As part of my dual studies, it is compulsory to complete a semester abroad. Because of the thesis I had previously written, I only had 3 months to go abroad. It was clear to me that I would go to an English-speaking country and because I think American English is the most beautiful, I ultimately only had to choose one city. It quickly became clear to me that the sun had to go and California was the perfect destination for that. MicroEDU gave me the opportunity to plan my semester abroad quickly and easily. The range of universities in California on the MicroEDU website was very large and very clear, so I quickly decided on a university.
It was supposed to go to Hayward, near San Francisco.
When applying for the visa, I was one of the lucky ones where everything went smoothly and quickly. Certainly some formalities have to be filled out and clarified, but the whole process up to the receipt of the visa was handled very quickly.
Now nothing stood in the way of my long-awaited trip to San Francisco.
I landed in Santa Barbara, in southern California, in early September. A wonderful little town! Before the university really started, I first traveled for about two weeks. All in all, I went to Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Malibu and Las Vegas. Shortly before the beginning of the semester, I drove up Highway No. 1 from LA to Hayward. This road goes past the coast most of the time and is just gorgeous. The journey took about 9 hours, but it is definitely worth it!
When I arrived in Hayward, I first reported to the International House, where I stayed for the next three months. Shortly after registering, I got to know a few other students from different countries. The eighth apartments were each divided into 4 rooms for 2 people each, with a living room, a kitchen niche, two toilets and showers.
My impression of the International House was good. At the beginning of the semester, each student who so desires receives a meal card on which, depending on the choice, a certain amount of dollars and a certain number of meals per week are available in the “cafeteria”. The money on this card can be used to buy a variety of things on campus. In addition to groceries, the kiosk also sells cleaning supplies, care products or, in winter, socks and hats.
Of course, there are some rules that have to be observed if you decide to live in the International House. This includes these typical things such as a ban on smoking in the apartments, observance of quiet times, no serving of alcohol to minors (i.e. under 21), etc.
Unfortunately, the equipment of the apartments does not include a stove, toaster or dishes. You also have to buy bed linen or bring it yourself.
Nonetheless, living there is very pleasant, as the university is located directly on a mountain and you can be in your classroom quickly and comfortably in a short time. Of course, it is also practical that contact with other international students can be made very quickly and the parties that are ultimately celebrated there are very funny.
According to EDUCATIONVV, the university organizes a wide variety of excursions for the newcomers. The first excursion took us to San Francisco, where we could visit different sights of this city. The students had the opportunity to express their wishes about certain excursion locations. Accordingly, a trip to the wine region in Nappa Valley and an NBA game in Oakland were organized for us. Many of the excursions offered were free. A small amount had to be paid for each of the last two trips mentioned.
The town of Hayward itself is pretty ugly, but the surroundings are very beautiful. We were a large group of international students and planned tours from the start. We were already known at the car rental. If you rent a car to several people, the price is reasonable, but you should compare the prices well and also the different car categories. Sometimes two smaller cars are cheaper than one big one.
Regarding the university itself it can be said that as an international student you are at a disadvantage compared to American students when it comes to choosing your subjects. The international students have the opportunity to attend as many courses as they want in the first week in order to get an impression of the learning content. After a week, your own portal will be activated via the Internet in order to then register for the courses. The disadvantage of this is that the American students already had the opportunity to enroll and it can therefore happen that the desired course is already fully booked.
The contents of the courses are very different. Some are more difficult, others much easier than in Germany. However, several case studies and midterms are written in most courses. At the end there is usually a final exam. The award of participation grades also differs from course to course.
Most courses require the purchase of books that are really overpriced in America! Often there is more than one book per course, so you can easily spend a total of $ 200 or more on literature. Most of us have therefore bought the books on Amazon or via AbeBooks on the Internet. The learning material that is in the books is usually dealt with relatively quickly in lessons or through homework.
One point that I found very positive was the way I deal with the lecturers. In contrast to Germany, the American lecturers are extremely relaxed, they are used by all students and take a lot of time for their students. They not only respond quickly to emails, but also come to the university outside of their working hours especially for the students.
In terms of costs, the CSUEB is one of the cheapest universities in California in my opinion. The university cost me about $ 2,500 and living plus a meal card cost me another $ 2,500. My meal card had five meals a week and $ 500 Flexmoney for shopping on campus.
In general, groceries in the supermarket in the USA are a lot more expensive than in Germany.
It was an unforgettable time! After my arrival in Germany, I really wanted to be able to go back to California!
I’ve met a lot of great people who I miss very much. I would advise everyone to do a semester abroad, even if it’s only 3 months. It really is an unforgettable experience!