Study in California State University, East Bay (2)
You may be reading this because you are wondering whether you want to study one or more quarters at California State University East Bay (CSUEB). If there is basically a chance for you to study, I can only give you one answer to this question: YES! Do it. Absolutely. It’s great and an experience you will never forget or want to miss again. Of course, such an adventure also has a few pitfalls, but with a little skill you can get around them all. Maybe my following experiences and impressions will help you. If they give you a few tips that might help you in advance as well as on site, I would be happy.
1. Before the trip
You should take enough time for planning, where the information and offers from Collage Contact are very helpful, and for preparation. You can’t break your knees, because sometimes your patience is strained when obtaining the most diverse documents (visa, written confirmations from your own bank and insurance companies). With the appropriate advance notice, the flights can then also be booked more cheaply.
Very important: do not calculate the budget too tight. For the application to the university you have to prove an amount of approx. € 8,000. Depending on how much you still want to do on site, how you live, how you fly, etc., the actual costs are a whole lot higher. Once you arrive in California, you quickly learn: Nothing is free. The first word, the meaning of which you can see in detail, is the “fairy”. The small fee lurking around every corner and the cost of which can add up quickly. Overall, costs around € 12,000 per quarter are realistic.
The campus of California State University East Bay is picturesquely situated on a mountain, from which you can overlook the entire San Francisco Bay in good weather. Depending on where you live, you might curse this very mountain. In the long run, the ascent can become torture. Fortunately, the university offers a free bus shuttle to Hayward “Downtown”, which you can use as soon as you have received your student ID. This bus runs every 15 minutes throughout the day and every half hour at night (sometimes until 3 a.m.).
The campus itself is very compact and clear by American standards. Great distances do not await you.
The course selection for international students takes place in so-called class crashing. This means that you cannot register online in advance like your American fellow students, but have to ask the respective lecturer for an admission on site. That sounds a lot more complex and stressful than it really is. Most of the lecturers are very accommodating. With a few exceptions, both I and my colleagues got into our desired courses without any problems.
The food is also OK. For nine dollars you can help yourself to the all-you-can-eat buffet in the cafeteria. The offer there doesn’t vary that much, which is why I didn’t eat there very often myself. The desserts are perfect. In addition to the cafeteria, there are also some fast-food shops such as Subway, Starbucks and Panda Express on campus.
3. The accommodation
There are many ways to find accommodation, but most of the time it is expensive. Living in California is expensive, with monthly rents a minimum of $ 550. The first and cheapest option is certainly the International House. I also applied there at the time, as the advantages seemed obvious: location right on campus, fully furnished. If you book a “meal” plan, even the meal is included. You can also get to know a lot of people from many different countries. But after seeing it on site, I’m glad I didn’t get a seat.
The building exudes a charm that is reminiscent of a mix of hospital and youth hostel. It doesn’t really look clean and the visiting regulations are more like a prison than a dormitory. Visitors who do not live there are completely taboo on weekends and are only allowed to a very limited extent during the week. In addition, you usually have to share a small bedroom with another person. That has to fit in human terms. You have no influence on your roommates yourself.
My tip therefore: Get together with others in advance and try to find an apartment together in the surrounding apartment complexes (Sunhil, Hillcrest and City-View Apartments). Most of them are unfurnished there, but after each quarter countless German and international guest students sell their furniture. If you take care of yourself early, you can easily find a bargain there. The apartments can usually already be booked from Germany. In my case, it was a relaxed e-mail in the City-View Apartments. These apartments are definitely not much more expensive than the dormitory for the individual and you will definitely live more comfortably.
Our example: The three of us lived in a 3-room apartment with a kitchen, bathroom and guest toilet. The rent per person including additional costs was 600 dollars, we were able to purchase the entire facility from a former guest student for 400 euros and later sell it on without any loss.
The San Francisco Bay Area with its “capital” San Francisco is right on the doorstep. According to andyeducation, the city alone has a lot to offer (Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz etc.) and, above all, is very easy to get to. Public transport is very well developed by American standards. A S-Bahn (which goes by the beautiful name BART) connects the cities of the Bay Area, a ride to downtown San Francisco costs about $ 4. In the metropolitan area of San Francisco there are trams and subways, as well as buses and the famous cable cars. And even the smaller cities have a well-developed bus network.
My little tip: buy a so-called clipper card. This means that all means of transport in the Bay Area can be used.
In San Francisco, you definitely have to take a stroll along the piers. If you have time and are not afraid of long stretches, then you can continue walking through the Presidio to the Golden Gate Bridge. Of course, you can also take the bus.
Also a must is a visit to the Coit Tower and a cheesecake in the Cheesecake Factory on the roof terrace of Macy’s in Union Square.
Sports enthusiasts have the Golden State Warriors (NBA Basketball), the Oakland Raiders and San Francsico 49ers (NFL Football), the San José Sharks (NHL Ice Hockey) and the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics (MLB Baseball) teams on offer American professional sports practically on the doorstep. Tickets are also available at short notice everywhere, but the prices are often quite high. A visit is definitely an experience.
Those who have a weekend or even longer time for an excursion should visit Yosemite National Park (with a “short” detour to Lake Tahoe) or a trip to San Diego. Las Vegas can also be reached easily and cheaply from Oakland Airport. Los Angeles is not worth it in my opinion.
The university itself also offers several excursions with changing destinations during the semester for international students. They are often cheap and a great opportunity to get to know other visiting students from all possible countries. However, you also have to live with a somewhat chaotic organization.
In Hayward itself there are a few smaller bars and pubs where you can comfortably drink a beer or two in the evenings. There is also a nice karaoke bar on B-Street. If you’d rather go to the clubs, you have to make your way to San Francisco. The selection there is very large and there should be something for everyone. In any case, take an ID with you; without there is no entry. In addition, many bouncers are very picky about shoes. Better leave the sneakers at home.
It is also advisable to decide on a club a few days in advance and to add yourself to the guest list on its website. This usually saves you the entrance fee. The taxi ride should also be booked and paid for in advance by telephone.
6. Do I need a car?
Yes and no. You don’t really need it. At least not every day. Hayward itself is (as long as you don’t have to go up the mountain) easy to manage on foot and by bus; San Francisco and San José are easily accessible by public transport. However, you have to be prepared, for example, to have to carry your purchases a bit, especially if you live in the City View. For lazy people: Walmart and other supermarket chains have a free delivery service.
It only becomes problematic if you want to party in San Francisco in the evening: the BART only runs until around midnight, and taxi rides are very expensive. Here it helps to know someone who has a car and who “sacrifices” himself as a driver. It is also difficult if you want to go to destinations that are not directly on the bay. Here the bus and train connections are usually only sparse or nonexistent.
I didn’t have my own vehicle. If it was really necessary, we rented one. That goes right in Hayward and is really cheap there. A little tip: If you are an ADAC member, it is usually cheaper to book the car on the ADAC website. You also have direct insurance coverage there.
7. A few more tips to finish off
- If you want to visit Alcatraz (it’s worth it), book the ticket online in advance. Otherwise you hardly have a chance to get on one of the ferries.
- NEVER walk alone through Hayward or any other town in the East Bay at night. It is best not to go to Oakland alone. The crime rate there is very high and even some of my friends have been victims of armed robbery.
- Due to the risk of robberies, only take the bare essentials with you, but always have some cash with you that you can hand over in case of emergency.
The tips may sound like I would rather advise against studying. But that is by no means true. Here in Germany, too, you have to be careful. And studying, especially at CSUEB, and staying in the USA were an absolute highlight and a fabulous experience for me.