I knew from the start that I would like to go to California for my semester abroad . I decided on San José, which is about an hour from San Francisco and in the middle of Silicon Valley . Since there are a few things that have to be arranged, I recommend that you start the preparations about 6 months in advance. The application process went very quickly and 2 weeks after submitting my application, I was already accepted. After the approval it is time to take care of the visa . This takes about 1 month to be sent to you. The SJSU accepts the DAAD test as a language test , which I was able to take free of charge at my university. Your website is always available for questions of any kind , which makes the whole process very easy.
There are several options for living in San José, none of which are very cheap. San José is very expensive due to its location in Silicon Valley and you can definitely see this in the rental and living costs . I decided on the on-campus variant because I wanted to experience the real American “dorm life” . I lived in the CVB (Campus Village) in a 4-person apartment (own room & shared kitchen and bathroom) with 3 other American girls. This option costs just over $ 1000 per month. The CVB often offers events with free food or fun events. I’m glad I stayed here as it was just the most central location and a lot of my friends stayed here.
In my opinion, you don’t need a car. I’ve had a lot of American friends with cars, and for road trips you can easily rent a car.
The university campus is a dream : good weather, palm trees and skateboards. It is located in downtown San José and is structured like a square. There is everything that you know from American movies. A large food court, a large gym, a super nice library and much more. There are some fun events going on almost every day . The only negative point is that you are not allowed to walk alone through San José in the evening, as it is too dangerous. Tip: UBER is the best app that always brings you home safely for little money. Check hetongdiy to see more reviews from current students.
Regarding the course selection , only the first 2 weeks are a little stressful, as you cannot choose your courses in Germany. The Americans call it “class crashing”. I recommend that you take out 2-3 courses per subject from your German university beforehand , as you often don’t get your first choice. I have found a suitable course for all of my 4 German business subjects.
The university itself is much easier than in Germany, in my opinion. It may be more work over the semester, but it is definitely easier work. You can definitely get good grades here if you put in a little effort.
Leisure & Travel
I recommend you definitely befriend the Americans! This is the best way to learn English and you have locals who can show you a lot. Join an association or club . I joined the university sport (judo) and made a lot of new friends.
Since the university was very easy, I had a lot of time for sports, friends, celebrations and traveling . With all the internationals and your new American friends, there will always be someone around to do something. On Tuesdays the students always go to party and there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the college night life . My favorite excursion has always been San Francisco! You can get here by car in under an hour and with the “Caltrain” in about 1.15 hours.
San José is an ideal starting point for traveling (Yosemite Park, Santa Cruz, …). Nevertheless, you have to plan enough money for the whole semester. Especially if you still want to travel, half the year will be very expensive. But for me every part was worth it!
I can only recommend each of you to do a semester at San José State University! If I could, I would fly back immediately . I had the best time of my life and met so many new people who have now become good friends. The semester was like a long vacation for me, with a new surprise for me every day. Now you are the lucky ones next! Have fun!