California. Everyone knows it, be it from old Hollywood classics, simply from pictures or from stories. Everything you enjoy passes too quickly. And so it was with my wonderful semester abroad.
I hope that my experience report will give you a first impression of how the preparation and the actual semester went for me and thus help you in your decision-making.
I had two options at the time. Firstly: do a semester abroad through my university in a partner program, or secondly, complete a semester abroad as a so-called freemover. I decided to organize a semester abroad on my own. The reasons for this were mainly due to the lack of interesting partner universities at my home university. The first step is taken relatively quickly here. After I googled and researched a bit and decided on MicroEDU as the ideal partner and broker, the first step was to fill out the MicroEDU form quickly. After that, you wait briefly for a post from MicroEDU, in which the further procedure is then described in detail. The Münster organization did an excellent job here and advised and supported me very well in all further steps. These “next steps” still mean a lot of work. The entire preparation took several months. This includes organizing a number of documents (financial evidence of the necessary “small change” for a semester abroad, documents from the local university AND the most important and stressful thing, the application for a visa). So you should get down to work as soon as you have made the decision to do a semester abroad. Otherwise it can get pretty tight in the end. Read more student reviews on Maternityetchic.
About the visa:
I applied for and picked up my visa in Frankfurt aM and had a very stressful day. Just make sure to travel by car if possible. So you can leave all things that you are not allowed to take with you to the embassy (all electronic devices such as in my case a backpack with clothes) in the car and don’t have to do it twice !!!! Cover a longer distance to have the things handed over to the friendly Indian kiosk owner for a small fee.
If you have a proper plan and get to work in good time, nobody should have problems with the preparation and can then sit down and relax on the plane.
After studying a number of testimonials like you just did, I decided against the dorms on campus. Another reason, however, was also paternal influence, as the dorms or the so-called campus housing are very expensive in comparison. I worked out the master plan to first look for a hotel or accommodation via airbnb.com for the first 1-2 weeks and then to actively search for an apartment on site. Brief summary: It didn’t work out the way I imagined and in the end I didn’t find a smart apartment. So after almost 2 weeks in San Jose I wrote an email to the nice employees of the on-site organization International Gateways with the desperate request to move me to the dorms after all. After I slipped onto the waiting list for the student dormitory, everything turned out differently. Through a tip from a very nice employee at International Gateways, I got in touch with a family with whom a room has become available and who would very much like to take in a student. I have to say: Best decision I made. After a few emails with the incredibly nice mom Kimberly, we met for coffee and less than 15 minutes later we were already sitting in her car on the way to her house. So that’s how I moved in with the family. I can recommend each of you to move into a host family. Sure, you always need a bit of luck, because there are sure to be families with which you don’t get along so well and you don’t get 100% of the “dorm life”, but you hardly miss anything. However, I immediately had my own bike, a car or a chauffeur at any time (the Americans often have their own car for each member of the household, so a car was actually always free), I paid much less rent (about $ 750 including the cost of meals because I was allowed to help myself to the always bulging refrigerator and just write all the things I needed or desired on the shopping list), like a family that immediately welcomed me in their midst and in their hearts and with whom I always am I still have contact almost every day and to whom I can return again and again and thus can live in California free of charge in the future. Another plus was
This is the section I don’t like to write. Because here I have to get rid of something negative now. The university has a beautiful campus. And that’s almost everything. I have been disappointed with every course I have chosen. Some were just fine, others were really awful. As a German student, you just shake your head at the lack of organization in some courses. However, there were 2 professors who were kind of silver lining on the horizon. So maybe I was just unlucky.
As an example: The Investment Analysis course. The lecturer is a Chinese or Japanese (definitely of Asian origin) who spoke probably the most terrible English I have ever heard. However, the professor already knew what he was talking about. In any case, this course was really horror.
I don’t want to go into the courses here.
San Jose is a very nice town. Yes town. Because even when the population of San Jose exceeds that of San Francisco, you always have a kind of small town feeling. It just doesn’t feel like a big city (one reason for me was that there was no subway.) San Jose doesn’t have too much to offer in terms of celebrations and entertainment. Fortunately, since I made two great friends, we got the best out of the city. Besides, San Francisco is around the corner. I also saw a lot of San Jose through my family that I probably would never have seen otherwise. For example, I was at a shooting range and was allowed to fire a few cannons in Amistyle (it’s a lot of fun).
Otherwise, San Jose has many small bars where you can go out with friends in the evening, just to sip a few beers and have a relaxed evening.
I saw San Jose much more as a good location to travel from.
I did several road trips down to LA and because of an acquaintance from Las Vegas I ended up being in Los Angeles 6 times (with the long-distance bus about 6 hours). San Francisco and Yosemite National Park are also around the corner. Another recommended location is the Wine Country north of San Francisco. Very good for a romantic getaway for two.
From a sporting point of view, San Jose is also a good location. With the San Jose Sharks you have a very good ice hockey team on site, in San Francisco you have the 49ers in football and the Giants in baseball. Basketball with the Golden State Warriors is still offered in Oakland, but will soon be moving to San Francisco as well.
In summary, I can say that San Jose certainly wasn’t a bad choice and that I haven’t even regretted going here. However, in the future I would choose a city that has a subway or that is closer to the sea.
I ask you: do this semester abroad !!!! It was definitely the best time of my life. Until now (I’m an optimist). I will be flying there again this year and visiting my family (this time in Las Vegas to celebrate my host brother’s 21st birthday) and will do so for the next few years. California is a beautiful state and has so much to offer. After this stay abroad, you will return to Germany with a completely different mentality. I can advise everyone to take this step. No matter which city or university you ultimately choose. Makes it!