From the very first semester at the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, it was clear to me that I wanted to do a semester abroad in my fifth semester. My semester abroad should be the Fall Semester 2015.
For a long time I wasn’t sure where this semester abroad was going to take me, but from the third semester on I decided to go to America. I quickly realized that I was particularly interested in California and that unfortunately there is no partner university there for business administration students. Visit jibin123.com to get information about vocational training in United Kingdom.
Through the experience reports from our university, I finally came across the “California State University Fullerton”, for which I wanted to apply.
My application process did not go through the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, but through the agency “MicroEDU”. This cooperates with many different universities around the world and helps students who would like to take a semester abroad with the entire application and preparation process. The application documents for the CSUF can be found on the MicroEDU homepage, so that the actual application process does not cause any major complications. The application will then be checked and corrected in advance by MicroEDU and then sent from Germany to the USA. Five weeks later I received my acceptance for the CSUF. You should apply about a year before the actual semester abroad.
The most important part was already done and I was able to get on with the other organizational tasks. I decided to apply for the visa in advance, as I could already drive to the consulate in Frankfurt during my semester break and later simply had to send the passport by post. This was simply because I was a little early to apply for my visa, but that wasn’t a problem. However, before you can request an appointment, you have to answer some questionnaires online and pay two different fees. Here you can also find out which documents you have to bring to the appointment at the consulate and which objects you are not allowed to take into the building (for example: deodorant, mobile phone, keys…). The appointment itself was very relaxed,
After receiving the visa, my flights to Los Angeles were booked, as this is a little closer to Fullerton. My return flight was booked for the end of January because I wanted to allow time to travel after the exam phase in December.
My search for an apartment already began in Germany via the Internet and various experience reports on the MicroEDU homepage. I quickly decided on a student dormitory, where I wanted to choose between the “Campus Dormitory” and the “University Village”. I finally decided on the University Village because I liked the concept with the individual 3-person apartments and the additional meal plan.
The University Village is in close proximity to the campus, so you only have to walk to the campus in 5 minutes. However, the campus is enormous, so it took me 20 minutes to walk to the business building (“Mihaylo Hall”) where my lectures were held.
You should apply for the University Village as early as possible, as there are only a limited number of free places and it is also very popular with international students. For the Fall Semester 2015, I applied for the University Village in February and got a place without any further problems.
Moving into my apartment was uncomplicated as most of the paperwork was done in advance and I only had to hand in various documents. Then I got my key including a tour of the University Village and quickly realized that I can feel very comfortable here.
Another advantage in addition to the two free meals a day in the University Village cafeteria are the rooms that have been set up in advance. So you don’t have to buy new furniture and you can move into the apartment directly.
The University Village is a beautiful residential complex, which can convince with many palm trees and a pool. The University Village also has its own cafeteria, which prepares really good food fresh every day. The apartments are also of a reasonable size, with different room sizes. I decided on the regular room type, which is the smallest and therefore also the cheapest. This room size is perfectly adequate for half a year. There are plenty of parking spaces, two laundry rooms and even a small fitness studio.
The apartment complex is inhabited by international students, with a particularly large number of German students being drawn to the University Village.
I was lucky enough to be able to live in my apartment with an American and a Korean. So I quickly made contact with other international students. So there are plenty of opportunities to improve your English language skills.
Description of the city and region
California State University Fullerton is located in the city of Fullerton in Orange County. Fullerton has a population of around 140,000 and is rather inconspicuous compared to other well-known cities in California. Still, you can find everything your heart desires in Fullerton. There is plenty of shopping, leisure activities, and many bars and clubs in Downtown Fullerton. Since Fullerton is near Los Angeles, it is definitely advisable to take advantage of leisure activities there.
Brea Mall is a 10-minute drive away and has a wide variety of shopping options, including several outlets in the vicinity of Fullerton.
Another great advantage of Fullerton are the various beaches that can be reached by car within 25-40 minutes. Personally, I liked Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach the best, as the two beaches have special features. But Long Beach or Newport Beach and many other beaches are also highly recommended.
Los Angeles is a city that I really wanted to see from the start. However, I was quickly disappointed by Hollywood itself on site, as the “Walk of Fame”, for example, did not correspond at all to my glamorous dream. But of course there are also many beautiful corners in Los Angeles, such as Venice Beach or Beverly Hills.
An experience in itself is definitely a visit to “Dodgers Stadium” in Los Angeles to watch a baseball game. The American mentality and its associated zest for life and ease is particularly shown here. There are constant interruptions for advertising and entertainment during the game, whereby the American viewers rarely sit down and help themselves to sufficient food and drink.
The “Museum of Death” in Hollywood, Los Angeles, is also recommended, although I would not recommend this to anyone with a faint of heart.
San Diego and San Francisco are definitely two very different, but at the same time beautiful cities that I recommend everyone to visit! While San Diego can shine with a great holiday feeling, the Mexican Old Town and beautiful parks, San Francisco is a city with its very own flair. I particularly liked the “Ashbury” hippie district, as you can get very special impressions there. In addition, a famous ride in the “cable car” should not be missing in San Francisco!
Finally, I had the pleasure of indulging in a vacation in Hawaii, which was definitely worth the money! Many different “hikes” through the O’ahu jungle are recommended here and you can expect beautiful sandy beaches that you have already seen from films.
The weather in California can only be described as desirable in Germany and breathtaking, as you can’t get enough of the sun here. During the time I was in California, there were also many days with well over 38 degrees, which is definitely bearable due to the pool and the beach.
When I spent the first few days in California, I couldn’t stop being amazed because the lifestyle and attitude towards life here is so different from that in Germany. The people are much more open and always seem in a good mood, at the checkout in the supermarket, any purchases are packed by the cashiers and on the streets or in the shops you are always involved in a conversation. At the beginning all of this seemed very superficial and new to me, but you get used to all the small and big differences to Germany very quickly and you learn to love them over time. Punctuality doesn’t count in California and the people here seem to be a little more relaxed with everything, although it has to be said that the laws here have to be adhered to even more strictly than in Germany.
Description of the university
The CSUF is a state university that is part of the California State Universities and has around 40,000 students studying in various fields such as business. Of these approximately 40,000 students, 3,000 were international students in 2015.
The campus is incredibly huge and definitely no comparison to the campus in Rheinbach that you are used to. The campus itself has its own police station, its own “health center” around the five different Starbucks, a “food court”, its own three-story gym, a student dormitory, several parking garages and stadiums for baseball, basketball and soccer and much more.
Above all, however, the huge faculty buildings and the spacious library stand out.
Every student has health insurance through the university during the semester and can be treated free of charge on campus by showing their health insurance card. However, if you still have travel plans before or after the semester, you should take care of additional foreign health insurance in Germany in advance.
During my time in Fullerton, I decided to join the CSUF Surf Club, which definitely had many advantages in store for me. With a semester fee of $ 20, numerous events sponsored by Mountain Dew, for example, were included and I had the opportunity to learn to surf with 2 friends without having to pay expensive surfing lessons. However, you have to bring your own surfboard and wetsuit or rent them on the beach for a fee of around $ 35 per day.
Campus life keeps the impressions and promises you know from American films. There are an incredible number of different clubs that you can join and the campus is particularly impressive because of its versatility.
In addition, many students wear sweaters, t-shirts or tops with the university logo, so that a very large sense of community arises and one feels that they belong to the university. This communion that I got to know here in America simply cannot be expressed in words.
Integration into the course of the BA course
I completed the semester abroad as my fifth semester of the Bachelor’s degree in “Business Administration”, where I took my second major in Marketing in America. Since I had to take at least 12 units in America for my visa, I chose three marketing courses for my main subject and one subject as an alternative to Topsim. In order to get these courses recognized, it is only necessary to send Ms. Drügg in advance a list of the existing CSUF marketing courses with the corresponding course description, which you can find on the website of the CSUF Marketing Department.
After the examination by the examination office, you will then receive a list of courses that can be recognized for your bachelor’s degree in Germany. However, if possible, you should get double the number of courses in Germany recognized at the CSUF, because unfortunately you have to “crash” your courses at this university if you are unlucky. This means that it is not certain in advance whether you will receive your desired courses and in an emergency you will have to look for new courses in the first two weeks of the university.
I was lucky that I got all the courses, so I was one of the few who didn’t have to “crash” their courses. However, I have to say that most international students really had problems getting the courses they wanted. This was a big problem, especially in the management area.
In Germany, after my semester abroad, all courses were counted as my official fifth semester. So it was completely worth it to study abroad for a semester for that reason alone.
Description of the courses taken
A few weeks before I traveled to America, I was able to submit a course list via MicroEDU in which I could choose 10 courses I wanted. This list was then forwarded to America through MicroEDU. Already in the introductory week of the California State University of Fullerton my 4 courses were fixed, which I could then attend without further complications.
I decided to focus on marketing because I found this to be very interesting in Germany and particularly appealing in America. That’s why I took the courses: “Buyer Behavior”, “Global Marketing”, “Advertising and Promotions Strategy” and “Developing Marketing Strategies”.
The lectures have a duration of 75 minutes and usually take place twice a week. The grading system and the examination phases in the USA differ significantly from what one is used to in Germany. The grades are composed, for example, of various group work, term papers and presentations. In addition, it is common that you have to go through two examination phases, as you write both the so-called “midterms” and the “finals”.
The structure of an exam depends heavily on the professor in question, and it usually consists of a multiple-choice part and short essay questions.
The courses I chose had different levels and also different levels of learning and workload.
In “Buyer Behavior”, in addition to the “Midterm” and the “Final”, five quizzes were written with which one could get extra credits. In addition, a 30-minute presentation of a chapter from the book to be dealt with was expected, which, however, was allowed to be read by two students.
The subject “Global Marketing”, on the other hand, requires a 20-page term paper in addition to the exams, although this probably also depends on the respective professors.
I found the “Advertising and Promotions Strategy” course to be a very labor-intensive course, as the grade largely depends on three different group projects that were relatively time-consuming.
My fourth course “Developing Marketing Strategies” was the only one of my courses that did not have any written exams, but tasks had to be submitted weekly and more than three different group presentations in total. I found this course difficult because, in my opinion, the professor has very high expectations of her students and therefore rarely gives very good to good grades.
Overall, I was still very satisfied with my choice of course, as each course was very interesting and some courses even built on one another. Nevertheless, there was enough time for excursions and free time between the intensive learning and work phases, whereby the group work should be divided up well so that you don’t have to finish everything at once at the end.
Statement of costs and financing options
Cost type / costs in euros:
- Application process: 100
- Visa: 300
- Flight: 800
- Hotel for the first night: 60
- Rent: 4,500
- Flights (travel): 985
- Maintenance (food, etc.): 1,000
- Tuition fees: 4,500
- Health insurance: 150
- Leisure time: 3,000
- Total: 15,395
My expenses for shopping in the USA are not included in this statement of costs, so I spent well over € 15,000 on my semester abroad. I had already calculated around 15,000 € in advance, but I am sure that these additional expenses for spontaneous trips to Vancouver, Seattle and Hawaii were definitely worth it.
Although most expenses can be paid by credit card, it is still worthwhile to have an account with Deutsche Bank, as this allows you to withdraw cash for free in the US. Otherwise there are fees between $ 2- $ 6 per payout, which really pay off over time.
Personal experience and skills acquired abroad
The semester abroad helped me to develop personally and to become more independent and more purposeful. I did all the planning and implementation myself and I saw it as a great help to have such good advice from MicroEDU and my university. Thanks to the semester abroad, I was able to further develop my linguistic and social skills and also significantly overcome the personal barrier of my shyness.
I can now approach strangers faster or give presentations in English with less effort.
In addition, the stay in California made me much more open and adventurous, because I learned that you can only learn or experience a lot if you just let it get to you and approach things without prejudice or too much skepticism.
These newly learned and improved skills will also help me later in my job.
Satisfaction with the support at the foreign university / at our university
In general, I am satisfied with the support at California State University in Fullerton, as the responsible team at the International Office was always very hard-working and very nice. However, there were really many organizational problems in the first few weeks, which were also caused by the large number of international students. Fortunately, I was spared most of these problems, but many of my friends had to go to the International Office several times to solve a problem.
To end this report, I can only say that California was definitely the best time of my life for me. I got to know, tried and seen so many new things that I am now plagued by the desire to travel and wanderlust. During the semester abroad I made incredibly great new friends, developed my skills and developed myself personally.
I can only recommend it to everyone to do a semester abroad, as it is a unique experience that no one else can give.
I don’t regret a single minute of my time here in America and would go back anytime.
Even if the semester abroad really cost a lot of money, I think that every cent is worth it to see something of the world and to make and keep this experience and these impressions. No one can take away memories and I am infinitely grateful to have seized this opportunity.