In order to organize a stay abroad, it is especially important to start planning early. My goal was to complete a semester abroad in the fourth master’s semester, which is why I started to find out more at the beginning of the first master ’s semester. I also already knew that I was in the USA and wanted to study, which is why the partner universities of my home university were out of the question for me. Of course, that makes it a bit more difficult at first, as the International Office has less contact with American universities. But they helped me a lot by recommending some organizations that mediate in the USA. They also gave me other important information that I have to consider with regard to a semester abroad.
Ultimately, I found a university through the MicroEDU organization. I can only recommend MicroEDU. I was able to contact me at any time with questions by e-mail or by phone and I always had the feeling that the employees were eager to support me with any difficulties. After I decided to go to California State University East Bay (CSUEB), the application went very quickly. Everything was described step by step, exactly how to do what. Of course, this also included discussing the project with various agencies. I had to consult with the examination office and have my stay confirmed. I also had to look around to take care of international insurance, passport, visa, vaccinations, courses, transcripts, etc. All of this has already taken a whole semester. In May 2014, however, I was able to send my application.
Finding suitable accommodation turned out to be a challenge and here, too, I can only say that early planning will benefit you. I applied for a dormitory, but compared to the dormitories in Germany, they are many times more expensive. In addition, I would have had to book a meal plan, so the price was too high for me. I was able to contact other students at the host university who wanted to rent their accommodation through the MicroEDU Facebook page. Many lived there in apartments, but this had the disadvantage that you had to get all the furniture yourself. Since I was only supposed to go there for half a year, it was too much of a hassle because I would have had to sell all the furniture again. I’m up then AirBnB came across, a platform on which private providers rent out rooms or other accommodation furnished. Then I found a room in a house that I could share with my boyfriend. When it came to renting rooms, we also realized that California is not a cheap state, which is why most of the students there shared a room.
Studied at the host university
Everything was well organized by the CSUEB. We were told how we had to register for which courses and what other rules apply on campus. Often it was very difficult to get into the desired courses, as the American students were naturally given priority. However, there was still the International Business Diploma, where there is a certificate after attending six courses and enrollment goes smoothly. I took part in all six courses because, in terms of content, they complemented my previous studies very well and I was able to get to know other topics.
The way in which the university is taught differs significantly from that of German universities. The workload at the host university was significantly higher, although the level of difficulty was nowhere near as high as I was used to at my home university. I have to say, however, that both have their advantages and disadvantages.
According to Mcat-test-centers.com, the lecturers at CSUEB were always very nice and competent, as they all brought a lot of experience and knowledge to their courses through their work in business. You should also try not to be too strict about the courses. There was always a lot to do, but as I said, everything was doable and the tasks were given very good marks.
Everyday life and free time
Despite the high workload, we always had enough time to do something. California is a very good place to travel, as there are many national parks and cities here and in neighboring states. For example, I went on longer trips to Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Bryce and Zion Canyon, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Death Valley and Mendocino. At the university I quickly got to know nice people with whom I went on these tours. This of course also made things like car and room rental cheaper.
Since we lived half an hour away from San Francisco, we were there more often and went on many day trips. This city has a lot to offer, half a year is almost not enough. In addition, San Francisco is very clear, which is why some things are possible on foot. There was also plenty to do in Hayward, where I lived. While some might argue that Hayward doesn’t have much to offer. However, I found the experience of living in a typically American suburb very exciting. There was a connection to San Francisco and Oakland was close by so we could go to baseball, basketball and football games. The city also had a cinema, several restaurants, diners and bars.
After graduating from university, I was on the road for another month, because of course it makes sense when you are there. It then went down south on Highway 1 to LA and San Diego and then to the east coast to New York, Miami and Atlanta. Travel should definitely be taken with you.
In summary, I can recommend a semester abroad to everyone. It is always associated with difficulties and obstacles that have to be overcome. But basically, no matter where you go, it is always worth an experience if you make something of it. So I didn’t have a really bad experience, except maybe that looking for an apartment was a challenge and the host university wasn’t much help. But these are things that can happen anywhere. My entire semester abroad was just a great experience. I was lucky enough to get to know a lot of nice people and get to know the world from a slightly different perspective.