This field report is mainly about the first semester of my Masters degree at California State University, Long Beach . Since I had already spent a year abroad in my bachelor’s degree at a German university at the CSUF, a few tips and experiences from my first year in the USA will flow into this report. Before I go into more detail about individual areas, I would like to start by sharing the most important tips for me personally: I can only recommend to all future students not to move in with other German-speaking students. This is usually the simplest solution and everything else will certainly take more time and patience, but it all pays off extremely! Being alone in a new country is often frightening and it helps when you share the uncertainty and new impressions with other German speakers. However, living with other English-speaking students made a huge impact on my year. From my experience, most exchange students make friends with other German speakers right from the start, which unfortunately leads to the fact that you spend a lot of time together and mainly speak German. Unfortunately, most of them do not form real friendships with Americans because they travel, live and often share a car with the Germans. Of course, it also depends on what you expect from a stay abroad. But if your goal is to significantly improve your English and really get to know American life , try to spend a lot of time with Americans.
The CSULB or Long Beach State offers everything your heart desires . In principle, I got to know this university as very structured and supportive. In contrast to Fullerton, the International Office (which a student has to contact more often during the semester abroad than someone who takes the entire course abroad) is much better organized and at the CSULB I have always received correct and quick answers and help so far . Other points of contact for help, such as the Graduate Office, are also extremely helpful and reliable. However, since my course only accepted 25 students, we are all in very close contact with our 3 senior professors who are always on hand to answer any questions. The beginning of the course was also excellently organized with an orientation event for the course approx. 5 months before the start of the course and an orientation week for all international students. Check mcat-test-centers to see more reviews from current students.
The CSULB campus is very large and nicely laid out. My personal highlight is the newly built Student Recreation and Wellness Center (SRWC), which is open almost 24 hours a day. The SRWC offers a lot of different ways to do sports. These include a climbing wall with free equipment to borrow, several pools, a 25-man whirlpool, an in-door running track, basketball, volleyball and squash rooms, a huge gym and various rooms where free courses such as yoga, Kickboxing, karate, pilates, meditations, etc. take place. Students can also get 2 free lessons with a personal trainer. However, it must be mentioned that the SRWC is only free for students on a complete course at the CSULB. Semester or year abroad students must pay around $ 30 per month to use the SRWC.
My degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at CSULB is highly recommended . Since the CSULB only allows 25 to a maximum of 28 students per year in this course, this is the smallest of its kind in all of Southern California. You can clearly feel this and it has a positive effect on the quality of the course. In principle, the courses are very small(20-35 students) and the content is very applied. Compared to Germany, this was also the case at the CSUF, but it also depends a bit on the degree program. At the beginning of the semester we were immediately thrown into the deep end. In our very first hour of study, we should immediately interview our classmates in the clinic’s therapy rooms while our two professors watched us behind the mirrored walls.
For all those interested in this specific course of study, it should be said: You will be consciously pushed to your limits by professors, which will most likely be more difficult emotionally and nervously than the previous course, which you completed. While this may not be the case at other universities, this is one of the reasons why this degree program trains particularly good therapists. From the orientation event onwards it was made clear to us that the goal is not to train average therapists and that it will therefore be more difficult than at some other universities. To be honest, I didn’t take it too seriously at the beginning, because I thought that every university certainly claims to be very good and difficult. However, after several conversations with older graduate students, this program really does seem to be well known in the greater Los Angeles and Orange Counties for “producing” high quality interns and graduates. Statistics also show that 85% of graduates pass the California State Test for the “MFT” therapist title the first time,making the CSULB the best in Southern California . I learned all of these things after starting my studies, but these could be helpful information for future applicants.
In general, it can be said that the course grades mostly come from several elaborations (1-12 pages) and that future students should be prepared to have to write a lot. In the free writing lab , you can have these corrected in 45-minute sessions free of charge, and after one semester, German students should also be able to write more easily English drafts. In principle, an average of 2 elaborations per week must be submitted, which can sometimes be stressful. In addition, for almost every course, several chapters in books or research articles have to be read every week in preparation, which easily leads to 400 pages per week.
Future students shouldn’t be put off by this: It is definitely more work than a German course, but the final grades in the various classes consist of so many different things that a 1.0 can be achieved more easily than in Germany. If you do everything that is asked of you, nothing stands in the way of good grades. In addition, I have made the experience that you process the content learned in this way much more deeply and thus learn a lot more. The great relationship between the students on this course is also particularly worth mentioning . Since the cohort is so small, you get to know each other very well. The support of fellow students, especially during stressful weeks, is priceless and within one semester we have grown into a small family. This is a huge plus, especially for international students!
Leisure & fun
Since I am sure that other testimonials from students at the CSULB agree very much on this point, I will not go into this punk too much. Nevertheless, the quality of life here in Southern California is one of the top reasons to come here to study . Especially people from Germany, who are not used to warm weather, sun and sea every day, will appreciate all of this even more. Even if you get used to it over time , every day still feels like a vacation to me. Driving past the sea by chance on the way to university and seeing dolphins swimming, palm trees on every corner, or in the evening for a short walk to the beach are everyday experiences that I could not even have dreamed of before.
The people here are super helpful and open , which means you can quickly make connections and experience great experiences together. Eating out is definitely more expensive than in Germany if you don’t plan on just eating fast food. But there is unbeatably delicious food with an extremely large selection. In addition, small weekend trips to nearby (or other) destinations are part of the lifestyle for many young people, especially international students.
Long Beach itself is also a great city. There are many restaurants, small shops and bars on 2nd Street. In addition, the beach (unfortunately without waves) is also very close. Funnily enough, during my exchange year at CSUF, I spent a lot more time in Long Beach than I do now. But I was able to get to know and appreciate Long Beach Downtown and 2nd Street in particular. In principle, however, I would recommend students who are ready to study at CSULB to move to where they like it best. Without a car you are totally inflexible or almost in a fix in Southern California (although Long Beach has a very good public transport system compared to almost all other cities) and for me it was worth moving a little further away from Long Beach and to accept a little more traffic for it.