I went to CSU East Bay for the Spring Quarter 2016 and overall I had a very good time. Still, I wouldn’t recommend this college to my best friend. I will explain why not in the following.
First of all, a big thank you to MicroEDU. I can only report positive things about the commitment to make preparations as easy as possible for us students. Whenever I had a question (and that was quite often), I was able to reach someone over the phone or in person who would take care of my concern.
The preparations are nevertheless quite time-consuming and stressful at times. Start early enough and don’t miss out on the scholarships that are waiting for you here and there. For example that from the DAAD, where I also took my language test ; much cheaper than TOEFL and it does. For the visa I had to drive to Berlin and I had a lot of paperwork lying around, which at times takes your nerve, but it’s worth getting through the mess.
Road trip and accommodation
I lived with a friend I met through the MicroEDU Facebook page for California. We flew to LA together and did a road trip first – 2 weeks along Highway 1 to San Francisco. That was MEGA! Definitely do it. Book a rental car in Germany (discount with the ISIC student card at Alamo), book cheap hotels spontaneously at hotwire.com and leave. The hotels always have 2 double beds, so if there are four of you on the road trip, it is probably the cheapest (if your huge suitcases all fit in one car).
Arrived in Hayward, we stayed in an Airbnb accommodation in South Hayward, which unfortunately was a total letdown. Much too far away from the university and the room only had a very small window. Even the Uber driver said on the way to us that the neighborhood here was very “shady” and that his son was murdered in front of his house 2 weeks ago. Wuhu! We wanted to hear that! In addition, the owner informed us on the second day that the house has now been sold. We felt so uncomfortable there that we immediately looked again. Fortunately, we found affordable Airbnb accommodation close to the university, which we then checked out before we booked. However, Airbnb is very accommodating and has issued us a voucher because of the inconvenience. I can highly recommend Airbnb. You just have to look a little better beforehand than I did: yours accommodation should either be within walking distance of the university or near Hayward Bart Station. There is a shuttle to the university every 10 minutes. Otherwise you are completely lost without a car. Our new accommodation was really great and we were very satisfied. The good thing about Airbnb is that you live in a furnished house. The City Views are certainly to be recommended, but you still have stress and additional expenses because the apartment has to be completely furnished. That doesn’t make sense for 1 quarter, I think.
If you are only there in 1 quarter, a car is probably not worth it. For two quarters maybe. I would probably buy a car for 3 quarters. Local public transport is rather useless. We are very spoiled in Germany. You come to San Francisco with a beard, that’s great. But beyond that, you’re pretty stuck in Hayward. Just to Santa Cruz? Or to Lake Tahoe? Or Yosemite? You want to do everything, but you can’t do it without a car. So you need friends who have a car or you always get a rental car. The latter can be relatively expensive if you’re under 25.
Tip: Do not put all the things that you want to experience and see there in front of you. Time flies, so I advise you to schedule all major excursions right at the beginning (especially if you are only there for 1 quarter and have to plan who will pick up a rental car and when and who will come with you). In the end, you notice that you suddenly only have 2 weeks left in which the finals are also and then you may not be able to do everything.
According to Andyeducation.com, the CSU East Bay has a very nice campus. However, it is not a top university. The level is not very high, but it can be quite relaxed at times. Nevertheless, you have unexpectedly much to do. You have an exam for each subject every 2 weeks, always homework and sometimes journals.
I have taken 3 courses. Organizational behavior with Daniel Martin was very funny. For example, we talked about leadership and active listening, practiced breathing techniques and caressed raisins (yes, actually. It was about perception…). Every week we should reflect on the content with a fellow student via Skype and write a journal about how this experience will affect our lives. I felt very stupid every now and then. Nevertheless, I can recommend the course because it was never boring and you would have to attract negative attention in order not to get an A.
My second course was Managerial Economics and Business Strategy. It was like a basic economics course. First there should be a lot more content, which the lecturer (Fey Steiner) then mostly deleted because nobody could do anything. But that’s not the lecturer’s fault. She explained the contents very clearly and even uploaded the filmed lecture.
My third class was with a Taiwanese woman who had a very heavy accent. She was very nice, but I had problems understanding. In terms of content, the Advanced Financial Accounting course was very demanding, but you can still get a good grade with a little effort. However, I would not take this course again because it was relatively strenuous.
Overall, the content of the courses was all feasible. You can get good grades with little effort. However, all courses are very time-consuming.
For about $ 60 you can go to the university sports center. There are also many courses there, from Body Pump to Bollywood Dance. I was particularly excited about Zumba, but also tried other courses. Overall, I was very disappointed by the lack of motivation and unreliability of the coaches. 2 coaches were very good, the courses were always way too full. But most of them either didn’t show up at all, which I find totally wrong, or they didn’t feel like it themselves. There were usually only three of you standing there and then the next time you didn’t go there. Too bad.
Contact with locals
Difficult. I attended the Startup Weekend East Bay. That was fun and would have been a good opportunity to get in touch with Americans. But that only worked out mediocre, because in general the locals are not very interested in German exchange students. Everyone works alongside the university, a lot of them do not come from Hayward at all and somehow no real friendships develop. At the end of the day you have a barbecue with the other 10 Germans. Also cool, but you don’t have to fly to the USA for that. One of us suggested that we start speaking English together so that we could practice. Sad but true.
Of course, it always depends on how sociable you are yourself. There are some events from the university to make new contacts. Every Wednesday there is always lunch with the exchange students and from time to time there are special trips. However, “only” all the Germans and Asians are there, but not the locals. It is good when you at least have roommates with whom you can speak English and do something.
Semester abroad ? Absolutely do! It brings you so much and you grow beyond yourself. California? Absolutely beautiful. Bomb weather and there is a lot to see! Near San Francisco? The city never gets boring and is always worth seeing. I think San Francisco is much nicer than LA. Hayward? Actually has nothing to offer. CSU East Bay? It’s relatively cheap, but you don’t feel really integrated as an exchange student. It certainly wasn’t bad. You would have a great time at CSU East Bay.The absolute hammer, however, is neither Hayward nor the CSU East Bay. Read a lot of experience reports to see the universities from different perspectives. In the end, however, it always depends on what you make of it yourself.