Who has not dreamed of one day for a long time in California to be and the local “Hollywood” life, the sunny weather and beaches to enjoy? The semester abroad is the perfect time for this!
I was in the US from January to June this year, studying for a semester at Cal State Fullerton. Unlike most of the “internationals” there, I don’t have a university at home yet, but have done the semester abroad as a kind of academic gap year between high school graduation and real studies. I actually wanted to do the gap year from August to December, but this was not possible because I was not yet 18. Visit toppharmacyschools.org to get information about Canada higher education.
Due to this problem, I had a few difficulties with my application at the beginning, otherwise it is not too complicated. You have to take the TOEFL test, which is exhausting but easy to pass, and collect all the necessary documents. You also need a confirmation from the bank in English that there is at least US $ 15,000 in the account (I spent that total with tuition fees, living and traveling as well). If you have submitted all the documents to MicroEDU in full, you will get an acceptance from the university very quickly, which is very pleasant.
MicroEDU generally helps you very well with your application. I wrote a lot with my supervisor and also telephoned and you get all sorts of information about the selected university and how to proceed.
After I was accepted at the university, I decided that I would like to live directly on campus. If you apply early enough, you will definitely get a place. You have the choice between a single room or a room that you share with another person. Because of the cheaper price, I chose the latter version. It was sometimes annoying that someone slept with you in the same room (during the day we were actually never in the room at the same time), but it was also an experience.
The apartment where I lived consisted of a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, 2 bathrooms and 3 rooms with 2 people in each, so that a total of 6 people lived in the apartment. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that much to do with my American roommates as they were always very busy.
I was very nervous when I said goodbye to my mom at the airport on January 16th and the long journey began. Because my flight was also delayed for 4 hours, I didn’t arrive in Fullerton until around 8 p.m. and panic a little because the Housing Office had already closed and I hadn’t seen anyone else on the premises. Fortunately, we Germans who wanted to do a semester abroad at the same time had founded a WhatsApp group, in which I then asked for help. So I spent the first night with a couple and then moved into my room the next morning. As a result, I got to know a lot of people on the first day, with whom I went on excursions over the next few days, as some of them had rented a car.
The on-site support was also very good. At the beginning there was a registration day where you had to fill out a few things and an orientation day on which I also got to know my Dutch and Norwegian friends (with whom I also dined every day, etc.).
The university campus is very nice. Lots of modern buildings, lots of seating, palm trees and my personal highlight was the gym with the pool, where I was almost every day.
In the first two weeks of the university you had to do “class crashing”. You were already in four courses, but you could still try to get into other courses, which was not so easy. In the end I had the following courses: Principles of Microeconomics (that was relatively easy), Professional & Career Development (my favorite subject), Managing Operations (I personally didn’t like that much) and Intermediate Business Economics (a bit difficult for me as a beginner, but feasible). In general, I found it very interesting how the American system works. You also get used to the English language after 2 to 3 weeks.
I always enjoyed going to the lectures, but I underestimated the fact that you always have homework to do, sometimes write tests every week and two midterms and a final. But it was all feasible, among other things because the standard there is not that high. Due to my schedule, I only had university two days a week (Tuesday and Thursday).
So I had a lot of time for excursions, which I made good use of. The university has a very good geographical location. You can be in LA in an hour, San Diego in an hour and a half and Newport Beach in 25 minutes. During university I was in LA, San Diego, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Newport Beach, Long Beach, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, San Francisco etc. During the spring break I was in Seattle and Vancouver and am on went to Mexico for spring break last weekend with seven other people. Even after the semester, I traveled around to Chicago, Washington, Boston, and New York.
I only traveled around with Germans or my Dutch and Norwegian friends. It was difficult to make good American friends, as they only came to university for their courses and otherwise either had to study or work and thus have no time for you – I thought that was a shame…
Otherwise there wasn’t so much going on on the university grounds, especially on the weekend it was dead and so I would not recommend the university if someone wants to have a lot of party and action.
In general, these 5 months were definitely the best and most eventful of my life. When I look back, it feels unreal that I really experienced all of this in such a short time and it has also brought me an incredible amount personally! I have developed further, have become more self-confident, independent and open, have improved my English and have made many new friends. These experiences are simply unique and I can really recommend this semester abroad to everyone!