Clubs and societies Exchange Student exchange Travel

San Jose: Small Town Heart, Big City Soul

Samuel – San Jose State University – California

Semester 1, 2020
Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Law (Honours)

Going on exchange to San Jose State University (SJSU) in my third year of study was something that I had wanted to do ever since I started tertiary education. Although I didn’t know anyone going from QUT, where I should book my accommodation, or if I had picked the right partner university for me, I knew that it would be an unforgettable experience regardless and I was definitely right. 


The first step after being accepted by your partner university is finding a place to live. Thankfully SJSU provided all students with the option to live on-campus, which I utilised, and ended up being one of the best decisions I made. It provided me with the opportunity to meet fellow students and fully immerse myself in the college experience. 

 I lived in Campus Village B which is a 15 story tower that houses second, third, and fourth-year students (Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors). In a typical living space with four single bedrooms, there is one bathroom and kitchen. Compared to living off-campus it was relatively expensive with a cost of USD$6,896 for one semester. Although a bit more expensive than off-campus housing, I would recommend to anyone who has the option to live on-campus that they do so as it makes it easier to meet new people and commute to your classes. 

My student accommodation


At SJSU the meal plan is a little expensive when you work it out on a per meal basis. I ended up paying roughly USD$11 per meal with the ‘Social Plan’. The plan gave me USD$500 worth of dining dollars that can be used at places like Subway and Taco Bell, along with 145 entries to the dining commons.  It would be significantly cheaper to cook all of your own meals, but for the convenience of having food as soon as you arrive and the peace of mind that knowing that you’ll always have something to eat, I definitely thought it was worth it. 

University Experience 

In my opinion, the university experience at SJSU was a lot more immersive than QUT as there were so many associations to join or events to attend on any given night. My advice is to get out of your comfort zone and attend everything you can as you never know what you could be interested in.  

With the majority of students living on or around campus, the vibe is significantly different to QUT, where the majority of students don’t live on or even near the campus. The teaching style at SJSU is also different to QUT. In Brisbane, you would normally have a 2 hour lecture and a 1 hour tutorial both once a week, whereas over there, there aren’t many large lectures like we have at QUT and you would ordinarily have two 1.5 hour tutorials a week for the class. In regards to assessment, a lot of the course work at SJSU is done on a week-by-week basis and counts for a lot less of your overall grade in comparison to QUT, where you normally complete one or two large assessment pieces worth 10%-40% of your grade.   


One thing that I wish I was told before I went is that SJSU requires you to purchase their own insurance. This caught me and a few other QUT students off guard as we thought that being covered by QUT’s policy was sufficient. If you’re thinking of going to SJSU, make sure you purchase their insurance as well.

Social Life

Living on campus definitely helped with the social aspect of my exchange. Being placed into a room with other students allowed me to meet new people straight away and dive right into the college experience. Overall, everyone at SJSU was extremely welcoming and helped me out with a lot of things such as my insurance and getting a Clipper Card from SJSU for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) which is similar to a go card, but allows students to use public transport for free. 

 Another piece of advice would be to check out all of the different associations and sports teams that are set up around campus on week 2. I joined the Financial Management Association and the Men’s Rugby team and loved every minute of it. It’s a great way to make friends and find interesting things to do. 


If you like hiking and adventuring then SJSU is definitely for you. There are so many locations to go to in Northern California, such as Yosemite or Lake Tahoe, that are amazing at any time of year. There are also a lot of cheap deals you can get as a student.

Learn more about San Jose State University

Write A Comment