1. Application process for a scholarship at the DAAD
Applying for a scholarship at the DAAD requires a lot of commitment and perseverance. First of all, it is advisable to familiarize yourself with the offers on the DAAD website in order to focus on relevant offers and apply for them in accordance with the guidelines provided. After examining academic and personal requirements, an approximate schedule should be designed. In any case, you shouldn’t be put off by the high administrative effort! I recommend starting with the preparation of all documents and the application at least three months before the deadline – appointments are sometimes difficult to make and the calendar of the contact persons at the university / technical college / vocational academy sometimes difficult to agree.
- Preparation for a stay abroad
To begin with, I would like to say that it is very advisable to start preparing for the “semester abroad in the USA” project as early as possible, ie at least one year in advance. Because this project guarantees a high administrative effort. The most important question that one asks is probably the question of choosing the right university. Since I study at the Eisenach University of Cooperative Education in Thuringia according to the dual study system, certain requirements are linked to the choice of university. In order to be able to start the project, it was crucial that both the professional academy and my practice company gave their consent to the project. For me, this meant that I would find a university that teaches quarters, i.e. trimesters, and is practice-oriented. It must be noted that there are few business schools in the USA, but rather economics (our economics) classes are offered. With the active support of MicroEDU, I quickly found the right university. The California State University East Bay (CSUEB) impressed with its great price-performance ratio. The tuition fees are well below the American or California average, but the university infrastructure is excellent. The choice fell on a California State University and not a University of California, as the state universities focus less on research and more on practical relevance, which suits my German course.
2.1 University application process
Here, too, MicroEDU was a great support and always an active mediation partner between the CSUEB and me. While MicroEDU established contact with the local contact person and also had empirical values on any questions that might arise, I was able to save a lot of effort and valuable time in order to concentrate on other essential matters.
To register at the CSUEB, I filled out a registration form which gave information about my preferred course selection and contact details. Furthermore, a form called “Declaration of Finance” must be submitted, which provides information about the extent to which the semester abroad is financed. In addition, you should get a transcript of records from your university / professional academy, i.e. an overview of previous achievements in English, so that you can submit them with your application. After paying the registration fee of $ 100, one is registered at the CSUEB and is then “only” expected by the CSUEB. My advice, since it is very difficult to choose analog courses at the American university, check the CSUEB catalog beforehand. This is possible under the following link:
It is difficult to see the syllabus of the courses beforehand and it is therefore advisable to contact students on site or simply be patient. It was important for me to know roughly which courses I can choose and how, which and, above all, how many credits you get for them and how these are compatible with the courses in Germany in order to ensure that they are recognized by the vocational academy. (Explanations of course choice and course scope below).
3. Travel preparations
In addition to general travel preparations that regulate the transfer between the destinations and the booking of flight tickets, many other things must also be considered. As a vocational college student, it is also important to remind the contact person of the practice company in the payroll department to use the form “Posting an employee to another EU / EEA country or to Switzerland” (available from health insurance companies or available as PDF on the Internet) to be completed and sent to the health insurance company before departure.
To study in the USA it is a prerequisite to apply for an F1 visa at the consulate in Germany. These can be found in Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. For the visa you have to come to one of these consulates for an interview with numerous documents and documents to be submitted. You can make an appointment for the interview at least four months before departure by phone or online at http://www.usvisa-germany.com/germany/index.jsp?locale=de_DE (recommended because the one-off costs are € 10). All documents required for the appointment can also be useful if you have set up an online account on the above homepage.
The following costs are to be estimated for the visa (as of March 2009)
: Visa fee: 107.28 €
SEVIS fee: 200 $
Photo visa: approx. 14 € (note special format
requirements !!) You should plan for long waiting times and strict security checks at the consulate.
The interview itself is short, precise and straightforward.
After completing the appointment, the visa will be sent by post to your home address within a few days (2-4 days).
The CSUEB requires the conclusion of a foreign health insurance to a certain extent. Information on this will be sent with other information material after registration. The insurance taken out for me by the DAAD includes these requirements to a sufficient extent. Only the decision about baggage and / or travel cancellation insurance for the flight should be made individually.
The choice of accommodation was made quickly and easily. Living in the International House is presented in detail on the information pages for international students. The International House is a student residence on campus for international students in particular. Rent and meals together cost $ 2500 / trimester. This price remains the same, no matter which Meal Plan option you choose, ie you receive a certain credit on your student card with which you can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Dining Commons (deluxe cafeteria). This option of catering should be used in any case, because the first course in a local supermarket shows you very dramatically how utopian the food prices are and consequently a healthy and balanced food is unreachable. But with the Dining Commons you have an absolute nutritional plus. You can choose from a wide variety of delicacies that change every day. So there is always a salad and fruit bar as well as a sandwich and roasting station, where no culinary wish should be left unfulfilled. The fast food fan gets his money’s worth as well as the health-conscious. So there is always a salad and fruit bar as well as a sandwich and roasting station, where no culinary wish should be left unfulfilled. The fast food fan gets his money’s worth as well as the health-conscious. So there is always a salad and fruit bar as well as a sandwich and roasting station, where no culinary wish should be left unfulfilled. The fast food fan gets his money’s worth as well as the health-conscious.
A total of $ 2500 + $ 100 deposit = $ 2600 (payable by credit card) for the entire quarter for food and accommodation (as of 03/09). This certainly seems high, but when you consider how high the food prices are, this is probably the smartest decision.
For the International House you have to register in advance and pay a registration fee of $ 30 in advance.
4. Studies at California State University, East Bay (CSUEB)
4.1. Presentation of the university
All of the courses I chose took place on the CSUEB’s Hayward Campus (see Figure 1). This is located on the Hayward Hills, from which you can overlook the entire East Bay Area with a view of Oakland to the skyline of San Francisco (approx. 30 minutes by car). The university has numerous newly built science buildings, which are equipped with new and very modern lecture halls, a good library and free printing are available for enrolled students. There is also a health center in which, in addition to extensive medical and free (!!!!) services (vaccinations, x-rays, pharmacy, etc.), psychotherapy and physiotherapy are offered at minimal fees or free of charge. There is also a help desk which helps students with any questions about software and / or hardware problems with electrical devices. The CSUEB is right in the center of an elite university landscape. It is only a 30 minute drive to Berkeley (north) and the Stanford campus in Palo Alto (southwest).
4.2 Introductory week
A well-organized introduction to university structures was organized by the office of the American Language Program (ALP) of the CSUEB, ie explanation of technical and organizational parameters. Since I applied for an Open University Program, i.e. the regular attendance of normally offered university courses, when I sent my application, I still had to make a binding registration. There are some deadlines and procedures to be followed in this regard. First of all, however, you pay the full tuition fees and the costs of the International House (approx. $ 5600 – as of 03/09). Some advice is given here. You should inquire in advance about the individual credit limit of your credit card and about the direct debit procedure of the account-holding bank. It can happen that the booking is not confirmed due to the time difference or that the credit limit is exceeded by this one-off amount. In any case, you should clarify these eventualities beforehand with your bank in order to avoid delays that are liable to costs. Then all that remains is to hope for a gracious dollar exchange rate.
After payment has been made, the course selection can be completed after two weeks at the latest and you will receive all accesses. It should be noted that no one in charge asked for my TOEFL (cost: $ 185!) Certificate (university requirement: 71 points for the online-based TOEFL), nor specifically wanted to review the transcript of records.
4.3 Course selection and enrollment process
I would like to say it in advance: The enrollment process is torture. As a BA student in Germany, you are generally little or no involved in the organization of individual course plans, but rather have a different workload and other set schedules. Nevertheless, it was also difficult for other students at German universities to organize their preferred lecture schedule. For me it was the highest priority to choose the courses specified in the application to the DAAD and the CSUEB. In order for the courses in Germany to be credited, they had to conform to the courses taught in parallel at the BA in Eisenach. Unfortunately, foreign students can only enroll in courses after the Americans. In the first two orientation weeks, numerous courses were attended, which were similar in their content in order to create alternative options. Many of the courses were already full and so you had to approach the professor proactively and ask to take part in his course. It is very advisable to do your picking as a student. I used the MyCSUEB platform to organize my lecture schedule and was able to check in real time which capacities and requirements which course had. After two weeks of participation in the courses that had already started, the decisive enrollment then took place via this platform. You have to get up early and enroll in the desired courses as soon as possible. Don’t be 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. Important is, to advertise again in good time so that NO additional fees arise. With a delay of two or three weeks, after successful enrollment, you have access to the Blackboard, a platform on which you have access to all scripts, documents and everything useful for the selected courses as well as personal e-mail access for the university. Without access to Blackboard or the Horizon e-mail account, it is difficult to work effectively, so you should try to establish good contact with fellow students during the orientation (it is worthwhile) who will kindly help you out, for example forwarding your homework. Otherwise, the administration of the courses is, for example, the digital submission of papers, homework, the administration and viewing of transcripts or similar. very user-friendly and clear. It takes a short time to get used to all of the processes and regulations.
4.4. Course content and requirements
For each course a syllabus is handed out by the lecturer at the beginning of the quarter, which contains explicit content, the expected horizon, course scope (number of midterms, homework, projects, etc.), deadlines and the grading system (weighting of individual components in the overall grade).
I took the following courses:
Course – Number – Professor – credits
Macroeconomics for Business – ECON – Dr. Adrian Stoian – 4
Financial Management – FIN3300 – Dr. Eric Fricke – 4
Human Resource Management – MGMT3610 – Dr. Sharon Green – 4th
My courses were given by both European and US professors. The lesson could be followed without hesitation in terms of content and language at any time. The level was very moderate and not too easy neither too difficult. Particularly impressive are the small class sizes, the practical and interactive teaching method and the high level of commitment of the professors, with which you inspire students for your teaching content. Each professor also offers his help for separate office hours; you can also contact them at any time by e-mail with questions or the like and always receive satisfactory feedback promptly. The group of students is very heterogeneous, in terms of age, practical experience and cultural background. All of these factors enrich the classroom at all times. Theoretical constructs are projected and applied to practical issues by means of projects or stimulating discussions. All in all, the preparation of the professors’ lectures is great, profound and convincing. The workload is still quite high, so in each course at least one or two midterms are written, a final, weekly homework, projects and papers. Despite a lot of effort, I found this system more pleasant than in Germany, where everything is sealed with a single exam grade. Whereas, according to the US system, you get several options to present your performance in cross-section and the final grade is a weighted, real performance indicator. The only downer I would mention is that it is common that every lecturer wishes to acquire certain accompanying literature in a very specific edition for his course. This is often utopian expensive (precisely because it often has to be a very specific edition), seldom available in the library or even in the assortment and not absolutely necessary for successfully completing the course. If the purchase of a textbook is indispensable, it is advisable to obtain books via book exchanges, Ebay or through buying and selling. But even then, the books are still extremely expensive (e.g. book on the Financial Management course approx. $ 210 as new, used books around $ 100; if they are resold to the bookstore, you will receive a maximum of 50% of the original price despite being in good condition). Better to sell books elsewhere. I was lucky enough to get a book from my lecturer and to receive the book as a free PDF in the other subjects or even equivalent books. In principle, it is of course always advisable not to shy away from going to the library despite promising book recommendations.
4.5 Intercultural added value
In addition to attending the lectures and conveying the theoretical content, the encounter and discussion with other cultures was much more obvious and lastingly more valuable. It was always incredibly impressive how many students from different nations study together in a room with similar goals. In every corner you could hear different linguistic confusions, until everyone found the same denominator – English, the language to communicate with others, to exchange views or to dispel stereotypes. In addition to the obviously large number of international students from Asia, there were also many Europeans, Arabs, a few Africans and South Americans among the students. All in all, this resulted in a uniquely interesting mix. In an informal environment, you can learn things about countries and people that you could not have found in a lexicon. Perhaps after the initial fear of contact, one deals more profoundly with different nations, their history, politics and economy. You can also experience how you actually feel as a foreigner abroad, why, for example, Turks speak Turkish in Germany or what it feels like to be in the minority. What I mean by that is that by exchanging experiences with others you can see how Germans are seen abroad, for example, and how you react yourself when you meet Germans abroad – that’s right, at the beginning you speak German with them as a matter of course. But you quickly notice that it is an adjustment process to speak English to one another in order to also include non-German speakers in conversations. At some point you almost forget where all students actually come from and take society for granted.
I can only recommend everyone to approach people openly and impartially, regardless of their origin, and to address questions with sense and understanding in order to be able to form a personal picture. Then Asians are not Asians, as labeled under a collective term, but Koreans are Koreans, Chinese are Chinese and Japanese are Japanese. You quickly understand how clear the differences in mentality and culture are and learn to appreciate them.
5. Campus life and the American way of life
Although Hayward and especially life “uphill” on campus could quickly and quietly become one-sided, I have never regretted the decision to live “on campus”. After all, Hayward is connected to the BART system (public transport) and so you can reach the sensational San Francisco within 45 minutes (round trip fare: $ 6.40). As a student at CSUEB you can use bus line 92 free of charge. This takes you directly from the campus to the Hayward BART station in about 20 minutes. If you are studying in Hayward for more than a quarter, it is really advisable to think about buying a car.
5.1. Cost of living
As mentioned above, all costs are higher than compared to Germany, with the exception of the oil price. Paradoxically, even a gallon of gasoline is cheaper than a gallon of milk. You should calculate in advance at least 20% of the average monthly budget available in Germany. You should also include enough financial reserves for unexpected costs in the calculation of the semester abroad. In order not to spread displeasure at this point, I just have to say that it is worth taking a look at the exchange rate every day (averaged 1.38 / 1.39). This reduces the actual expenditure considerably. In addition, studying at the CSUEB is significantly cheaper in relation to other universities in the State of California (in terms of tuition fees & housing).
5.2 On Campus Housing
I can only recommend everyone to live on campus or, in particular, in the International House. It is incredibly easy to integrate into the community there and to make contacts. Certainly around 80% of the people living in the International House are Asians (mainly Koreans, Japanese and Chinese) who speak English more or less well, but you can quickly put away any prejudices and learn to appreciate them. In the house you live in 8-person apartments and share an approx. 20m² room with a room mate. I was very lucky with my room mate from Korea, who spoke English very well and fluently and also had a great personality. The International House regularly organizes events in which, for example, roommates present their country in one evening, whether with culinary delicacies or other interesting things. In addition to the events organized by the International House, the ALP (responsible office for international students) organizes so-called free (!) Fun trips once a week, which you should definitely take part in. For example, we went to Sacramento to visit the governor’s seat. Depending on your interests, you can also join numerous clubs or take advantage of the extensive range of sports on offer (as an international student, you can attend a sports course free of charge). The sports offer ranges from tennis, golf, kickboxing to dance and Pilates. The CSUEB offers a wide range of activities. The ALP (responsible office for international students) organizes so-called free (!) fun trips once a week, which you should definitely take part in. For example, we went to Sacramento to visit the governor’s seat. Depending on your interests, you can also join numerous clubs or take advantage of the extensive range of sports on offer (as an international student, you can attend a sports course free of charge). The sports offer ranges from tennis, golf, kickboxing to dance and Pilates.
5.3 Inquiries and Travel
In addition to studying at the university, the aim of the stay abroad should also be to get to know the country and its people better. What better way to do this than to use as many opportunities as possible for cultural exchange and to explore the surrounding area. The East Bay or California in general offer numerous possibilities. The East Bay area is the eight largest economy in the world and especially as a business student it is a good idea to visit places like Silicon Valley or the headquarters of companies in general. As part of a benchmarking project, I was able to take the opportunity to speak to American colleagues from my practice company.
In the East Bay Area, in particular, you come across a very liberal and cosmopolitan group of people with whom you can talk without obligation.
6. Return to Germany and follow-up
6.1 Transfer of credits & transfer of courses
According to ANYCOUNTYPRIVATESCHOOLS, transcripts can be requested quite easily under MyCsueb or in Warren Hall. Only a small fee + processing fee is due for this. If you need additional documents for the recognition of your courses, simply contact the lecturer directly. If the courses are coordinated beforehand with the head of study in Germany and changes are signaled in good time, the recognition of the credits should not be an obstacle.
7. Tips and useful information
- Acquisition of a translator (digital dictionary) with business vocabulary
- Know your contact person and always have their contact details ready (financial institutions,
- Health insurance etc.)
- Travel guide tip: Lonely Planet publisher “California”, “Encounter San Francisco”
- In principle, avoid withdrawing money with credit card and prefer to withdraw money once with a giro card
- Withdraw larger sums, as the fees can be high (e.g. Berliner
- Sparkasse -> fee from the American side $ 3 + 7 € !!!! Fees from German
- It is best to park your car after 6 p.m. (no parking meter is active on Sundays)
- and avoid hydrants —> Towing services such as fines are immensely expensive
- on the first Tuesday of each month there is admission to the MOMA (Museum of Modern
- Art) free of charge
- if you have an international student ID you save the under age fee
- if you rent a car and are still under 25 years old
- Rental cars are much cheaper to get from German websites
- Rental cars are on average cheaper to rent at Oakland Airport or directly in San Francisco than in Hayward
It starts with an idea, becomes a project, a real challenge and remains your “Time of your Life”!
I can only tell you openly and honestly that this was the best decision. I was able to spend unique, unmistakable and perfect three months with many great interesting people.
Do not miss this opportunity. Be persistent, motivated and think about the three-month reward in California if the preparations put you off in the meantime.
Without the financial and personal support from the DAAD, my professional academy and MicroEDU, I would certainly not have been able to carry out this project so successfully. Many many thanks!