I am in the middle of the semester studying at San Francisco State University as an exchange student. To be honest, I had always wanted to do exchange from a young age, however was always nervous and hesitant when it actually came to the time of applying and filling out the applications. I think it was mainly due to the fact I had been in a long term relationship and was so comfortable with my life in Sydney, surrounded by loving friends and family. I loved being in my little bubble that never changed, however at times got bored of the routine that I was caught up in at home. What I needed was a challenge and something knew – which pushed me into finally applying and being accepted at SFSU. As soon as I landed into San Francisco, I knew I had made the right decision to go on exchange. I am only half way through but I can already tell you – I’ve met so many friends I’ll be friends with for life from all over the world, I’ve found things out about myself and others I wouldn’t have realized before, have had the best experiences that a lot wouldn’t have the privilege of ever experiencing and I’ve gained more independence and self confidence in my self. It has been one of the best few months of my life so far and I can’t wait for the next few months that are ahead of me, before I return to Australia.
As far as San Francisco State University itself, it has a really beautiful campus and I’ve found all the professors to be extremely helpful, nice and knowledgable in the field they teach. Everyone is friendly and speaks to you in class – especially if they find out your Australian. I have made so many American friends in classes, they absolutely love Aussies!! On a sunny day at SFSU everyone sits and eats their lunch on the quat in the sun on their breaks, watching bands and dances that are being performed on the outdoor stage. There is great food, especially the days there are food trucks. There’s a bar that you can go to on the grounds if you are having a stressful day! In terms of doing exchange in San Francisco, you are choosing one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities of the world. There is always something to explore, to do and to experience at any time of the day. I had never been to San Francisco before – I heard great things about SF with people telling me “it’s the best city, you’ll love it” and I didn’t believe them until I explored and experienced the city myself. It truly is amazing and I will definitely be coming back. The suburbs within San Fran are so unique in their own way and it feels like your in different places when you explore them all.
Here are a few helpful tips for further students that are interested in doing exchange at SFSU:
1. Live off-campus not on campus. SFSU is located about half an hour muni ride from the city in an area called Daly City and it doesn’t have much around it. If you want to take advantage of the beautiful City SF is, live closer to the city. However keeping in mind this is going to cost more rent living closer to the city. This can be an effort getting to university – but so worth it! I live in Noe Valley – 2 minutes from Mission District and one of the iconic parks, Deloris Park. It’s such a beautiful area and so close to downtown and all the places to go out. Try finding a place to rent or a house that needs a room filled on craigslist before you get to SF!!! Do this early – because there is a high demand for housing in San Fran. I have a friend on exchange and it took her nearly a month to find a house and she had to stay in a hostel until then. It’s stressful – but remember not to stress too much – it will all work out in the end, just be patient!
2. Get involved in the IEEC which is a program that is set up for exchange students. They organize events for exchange students to meet and socialize – take advantage of this in your first week in the city. This is where I met most my close friends I have now. Monday night at Qbar is the best – $1 for any drink you want.
3. Organize your visas and flights early! The later you book, the more expensive the flight
4. San Fran is not as warm as you think – it can get really windy and cold especially at night – always bring a jacket everywhere you go
5. Take advantage of travel – rent a car from super cheap car rental and explore California! This is your time to tick California off the list. So far in two months I’ve gone to Lake Taheo, Napa Valley, Santa Cruz, LA, Lake Havasu and San Diego. Without getting a flight anywhere.
6. Stay away from the suburb Tenderlion. It’s extremely dangerous.
Hope this helps students that are going to be given the same amazing experience going to SFSU for a semester as I have so far. Enjoy