When I started my business administration and economics studies after completing my apprenticeship as a banker, I knew that I wanted to do a semester abroad. I made the final decision to do my semester abroad in the fifth semester a year earlier, so that I had enough time to plan. I decided relatively quickly for the USA, as I wanted to go to an English-speaking country further away and Australia dropped out due to the poor semester times. After a lecture by MicroEDU at my home university in Passau,It quickly became clear to me that I would like to do all the planning together with SSU, also known as Sonoma State University according to AbbreviationFinder.
And it was definitely the right decision because no matter how many questions I asked, I always got a quick answer.
After working my way through SSU’s college catalog (and a few emails and phone calls later), I chose Sonoma State University (SSU) as this was where all of my needs were met.
- Small university under 15,000 students
- Courses with Americans (no special international courses)
- Pre-selection of courses and no, as is usual in America, “crashing” (course selection on the first day)
- Low tuition fees (yes, still high compared to Germany but very low compared to Hawaii and Michigan, which were also on my shortlist)
- Nice dormitories
The application was very easy thanks to the very good help from SSU and detailed instructions. What I particularly liked was the double check, I scanned the application, sent it to SSU and they checked it, saving time and postage for unnecessary sending back and forth. In addition to all sorts of personal data, proof of liquidity, language certificate, the application also asks for up to 10 desired courses. These can be found in the course catalog on the SSU homepage. After my application in November, I received my confirmation at the end of December, so that I could start planning more precisely.
In January I started planning more precisely, booking flights, hotels, and of course also to find out about the visa, which, however, could only be applied for in June due to various deadlines. It was very helpful for me to create a schedule in which I saved all deadlines, because for living on campus, for example, you have to pay a deposit and the rooms are distributed according to the “first come, first serve” principle. My visa appointment in June was very relaxed, after 20 minutes everything was done, don’t be unsettled by horror stories from the Internet and take the earliest possible appointment, otherwise things can drag on. A week later I received my passport with a visa in the mail.
It was clear to me from the start: I want to live on campus, because only there I can experience real student life. It is a bit more expensive but it was definitely worth it, The SSU dorms are among the best in America and I can only recommend booking a single room in the Beaujolais Village (also called Transferhouse in the application). You share the kitchen and living room with three students and have a private bedroom and bathroom. The rooms are furnished, but you have to get everything yourself, from bed linen to pots and pans. A free shopping trip to Target will be offered on the first day. Dryers and washing machines are available free of charge in several washrooms. I shared my room with a German and two Americans, and most of the time I was not in my room, but either at the directly adjacent pool, which you could use until November (30 ° C), or anywhere else on campus.
I took three courses, each with 4 units, all of which I was able to have credited in advance in Germany (International Marketing; Hospitality and Event Management; Management). The structure of the courses differed fundamentally from those in Germany, although you write a final exam in each course, but this usually only counts 20% of the grade. The remaining 80% consist of mid-term exams, attendance, presentations, homework (which can be 20 pages long), short homework and tests. Furthermore, you have to read a lot on your own, the books for this are NOT available in the university library, but have to be bought or rented from Amazon, for example (a rental can quickly cost $ 40). Overall, the level is much lower than in Germany (As are very easy to reach) and the professors help you where they can and if they know that you are an exchange student, even more.
Life in Sonoma
If you go to the SSU, you should be aware that Rohnert Park does not have much to offer and that you need a car to go shopping. But this is not a problem because the Americans are very helpful and there is a car sharing station on campus, which can be used cheaply. Rohnert Park is located in the middle of Sonoma County, one of the wine regions in California. It is therefore advisable to be 21 years old, otherwise you will not be able to go to any wine tasting.
The university offers various excursions (sometimes even free of charge). I booked a night kayak trip in shining water on the first day, I can only recommend this excursion to everyone, it was one of the most beautiful natural phenomena I have ever seen.
Otherwise, it is of course a good idea to drive more often to The City – to San Francisco – which is an hour away. As a big sports fan, I also attended various events there. Whether basketball, baseball, ice hockey or football, there is something for everyone and you shouldn’t miss any of them if possible. I liked the trip to the Golden State Warriors best, which was offered by the university. (Sports are pretty expensive in the US: tickets can cost $ 100 and more and a beer in the stadium costs $ 10 and up)
At the end of my semester, a considerable sum was raised. Tuition fees, housing, flights, cost of living (considerably more expensive than in Germany, especially for healthy food) and excursions can quickly increase the costs to over $ 10,000. I was happy to have calculated at $ 18,000, which I almost needed (being in San Diego for Thanksgiving, etc. ). You should also remember to keep all your bills, as you can deduct everything from tax and get a significant amount back later.
I would like to keep my conclusion brief:
Even if the beginning was difficult (culture shock), after I got over it with the help of SSU and our coordinator Becky, it was the BEST time of my life and every strain at the beginning and worth every penny.