Actually, I’ve already completed a semester abroad in Spain and always thought – that’s enough. But when I started my Masters in International Economics, I decided differently. It should go to an English-speaking country and preferably to the USA, if possible to the West. But since my university only has very few partner agreements with American universities and a friend drew my attention to MicroEDU, I thought – give it a try and organize on your own.
The first contact was very informative, competent and extremely friendly. As soon as new questions arose, one or the other discrepancy arose on the part of any authorities, I could always contact the nice team at MicroEDU by phone or email.
After a short time, I decided to go to San Jose State University in northern California, and I’ve always been drawn to the Bay Area and the San Francisco area. San Jose is a pretty big city on the southern end of the Bay, and is right in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Well-known companies Google, eBay, Facebook, Microsoft, etc. have settled here and many of them work closely with the university (internships, company tours, lectures, workshops…) San Jose offers good shopping opportunities, several huge shopping malls in the area, great and cheap restaurants and cafes, small bars and clubs for dancing on weekends.
The university with about 33,000 students, American and international, is located in the middle of the city and is a beautiful, compact campus university. Right from the start I decided to live in the Campus Village, the large and still relatively new student dormitory directly on campus. Typically American, I then shared a two-bed room with an English exchange student in a 6-bed apartment. The whole thing takes a lot of getting used to at the beginning, but in the end it was a great experience. You can either order a meal plan and eat almost 24 hours a day in the Dining Commons across the street, or you can cook something yourself in the spacious apartment kitchen. I decided to take the last option. There are plenty of shops around the campus, i.e. supermarkets and smaller local shops, everything can be easily reached by bike or on foot. There is a food court on campus, where you will find a subway, jamba juice, a café, sandwiches, Asian food, salads and Mexican food, everything your heart desires between lectures. Find more review on San Jose State University on existingcountries.
With the university I made a very good choice for the Masters, as was confirmed again in retrospect. Before I started, I wrote down a few lectures that I wanted to have credited towards my studies in Germany, and had them largely approved in advance by my professors. Of course, as an international student, you have to survive the so-called class crashing before you are permanently accepted into a course. So you go to pretty much every event that comes into question in the first week. If there are still places available in the course and no more regularly enrolled students want to join the course, you will receive a so-called “add code” and a signature from the lecturer, with which you can then have the course entered in the International Office. The staff there are all very nice and help you where they can. Every now and then you have a request and there is always an open ear.
It wasn’t that stressful for me, I was accepted into all 4 courses after the first day. I have attended 4 business administration lectures: International Business Finance; International & Comparative Management; Business, Government & Society and Management Across Cultures, an MBA lecture. The course of the lectures was a little different from what I was used to at my home university, much more interactive and more individual performances during the semester. Most of the time we had to read a chapter or two in the book in preparation for the next lesson, as there was a short quiz at the beginning of the lesson, which was included in the overall grade. The midterms then covered half of the material covered up to then, the finals the entire material, and if you have prepared yourself reasonably well for the quizzes beforehand, the study time wasn’t too stressful either. A short term paper (max. 5 pages) had to be written in two subjects. You didn’t get special treatment just because you were an exchange student, which was fine. All in all, the professors were fair, competent and helpful, the lectures were well structured and demanding and the exams were definitely manageable.
If you feel like doing sports on the side, you will find pretty much what your heart desires in the Recreation Center in the middle of the campus. There is a large gym, an outdoor pool, basketball, volleyball, aerobics classes, soccer and much more for an extremely low semester fee. When the university team has a basketball or football game in the evening, there’s always something going on on campus! There are also many activities on offer such as hiking, climbing, kayaking or camping in Yosemite Park. We went to San Diego kayaking, hiking, and camping during Spring Break week. These trips are supervised by employees of the Recreation Center and the equipment is also provided. I can only recommend it,
Of course, the Bay Area and California in general have a lot to offer when it comes to recreational activities and weekend getaways. You don’t actually need a car the whole time, the city is well connected to the public transport network and you can get to San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz or Berkeley relatively quickly and cheaply. There is also the “megabus” with which you can go to Sacramento or LA for less than $ 40 (I managed it for $ 5…) and from there to Las Vegas, depending on how far in advance you book.
We often rented a car over the weekend and picked it up at the San Jose airport. The Wine Country around Napa, north of the Bay, is definitely recommended; If you would like to go / learn to surf, you can drive to Santa Cruz on the Pacific coast in about an hour. A little further south are beautiful coastal towns such as Carmel and Monterey, where you can drive along the coast by car and relax in secluded bays or simply swim on the beach. My absolute favorite place during this time was of course San Francisco, for strolling, sightseeing, going to concerts or partying in the evening.
A little further away (3-5 hours drive) are Lake Tahoe or Yosemite National Park, although I recommend planning at least 3 days for the trips. You can camp there or stay in the hostel and enjoy the breathtaking landscape.
Of course, the question arises: How much money do you need like that? And my experience has shown that there is actually no concrete answer to that. Of course you need a little more money if you make many trips that either take longer or take you further afield. You should definitely plan a small buffer for this. The prices otherwise are not necessarily much more expensive than, for example, in Germany for comparable things. Shopping is of course cheaper than at home, amenities such as cinema + popcorn or drinks in the bar around the corner can be a bit more expensive than at home. But if you don’t eat out 2-3 times a day, which is more the rule there, and often cook at home yourself, it stays within limits…
I honestly have to admit that I had never really heard of San Jose before I decided to join SJSU. However, the 5 months that I spent there have shown me that you can have a lot of fun there and that the city has its own little peculiarities. I’m so happy about this choice and I don’t want to miss any of the experiences I had there! The university was great, the environment has so much to offer, the people are all open and friendly, and very honest – what you make of it is fun;)