My semester abroad at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and subsequent trip through California
Why I have done the study abroad
Since I studied Computer Science, I had the goal to study abroad. When I began the Master's study, I finally had the opportunity and began to plan. My goal was to visit the United States, and since the University of Wisconsin-Parkside has a good reputation, it was a good decision. Friends told me, that a semester (or more) abroad will be a perfect opportunity to improve my language skills, the culture and much more.
Improving my language was not necessary for me, because I am learning English for more than 10 years now. The following is a list of some stuff I had to do before I booked my flight:
- Apply for the University and apartment online
- Sending the University my Transcript of Records (grades)
- Creating the work plan (list of courses to be taken during the stay)
- Language Certificate
- Letter of Motivation
- Letter of Recommendation (from two professors)
As soon as I got the positive response from the UWP, I had to apply for the VISA. Two weeks later was the interview at the American embassy in Berlin.
It was the first time I visited the United States. Especially the first couple days at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside were very interesting, due to the new, amazing environment, as well as the people I met. Everyone was very helpful with supporting me when I had problems (for example finding my apartment). The international students arrived a little bit earlier than the others, due to integration reasons. The courses I took were:
- Mobile Development
- Software Engineering Principles and Practice
- Modern Software Architectures
- Group Communication
The way of learning was quite different, as I knew it and was familiar with. Compared to Germany, students got a lot of homework to do, which relieved them before the final exams. Means, that the final exam usually counts way less than 100% into the course grade at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
Working with other computer scientists in projects was very interesting, since you have a close-to-equal knowledge base. I was working on a project in a team, where we had to meet the client at his home, which gave me some interesting insights how different the way of live is, compared to what I knew. After the semester I traveled three weeks through California (together with a friend), from San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, down to San Diego. We drove along the Highway 1, which is one of the most beautiful roads I have ever seen.
The semester abroad was a unique experience with which you get to know yourself better. You will probably never get that chance again. It is a factor of money and time, but you also improve your English language skills, make new friends and learn much about the culture. And, you have the chance to travel through the country.