Last semester I had the opportunity to complete the fall semester at CSULB as a free mover via your website. I am currently studying economics in the 5th semester and would like to share my experiences there in this report and prepare yourself mentally for this exciting and great time @theBeach, if you should decide for the CSULB.
Application and preparation
The application process has been made a lot easier for me by your website. The required documents are carefully listed by your website and checked several times according to the requirements (which are now not really high). My application started at the beginning of February, so only about 6 months before the start of the semester, which was still enough. After the visa (which can take a few weeks with the application), payment of the application fee for the university, TOEFL test and other paperwork had been sent to the CSULB, the written confirmation came after about 3 weeks. All in all, really uncomplicated and except for the effort for the TOEFL test, which I did 2 months before the application began, and the visa was done quickly.
I recommend booking your flight early in order to get good prices for round-trip flights (good price = 700-800 euros). In addition, you should think about the right clothing. Less is sometimes more here, as clothes are generally much cheaper in the USA, as is well known. The first months to mid-October were hot in Long Beach with temperatures of up to 40 degrees, so you should be prepared for beach clothing. Otherwise, CC helps with a checklist before departure, you can’t really go wrong with that.
Chronologically, I would like to continue with my arrival almost 2 weeks before the start of the semester and the search for an apartment in LB. I spent the first week at the Royal Inn Motel in Long Beach relatively close to the campus (accommodation rather not recommendable, albeit cheap) in order to look for somewhere to stay for the next 5 months. I would describe this first week as a bit more stressful. You first have to arrive and you are immediately full of energy to experience everything first hand, but first the apartment has to be arranged. It can go differently for everyone and depends heavily on your own commitment. The Cali State only helps to a limited extent with linked offers on its website, but at the time of 2 weeks before the start of the semester, they were already sold out or were out of the question. The best thing to do is to make a phone call through the Craigslist ads, try to arrange viewings and eventually find what you are looking for. A certain serenity but also some stamina is required here.
There are many options for living in apartments: Many internationals have moved into apartment complexes such as Bixby-Hill (right on campus), Beverly Plaza or Park Avenue Apartments (both close to campus). Advantages here: Lots of students, lots of fun and a great location. Disadvantages: high costs, mostly unfurnished.
In the end I lived in a very nice apartment with another German surfer and a Mexican-American (about 600 $ rent). It was also unfurnished, but with creativity and a rented truck (U-Haul) you can get everything together very quickly. I would also describe this flat share as one of my highlights from my time in LB – the right people are ultimately more important than any great comfort in the booth. Nevertheless, you should make sure to live as close to the campus as possible in order to save yourself long journeys, which can be time-consuming, especially with the bus. For surfers, Huntington Beach is also a more expensive place to live if you have a car. Tip: Try to live internationally (if possible). There were also some German shared apartments, which is certainly the more comfortable solution,
Course choice and courses
The choice of courses in Long Beach is different from what you are used to at German universities. Although a tendency for the desired courses is granted beforehand by the university, this ultimately has no real meaning and serves more as a guide for the university. Getting the professor’s signature is crucial in a class crash. This regulation applies to all Study Abroad Students and works in such a way that you sign up for the courses. American students are excluded, so some courses may be more full in advance than others or even no longer available. I did get all the courses I wanted, albeit with a bit of luck, but it’s best to have 1-2 replacement courses ready. Check anycountyprivateschools to see more reviews from current students.
Development Economics ECON366: Very interesting, if somewhat superficial, course on topics of development policy, poverty in Africa, globalization and the NAFTA trade agreement. In addition to 3 exams, this course is also very writing-intensive with 7 assignments, a presentation and a final research paper of 10-15 pages at the end of the semester, but especially worthwhile for those interested in politics.
Money and Banking ECON320: As a semi-online course, Money & Banking is limited to an introduction to finance and macro (especially with regard to foreign exchange), so a basic basic knowledge is advantageous here. With 2 weekly online assignments and 3 exams, it is also a bit more work-intensive, but not too difficult in terms of the subject matter. Good professor Lisa Grobar and illustrative current examples, e.g. Fed Policy.
International Economics ECON372: Relatively simple course on economic fundamentals in relation to global trade with 3 exams, required reading and smaller tests. Very popular with study abroad students, so the majority of them were internationals.
International Trade ECON470: Demanding course with Professor Jack Hou (likes to digress into politics, but absolutely competent and respected) with weekly tests, 3 exams and a higher degree of compulsory attendance. In this course you have to do a little more than for the others (see also on level 400), but it is within limits. I would definitely recommend this course.
With the standard course choice of 4 courses of 3 LP each, it now looks like a lot of effort at first glance, but to be honest, it is absolutely harmless compared to German conditions. You spend about 12 hours in the courses, whereby attendance is compulsory, which is observed more in some courses and less in some. If you don’t overdo it here, you can take out an hour or two … Apart from the last week of the final, the workload is therefore limited and the university takes into account that there is still enough time for actual life Remains in Long Beach and California.
Everyday life at the university at the CSULB is almost like living in a small place of its own. First of all, everything you need for life can be found on campus. Whether a hairdresser, various food courts, police, relaxation rooms, an outstanding Recreation Center (more on that) or other events – on campus you can keep yourself busy in addition to the university. You have to watch a CSULB basketball game in the pyramid! Great atmosphere – LETS GO STATE! For the first time on campus, I first needed a map to find my way around. That says everything about the size of the campus.
In my opinion, the best way to make connections and make contacts in American college life is to join one of the university’s own clubs. With the large selection of sports clubs, I decided to go straight to the Wakeboard & Waterski Team. With a fee of around $ 250 (you have to expect entrance fees at most clubs), there were regular training sessions in the port of Long Beach and several contests all over California with teams from all over the West Coast. Beginners and advanced are equally welcome here! Very awesome team, even if the organization was a bit chaotic at times. The contests, where no eye stayed dry, and wakeboarding with the team were the highlight of my time at university! So look around, be open to new things, because there are groups / clubs for really everything,
There are also numerous fraternities at the university that will be presented at the beginning of the semester. If you have friends or acquaintances in a frat, you can easily come to the parties (especially at the beginning of the semester), otherwise it could get more difficult after a while. A frat promises many new friends and lots of fun and experiences, but it also requires money (entry fee of around $ 500) and a lot of time for the social events. Certainly has advantages and disadvantages, but in the end I didn’t join any.
Celebrating with the right people is certainly not neglected in Long Beach, as already briefly mentioned. However, since many CSULB students are commuters and still live at home, there are no parties directly on and around the campus, but most of it takes place either in a frat, at house parties in the apartment complexes, 2nd Street or in clubs in Downtown Long Beach. In addition, there is a party bus at least once a month that goes to clubs in Hollywood. Definitely recommendable, even if you know everyone the second time at the latest.
Leisure time – travel
In California, I would almost equate leisure time with traveling: There is so much to see in the short time you are in Cali State and you should mainly use the days off to visit different cities, beaches, national parks, etc. , because it’s worth it!
First, I’ll start with Long Beach itself. The city of Long Beach as part of the greater LA area has an exciting industrial harbor (the largest in the USA), a nice downtown with isolated clubs and bars (The Pike), beautiful residential areas in Belmont Shore and bars on 2nd Street. Compared to the big and exciting LA and other cities the size of LB, Long Beach has less to offer and can sometimes look rougher towards downtown, so don’t be surprised there.
Since the City of Angels is practically on your doorstep, don’t wait too long to get to know the world-famous Venice Beach, Hollywood Hills, Santa Monica or the exciting downtown LA. My tip for the best view over the seemingly endless LA is the Griffith Observatory or the Hike to the Hollywood Sign. The best way to get to know the whole atmosphere and what defines this city is to simply immerse yourself in the area and try it out to record everything. For example, I made exciting friends at USC in Downtown LA through the strangest coincidences, witnessed frat parties there (yes, it’s really like in a movie!) And also got to know another university life.
Highlights outside of LA (not surprisingly) are cities like San Diego (Americas Finest City), San Francisco, Santa Barbara (including Isla Vista, it’s not for nothing that college parties at UCSB are among the best in the States), but also smaller places like Santa Cruz, Pismo Beach, Newport Beach (OC California) and Huntington Beach.
Otherwise you should definitely have camped and hiked in Yosemite National Park for a weekend (absolutely amazing nature), the hours by car are always worth it. We went there at the end of October and reached our limits with almost 4 degrees at night and more or less exclusively summer clothes;). The Grand Canyon, about 3 hours’ drive west of Las Vegas, was also one of the destinations (certainly not an insider tip). Speaking of Las Vegas, if you haven’t been there you’re missing out on a lot! Enough about that.
It is difficult to see everything and after a while it will certainly cost you money, so it is best to either decide on a few destinations or to take another 2 weeks to travel a bit after the end of the semester. Before the beginning of the semester, I didn’t have much time for this, so I made up for a lot of goals after the last exams. Otherwise you have over a week off over Thanksgiving and can plan trips. At the time I was surfing and camping between San Diego and Huntington with my roommate and 4 Brazilians for several days. Outstanding!
The roommate I just mentioned, who I met there in Long Beach, and I have been concentrating more on surfing than anything else during the whole time anyway. We’ve learned it before, but in California, and especially in Surf City Huntington Beach, you can find great conditions to pursue it for hours almost every day. Since the university usually doesn’t start until 11 a.m., we surfed Huntington Beach early in the morning and then went straight to the lectures. Is there a better way to start a day than with a great surf ?! The prerequisite for surfing independently and looking for the best waves, however, is to get a car. Buying a car is in and of itself a matter of its own, but you can find a cheap and (reasonably) robust car in Long Beach for a price of around $ 2,000. Our Toyota Camry for $ 1900 held out except for a few minor complaints and we were able to sell it again for a small loss in the end. From my point of view, life in Long Beach and LA without a car is almost unimaginable. The spontaneity of going on trips, going surfing or visiting friends in LA is simply only possible with a car. Therefore, I would like to buy a car early and conscientiously in any case
In addition to all the advantages and great experiences that I was able to make at CSULB, there is of course also criticism. Connections to American students and other internationals have to be established very independently, as there are not many events or parties organized through the Study Abroad Office. As a result, I didn’t get to know many friends until the end of the semester, even though they were also at CSULB the whole time.
The office is also very helpful with a few tips when looking for an apartment, but you can’t really expect much tangible support when looking for an apartment. Except for on-campus housing, there are no ways for internationals to secure an apartment directly and stress-free. There is room for improvement here.
Another negative aspect for me, albeit a small one, was that many students lived very widely and lived a little for themselves. Only in the apartment complexes was there a really student area in my eyes.
Apart from that, Long Beach is not one of the really expensive universities in California with the semester fee, but there are still further costs for memberships such as recreation centers or clubs in many places. You should be prepared for that.
When it came to parties, Long Beach wasn’t disappointed at first, but you can’t compare it to Santa Barbara or USC, for example, which could certainly be due to the commuter mentality. That’s why I oriented myself away from home for many weekends, as 2nd Street and The Pike have lost their real appeal and weren’t really busy anymore. The city of Long Beach offers relatively little when it comes to partying for a population of 500,000. Initiative is more in demand here, or you switch to Hollywood, Downtown LA or in the direction of Newport Beach.
What shaped me in and out of this time was not necessarily the university or Long Beach as a place, but the whole of life in California, the lifestyle, the relaxed atmosphere and the people there. That’s what matters in the end. The CSULB made an important contribution and in the end kept what it promised at the beginning: A good time. A lot is left to you and there is always the question of what you can do with the given possibilities. I would therefore choose Long Beach again!