In January 2009 I started planning my semester abroad in the USA. At MicroEDU, I quickly got a great overview of all the universities abroad and then quickly decided on California State University East Bay for cost reasons. It seemed very good from the location (near San Francisco), but the experience reports were also very positive.
Then I got in touch with MicroEDU. I received all the information and documents I needed and then filled out the application documents. After I had all the documents together, I sent everything by email to MicroEDU to have all the documents checked for correctness and completeness again. On the same day I received feedback on which documents were still missing in order to be able to send the application. Then I mailed everything to MicroEDU. The service at MicroEDU is simply great. For questions by email, I always got an answer within a few hours. I was also able to easily ask questions to the foreign university via MicroEDU and the answers came quickly. Thanks for that:)
After about 2 weeks I got the confirmation from the CSUEB and I could start with the further planning. A lot has to be organized and planned for a semester abroad. However, I knew I was going to have a great time in the US, so getting this done after work was no problem at all. Most of all, it was a lot easier with all the help from MicroEDU. We were sent a to-do list in which everything that had to be done was summarized and in which period it should be done. All information for the visa interview was also compiled in compact form so that no lengthy internet research was necessary.
Campus and course choice:
I liked the campus very much. It is located on a mountain and from there you have a wonderful view of the bay, on a clear day you can even see as far as San Francisco. The campus is very well maintained and there is plenty of seating outside. In the beautiful weather it was very worth it. There were also some opportunities to buy cheap food on campus.
The semester at CSUEB starts with a few orientation days. Then you can attend all courses that are of interest to you. You can only enroll in the courses after about a week. If you are lucky, there are enough places available in the courses. But it can also be that you get on the waiting list and in the worst case not get the desired course and have to choose a different one. However, you can prevent this by paying a higher amount of tuition fees. I didn’t do that because I read that so far it has mostly worked out that way. I was also able to take all three courses I wanted. But only because the courses were subsequently increased in terms of the number of people. Other foreign students sometimes had problems taking the desired courses. What’s added is that the university has been cut funds due to the poor economic situation in California and the courses are sometimes no longer that great. But I think that if you have several courses that you can credit yourself later, then you don’t necessarily have to pay the higher tuition fee – only if you want to be on the safe side.
In addition to the normal courses, you can choose a sports course free of charge. For example, I learned to play tennis in the United States. In addition, you can also choose a dance course.
After reading several testimonials, I decided to live with a host family or to look for my own apartment. During my stay at high school, I had good experiences with a host family. However, it then turned out that two of my fellow students also wanted to study at CSUEB. So the three of us went looking for an apartment. It was of course a lot of effort, but we are glad that we went the way, because we haven’t heard so many positive things from the I-House residents. In any case, we looked for apartments on all websites such as www.rent.com etc. The problem that turned out for sure was that we only needed an apartment for a quarter, i.e. 3 months, and the apartments were all rented without furniture. So we wrote a lot of emails back and forth and made a lot of phone calls. Then we found a beautiful two-story apartment in an apartment complex with a pool and gym. The apartment was newly renovated and the complex was very well maintained. The manager of the facility was also very nice. However, we always had to walk up the mountain for about half an hour to get to the university. From the distance, the way was not far, only the mountain bothered us. But with the good weather that wasn’t a problem at all. And if you want to buy a car for the time being, it will be even easier. I can definitely recommend the facility. We had an oven, stove, microwave and dishwasher; We could wash laundry in the facility for $ 1.50. However, we still had to buy furniture for the apartment. The IKEA was only approx. 20 miles away and we got everything we needed cheaply there. Alternatively, you can also rent furniture, but we have sold all of our IKEA furniture again, so we got away from it very cheaply. We also had a bus stop nearby if we were too lazy to walk to the Bart (tram). Unfortunately, there was no line that went directly up the mountain to the university from there. For this we always had to go to the BART station.
Because we didn’t live directly on campus, we didn’t have that much contact with the other exchange students, but that was probably also due to the fact that we had a lot of visitors from Germany – they could all live with us – which wasn’t on campus so was easily possible. But we were still at I-House parties or met with the other students in San Francisco.
Hayward and Surroundings:
According to Ehuacom.com, Hayward is a quintessentially American city in my opinion. Everything is very spacious and drawn out. From our apartment we walked about 20 minutes to the BART, from there we could take the BUS to the mall or to the university for free. The BART runs all over the Bay Area and it’s a hour drive to San Francisco. We rented a car in between and in my opinion that was more than enough. But of course it’s much more comfortable with a car and if you stay longer than a quarter then it’s definitely worth it.
There isn’t very much going on in Hayward, there are a few bars that are really nice, but if you really want to party, you have to drive a little further, for example to San Francisco or Berkeley. The BART no longer runs as regularly at night and also not as far as Hayward, but only as far as Bayfair, which is one stop beforehand. But if there are several, you can also take a taxi or stay in a hostel in San Francisco. However, all bars and clubs close by 2 a.m. at the latest – this is stipulated by law in California.
Otherwise the area is very diverse and there is a lot to see. The Bay Area is particularly worth seeing with many highlights. The university usually offers free fun trips every weekend. At the beginning of the semester we went to San Francisco, later we were in Sacramento, San José and the Napa Valley.
But we also traveled a lot on our own, we used the weekends for this and of course holidays like Thanksgiving.
In conclusion, I can say that the time in the USA was very exciting and of course unforgettable. We saw and experienced a lot and the completely different university life was also a great experience. I can only recommend everyone to spend a longer time abroad and I can especially recommend the western United States.