Like most of the others, I’ve always wanted to go to school in the USA for a while and get to know the American way of life. Because I didn’t have the opportunity to do this in upper school, a semester abroad was the only option. Since my university doesn’t have a partner university in America, your website was a huge help. It takes about one and a half years to find and apply to any university on your own.
So the support from your website was really great. They help with any questions and wherever they can. It is important to book the flight in good time, otherwise flights in summer can be very expensive. In addition, I would not fly to San Jose but to San Francisco, as the airport is not even 45 minutes away and you can take the train or someone from the SAL office can pick you up. Applying for a visa is also not a problem, you should just make an appointment at least at the embassy in Vienna in good time, as they are quite fully booked in summer. Nobody needs to worry about the toefl test. Didn’t have the best knowledge of English and still got 100 points. It is also important to make an appointment in good time.
You are not a “normal” student, but an open university student, which essentially means that you can attend university courses but are not entitled to them. That’s why you can’t register for courses in advance, you have to hope for the goodwill of the professors. Until recently, they just accepted students. However, since there were extreme budget cuts in California in the last semester, no freshmen (freshmen) are currently being accepted at the SJSU and we are trying to get all seniors to graduate. That is why the professors are no longer allowed to let students into their classes after the official limit has been reached. That can be really very frustrating because you sit in the classes from 7 in the morning to 9 in the evening and all the professors tell you that they won’t let you into the courses. The only ones who can help are the Heads of Department. I told them that I absolutely need this and that course because otherwise I would not meet my visa requirements and then have to fly home or drop out of my studies at home. Then they usually feel sorry for them and let an additional person into the course. So I got all of my courses. Check liuxers to see more reviews from current students.
Studying itself is a lot easier than in Austria and very different. You have to do something all the time (reading, essay, repeating lessons, etc.), which can be quite annoying at times, but which reduces the stress at the end of the semester. The exams are almost always single choice and you won’t get any points deducted if you give the wrong answer, which makes things a lot easier. The professors are generally very fond of international students, especially if you speak English well and have a European education.
I lived in the dormitory and was very happy about it. It’s not the cheapest option, but you have secure accommodation and you get to know new people straight away, especially Americans with whom it is otherwise difficult to come into contact. By the way, many international students also live in dormitories. The rooms are very nice, but don’t expect too much American cleanliness.
Anyone who expects San Jose to be a sparkling city is wrong. (There is a reason why nobody knows San Jose!) We described San Jose as a lovely small town like Konstanz or St. Pölten, but not as an exciting big city. You can still shop and eat well. The Winchester Mystery House is the only real sight in San Jose. However, the location of San Jose is great. You should spend at least 5 days in San Francisco, go to the beach in Santa Cruz, take a campus tour in Stanford, do whale watching in Monterey and visit the Bay Aquarium … all of which can be reached in less than an hour by car or public . Otherwise I recommend the Yosemite National Park, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas etc. You can fly to more distant cities for as little as $ 50 with the Southwest. You can also experience a lot at university. There’s always a lot going on at the Spartans’ sporting events. So it is definitely recommended to go to football, volleyball, basketball, water polo and soccer games. And always wear the Spartan T-shirt that everyone gets for free at the beginning of the semester.
I would recommend everyone to come to California with friends three weeks in advance and then travel the right way around. During the semester you can then visit and experience everything that did not go out before.
Otherwise I would recommend anyone who wants to study in America to wait until they are 21. I was only 20 and you really don’t get into a club and you never get anything to drink anywhere. And you don’t have to go to Las Vegas if you’re not yet 21. In addition, for many Americans, ID is not enough as a valid ID. They then ask for the passport. I would make a copy of this beforehand, because if you lose it, it’s a very, very, very expensive, tedious and annoying process.
You don’t necessarily need a car in San Jose, but it makes a lot easier! The bus system is not bad, but the buses only run every 20 minutes or so and only until 10:00 p.m. Besides, Americans don’t walk. People always look at you strangely when you go shopping on foot. The people on the bus are also mostly creepy. I would definitely rent a car for the first two weeks. This makes it easier to transport large purchases (bed linen, groceries) that you are certain to have at the beginning. Also take a sat nav, because getting lost in San Jose is not funny.
I really enjoyed my semester abroad at San Jose State. I’ve experienced and seen a lot, met great new people from all over the world and also learned a lot about my own culture.
However, I would recommend a different university to anyone who would like to experience “real America”. In general, I wouldn’t recommend California. You have to be aware that California is very Mexican, Asian and touristy. Often you meet people who speak English only very poorly or not at all. Don’t be surprised if you have people in your courses who speak much worse English than you do yourself. In some areas (not far from campus) all the signs in the shops are in Spanish. Unfortunately, it is not a friendly togetherness either. Most groups keep to themselves and have prejudices against each other.
I would definitely go straight to America to study again because it was a brilliant experience. But not to California for that, I would only go there for vacation – there is just soooo much to see!