Something before off
Even if some of the points in my experience report should sound a bit negative, the semester abroad was totally worth it. I had a great time, met nice people and hopefully broadened my horizons a bit.
Thanks to MicroEDU, the entire application process is relatively simple and doesn’t really require much effort. You just have to get in touch with MicroEDU, choose a suitable university and then the application documents will be sent to you. MicroEDU will also send you a checklist that contains all the important points that you need to work through during and after the application phase.
However, the effort for the application is really limited and was not really exhausting. Only the agreement with the responsible BAföG office took time. You should really try to submit everything in good time, so that the “Confirming Statement” is ready in time for the application. A “Confirming Statement” is important for the financial proof that you have to provide for the application if you do not have enough financial means from your family or something. Since I applied for the “Confirming Statement” about six months before my semester abroad, I was able to enclose it with the application. The BAföG office recommends applying six months before the start of the semester. With this lead time that wasn’t a problem either.
During my time in Hayward, I shared a room with another exchange student. You should be prepared for the fact that you will have to share a room with someone else because the apartments in the USA are much more expensive than in Germany. The four of us shared an apartment and paid around $ 2,400 in rent excluding the rent. But if you know that beforehand, it is no problem to share a room for a semester.
Often it is said in the experience reports that you should look for a room on site. I had actually planned it that way, but luckily I found my flat beforehand. Finding a room beforehand saves you a lot of nerves and the cost of a hostel. I found it pleasant that I was able to drive to my apartment as soon as I arrived in San Francisco. However, others were able to find a room on site. Here you just have to decide what you prefer. Before arriving, however, there is the possibility of addressing other exchange students who are moving out or are looking for a new roommate via Facebook. You should also look out for cheap furniture here.
California State University, East Bay
Overall, I really liked the university. The ALP (American Language Program) responsible for us was also able to help us somewhat. The employees are definitely making an effort.
The course selection proceeds in such a way that after the Americans have chosen their courses, the courses are “crashed”. That means – if you are in the business department – that you have obtained a lot of pink slips of paper beforehand and, ideally, have already selected some courses that you want to attend before the start of the semester. In general, it makes sense to look for courses beforehand so that you can agree whether you can perhaps have these recognized at your home university. With these pink pieces of paper you sit down in the respective courses and collect the professor’s signature after the lecture. Getting this is usually not a problem. However, the signature does not mean that you can actually choose the course. The pink notes, including the signature, you then hand it in at the relevant apartment and you will receive an email with a code. This is then used to register for the respective courses via the online portal. When you are registered, you have officially “enrolled” in the course. It all sounds more complicated and annoying than it is. Actually, everyone got the courses they wanted.
The American universities differ significantly from German universities. The workload is also somewhat different in the USA. The lectures consist of about 25-35 students and the professors will know you by name after a few weeks and will know if you are absent You write both a “midterm” and a “final exam”. This has the advantage that you don’t have to learn so many chapters, but it also takes a bit of getting used to doing more for the university during the semester than at a German university. In every course, I also had to give a lecture every few weeks, hand in some homework and homework. But these weren’t so strenuous to make.
- Find reviews for more studying abroad programs on andyeducation.
I found the cost of living a little more expensive than in Germany. Fruit, vegetables and meat in particular were a bit more expensive. In order not to always have to buy water, we bought a water filter that you connect to the tap, which then removes the taste of chlorine from the tap water. However, public transport is not that expensive and you can actually get anywhere without a car if you allow some time.
The university offers various leisure activities, especially numerous sports courses can be attended there. The ALP also organizes “fun trips”. These are mostly small day trips into the surrounding area, which are either free or relatively cheap. I went on all the trips and thought they were really cool.
Otherwise you should use the free time to drive to San Francisco. With the “BART” you can get to one of the most beautiful cities in the USA in just under 45 minutes and for $ 4.95 per trip. There is a lot to see and do there. But you can also go to San Francisco, the city is more than great. In Hayward, the place where the university is located, there is not so much going on now. But downtown there are a few bars, restaurants and a cinema. The “Funky Monkey” is a really fun bar that regularly hosts karaoke evenings.
Otherwise you can use San Francisco well to make a detour to nature (Muir Woods, Yoseminte National Park or Lake Tahoe) or to other cities such as Los Angeles or Las Vegas.
Overall, I really enjoyed my semester abroad. I met a lot of nice people and really enjoyed my time in the USA, especially San Francisco.