I am currently doing my Master’s in Health Management in Tourism at the FH Joanneum and wanted to do a semester abroad shortly before I started my professional life. I decided to study a semester in California with my best friend, who is studying international industrial engineering in Vienna. After some searching, we decided on San Jose State University, because it offers both directions, is close to a very beautiful city (San Francisco) and the distance to the sea is not too far.
Our planning began one year before our planned semester abroad. First we coordinated the lectures with our universities of applied sciences in Austria. This was very easy for me because bachelor courses were also allowed. However, looking through the course catalog was tedious, but thanks to your website we at least had this and they were always available for us with all our questions. We took the toefl test and then applied to university. Check jibin123 to see more reviews from current students.
Living in San Jose
We applied to the university and the dormitory campus at the same time. The cheapest option here was a 2-bed room in a 6-person apartment with kitchen and living area without food on campus. We did not take the food package and, thanks to our kitchen in the apartment, it was not necessary. The food package offered by the university consists, in my opinion, only of fast food. We were very satisfied with our apartment on campus. We had 4 very nice roommates who showed us a lot and always helped us. The only negative was that the rooms were empty except for the bed, mattress, desk, armchair and 2 small kasterl. So we had to buy a lot (bedclothes, duvet covers, lamps, hangers …) for a semester and then unfortunately leave it there. However, the location of the campus is advantageous, right in downtown San Jose. To downtown we only needed about 15 minutes (across the campus).
The campus is very modern and impressive. You choose the courses yourself and then you go to the selected courses and listen to the first lesson. There you get the so-called greensheets, which contain the exact content of the courses. You should read these carefully and then talk to the respective professor at the end of the first lesson to see if you are allowed to attend the course. I got all of the courses I wanted because all the professors were very interested in having an international student in their course. The courses are easier than in Austria, but sometimes it is a lot of effort because a lot of papers, tasks and projects are running at the same time and you have to spend a lot of time on them every week.
Excursions and car
In general, San Jose has a very good public transport network that students at SJSU can use for free. The Google function for public transport is easy to understand and it has taken us everywhere (sometimes a little awkward and long). For longer trips I would advise renting a car (at SJ Airport, also easily accessible by tram). Unfortunately, in California, under the age of 25, you have to pay more for auto insurance. One possibility would be to buy a car, but I would plan a lot of time for this, both before the semester and afterwards to sell it again. I would definitely recommend a full coverage (applies to your own car) and a liability (pays for damage to other cars). You should also pay attention to the sums insured, Sometimes the insurance is very cheap, but then you don’t pay very much. You don’t expect an accident for half a year, but there is a lot of traffic (and almost always traffic jams) and as a result more accidents happen than expected.
We did a three-week road trip through California before the semester and then visited NY over Christmas. During the semester we did not go on larger excursions, because although you only have 4 courses per week, attendance is usually compulsory and, as already mentioned, there is usually a lot to do. If you have good time management you can finish the semester very well and see a lot of a wonderful country.
We got to know a lot of people during the semester. As soon as anyone hears German or our dialect, you immediately start a conversation. We often went downtown to various bars or accompanied our roommates to house parties. If you are communicative and want to experience a fun and exciting semester, you should definitely choose the SJSU. We wanted to experience California in its purest form and we have it.