I am currently studying for a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Paderborn and it was clear to me that I definitely wanted to do a semester abroad. The standard programs at our university there mostly concern Finland or similar “cold countries”. However, my dream was to study in America one day and preferably in California, which already has a magical aura around it. After a little research on the Internet, I came across San Diego State University, which was particularly suitable for me because, unlike many other American universities, there were semesters there. So it was clear to me, San Diego is my dream, that’s where I want to go.
At the same time as I applied to the university, I applied for an Auslandsbafög. You should definitely try this unless you have parents who are millionaires. The limits for student loans for a semester in the USA are also much higher than in Germany, so there are good chances. In any case, it makes sense to take care of it there at very short notice. Especially if the stay abroad depends on financial support. Remember, German officials need time. All in all, however, everything went smoothly. I received all of the tuition fees and a flat-rate flight allowance of € 1000 as a gift. In addition, there is a normal student loan rate, half of which is repayable. With this financial help, the semester is definitely more relaxed, because first of all, San Diego is a dream.
The concrete preparations for the semester abroad will then start in April. A Usprivateschoolsfinder.com checklist that you can work through point by point will be of great help there. The cheapest way to book flights was via swoodoo.com. I would prefer to book an apartment on site, as some American houses are better garages. But this is usually not a problem and can be done in a few days. It is therefore advisable to book accommodation and a car for the first week. Accommodation I would recommend a motel or cheap hotel rather than a hostel. The disadvantage of a hostel is that there are 6 people in the room who you don’t know and who have access to your suitcases at any time. There are various car rental companies, although it is advisable to use local ones for those under 25 as there is no surcharge. As a general rule, renting a car under 25 in America is not cheap.
After arriving, I started looking for an apartment with a friend who also wanted to do a semester there. We mainly searched on the website craiglist.com, which offers thousands of possibilities. Notices at the university are also recommended. You should calculate something like §600-800. If you want to live on the beach there are §1000 and more. I lived in the college area, which had advantages and disadvantages. The beach has the advantage that all bars etc. are there, there is next to nothing in the college area. The college area is closer to the university, the pool and the gym. I think in the end it is a question of cost and what preferences you have. But regardless of where you live, you can hardly avoid having your own car. There is hardly any public transport network, and when it does, it is very sparse. I was lucky enough to be able to buy our rental company’s car with a friend, which we sold again with a profit of $ 700. You always have to be careful with car dealers, as they usually want the best for themselves and not for their customers. In general, you drive very well with Toyota, because they sell well again.
After arriving you should enroll at the university as soon as possible, which does not pose any problems. You should also register at the Sport Center (ARC) in any case, because everyone in America does fitness and you don’t want to be completely out of the ordinary. Membership has been free for ALI students since the last semester. This also entitles you to use the pool, also known as the Aquaplex. A dream, look forward to it. The pool is sometimes viewed by various women and men as a catwalk, where the hair must not always get wet in the water, as this ruins the make-up and hairstyle.
Life in San Diego
My university week consisted of Monday and Tuesday, so I didn’t have too much to do the rest of the week. The level of the courses is not too high and you have a lot to do with group work or have other projects. The courses in the master’s program were quite small and are more reminiscent of school classes, as oral participation is also assessed. Courses with Prof. Sannwald are highly recommended as he was one of the nicest professors I have ever met. All in all, the university didn’t stress me too much, but that was also my goal because I didn’t want to study in paradise.
Fast food and again fast food. Even at the university. If you are looking for a cafeteria, forget it. Most of the time I cooked myself, which is not too cheap because groceries are very expensive. There, 3 apples cost $ 4. Or a pack of toilet paper $ 12. But my God, you’re in California. In and Out Burgers are recommended as fast food chains, nobody wants to go to McDonalds afterwards. Panda Express isn’t bad either. I mostly ate there at university. If you want to have a cozy dinner in the evening, we recommend the Gas Lamp Quarter or Little Italy in Downtown.
City and people
In short, it’s a dream. The skyline is overwhelming, the sky bluer than anywhere else, the people prettier and sportier than anywhere else. You really feel like you are in OC California. However, the locals also know very well that everyone thinks San Diego is America’s most beautiful city. Say there is a certain amount of arrogance there. Beauty and Money is the program. The richest men have the prettiest women and there is nothing cooler than stopping in a limousine in front of the club. This attitude is interesting to observe, but after a short time you become quite dull. Still, I couldn’t think of a better and more diverse place to live. The people are always in a good mood, which is no wonder with over 300 days of sunshine a year. The weather is, although we had probably had the coldest year in 20 years, an absolute dream. It gets dark noticeably earlier from mid-October, but you can still expect 35 degrees or more in November and December.
The recommended beaches are Pacific Beach, Coronado Island, La Jolla Cove and Blacksbeach, which is known there as a nudist beach. But 99% of the people are dressed. You have to descend for 10 minutes, but you have a dream view and, in my opinion, the most beautiful beach in San Diego.
You definitely have to go shopping in various outlets. Levi’s jeans $ 20, Polo Raplh Lauren polo shirt $ 25, and so on. The savings are 50% and more, plus the good dollar exchange rate. So the motto is with a few clothes there and back with 2 suitcases.
Party every day? No problem in San Diego. The party scene is roughly divided into Pacific Beach and Downtown. Pacific Beach or also called PB is for everyone who wants to go for a drink at reasonable prices (in San Diego that is still $ 5-7 for a small beer) and who want to go out with a t-shirt. I was there mostly on Tuesdays, Tacco Tuesday in Typhoon, cheap Taccos and Margerithas. There is THE meeting place for exchange students. Bar West is always very nice on Thursdays. Shore Club is also worth a tip, right on the beach. And if you always want to try original American pub games, you should turn up there. At the weekend I was mostly downtown. The best clubs are Fluxx, Stingaree, Ivy, and Voyeur. Pig expensive everything. Entry from $ 20, drinks from $ 12. Still, you HAVE to go there. Pretty women rich guys who get champagne and lots of VIPs. Dress code, nothing works without a shirt and leather shoes. Without women, you don’t even have to fool yourself into coming in and once you’re inside, don’t think you can get into all areas. Still, I loved it. Go there once and you will understand me.
I flew to San Francisco and drove down Highway One. San Francisco is beautiful, for me one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Very European and super cool and trendy. You can fly there very cheaply with Southwest during the week. I paid $ 34. Southwest should be the first alternative for domestic flights in America’s west anyway. The Pacific Highway is madness, impossible to describe and takes your breath away. Definitely do it !!!
Las Vegas and Grand Caynon should also be on the program. Los Angeles too, although the city is not the prettiest. But a combination with a Los Angeles Lakers game is definitely recommended. Las Vegas possibly in combination with the Grand Canyon or for everyone who is there at the end of October., Halloween !!! We were there with 8 people in a giant suite in the 5 star hotel. Hangover sends his regards. Otherwise Las Vegas is very unreal and a visit longer than 3 days makes no sense. Hotels I was in Trump Tower (who likes super luxury), Treasure Island (good Vegas middle class, with us it would be a top hotel), Planet Hollywood Tower (the luxury playground and party place for rich kids).
If you want to study in paradise, if you want to soak up the sun and have fun before going to work, don’t look at every penny and want to get to know the American way of life, there is nothing better for you. For me personally it was the best time of my life and I can’t imagine that this can be topped. I often look back with a little sadness but with great joy and will remember it for a lifetime.