I completed my master’s semester abroad from September-December 2014 at California State University East Bay (CSUEB) in Hayward near San Francisco (California). How it came about, what I experienced during that time and how I judge the time in retrospect, I will describe in detail in the following.
Due to the small number of places available at the English-speaking partner universities of my home university, I decided at the beginning of the second semester to organize my semester abroad myself. Through research and discussions with fellow students, I became aware of “MicroEDU”. MicroEDU is an organization that supports and accompanies students in the application process for a study place at foreign exchange universities. On the MicroEDU website (www.MicroEDU.com) I chose the CSUEB from the large selection of universities based on the location and experience reports of previous exchange students. I then received all of the application documents and requirements from MicroEDU. After I collected them and sent them back to MicroEDU, they were checked for completeness and correctness. After a successful check, they were sent to the CSUEB. I received my acceptance by email about seven weeks later. The application process was therefore very easy and completely unproblematic. Since MicroEDU does not charge any fees, I can only recommend everyone to consider this option, provided that the partner university you want is one of MicroEDUs’ cooperation partners. The application process was therefore very easy and completely unproblematic. Since MicroEDU does not charge any fees, I can only recommend everyone to consider this option, provided that the partner university you want is one of MicroEDUs’ cooperation partners. The application process was therefore very easy and completely unproblematic. Since MicroEDU does not charge any fees, I can only recommend everyone to consider this option, provided that the partner university you want is one of MicroEDUs’ cooperation partners.
Finding suitable accommodation was not that easy. Although the university offers the opportunity to apply for the Student Village, the chance of being accepted for a room is very low (everyone I know has received a rejection). If you get an acceptance, you have to share a room with a randomly assigned student.
On the basis of these facts, I contacted other future exchange students via various Facebook groups in order to end up with two others in order to find a “2-bedroom, 2-bathroom” apartment in the City View Apartments (www.essexapartmenthomes.com/ apartments / california / hayward / city-view-apartment-homes) for rent. It must be said that the rents are generally much higher than in Germany and, depending on whether you share a room or not, you have to reckon with 600-1000 € per month in the end. Apart from that, the accommodation was perfect: you only need to walk eight minutes to the university, within the City View Apartments you can use the small fitness studio, the pool, a whirlpool, the grill area as well as the table football and billiards free of charge. Furthermore, the management is very competent and helpful.
View from the terrace of the driveway, the free parking spaces and the apartments of the City View Apartment
4. Study at the host university
Due to the requirements, my courses had to total 12 credits. So I took a total of 3 courses with 4 credits each:
- MGMT 6220: Operations and Supply Chain Management
2. MGMT 6420: Competitive Strategy
3. FIN 7700: International Business Finance
Since the course selection – as is usual at American universities – takes place at the CSUEB through “class crashing” on site, it is not absolutely necessary that you get exactly the courses you want; ie before the exchange students can choose their courses, all other students may first make their course selection. It is therefore possible that the capacities of some courses are exhausted and one is forced to switch to other courses. As a result, you should look for around seven potential courses in advance in order to have alternatives available.
In general, I can say that the courses are appropriate in terms of demands and can be mastered well with a certain amount of effort and prior knowledge. You have to be aware, however, that the grade for all courses is usually made up of 6-8 partial achievements and therefore presentations, essays, group work or other achievements have to be performed almost every week.
On the other hand, the support given to exchange students is very disappointing. At the beginning of the course there is a 1.5-day introduction by the responsible “International Office”, but this only helps to a limited extent, as you are sometimes provided with incorrect statements and information and other important information is not given. When it came to questions, the information was mostly unsatisfactory, which made the start unnecessarily complicated. But once you’ve made your choice of course, nothing stands in the way of a great semester abroad.
5. Everyday life and leisure
What characterizes a semester abroad is the time that you spend away from university. There is more than enough to experience here for that. Thanks to its location in the East Bay, you can take the subway to San Francisco in less than an hour, where you can experience countless things: bike tours, Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, Lombard Street, Golden Gate Park, the Exploratorium,… and of course Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge!
The symbol of the city: the Golden Gate Bridge
According to Act-test-centers.com, there are also numerous opportunities for leisure activities in the area – be it for a day, weekend or a whole week trip: Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Carmel by the Sea and Monterey, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Yellowstone National Park, Napa Valley, etc.
To celebrate, you can go to one of the two bars in Hayward or drive into San Francisco. However, you should then get together with friends, as the railways do not go through at night and a return trip by taxi or “Uber” costs from USD 60 upwards, depending on the time and offer. But it’s also worth it!
There is also more than enough for sports enthusiasts like me. Various sports are offered at the university, such as boot camp, swimming, soccer, table tennis or basketball. So I took part in the university’s own soccer league. You can also see some sports live in the stadium, as there is a lot in the area: basketball (Golden State Warriors), football (San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders), ice hockey (San Jose Sharks), soccer (San Jose Earthquakes) and more nor all the university teams, for example from Stanford or Berkeley.
6. Conclusion and key learnings
In summary, I really enjoyed the semester abroad. At CSUEB you don’t experience typical American university life (as you know it from films), but you have an incredible number of leisure activities in and around San Francisco that you should definitely take advantage of. Exactly for this reason I bought a car with friends, but it caused us a lot of problems and cost money. Other exchange students were also very unlucky with this. If you decide to buy, you should look very carefully and, if you are unsure, use a rental car if necessary. Apart from that, it was a great time with lots of wonderful experiences and memories and I had a lot of fun.