Before it begins
Study under palm trees for once. Live in California once . Live the American dream once! It has always been my wish to study on the west coast and thus experience the “Californian lifestyle” for myself . But before the journey begins, all the paperwork has to be mastered. Be it on visa questions , financial matters or general preparation questions, your website was always available and helped me professionally. Generally I would recommend planning as early as possible to start. This means you have less stress in the final phase and can enjoy the anticipation of five sunny months.
Arrival and accommodation
When booking the plane tickets , I immediately decided to book a return flight. If I were to fly again, I would only book the one-way flight. During the semester you get to know so many people and at the end you can have the option of flying to New York, Hawaii etc. Of course you have a little bit of uncertainty, but there is a lot of spontaneous things in San Diego . Another option would be to book a flex ticket. So you can postpone your return flight shortly before the end.
At the beginning of the semester abroad , you should decide whether you would like to live near the beach or near the university. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Most internationals live on the beach in Pacific Beach.This has the advantage that you live a few minutes’ walk from the beach and can therefore go to the sea at any time. In addition, PB is a party mile next to downtown, where events take place regularly. Every Tuesday is “Taco Tuesday”, which means that on the one hand the tacos are very cheap ($ 2-3 per taco), but also the drinks. Most of the students meet in the evening at the Duck Dive and then go to the backyard. However, since public transport is not organized like in Germany, you have to rent a car and, depending on traffic, drive about 20 minutes to San Diego State University. In addition to the cost of the car, you also have to pay a one-time parking fee for the university. At certain times of the day it can be difficult to find a parking space.
To avoid all this commuter stress, I decided to live near the university. Because Uber (driving service app) is the perfect option for leisure time. I also wanted to experience the famous American college life up close .However, it is not so easy to find an apartment / house from Germany. At first I tried to get a place in the dormitory. But the costs are very high here. On craigslist.com you will find many offers for accommodations that are within walking distance of the SDSU. But you have to be careful here because there are many dubious providers. Some of the pictures are not always up-to-date. I was a little lucky myself, because a few days before my arrival I received the approval for a house near the university and could only pay on site. I lived five minutes with the longboard (10 minutes on foot) from the university. My contract only ran for the semester, so I didn’t have to worry about a new tenant.
Many of the people I got to know lived in a hostel for the first time and started looking for an apartment on site. You can also get to know your potential roommates in the hostels. Nevertheless, I was very happy to already have something solid and so I used Uber to get to my accommodation right after my arrival in San Diego .
About the university
Compared to Germany, the tuition fees are really very high per semester. However, you can see and notice why. The campus resembles a hotel complex. Everything is clean and tidy. The campus is huge, it takes about 20 minutes to get from one end to the other. The typical student associations also live in their main house there. You can also relax at the SDSU. Be it under palm trees near the turtle pond, where hummingbirds were also to be found, or in the Student Union building. There are numerous armchairs to sit on here.
The sports offer at the SDSU is also huge. As an American Language Institute student, Aztec Recreation Center membership is free for you . That means you can use the gym and the pool at any time. The fitness studio alone is so large that there are gyms, climbing walls and private course rooms in addition to the “normal equipment”. In addition, you can take many courses, such as surfing courses. In addition, you always get tickets for games of the SDSU teams for free. Football games are an absolute must! Before the games, everyone meets at the tailgate in the parking lot to get in the mood for the match. The basketball games are also worth watching.
Aztec Nights regularly offers events at the university. Among other things, these are shows or game nights. In addition, there is a “Monday Movie Night” on some Mondays, on which films with snacks are shown. In the Aztec Lanes you can bowl for free or play billiards or table tennis for a small fee. Another advantage is that the library is open 24/7 and you can study around the clock. There are also several fast food restaurants in a food corner. Here you can find well-known ones like Panda Express, Dominos, Subway, Chipotle and many more! You definitely won’t starve there! A Trader Joes opened on the campus border. Here the prices for fruit are some of the cheapest.
Course choice and the courses I have taken
The former “course crashing” has been abolished. The courses can now be conveniently selected online. However, the Americans have priority when choosing a course . About one week before the start of the semester, the registration system will be activated at midnight and you can register for your courses. The Add & Drop phase is active in the first week of the university. Here you can visit your courses and get an idea of them. If you do not like the chosen course, you can deselect it in this phase. In the end, you should only be entered for the courses that you really want to take and those that allow the number of units to be specified.
The courses in America are somewhat reminiscent of the school days in Germany. I was sitting in a classroom with 18 people and they were asked to do homework and oral participation. The level of difficulty is mostly dependent on the lecturer and therefore different. In the master’s program, I was only allowed to choose three courses at no additional cost. Compared to the Bachelor courses, the workload is higher. Since you have to do a lot for the university during the semester, the exams are not as difficult as in Germany, but also not much easier. My courses were:
PH 602 Biostatistics
Dr. Hector Lemus
The grade in this course is made up of three exams (30%, 30%, 40%). The lecturer is very committed and approachable at any time. He is responsive to students and tries to convey the material as easily as possible. It was very pleasant that this course only consists of the three written exams, which were always fair. I would definitely recommend the course!
PH 641 Introduction to Health Services
Dr. Tracy Finlyason
Here the final grade consists of several essays, homework, group discussions, attendance, participation and two exams. The advantage is that the final grade does not only depend on exams. However, you have to constantly learn and collaborate. The exams consist of short answers and essays, so you have to learn a lot by heart. The lecturer is really friendly, engaging and funny. I would recommend the course to students who can memorize a great deal in a short period of time.
PH 742A Health Services Financial Management
Dr. Jong-Deuk Baek
This course is not only made up of exams. During the semester you write an elaborate case study that can be equated with a seminar paper. In addition to being present and participating, homework has to be done. In this course you write two exams. The lecturer is sometimes a little insecure, but very friendly and helpful. If you can learn a lot by heart and have a good understanding of numbers, you won’t have any problems here.
Life in San Diego
Imagine you wake up and the sun is shining every day . In the whole time it has rained maybe five times. Even at the end of December it was 25 degrees. The people are all in a good mood and friendly. In general, people in San Diego are much more relaxed and relaxed. San Diego alone has a lot to offer. For example, you can do a hike to Potato Chip Rock, from Mount Soledad you have a great view of San Diego, if you want you can even go to a different beach every day.
From the start, my plan was to spontaneously go on trips during the semester. So I hadn’t planned a fixed road trip from Germany. Even though my lecture schedule wasn’t ideal for traveling, I still saw everything that was on my bucket list. Because San Diego is a good starting point for weekend or road trips . There will definitely be enough time during the semester to travel.
Some places I’ve seen:
- Los Angeles (long weekend)
- Joshua Tree National Park (day trip)
- Julian (day trip)
- Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Zion National Park, Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend (road trip over Thanksgiving)
- Las Vegas (over a weekend during the semester)
- San Francisco (over a weekend during the semester)
- What is really positive about the SDSU is that there is always free water. Water dispensers with filtered water can be found on campus. Cups for water are also distributed in restaurants on request.
- You don’t get to the gym with your card or student ID, but with your handprint and the last five digits of your student ID. You get towels every time you visit.
- I would recommend everyone to get a longboard for campus. It’s a lot of fun cruising around San Diego and across campus with it.
- In Los Angeles, definitely hike to the Wisdom Tree and across the Hollywood Hills behind the Hollywood Sign.
- Apply for the California ID at the beginning of the semester, so you don’t always have to carry your passport with you.
- A party evening in Tijuana. It’s very cheap there, but I would never go there without someone who speaks Spanish!
- Dirt Cheap Car Rental was the best car rental company.
- Plan a trip over Thanksgiving because you have a few days off here and it is something like mini vacations that you have to take advantage of!
- Plan enough money! Unfortunately, San Diego is very expensive and there are hidden costs .
- As an SDSU student, you will receive a Free Six Month Trial for Prime on Amazon. Faster shipping and access to the Prime program. I wouldn’t buy books, but rent them through Amazon.
In summary, I can say that the semester abroad at SDSU was an unforgettable experience. Nobody can take away these experiences from me. I am happy to have enjoyed every single day. If I were to do another semester abroad, I would go straight back to San Diego State University . It was the best decision of my life!