Study in California State University, East Bay (6)
Preparation and arrival
When I did not get a partner university in the USA as I had hoped, I started looking around and found the organization MicroEDU, which specializes in organizing semesters abroad.
After completing the application form at the end of January and sending it to MicroEDU, it took me about 3 weeks to get a confirmation letter from CSUEB and a checklist from MicroEDU with instructions on what to do before departure.
The four most important points included my international health insurance, the plane ticket, accommodation and visa. The AKV had to meet certain performance conditions of the CSUEB, which means that various offers had to be checked for their performance. I then decided on the MLP student offer, which was not only the cheapest, but also more than met the conditions. I only booked the plane ticket 3 months before departure because I wasn’t sure whether I would have time to travel to the country. If you don’t have the time, it is advisable to book a direct flight from Frankfurt to San Francisco. This takes about 11 hours and costs around € 900. I would like to go into the accommodation later, as the whole thing requires a separate paragraph. Basically, however, it is a good idea to enclose a dormitory application with the application documents that are sent to MicroEDU in order to make the most of all possibilities. It is best to apply for a visa early in order to get a good appointment at the embassy and not to run out of time. It is a huge paperwork, but the instructions given by MicroEDU make the whole process relatively straightforward. Returning the passport with a registered visa only takes a few days after the appointment. I then arrived a week before the start of the lectures to get to know the city a little. For the first few nights, the Hostel Adelaide near Union Square is recommended. It is in a great central location and the price-performance ratio is right. Just figure out how to run.
Otherwise, you still have to consider how to pay the tuition fees in the most skilful way. Since the CSUEB charges you several percent for the use of your credit card, it is advisable to pay the tuition fees in cash. For example, if you have a DKB Visa card with which you can withdraw money free of charge, you should pay the fees in installments within 4 days. Another possibility is peer transfer, which gives you significant deductions in the exchange rate. You can find PeerTransfer via the payment option in your CSUEB account.
As I said, you can apply for the dormitory, which is generally a good idea because you live on campus and it’s easy to get to know a lot of people. Unfortunately, it is not only the time of receipt of the application that counts, but also the length of stay when allocating a place. According to existingcountries, this means that if you only stay one trimester you will almost automatically be put on a waiting list. Many then rented the CityView apartments, which are within walking distance of the university. Don’t let the price scare you off. You can easily share a single apartment with three people if you don’t have high standards. You can write to the people for this via the MicroEDU mailing list, which you will receive in good time. Since the apartments are unfurnished, you can improvise and use an air mattress as a bed.
By chance I noticed that there had been short-term cancellations for the dormitory and that I was able to get hold of a place in the dormitory. The costs are around 4000 USD for the trimester and include a room that is shared by two in a 6 or 8 person apartment. There is also a meal plan that entitles you to eat as often as you want in the cafeteria 7 days a week. You quickly get to know a lot of other internationals in the dormitory and I have to say that this is very valuable because you are always connected. On the negative side of the dorm, there are quite a few rules that need to be followed regardless of how useful they are or not. A tip: When you take the damage inventory when you move in, be sure to state every little thing or you will have to pay for it,
Studied at the host university
In the first two weeks you will go through the so-called course crashing. In the end, this means that you get the remaining spaces that are left over. Unfortunately, the CSUEB is extremely inefficient in this regard. You need the professor’s signature on a form that you can attend his course. This must then be handed in on a specific day. Since the procedure is carried out according to the first come first serve principle, a line of Open University people forms in front of the business administration office around 4 a.m. I had a lot of courses approved during the Course Crashing Phase to be on the safe side. Fortunately, I got 3 out of 4 courses that I wanted from the start.
The range of courses is basically very broad, which runs through all departments. In terms of level, you have to say that it is easier compared to my usual workload in Germany. This is promoted by the fact that you always have midterms, can polish up your grade by being present and doing homework and that the final sometimes only counts 25% of the overall grade. Much emphasis is placed on group work with presentations, which always make up a large part of the overall grade. I couldn’t find any linguistic problems, as one knows subject-specific English terms from Germany more than well.
Since you have trimesters at CSUEB, you are busy with the university for a total of about 10 weeks. You then have 2 lectures per week per course. If you do it cleverly, you only have lectures two days a week and can use the remaining time to travel.
Everyday life and free time
In dealing with Americans, I have had the experience that if you are friendly to them, they are also friendly to you. There aren’t really any special DO’s and DON’Ts. When consuming alcohol, you should be careful not to violate existing laws, as this can quickly become uncomfortable.
When traveling, I don’t even know where to start. San Francisco alone offers hundreds of incredible must-see attractions. I can only recommend the Lonely Planet travel guide for California with English language output. So there are more than enough attractions to fill every long weekend of the Quater.
The semester abroad in San Francisco was by far the best semester I’ve had in my studies so far. I made a lot of new friends and seen a lot. Even if there were negative experiences, such as with the absolutely unpredictable administration of the university, the positives far outweigh them. That’s why I can only recommend the CSUEB as a break from the usual routine.