Every beginning is difficult! The application process for a semester abroad is generally a very laborious and lengthy procedure, especially when it comes to an overseas exchange. In order to be able to go to Long Beach in the fall semester that started in early September 2008, I had to start organizing in the spring of the same year. In addition to the university-specific requirements regarding various proofs and certificates, financial matters also had to be clarified, in my case the application for BAföG abroad. If you want to apply for BAföG abroad as a student, you have to make sure to do so at least half a year before starting your studies, because the offices’ processing times are incredibly long. In addition, there is the effort of obtaining documents, which is also considerable. All in all, this means: plan as early as possible and consistently! The bureaucracy nowadays should not be underestimated in the application process for a semester abroad.
As an external student in the field of business administration, it was not easy at CSULB. One had to literally beg to participate in a course from the professor in charge, as the faculty’s capacity was almost completely exhausted. Sometimes it was unavoidable to be satisfied with a course that did not exactly meet your own ideas or the requirements of your home university. Those who had a few more subjects confirmed by their German university from the outset were mostly lucky and were only able to take 3-4 legitimate subjects. Those who had as many subjects confirmed as they wanted to take had major problems because they then had to resort to non-subject courses or could not even begin studying at the CSULB. Fortunately, at the end of the day, you still got passable courses, you were exposed to a pleasant study climate with relatively small study groups (around 25-35 students per course). The rooms of the university were mostly medium-sized and had air conditioning, so that you could keep a reasonably cool head inside even in the unbearable heat outside. Check andyeducation to see more reviews from current students.
The American Language Institute (ALI) team provided support almost around the clock. The employees were usually able to resolve all problems quickly and safely and were very courteous.
The housing options that a student in Long Beach could take advantage of were very varied and, above all, relatively affordable. You have various options to look after an apartment, a room or a place with a host family via the American Language Institute before you start your journey, but it is also relatively easy to find a place to stay on site. It seems to be an advantage to have a place to stay right from the start, but I speak from experience when I say that it could be fraught with big problems, especially if you have no idea of the surroundings there and also does not plan to buy a mobile pedestal on site.
That is why I would advise you to be more courageous and only look for an apartment when you are there, because you can better assess the surroundings and the transport options. Otherwise, the entire semester could be torture if the accommodation was initially incorrectly selected.
Leisure and excursion possibilities
The leisure and excursion opportunities in Long Beach don’t exactly tear you off your feet. The only thing that comes to mind when it comes to things worth seeing is the Queen Mary, a multifunctional attraction that unites the hotel, museum, restaurant and event center. The nightlife offers relatively solid opportunities for dancing and going out. However, the best thing about the area is the endless and beautiful beaches.
Outside of Long Beach, the possibilities for leisure and excursions are almost limitless. Los Angeles and Orange County alone offer opportunities for experiences that can hardly be exhausted during the semester stay, not to mention the other sights of America.
Living in California isn’t exactly cheap! Leisure activities and nutrition in particular are a lot more expensive than in Germany. So if you want to enjoy American cuisine to the fullest and, above all, want to see and experience a lot during your stay in the USA, I definitely advise you to have a solid financial cushion that you can fall back on.
By and large, the semester abroad at CSULB is a valuable experience. There is definitely a good mix of teaching and fun. It is not for otherwise that the USA is the land of opportunity. What you make of it is up to you!