1. Preparation for the semester abroad
I started planning my semester abroad about nine months in advance. First, I looked at all of the partner universities at my university, but they didn’t agree with me because of the locations. My dream has always been to travel to California. That’s why I looked around on the Internet outside of the partner universities. The MicroEDU homepage was recommended to me by friends. This company is known for their helpfulness. Then I picked out a few universities based on the curriculum, costs, and environment. I finally decided on California State University Fullerton, as this university is known for business administration. However, the location is also very good as Fullerton is halfway between San Francisco, San Diego and Las Vegas.
After sending my application to MicroEDU, I received an acceptance from the CSUF after about 6 weeks. Then the right preparations started. I had to make an appointment at the embassy, choose my courses and have them signed by my university, look for an apartment, take out international insurance, get a credit card, etc. You should start preparing early enough so you don’t get into pointless stress. The appointment at the embassy was the greatest effort. First I had to go to Frankfurt. Despite the appointment, you had to wait around 1½ hours at the embassy. In preparation you had to pay two fees, which were around 300 euros in total. You had to bring the receipts with you. Many have to give a short interview in English, what is the reason for staying in the USA. I just had to answer a few questions in German. There is always great panic in forums about this interview, but it should be taken lightly. After I was at two counters, I had now also applied for a visa and received my passport including visa in the mail after a few days. Read more student reviews on Educationvv.
Compared to German universities, the CSUF really surprised me. When I first walked through the site, I was taken by surprise by the size of the entire university. First of all, the many sports facilities that were as big as a small stadium in Germany. Each department has its own building, and the management department has the newest and most beautiful building. Unfortunately, as seen from the University Village, this building was at the other end of the site, so it took about half an hour to walk. But the route could be covered in 10 minutes by bike, so that was okay too. The university has a very large and good library. This also offers a lot of support for students. For example there is a writing center, There you can have homework corrected and also improve your writing style. This is completely free of charge, you just have to make an appointment online beforehand. In addition, you could enter the library with all your bags and things. Food and drinks could also be brought with you without any problems, so that learning is simplified in my opinion, without constant running around. The CSUF Recreation Center should also be mentioned. The fitness studio is free of charge for university students, unfortunately not for us international students. You had to pay $ 120 for a semester. But these are really worth it. The fitness studio is equipped with the latest and very good equipment. You can also do many sports courses (Zumba, yoga, etc.). If you don’t want to pay the semester fee, you can get day tickets for $ 5.
About the courses at the CSUF:
I took four courses at the CSUF. Two of them were Management courses, one was Finance and one was American Studies. The management courses were relatively simple. All exams (3 in the semester) were multiple choice. The AMST 201 course is highly recommended if you want to learn about American culture. Professor Susie Woo was the best professor I had at CSUF. All in all, one can say that the level of the learning material is lower compared to German universities. But the workload is a lot higher within the semester. There is not only one exam at the end of the semester in a class, but usually at least 2 exams and lectures, group work and / or term papers. But since the demands were not as high as in Germany, I had no problems with the workload at all. You should always contact the professors and let them know that you are an international student. Many professors, but unfortunately not all, take this into account when grading.
I lived in University Village in Fullerton. I chose the dorm based on the many good reviews and a personal recommendation from a friend. At first I was critical because I had often read in the reviews that many Germans live in the UV. But the ratings from the homesteads are just as unusual. In terms of price, the Homesteads are a little cheaper, but if you consider that you don’t have to worry about buying furniture, shopping and cooking every day in the University Village, it is again cheaper. The application was easy, you had to fill out a lot of documents, but it was also done quickly. After a few weeks, the dormitory accepted. I had explicitly stated that I did not want to live with Germans, which was also the case then. When I got to the UV As expected, I met a lot of Germans. One was always tempted to speak German, but when other nationalities were there, care was taken to speak English. Despite the many Germans, I definitely don’t regret going to the UV. Compared to other residential complexes such as Homesteads or UCL, a common pool as a central meeting point (Homesteads had several pools) and eating together created a community. You knew almost everyone from the dormitory and felt like a big family. I have often heard from other residential complexes that you don’t even know your neighbor and tend to avoid each other. A community formed through a common pool as a central meeting point (homesteads had several pools) and eating together. You knew almost everyone from the dormitory and felt like a big family. I have often heard from other residential complexes that you don’t even know your neighbor and tend to avoid each other.
The food was as good as chicken every night, but I have to say I was very happy with the food. The breakfast was of course American, toasts and bagels. I had a hard time getting used to it at the beginning, but unfortunately good bread, which is similar to German bread, is rarely found in the USA. If you didn’t feel like eating for lunch or in the evening, you could always make yourself a salad at the salad bar. The desserts in the evening were particularly popular, even if they hit the hips at some point. The chicken in particular got on your nerves at some point, but overall the food was very good. There was no stress with cooking and you could eat in community, and so many contacts were formed.
The apartments were designed for three people. There was a smaller room, a medium one and a large one with an en-suite bathroom. The first two rooms have shared a bathroom. The apartment has a spacious living room and an integrated kitchen with stove and oven. Unfortunately, dishes and pots are not included in the price, you have to buy them yourself. I had the smallest room, but the size was enough for me. The room already had a bed including a mattress, a bedside table with a lamp, an integrated wardrobe and a desk with a lamp. I just had to buy little things like a trash can. This saved a lot of stress in the beginning.
A big disadvantage of the UV was the wifi. The dormitory advertises to have WiFi for all residents, this is available, but for the first 6 weeks it did not work at all. Every day it was announced that a technician would come. It is not clear whether it was the fault of the UV staff or the technicians, but there were a lot of complaints from the residents until the internet was finally repaired. But with the UV internet you could hardly do anything. In some buildings there was no reception at all and in the buildings in which there was reception, the reception was so bad that it took about two minutes to load a homepage. 99 percent of the residents then also took external Internet. We shared the WiFi with our neighbor, so the price of 14 dollars per person was reasonable. But since the wifi should already be available in the expensive rent, this is a cheek.
I came to Fullerton with an attitude that I wouldn’t buy a car. When I was there for the first few days, I immediately realized how necessary a car is there. The University Village is within walking distance to the university and the next two supermarkets. If you do a bulk purchase there, including a water canister, you are already overwhelmed with carrying all the things home. You can take the bus, but if you want to go to the beach, for example, it takes around three hours with frequent changes instead of half an hour by car. So I decided to buy a car. I shared the car with two others. We then bought our car from the Mexican car dealer Chicho, which was often recommended in reviews. We bought a Honda Accord for $ 3,200. It was clear to us that this car was overpriced, but we made this deal with the support of our car dealer with the registration, insurance and sale of the car. Whenever we had problems with the car, we could drive to our car dealer and he would fix the problem for us free of charge. We only had one serious problem with the car. We were stopped by a police officer for no reason and our car was taken away because the system stated that this car had once been stolen. This turned out to be a mistake in hindsight, as this car was brought back directly the next day. The problem was that our car dealer didn’t know about it, but we had significant problems with it. In the end, our car dealer settled everything for us and paid the towing fees and parking costs that were charged by the Towing Service ($ 400). All in all, I am happy that I bought a car and not rented it, so I saved myself a lot of money, even if the car was sold at a great loss. All in all, including car purchase, registration and taxes, I paid around 600 euros for 5 months, which is completely okay compared to renting. In addition, you didn’t only have a car at the weekend, but all the time, so you could spontaneously go shopping without renting it beforehand. All in all, I am happy that I bought a car and not rented it, so I saved myself a lot of money, even if the car was sold at a great loss. All in all, including car purchase, registration and taxes, I paid around 600 euros for 5 months, which is completely okay compared to renting. In addition, you didn’t only have a car at the weekend, but all the time, so you could spontaneously go shopping without renting it beforehand. All in all, I am happy that I bought a car and not rented it, so I saved myself a lot of money, even if the car was sold at a great loss. All in all, including car purchase, registration and taxes, I paid around 600 euros for 5 months, which is completely okay compared to renting. In addition, you didn’t only have a car at the weekend, but all the time, so you could spontaneously go shopping without renting it beforehand.
5. Leisure / life
Since Fullerton is just a suburb of LA, Fullerton doesn’t have much to offer. If you have the money, you can also go to Disneyland in Anaheim, this is a great attraction. Otherwise there are a few bars and small clubs in Fullerton Downtown, but they are not really worth mentioning. Still, I haven’t regretted choosing Fullerton. The atmosphere was just wonderful and you felt at home somehow. As already mentioned, the city is an ideal starting point for traveling. I used almost every weekend to travel. So I have traveled almost all of California and visited so many places that I will probably never see again in such a short time in my life. California has so much to offer. First of all, of course, the beaches, national parks and many beautiful cities.
In my opinion, Los Angeles itself also has a lot of exciting sights to offer. First of all there would be Hollywood, of course, only there you will be disappointed by the Walk of Fame and not surprised by glamor.
If you want to do a semester abroad in California or America, you have to be aware that this costs huge amounts of money. If you are short of money you should rather leave it alone, otherwise you are not doing yourself a favor. I myself have seen many people who had to book a return flight earlier than planned because of money they ran out. The tuition fees and housing are very high at around 8,000 euros for the five months. Then there is the car as well as traveling, shopping and food. Regarding nutrition, it has to be said that only fast food is very cheap, if you want to cook healthily yourself, it is a lot more expensive. Traveling by car, on the other hand, is cheaper than in Germany due to the low fuel costs (approx. 80 cents per liter). Since we always traveled with at least four people, the fuel costs were always very low. On the other hand, hostels are relatively expensive compared to other countries. Most of the time it is better to share a hotel room with several people than to book beds in a hostel. The shopping, however, was very cheap. In outlets you get branded goods at ridiculous prices.
I wrote down my expenses every day to see if I was staying within limits. In total, I spent around 14,300 euros including a car, tuition fees, living, traveling, food and shopping. This is a large sum, but if you consider what I have seen and experienced during this time, I definitely do not regret it.
All in all, I would recommend studying at Fullerton. It was a very good experience to get to know another system. The best thing about this semester abroad, besides the traveling, was the great and many people you got to know. You got to know people from all countries and life in California is also much more relaxed than the German culture. For me, this semester was the best semester of my entire degree and probably also the best time in my life. I did not do a semester abroad in the Bachelor and if I had not done this in the Master, I would definitely have regretted it. In my opinion, you should take the chance to do a semester abroad while you still have time.