Since I started my studies, it has always been my wish to study abroad for a semester . In August 2015 the time had come and I started my Abroad semester at California State University Long Beach . In the next few pages I would like to tell you about my experiences and give you one or two tips.
Everything starts with the preparation. It should be noted that planning should be started earlier rather than later and that the registration deadlines should be obtained from the individual universities. My first choice would actually have been San Diego State University . But since I missed the registration deadline, I decided to go to California State University Long Beach, which in retrospect turned out to be a good choice.
With around 37,000 students, California State University Long Beach (CSULB) is one of the largest state universities in California and is one of the best. In addition, the CSULB has relatively low semester fees , which makes it an extremely attractive university. But not only the semester fees are attractive, the CSULB also has a lot to offer its students. The university is quite spacious with lots of green spaces and a Japanese garden, in which you can linger and recover from the lectures. There is also a large recreation center (fitness center) on campus with tennis and squash courts, pools, free weights area and an indoor climbing wall. You can also become a member of one of the numerous clubs at the university , where you can, for example, do sports with like-minded people, play chess or talk about political issues or cheer on the university teams in different sports.
In contrast to my home university, as a Study Abroad at the Beach (SA @ B) student, you cannot register for courses in advance. SA @ B students are students from universities that do not have a partner contract with the CSULB. This leads to the fact that you “crash” every single module must and only get a place if the courses are not yet fully booked. This means that in the first week of the semester you have to sit in every class you are interested in and get a signature from the professors after the lecture. With this signature you then go to the respective department and get another confirmation there, which in turn has to be approved by the SA @ B. This process leads to a few hectic days at the beginning, but this calms down after the first week at the latest. It is particularly difficult as a psychology student, as most psychology courses are very popular and there are only few places available. In my case, after a lot of effort, I ended up going to all of my courses and was able to take it easy on the second week. After the rather stressful process of “class crashing”, the courses are often relatively relaxed and have a lower level than the modules at my university in Switzerland. Another difference can be found in the grading. In contrast to my home university, you have the whole semester through quzzies (mini-exams with about 10 questions), exams, group projects, presentations or work that are included in the final grade. As a result, on the one hand, the final exam is much easier and, on the other hand, you can afford a bad day without having to expect a bad final grade. In addition, the professors are very helpful and offer their individual help in the weekly “office hours”. Check toppharmacyschools to see more reviews from current students.
Basically, you have two different housing options . You can either live on campus in the dorms or look for an apartment yourself . The dorms certainly have the advantage that you don’t have to worry about anything and, for example, furniture and food are provided. The disadvantage is certainly that living in the dorms is relatively expensive and you have to adhere to strict rules, which is often very unusual for us Europeans. The other option, which I have decided on, is to look for an apartment yourself. There are various Facebook groups on which other CSULB students are also looking for apartments or offering a room. There is, for example, close to the CSULB campus two apartment complexes (Beverly Plaza and Alvista Apartment) in which many other exchange students live. I rented an apartment at Beverly Plaza with four other exchange students. The apartments there are not furnished, but have the advantage that you can get an apartment for a short period of time (e.g. a semester). If you decide to choose roommates via Facebook, you should certainly be relatively flexible, as you don’t really get to know your future roommates in advance and you can come across different views of cleanliness, party life, etc. In my case, I made a conscious decision to move in with people who do not come from German-speaking countries, and in the end I rented an apartment with two people from Ireland, an Englishwoman and a Scottish woman. It was an interesting experience in general, but it was also challenging at times.
Long Beach belongs to Southern California and is only half an hour’s drive from Los Angeles and also borders Orange County with well-known places such as Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. Due to its proximity to Los Angeles and Orange County, Long Beach offers an optimal mix of urban city life and beach feeling.Long Beach has roughly the same number of inhabitants as Zurich and in itself has a multitude of shops, bars, clubs and a beautiful beach promenade. Another special feature of Long Beach is that it has excellent public transport by American standards. You don’t necessarily need a car within Long Beach. But if you want to be a bit more mobile for a weekend trip, there are countless car rental companies where you can rent a car relatively cheaply. The central location of Long Beach offers a very wide range of excursion options such as Las Vegas (4 hours), Anaheim with Disneyland (20 minutes), San Diego (2.5h), Mexico (3h) and various national parks (Sequoia, Grand Canyon etc.). At the CSULB it is also the case that most modules do not have any lectures on Friday, which gives you the opportunity for a longer road trip. If you want to go on another trip, however, the Thanksgiving break is ideal, where you get a whole week of vacation.
The semester abroad was an extremely enriching and challenging experience for me. Studying in another country and in another language has been very positive and I can recommend it to everyone . I can also recommend America as a country for an exchange semester because on the one hand it is very impressive to experience the American university spirit and on the other hand because the country offers so many opportunities for travel and the population is very helpful and open.