If you would like to experience something completely new, exciting, interesting, exciting (and that in a unique environment), then you are in the right place in the USA, in California and also at San José State University! I can confirm to all of you in advance that such a stay abroad will be one of the best times in your life! In order to possibly simplify the planning and various preparations a bit, I will try to pass on some impressions and tips to you here, because I was also happy to be able to fall back on many testimonials before the start of my trip.
Since you are reading this report, you have probably already reached the first important and helpful step in planning: You have found MicroEDU who can look after you wonderfully before, during and after your stay. Aline is always available for even the smallest questions and any ambiguities and difficulties are clarified as quickly as possible. The application process runs through MicroEDU, but you are also welcome to ask questions about your studies, accommodation, life, and most of the times you get contact details immediately from the responsible people in Cali. So if you are planning your time abroad privately, I can only warmly recommend MicroEDU, huge praise to you! 🙂
Do not despair of all the paperwork that will come your way (application, all bureaucratic matters such as passport, possibly international driver’s license & student ID, international health insurance Sevis documents, D160, visa etc.)… once you have an overview, it works quite well ! I started planning about 8 months in advance, but if you are relatively fast and don’t dawdle around a lot, you can do it faster (only pay attention to application deadlines, etc.)!
Unfortunately, this whole process is relatively annoying, sometimes complicated and, above all, expensive, as you have to pay for almost every form that you need for the visa (here you fill out almost every form online, just search or google it on the visa authority’s website; You only have to go to the embassy in Berlin, Frankfurt or Munich once to hand in all the documents and do a short interview – here you have to allow at least 2-3 weeks between visiting the embassy and receiving the visa… oh yes, and the interview is no need to worry, totally easy and super short!)
You only need proof of language skills sometimes, I took the DAAD test beforehand, which was completely sufficient, since you will take another TOEFL test in the first orientation week at the SJSU anyway. According to Abbreviation Finder, SJSU is the abbreviation of San Jose State University.
I would definitely recommend the Auslands-Bafög (for the USA, it runs through the authorities in Hamburg): This Bafög is largely independent of parents and you get tuition fees of up to € 4600, a flat-rate flight allowance of € 1000 and a monthly contribution, as well as health insurance subsidy which you will later pay back half of it. The semester itself is expensive enough, so it’s definitely worth a try!
Living Whether you try to find a place to live before the start or look for it on site is up to you, I lived in the Campus Village (CVB) during my semester and felt very much at home there. The facility is relatively modern and in good shape, there are single rooms or shared apartments for 4-6 people, a pool, a learning center, games rooms with billiards table football etc., computer lab, TV rooms and a separate village market where you can buy little things can shop. I lived here in a 6-person girl’s apartment and immediately got on well with my roommate and shared a room with an American.
But if you want to have constant privacy at all times, apply in good time for a single room. I am glad to have lived at the CVB, because you can be there everywhere, experience campus life up close, walk no more than 10 minutes to all courses, get to the fraternities & sororities quickly, have downtown nearby and of course new ones very quickly Get to know people / friends.
The only drawbacks: The Americans don’t think too much of cleanliness (at least in my case) and it’s super overpriced (for a rather small room you pay abnormally high rental prices). Some of my German colleagues have therefore found a great place to stay elsewhere, regardless of whether it was in the I-House, in their own shared apartments, hotels ^^ or host families, everyone felt comfortable and if there were difficulties the housing helps Consultant “Cindy” is always happy to help.
During your stay at the SJSU you are looked after by the SAL organization, which regulates everything there for you, organizes an orientation week in which you get everything explained, organizes welcome barbecues, farewell parties and excursions.
For example, depending on your needs, you can take SAL courses in addition to university courses. Topics such as Current Events Reading, Business English, Vocabulary, Grammar, Writing, etc. are offered free of charge. At that time I decided to take 3 SJSU courses (American Studies: Nature and World Cultures, Linguistics: Second Language Acquisition, English: Capstone Seminar English Literatures) + a SAL course. That was a good thing and was enough because you pay an additional $ 150 for each SJSU course!
“Crashing” the courses at the beginning is a bit nerve-wracking, but overall very feasible, since the professors try to accommodate you, just speak to the professors personally, write emails and be persistent, then everyone will find a place to stay! You can get more information about courses at ratemyprofessor.com!
Overall, studying is rather relaxed, even if it involves more work than you know it from here; So you often have papers, group work, projects and homework to do, which is by no means as demanding in terms of level as at German universities, so exams (there are some midterms + finals here) and homework can be very good even with little learning effort can be mastered! But who wants to spend their semester abroad studying;)
Otherwise there is a lot to see at the SJSU that you don’t know from home, campus spirit is very important here, and therefore a wide variety of events take place on a regular basis, be it outdoor cinema, parties on campus, workshops, concerts in the event arena or sporting events of all kinds, everyone gets their money’s worth!
Especially because of the football games (with previous tailgateing – a lot of people and students gather in front of the stadium to celebrate the Spartans with well-known DJs, barbecues and, for once, alcohol), a fall semester is recommended, as these games only take place then and it really is a lot of fun!
Your own fitness is of course also taken care of: In addition to the pool, there is also your own fitness studio with all kinds of equipment and courses such as bootcamp, dance aerobics, step, Zumba, Pilates, yoga, kickboxing, hip hop, etc. As a SAL student, however, you have to pay $ 30 per month for this or $ 14 per semester for courses (the latter is completely sufficient at a great price!). In addition, the university has a well-equipped library, a bowling alley, a theater, print shop, snack bars, a health center, Spartan Bookstore (where there is university material and college SJSU clothing) and a food court, where you can sit down between lectures can strengthen (at the moment the subway, cafeteria, salad bar, Mexican, Panda Express and Carls Junior are located there). The heart of the university is of course the beautiful & large campus in the midst of palm trees and meadows, which cannot even begin to be compared with one of the concrete plants in DL. Here you can ideally relax and rest in free hours in the sun.
San Jose as the capital of Silicon Valley, but especially California itself, offers so much to experience, so it is best to bring as much time as possible with you. As a metropolis of millions, San Jose is more like a provincial city with a few good bars & clubs (e.g. Flames, Myth Club, Studio 8, Empire…) where you can enjoy cheap happy hour prices during the week and on weekends Can have fun. The parties organized by fraternities and sororities are also very funny, here you can experience real American house parties as you know them from the films à la red cups. Definitely go! America is of course a dream for shopping addicts, and you are guaranteed to come home with tons of new stuff. One ¾ hour from SJ there are the Gilroy Premium Outlets, which have every bargain ready. In SJ itself there are 3 large malls (Westfield Valley Fair, Oakridge and Great Mall – there are also some outlets here) that really offer EVERYTHING your heart desires, so don’t make the mistake of dragging too much stuff with you to California! 😉
On Wednesdays you can watch films at discounted prices in Cinema 12 downtown, there is a theater in which various plays are performed, at Christmas time you can spend a few nice hours at “Christmas in the Park” with ice skating at “Downtown on ice”, otherwise you can leave it alone also have a good time on Santana Row, which offers numerous shopping and dining options in a beautiful atmosphere. For ice hockey enthusiasts the NHL team, the San Jose sharks regularly in the starting blocks, a game in the hp pavilion is definitely worthwhile!
But if you want a bit of variety, you can get to San Francisco by car in about 45 minutes and by Cal-Train in about 1 ½ hours, a dream city where there’s a lot to see and great excursions can.
You can also quickly reach the surrounding coastal towns of Santa Cruz (a small town with a bit of a hippie touch) or Monetrey / Carmel, where you can enjoy great days on the beach when the weather is great! You can get to SC with an express bus for $ 5 per trip, duration 1 hour. We often teamed up with other Germans from MicroEDU and rented a car, which meant we could get around cheaply (in contrast to DL, fuel is also cheap). For example, you could organize further tours to the south, for whale watching to Monterey Bay or to Yosemite National Park (an absolute highlight and totally worth seeing & overwhelming) together. I can only recommend a subsequent month of travel after the end of the semester, I am still with my friends from San Fran to Vegas via San Diego,
In my opinion, a car is not necessary, although some people deny it … in SJ itself you can use the VTA ticket (which is integrated in the student ID) to drive Light Rail, Bus and Dash for free, which actually all day (and for the most part also at night) are available!
The Light Rail station can be reached from the university in 5-10 minutes, the Cal Train (terminus San Fran) also stops at 3 different stations in SJ, SJ Mineta Airport is right in the city and shopping is great on foot, as Safeway for larger purchases and 7/11 or the VM for midnight snacks or drinks are in the immediate vicinity;). If you want to rent one for excursions, the easiest way to do this is at the airport, here Alamo, Avis or Herz are usually the cheapest companies, you usually don’t need an international driver’s license, the normal valid one is enough!
Food and drink
Food of all kinds is also provided in America, even if in my opinion in an unhealthy variant… in principle everything that is also available in Europe is only available at a very high price! There is mostly only still water, bread is terrible (I have sorely missed good tasting black bread, grain bread or rolls) – but you get used to everything! 😉
Otherwise you can also go out to eat quite well in SJ, there is Chinese, classic American, sushi and loads of Mexican (definitely try it!)… there is actually something for everyone. In the Flames there are always very cheap snacks during happy hour, in the Azucar appetizers cost only $ 2 during happy hour. There are also German restaurants and a soup kitchen in San Fran. If you want to commit a fast food sin, In’n Out Burger or Yogurtland are the right choice! 😉 Overall, you will certainly not starve to death;)
Costs Yes, as already indicated several times above, such a semester abroad is expensive fun, and although the SJSU is already one of the cheaper universities in California, it saves enough money and tries that with the student loan once you are there is, you don’t want to turn every penny. With the F1 visa, you can only work on campus (but all jobs there are mostly assigned to American students). You can save on cell phone cards, for example (here the best alternative: T-Mobile “Pre-Paid Card”, here you pay $ 30 for 1500 units (regardless of whether SMS or minute) $ 50 or $ 60 (+ international calls), which is completely sufficient and can be recharged monthly in every mall or on the Internet.
Where you can also save would be if you choose the meal plan offered (here you can virtually book full board, in the so-called DC, the dining commons a large buffet is offered with all sorts of things to eat, but experience has shown that everybody gets sick after 2 weeks ) does not book, but cooks himself! Well, even if it is extremely expensive, every penny in its use was worth it and was definitely worth the investment!
So all in all, San Jose was a great choice for me, not just because of the wonderful weather (it rained a maximum of 3 times and I spent Christmas on the beach;)), but also because of the strikingly open and cordial nature of the Americans Warmly welcomed at all times, always available to help, and where you can really make friends. Whether in university courses, in bars or simply on the street, you get to know all kinds of different sounds with which you can have a lot of fun.
Oh yes, in this context it should be mentioned that the SJSU and California as a whole have a very multicultural touch, a lot of Asians live here, and at the university you are not uncommon in the courses as a foreigner, which is quite pleasant because you are can exchange ideas with other non-Americans!
So if you are still unsure about your decision, I can only motivate you for the SJSU, for my part I really enjoyed the time, made great friends from all over the world and would not want to miss these experiences anymore! The bad thing is that it goes by way too fast and faster than expected, and once you’ve tasted blood it’s very difficult to stop! 😉
I hope I was able to help you, if I have any more questions, please email me, otherwise I just wish you a lot of fun! 😉