I started preparing for the semester abroad about 1 year in advance. There is a lot of paperwork to do, not only for registering at the university, but also for applying for a visa, accommodation or insurance. You can apply for a visa online with MicroEDU detailed instructions will be given. Then you have to make an appointment, there are three consulates in Germany (Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich). At the appointment, all documents are checked again and fingerprints are taken. Your passport with the visa attached will then be sent to you by post. After completing your studies, you can stay in the USA for another 60 days. Recently, when studying at the SJSU, you have to take out university insurance since spring 2014, supplementary insurance is no longer sufficient.
In terms of accommodation, I decided to live directly on campus. This is a bit more expensive, but you are right in the middle of the action and have short distances to the lecture. There are also many events taking place in the dormitory, which is a great opportunity to get in touch with locals. It is possible to live in a 4-person apartment, where everyone has their own room, with a bathroom and a shared kitchen with an adjoining living room. The other apartments consist of 3 bedrooms in which 2 people always share the room, 2 bathrooms and a kitchen with a slightly larger living space. I decided on the latter variant. So I lived with 5 American women, which worked out great. If someone doesn’t get along with his roommates, there is probably also the possibility to swap. The furnishing of the room consists of a desk with a chair, a bed with drawers underneath and a closet. Bed linen and pillows have to be purchased by yourself. But there is a room in the International Office where previous students have brought various things when the suitcase was already too full (like me). The rest of the equipment in the apartment is okay, it’s just a student dormitory. Another advantage of the dormitory is that the well-known fraternities and sororities are around the campus that throw good parties;)
Another possibility of accommodation is to look for a flat share privately, but this is often not as easy as I have heard. There are different costs to you, such as a deposit or the purchase of furniture. A large part of the international students also lived with a host family, which many found more pleasant, especially if you have perhaps never lived in Germany alone or in a shared apartment. At the SJSU there is also a so-called I-house (international house), where international students live together. This variant is a little more expensive than the student dormitory, but it also includes meals. Every Tuesday evening there is a coffee night, which is a great opportunity to get to know other students.
There is something for everyone in terms of accommodation, you should initially think about how you want to live there and what advantages and disadvantages each variant has.
Now to the study. Since this semester is part of my German bachelor’s degree, I had to choose certain courses and acquire 12 units. However, these 12 units must at least be occupied in order to meet the criteria for the visa. The “course crashing”, which means that you can only choose the courses on site, turned out to be a little more difficult than expected. In the spring of this year in particular, some budgets were cut and courses were canceled, which means that some courses could no longer accept national students. You should put together a list of possible courses in advance and write to the professors by e-mail before beginning, asking whether there is a possibility of taking this course and why. In the end I got two courses I wanted and two that I didn’t really want at first, but were very interesting in retrospect. Get more information about San Jose State University on educationvv.
Books have to be purchased for the lectures, which are often quite expensive. I decided to rent some of the books, for example from amazon.com or chegg.com. I either bought the other books second-hand or bought an older edition. Another help in choosing a course is ratemyprofessor.com, where students leave comments and ratings on professors. In addition to the regular university courses, there are also special English courses only for international students, which I did not take because they were not recognized at my home university. I have taken these four courses:
Marketing Pacific Rim (Jeff Fadiman)
This course looked at how Americans should successfully build a business in Asia. In contrast to the other lectures, this course was not based on a textbook. Jeff presented the content freely and exemplified it with personal experiences from trips in the respective country. This really made the lecture very interesting. Jeff really got around and through his experience knows how to make a lecture interesting. I didn’t want to choose this course at first, but I’m really happy to have taken it. He also likes international students to improve his language skills. He speaks English, German, French, Afrikaans and Swahili (as he is a fan of Africa). The requirements of the course have to be met, there is a paper that has to be written as group work, a midterm and a final. He attaches great importance to knowing the geographical location of the countries and the names of the various islands, and a quiz is often written about this.
Sales Management (Benny Boveta)
The course largely overlapped with learning content that I already had in various courses at my home university. It was a classic sales lecture that kept very strictly to the book. There were 4 quizzes, a midterm and a final. Benny has a lot of experience in this area, as he works full-time as a manager at Target (largest supermarket chain after Wal-Mart).
Management of Diversity (Rick Partridge)
This course was from the field of human resources. The topic of diversity is a much bigger topic in the USA than it is here. In this course in particular, you learned a lot about American culture and differences from Europeans. It was about people who were discriminated against in American companies on the basis of various characteristics; these topics were presented in group work. This course was more work than the other two. There were 2 midterms, a presentation, 2 papers and a final. Rick worked for IBM for many years and was therefore also in contact with various guest speakers who gave various lectures over the course of the semester.
Introduction to Entrepreneurship (Xiaohong Quan)
Since San José is the indirect capital of the technology center of Silicon Valley, I also wanted to take a course that deals with precisely that. Many large companies such as Apple, Facebook or Google come from exactly there and the entrepreneurial spirit can definitely be felt. Many students start their own business on the side. This lecture was really interesting, if it involved the most work. There was a project where you had to hand in various papers during the semester and at the end of the semester you had to give a presentation. The project was to start your own business and analyze extracts from the business plan. There were also 2 midterms, a final and a shadow project, where an entrepreneur was interviewed, as well as some quizzes. In this course there was the possibility to acquire extra credits,
In general, one can say that the lecturers are very motivated and interested in the students. They also have a lot of experience, as most of them work as lecturers on a part-time basis. There are many practical examples and links to business. In addition, information is provided about competitions and people are encouraged to take part in them. The courses are structured differently and require different amounts of effort, which each professor decides for himself.
Since my lectures only took place from Monday to Wednesday, I had enough free time. There were many events from the student dormitory or from the international office ; such as BBQs, movie nights, excursions or sporting events. There is also a fitness studio on campus, but this has to be paid for. There is also a course program for yoga, Zumba, Pilates and other courses. To only take part in the courses, you pay $ 16 for the entire semester. There is also a swimming pool where you can enjoy the California sun. With almost one million inhabitants, San José is a big city, but the range of leisure activities on offer is rather meager. There are many restaurants, a few bars and a couple of nightclubs. But to have a big party you have to drive a little further. All the shops you need can be reached in the immediate vicinity or with the student ticket by bus and S-Bahn. A car is therefore not necessary, but still sometimes useful, when you want to see something in particular. So we got a rental car from the airport every now and then.
San Francisco is around 50 km away and can be easily reached by train. On the way there you can also see the main locations of various companies or visit Stanfort University. During my stay I visited the following places and sights, among others: San José (Winchester Mystery House), San Francisco, Sausalito, Marin County, Muir Wood National Park, Santa Cruz, Monterey (Aquarium), Oakland, Highway 1, Yosemite National Park, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Malibu, Riverside, San Diego, Mojave National Preserve, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon National Park, Hawaii (Kaua´i).
In conclusion, it can be said that it was an unforgettable time that will be remembered for a long time. It’s not only worthwhile because of the language, but also because it helps you develop personally. If you have the opportunity, you should definitely take advantage of it and do a semester abroad. It also offers the opportunity to get to know people from different countries. I would recommend a semester abroad at San José State University to everyone!