Since it was always my plan to go to the USA and I also wanted to go to California because part of my family lives there, I thought about the best way to gain good experience. The idea of going to college was a good decision for me as I was also very unsure about my choice of study. This gave me the opportunity to get to know different subjects. Of course, expanding my English skills was also the focus of my decision. In addition, I would like to include international experience in my résumé.
It is very important to find out more early on. Since I had done that, I was under no time pressure to put my documents together and Lisa Bradler supported me very well in my planning and also offered me a great selection of universities. I chose Sonoma State University in California. I applied to Sonoma State University about six months before the start of my semester. At Sonoma State University there was the possibility to select courses online in advance. So I didn’t have any stress to take care of course enrollments while I arrive at the university. I then received an acceptance from the university relatively quickly and was able to deal with the university’s online school network at an early stage. It also helped a lot that Sonoma State University had an online introductory course. That went from school matters to visas to opportunities to go to San Francisco.
Accommodation and catering
I registered for Housing on Campus at the same time as my application. According to answerresume, Sonoma State University has been awarded for very good housing in the USA and as an international student you also had the opportunity to freely choose where you would like to live. I decided to live in the Beaujolais apartment block, which is by far the most beautiful apartment block at the university and also has a pool on the doorstep. I decided to take a single room, which I would recommend anytime. It is a bit more expensive than a double or triple room, but based on my experience with the roommates, it was a very good decision to have your own room. I lived with two American roommates and one German roommate. With the American roommates it was unfortunately a bit more difficult in terms of volume, consideration for each other and cleanliness. I got on very well with my German roommate.
Campus and student life
The campus is really very nice. It’s completely green, there are small lakes, fountains and lots of benches to sit outside in the sun. Everything is very small and within walking distance. That was definitely very helpful as I lived here without a car. In addition to the various classroom buildings, the campus is equipped with three small cafés and three restaurants. There is a student center (“Student Center”), in which all restaurants are located, many small, comfortable seating areas, the university shop, CampusPrints and many different event rooms. The so-called Recreation Center is located opposite the campus. This is a huge gym with an integrated climbing wall, which was really impressive. In addition to the Recreation Center, there is also the gymnasium where the kinesiology classes, i. e. the sports classes, take place. This is also equipped with a swimmer area. It is highly recommended to enroll in sports courses at the university, as they were really a lot of fun. I signed up for kickboxing aerobics and yoga and can only recommend it. The campus also has a large music theater, where open-air cinema was offered in the summer. The mood among students at the university is very good. The students are all very friendly, open and interested when you start talking to them. However, I also noticed that it might not be that easy to make new contacts. I highly recommend getting involved in campus and school activities. I decided to join a Sorority (sisterhood) and can highly recommend it, as it offers a very interesting insight into a large part of American college life and especially into that of the Greek community. Furthermore, I would recommend any kind of participation, as it makes it a lot easier to get to know new people.
My courses were Psychology, Kinesiology, Spanish and my two sports courses Kickbox Aerobics and Yoga. At the beginning of the semester, I had to change a few more things in my schedule because I wanted to change the Spanish course and this didn’t work out with one of my sports courses. It was very good that in the first week you could look into courses without any problems and simply swap or remove them. I was very enthusiastic about my professors. They were all really super nice and you could really tell that they only want the best for their students. My kinesiology professor in particular was great. I don’t think I’ve ever seen lessons that exciting. I have always looked forward to my courses and they were really fun, so I took part in every course with interest. In addition to my studies, I also applied for a position as an ambassador in the university’s international office. That was definitely the best decision as I was even more involved. In addition to normal office work such as entering appointments and answering calls, my tasks also included giving class presentations about studying abroad and supporting students in deciding whether to study abroad. As an ambassador, I worked an additional seven hours a week in addition to my courses. That went very well with my schedule has and definitely wasn’t too much. I can simply recommend that you get involved as much as possible.
Leisure and excursions
Because I worked as an ambassador, joined a sorority and part of my family lives here in California, I was always very busy on the weekends. From my job as an ambassador there were small events like Coffee and Culture every Thursday or a friends giving before Thanksgiving. At my Sorority we had weekly meetings and there were many so-called sisterhood meetings. At these meetings, for example, people went out to eat and there were small celebrations such as a fall festival. Otherwise, of course, I also visited my family and went on trips to San Francisco, as that was a great option here in Sonoma. San Francisco is a two-hour bus ride away. The bus ride went by very quickly and is pretty straightforward. Two other small towns are Santa Rosa and Petaluma, which are also very easy to get to by bus and are really very nice. Furthermore, there are offers from the university every weekend that you can simply register for, so you definitely won’t get bored and you can be out and about every weekend and experience something new, as the offer is very diverse.
After the semester
Finally, my family from Germany came to visit me and we spent two more weeks in California before we went back to Germany. In the coming year, I would like to work first, visit friends and family and use my experience to decide on my course of study.
All in all, I can highly recommend the semester at Sonoma State University and would do it again anytime. But you mustn’t forget that you will also experience a “culture shock”, regardless of how many vacations you have already spent in the USA. 😉