I did a semester abroad at the CSUF in the last semester from 08/22/2015 to 12/22/2015 and would like to describe some of my experiences and give you a few useful tips. First of all, the CSUF is a great university to do a semester abroad, because it is very central in California and you can go anywhere quickly. It was also the university with the lowest tuition fees. Which of course should not be ignored, since a complete semester with all the trimmings, i.e. tuition fees, Rent, groceries, party and travel costs between € 13,000 and € 20,000. That’s a lot of money, of course, but the semester abroad paid off very well for me and I think it’s one of the best experiences anyone can have.
So, at the very beginning, I first applied for the semester abroad at MicroEDU, for which I still needed a language certificate. This is relatively easy if you use the DAAD certificate and also significantly cheaper than a TOEFL certificate. The exact details of how to apply to the university are answered very well by MicroEDU and they are always there to help as soon as there are problems.
After you have been accepted, the MicroEDU people also have a great checklist that you should definitely use to deal with visas etc. in good time. It is best if you need two credit cards, as the cards certainly have weekly, monthly or daily limits that nobody can see and you often simply can’t get anything from the ATM. I had one from the DKB, it’s free and you can withdraw cash for free anywhere in the world. Read more student reviews on Hetongdiy.
APARTMENT: Two months in advance I started to find American roommates via Facebook groups etc., but unfortunately it didn’t work out, maybe you’ll be more lucky. The best Facebook groups for flatshare searches are: CSUF Roommate Needed Database. There are a lot of Americans looking for new tenants or flatmates. Most of them are looking for a very short term and mostly want to have students who stay longer than a semester, but some have also found their flat share through the group. The costs are much higher than in most student cities in Germany. Shared rooms, i.e. rooms in which more than one sleeps, usually two, cost between $ 300 and $ 500. The private roomsstart at around $ 600 and go up to over $ 1000. In UH apartment costs $ 1000 a single room, but here everything is included, what is to live (washing machine, pool, TV, entertainment rooms, all furniture, etc.) needs. If you move to another apartment or an existing flat share, it is usually cheaper, but everything has to be purchased, i.e. furniture, bed linen and even plates and cooking utensils. So it’s best to really move into an existing flat share.
A good tip is to contact the Evangelical Church in Brea, which organizes a “Furniture give away” day once a semester to support foreign students or others with furniture and utensils free of charge during their stay abroad. You should know when that day is and be there very early with as many people as possible, because the first ones get the best and things can be selected for each person. The best thing to do is to move into an apartment near the university, as the traffic is terrible and you also need a sticker to park that costs $ 300. However, if you live nearby, you can go to university by bike, on foot or on skateboardcome. I bought a bike from WALMART, which incidentally has a right of return of 90 days.
MOBILITY: As already described, I had a bike to get to university and also bought a car with my roommate(Toyota Camry $ 1200). At Craigslist you can find relatively good / cheap cars, but you never know if something will break unless you are a car mechanic. So there is a relatively high risk that something will break in a cheap old car. In retrospect, the cars of two friends of ours were really broken, we were lucky. You don’t pay taxes, just a small fee when you change your registration. The insurance for us over 25 years and with a confirmation from the German Federal Motor Transport Authority about no entries (request in English) cost $ 70 a month. Petrol is super cheap here and costs $ 30 per tank. Overall relatively cheap if you get rid of the car at the end. We had it online on Craigslist, but as it was just before Christmas, not too many got in touch. We then sold it to a dealer for $ 900. So take care of sales early enough, at the beginning of December we were a little too late. OneThe alternative is to rent a car with several people. You should get the car insurance through an external provider, there are probably very cheap ones on the Internet, so you save the immensely high costs of insurance with the car rental company. If you’re partying downtown, i.e. for short journeys, the Uber app is great, cheaper than a taxi and will take you everywhere.
CSUF COURSES and CAMPUS: I only took courses from the MGMT Department, which may not be that good. Since I only got one course from my wish list ( Human Resource Management, in an international class), I had to crash three more. In most departments this can be done without any problems by sitting in the courses and asking the professors. At the MGMT Department, however, foreign students are only admitted after the first week, when everyone else is really involved in their course. So you never know in advance whether you might be kicked out of the course after all. It is best to be present at the early courses and ask the professors nicely if there is still space. If the professor confirms it and gives his signature, all you need is a stamp from the department in the second week. So it is best to take courses from the other departments and not just MGMT. After you’ve taken the courses, you’ve done everything and you’re ready to go to university.
The campus is beautiful and huge. There is a huge selection of student sports teams and large sports fields. A gym is available for internationals for a fee. As far as I know, it is the best gym in the vicinity and worth its relatively expensive price.
DRUM AROUND: There is so much to see in California that it becomes difficult to see and experience everything. It’s best to plan a little where you want to go and how much time you have left;) Just to name the best spots in the area: Yosemite National Park, Death Valley, Las Vegas (pool party at MGM Wet Republic), Grand Canyon, Josuha Tree National Park, San Diego, San Francisco (via Highway 1 along the ocean), Hollywood and of course there are a thousand beautiful beaches nearby. If you don’t have fun, it’s your own fault;)
If you have any further questions or need tips, please feel free to contact the MicroEDU team, ask for my name and contact me by email. There is so much to tell and helpful tips that I would have gratefully accepted before my semester abroad.