! The bureaucracy is very extensive and you feel a little inferior if you have to endure a tuberculosis test first. But all doctor visits are free and the doctors are very friendly and competent. As a foreign student, you also have to do an alcohol workshop online, since we all don’t know how to deal with alcohol. This test was really ridiculous, but unfortunately you have to take it to get your credentials.
The courses at the university are good. There is a wide range on offer, but it is more difficult for ALP students to get into the desired courses because everyone else has their turn. So at the beginning of the quarter you have to attend every course you might want to have, ask the lecturer if he agrees if you take part and then go to the secretariat and have yourself registered. Then you might get the course if there is a free place. The level of aspiration is somewhat lower than in Germany, you have to do a lot of homework and write tests more often, but these tests can be mastered easily without much effort. The library is rather sparsely equipped. She has a lot of books, but only one copy at a time, which is mostly lost. Besides, these are never the books you need for class. These books have to be bought very expensively or can be borrowed expensively in a shop off campus. If you pay attention in the course and take enough notes, you can do without the books, at least that’s what I can say of psychology.
All in all, I can only say it was a great time. The university is not perfect, but you can also get something good out of it and it is significantly cheaper than other universities. You shouldn’t have any reservations about getting to know people, then things will get really good! Have fun in California 🙂