The acceptance from the university came about 5 months before the start of the university and the preparations started. It is best to book the flight as early as possible because it is cheaper then. I paid around 700 euros for the return flight. You also have to take care of your visa and health insurance at an early stage. I decided to take out international health insurance with the ADAC because it was the cheapest.
When packing, I can only recommend leaving space in your suitcase, because shopping in the USA is great. But you should bring enough cosmetic items with you, because these are very expensive in comparison (e.g. you pay $ 13 for a normal hairspray).
If you decide to spend a semester abroad in the San Francisco area, you should also bring plenty of jackets or a winter jacket and scarves, because it is usually cold there (hard to believe in California). You could hardly ever go to San Francisco without a jacket and scarf, although it could be really warm in Hayward on the same day.
I decided to live in the City View Apartments, which is an apartment complex from which you can walk to the university in 15 minutes. The apartment complex is a bit more expensive compared to others (we had one of the largest apartments there and paid around $ 3000 a month including utilities), but there are pools, a jacuzzi, tennis courts and a gym and many other students live there . As it turned out, it was almost only Germans who were also there via MICROEDU. I also shared a large apartment with 4 other Germans. We found each other through one of the Facebook groups and then contacted City View from Germany and signed the rental agreement. I actually wanted to avoid living with Germans,
You can also apply for a room in the student dormitories, mainly Asians live there, but you only find out late whether you will get a room and the rules there are very strict, so that was out of the question for me.
I can only recommend City View, the apartments are nice, the location is good and there is always something going on.
The American university system is generally very different from the German one and you have to get used to it first. The organization of the CSUEB for internationals has often not made it easy for us. Instead of getting information that you really need on Orientation Day, you get an education lesson about alcohol.
The first few weeks there was “class crashing”, which meant that we internationals could see all the courses and had to get a signature from the professor if we were interested in the course. The stupid thing was that Americans had long been able to choose the courses and many good courses were already full. In addition, the full lesson with homework etc. was already running and we did not yet know which courses we were going to and did not yet have access to the course documents that were made available online by the professor. After 2 weeks we had to come to an office in the morning with the signatures and get codes for the courses so that we could register online. First come, first served, so I was there at 4 a.m. to be first at 8 a.m.
Everyday life at the university is more strenuous than in Germany, you have to constantly hand in homework, give presentations, work on case studies … and thereby collect points for the final grade. Sometimes the effort in a course was as high as in an entire focus at the HNU, but those who make an effort also get an A or A-. The Americans don’t expect that much, the level is much lower than in Germany, so you have to try to swap the German thoroughness for the Californian serenity, which is not always that easy.
The most difficult part was the group work with the Americans, because they are very unreliable and you usually have to do everything by yourself. At the same time, it is also one of the few ways to come into contact with Americans and speak English. Outside of the university it is difficult to establish contact with them because they all already have several jobs, are very busy and the interest in internationals is often only superficial.
In general, I can say about the CSUEB that there is very little going on at this university and also little is offered compared to what you hear about other American universities. The students themselves refer to their university as “the university for the poor” because of the low tuition fees and that is easy to see.
Marketing Research (Prof. Watson): Very nice professor, you write 2 exams and work on 2 small projects. You have to read an entire book and take notes, which you can then bring with you to the exam.
Product and Pricing (Prof. Newcomb): Very complex subject, you write 2 exams, have to hand in 2 term papers, present a case study in a team and also work on a larger project in a group. But the professor is very nice and helpful.
Practicum in a small business management (Prof. McKenzie): In this course you work in a team of 5 on a consulting project for a real customer. In my case, each team had a different restaurant as a customer. You don’t write an exam, you have to hand in a 20-page report and give a presentation at the end. The whole grade is thus made up of the group work, which is not necessarily positive. As I said, group work with Americans is challenging and often requires strong nerves.
California is great to travel with, there is just so much to see! I arrived 4 weeks before the start of the university and first looked at San Francisco and then was on a road trip through LA, San Diego, Palms Springs and Santa Barbara for 3 weeks. There are hardly any courses on Fridays and many even have Monday or Thursday free, so there is also time for weekend trips during the quarter, for example to Las Vegas or Yosemite National Park. San Francisco is the most diverse of all the cities I’ve seen in the US, I’ve been there almost every weekend and you discover something new every time.
We decided not to buy a car because it is simply not worth it for 3 months and it is too stressful to buy and sell. Because of our residential area, things went quite well without it and on the weekends we often rented a car. But it is good to have friends with a car so that you can go shopping every now and then. You can easily get to San Francisco or the outlet in Livermore by public transport. You can get to Hayward Downtown by shuttle from the university, in Hayward you can go to the supermarket, the cinema, eat frozen yogurt or burgers or have a drink in the evening. You can even get to Walmart and Southland Mall in Hayward by public transport. Hayward is not a pretty town,
The prices are very different, fast food is cheaper than cooking it yourself, big packs are cheaper than small ones … If you are studying in California you have to go to In-N-OUT Burger, which is the best and healthiest burger chain in the world UNITED STATES. You can save if you do a bulk purchase at Walmart from time to time and buy a water filter.
You can go partying very well in San Francisco, there are many good clubs. It is best to write yourself on the guest list on the Internet beforehand, or to buy the early bird tickets. At night you can go back to Hayward with Lyft or Uber, these are special taxis that you order via an app and which are also much cheaper than normal taxis. The party bus or a trip on the party boat are also recommended.
I can only recommend a semester abroad to everyone, you get to know a lot of new people and a different culture. I’ve seen a lot of the USA and experienced a lot and would do a semester abroad in the USA again at any time. But you should inform yourself well about the university beforehand. If my time and money allow, I would prefer another university in California.