First of all: Long Beach is definitely a perfect choice for a semester or year abroad. In retrospect, the past 10 months have been the most interesting and great of my life.
Long Beach is 20km south of LA a coastal city that has a lot to offer. As a starting point for one or the other trip, it is unbeaten by the location. Orange County (with the highlights Laguna Beach and Newport Beach) is around the corner, San Diego is 90 minutes away by car and LA is 30 minutes away. San Francisco (5 hours) and Las Vegas (4 hours) are other must-sees.
Incidentally, you should therefore also consider buying a car, I couldn’t imagine doing it without it, local transport (within Long Beach to the university is still quite ok) in Southern California just sucks. Throw up with 2-3 people and do yourselves a favor to buy a wheeled pedestal. Visit jibin123.com to get information about cost of living in Barcelona.
In addition to traveling, you should of course also study. The Uni in LB is really nice in itself, the campus cannot be compared to German universities. Much nicer, greener, starbucks and fast food, with a lot of activities and leisure opportunities. I particularly liked the many sports facilities (some of them are also very cheap as a student, e.g. football in the university’s own league for $ 10 per nose for a season / about 7-9 games).
Choosing a course in mathematics was relatively easy for me. A signature from the teacher, one from the dean and then you are in the courses. However, I have heard from many that it is a bit more problematic in the so-called “impacted majors” and that one often has to switch to other courses in different subject areas. But I can’t say so much, I got my business administration course in finance without any problems (although I was also a graduate student and therefore had little to do with overcrowded courses).
One can argue about the level of the courses. Personally, I found it poor, to say the least, the effort is limited to a minimum, the yield to the maximum. Others have complained about the high burden of papers, quizzies, homeworks, projects, mid-terms, etc., all of which are not tough, but they take a lot of time.
Long Beach itself also has a lot to offer for nightlife enthusiasts. On 2nd Street you will find some good (but also a lot of bad) dance halls and pubs, which are very popular, especially on weekends. Of course, nothing works under the age of 21, so you don’t even get the idea of spending a semester in the USA at the age of 19, you miss a lot…
On 4th Street you have more to do with alternative people, a good change from the rather monotonous music that is booming from the speakers elsewhere, there are also good drink specials during the week, for which lectures will certainly start late worth a visit. You shouldn’t miss out on partying in Hollywood. Let’s be honest, a Facebook status à la “Party in Hollywood” makes you who are envious in Germany for sure;) We rented a stretch limousine with about 30 men for such an occasion (Halloween) and let us drive us. A cool experience. By the way, always keep in mind that in California at 2 a.m. it is taps, means 1: 30h last call and that was it. Exceptions are extremely rare. You (don’t) get used to it. Drinking on the street is also not a good idea. Prohibited by law and that’s why you shouldn’t do it, just as you should generally avoid behaving like open trousers. I think a conflict with the police is really no fun at all. Be sensible!
Other important aspects that make your stay easier: Have a Californian ID issued by the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). It looks cool and can serve as a nice souvenir afterwards. It also makes identification much easier and is accepted everywhere.
Contrary to some statements, nobody needs an American driver’s license. Why, the German does it too (both when renting a car and with the police – at least that’s my experience). You can therefore save yourself the international driver’s license, which you can have for a fee in Germany.
You should also get an American account. At Chase-Bank this is free of charge and there is a debit Visa card, which makes paying in the USA a lot easier. A lot is done with a credit card.
As far as mobile telephony is concerned, T-Mobile has very nice offers. $ 40 for unlimited SMS and 500 free minutes. Do without MetroPCS, the last dirty shop. Bad reception and very lousy service.
In conclusion: if you choose California you have already done everything right and the foundation stone for a unique time has been laid. The lifestyle, the excellent weather all year round and the opportunity to discover a unique country from the best of all states guarantee unforgettable moments. Enjoy it!