Preparations for my semester abroad began in the spring of 2016. You shouldn’t be put off by the preparations. It is worth it! Even if the whole bureaucratic effort seems infinitely large at the beginning, it is not so bad afterwards. If you are planning to travel after your studies and fly back home from another airport, you should think about this when you make your booking. Unfortunately, the rebooking of flights is often only possible in retrospect with regard to the date and not the departure airport.
While I was still in Germany, I met my future roommates over the Internet and we started applying for an apartment in July. It should be criticized that every application costs processing fees. For this reason, we had to think carefully beforehand which apartment complexes would be suitable. Our favorite was City View. Unfortunately, as a foreigner, you are seen there as a useful source of money and you get rather bad rental contracts with a fairly high deposit. Unfortunately, if at all, you don’t get this back in full.
Still, it was a very good decision to move to City View. The apartments are beautiful, there is a pool and a fitness studio for free and the time to university is just 15 minutes. In America it is common to share a room with at least one roommate. This is rather unusual for most German students, but it is not so bad and it is good for the wallet. We bought the furniture from other German exchange students in advance. We paid way too much, but it was easier and cheaper than buying everything new.
We didn’t notice anything about the crime and the gangs in City View. The criminals don’t want to run up the mountain. In the larger cities, such as San Francisco and especially LA, there are a lot of homeless people and neighborhoods in which you don’t want to be. However, in my opinion, anyone who knows how to avoid this need not worry too much.
Eat and drink
There are no shopping opportunities, at least none that can be reached on foot. Uber can help here. Groceries are about the same price as in Germany. You can’t drink water from the tap, but there are water dispensers at the university and in the City View gym. Of course, you can also buy the water gallon-by-gallon in the supermarket, but filling it up saves you having to carry it around.
Anyone who has already chosen courses in advance can assume that some of them will not be offered after all, or that, thanks to the course crashing, you will not get a place after all. So it is advisable to look for a few alternative courses.
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The courses themselves are for the most part good and the professors are competent and helpful. It should be noted that the university in America is more like a school in Germany. There is homework and oral participation is often graded. The time required for a course varies greatly, but is usually not particularly high.
It is also possible to attend the Kinesiology Faculty’s sports courses for free. These usually take place once or twice a week. Participation only has to be agreed in advance with those responsible. You won’t get any grades then, but you can otherwise take part.
California and the surrounding states have a lot to offer. With my roommates, we rented a car or mobile home almost every weekend and drove to one of the national parks. If you would like to see a lot of nature, you should definitely make as many excursions as possible. It is also worthwhile to take a longer trip to the more distant national parks, such as the Grand Canyon, before or after your studies. Since domestic flights are quite cheap, a weekend trip to Las Vegas is also worthwhile.
San Francisco is also worth a trip. For example, a bike can be rented at Pier 39 to ride over the Golden Gate Bridge. If you want to get a great view over the city and the Golden Gate Bridge, you should definitely go to the Twin Peaks.
Nightlife is not very boisterous in Hayward. But there are a few bars that aren’t bad at all. There are also some discos in San Francisco. In addition, almost everywhere there is the possibility of being put on the guest list, if you take care of it beforehand. There are also occasional events at the university, although these are not real parties, they are still worthwhile. In addition, the neighboring city of Oakland has a very nice promenade with many bars and pubs. In this regard, San José is also worth a trip.