San José is located in California and is a city of millions in the middle of Silicon Valley. It is one of the most important locations for IT and high-tech industry worldwide. Silicon Valley forms the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area and is about 1:20 hours from San Francisco (with the CAL Train).
I would recommend that you start preparing for the semester abroad about one to one year in advance. Experienced staff will help you to find the right host university, fill out registrations, communicate with the host university and, above all, answer your questions about foreign countries by email, telephone and in person. The support has definitely helped me a lot and I am glad to have found such a competent placement.
If you decide to spend a semester abroad in the USA, you should be aware that this involves a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy. You have to pay for everything, be it for making an appointment at the embassy or for the visa itself. Proof of sufficient liquidity in an account (approx. € 20,000) is a real challenge for some. You should also get a visa early, for which you have to present yourself in person at the American embassy in Berlin, Munich or Frankfurt. But don’t worry, quite a few forms have to be filled out in advance, but then only a few fingerprints are taken and 2-3 questions are asked and the visa is already approved. This will then be done afterwards (approx.
University / Courses:
The San José State University campus is what you would imagine a typical American campus to be. A sprawling campus with a pool, library, dormitories, lecture buildings, gym, supermarket and dining options in the middle of downtown San José.
Unlike in Germany, the level of the courses is much easier and therefore not comparable to German universities. However, you have to do homework on a regular basis (which is usually collected), write quizzes, give presentations, write midterms, etc. Thus, studying is much more time-consuming than in Germany, since here you usually only have to study for exams. At that time I took four courses in business administration / economics; International Economics, Economic Development, Quality Management and International Issues in Human Resource Management and completed these courses very well.
As an international student, however, as at some other American universities, you have the disadvantage that you have to “crash” your courses and cannot register for them in advance. This means that during the preparation period (in Germany) you first have to choose a few courses that you would like to take in the USA. On site, you then contact the respective lecturer and ask whether there is still a place available in the corresponding course. Most of them then ask to come to the first lecture. Depending on how many students have already registered for the course, the respective lecturer decides whether further students can be admitted. If you are lucky, there is still space available and you will receive a code that confirms your admission to the course. As far as I can remember, most of us international students got the courses they wanted, including me, so don’t panic about the “course crashing”. However, it is helpful if you think about alternatives in advance if you do not get the desired course. Check act-test-centers to see more reviews from current students.
At that time I lived in the CVB, one of the student dormitories, on campus. I shared a room with another student there. For me, this had the advantage that, on the one hand, I lived directly on campus and therefore only had short distances to the individual lectures and, on the other hand, that I lived with another student with whom I had to speak English and at the same time social Could establish contacts.
I would recommend to everyone to move into a student residence hall, as I have seen some international students how difficult it is to find suitable, affordable accommodation. Living there isn’t cheap either, I paid around € 3,700 for the time. There is also the option of booking a “meal plan” so that you can go out to eat in the cafeteria. I didn’t use this, however, because our apartment had a shared living room and a shared kitchen where you could cater for yourself. Basically, however, it should be noted that the cost of living (if you want to eat halfway sensibly) there, compared to Germany, are quite expensive, especially with regard to vegetables and fruit. Fast food is relatively cheap.
Although San José is a city of millions, you don’t see very much of it. The campus is in the middle of downtown, so it’s no problem to reach all shops, bars, etc. on foot. However, if you want to explore one of the surrounding malls or the surrounding area, you can use the student ticket to take the bus and light rail (comparable to a tram) for free. The nightlife is limited to a few bars and discos, which are also in downtown.
However, if you really want to go to a big city, you shouldn’t opt for San José. Nevertheless, San José is only about 1:20 hours away from San Francisco with the CAL Train and you have the opportunity to sniff the city air at any time. Due to the not too strenuous student life, San José is also a good starting point for a number of travel destinations. From San José Airport I flew to Maui (Hawaii), Vancouver (Canada) and Los Angeles or drove down Highway 1 in my rental car, which I can only recommend to everyone. But remember, renting a rental car is more expensive under the age of 25 than it is over the age of 25.
Perhaps briefly on the subject of cars in general: If you live on campus, you have the option of reaching the supermarket in downtown (Safeway) within the river. You can also easily reach the surrounding wholesale markets by bus or light rail. I would say that a car is therefore not absolutely necessary. It is of course much more convenient because you don’t always have to carry the annoying shopping. But everyone should decide for themselves, a halfway decent car costs around € 1,500 to € 2,000.
All in all, I really enjoyed my stay abroad. I not only improved my English, but also made new friendships and gained experiences that will be very valuable for my future life. I in no way regret that I chose America, more precisely California and the San José State University. It was a great time that I would never want to do without. However, in retrospect, I can say that the different experiences and impressions (gap between rich and poor, actually a technologically highly modern country, but still overhead lines for electricity) have moved me to say that I would not want to live in America.