University: California State University Long Beach
City: Long Beach
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Applied Computer Science, Economics
Study type: semester abroad
My preparations for the semester abroad started about 1 year before the start of my studies. Since I’m doing a dual course of study and the semester abroad is compulsory in the 5th semester, I knew exactly when it would start and was able to deal with everything early on. At first I looked for tips and help on a semester abroad on a thousand different websites, until I just wrote to MicroEdu. From then on, the preparations went smoothly. Anja was able to answer all my questions and gave me good advice, even if she no longer had to help me with the selection for the university. At that time, the status was that I really wanted to study for a semester and not a trimester and that I wanted to stay in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Effectively, only the CSULB and California State University Fullerton remained. So why Long Beach? Well, read the fourth word again: Exactly, Beach! Why that was exactly the right decision will come later. See allunitconverters.com for information about Study in Nepal.
As is already stated in all the other reports, you have to deal with a lot of bureaucratic stuff for the USA, be it the I20, the visa, the SEVIS payment and and and. But don’t worry: MicroEdu will help you with everything you need to do and if questions arise, they will be answered promptly. The interview at the embassy is a joke, it lasts between 2 and 5 minutes.
Flight & apartment search
I recommend that you book your flights relatively early, because there are some really good offers. I flew direct from Frankfurt with Lufthansa to Los Angeles (LAX) for €740. Make sure to always book a return flight, because this usually makes the flights cheaper (don’t ask me why). The best thing to do is find other people who are also flying to California via the MicroEdu Facebook group and try to fly with them. Otherwise an 11: 30 hour flight can be really boring…
I have a very special tip for you when looking for an apartment for Long Beach: It is a student house, about 20 minutes by bus from the university (bus runs every 10 minutes). A total of 15 students live in the house at full occupancy. But they come from all over the world. People from Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, China, Japan, Sweden, Norway and Germany have lived with me. The house is therefore really colorful, which helps to get to know and better understand other cultures.
If you are interested in a room in this house, write to me on Facebook (facebook.com/d.schmalen) and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have and then recommend you to the owner. From my point of view, this accommodation was the best thing that could have happened to me, because the party is going on in the whole apartment complex, but the apartments are all empty for now.
If you’ve never been to an American university or a campus university anywhere else in the world, then your jaw is going to drop quite a bit. I didn’t know a campus that was that big before, so I was really excited when we first walked around the campus to explore it. But the sports facilities are huge there, with their own football, soccer, tennis and many other sports fields. The Walter Pyramid, where college basketball games are held, is pretty awesome too. Spoiler alert: Even if the pyramid looks like it’s made of glass or something else cool in various pictures… It’s blue corrugated iron. But that doesn’t detract from the whole thing, because the pyramid is huge from the inside and a few thousand spectators can fit in there.
I strongly recommend you to join one of what feels like a thousand clubs to seek contact with the Americans there. I joined the tennis club and for $35 I was able to play three practice days a week and got a club shirt. We also went to tournaments, which were also all included in the price. In this way, I was able to make a lot of friendships with Americans that I would never have gotten to through the courses, because they tend to be a little more reserved there.
Choosing the course was my biggest concern back then, because I had to take courses that I can get credit for at my home university, all 12 units. So I had to take 4 courses of 3 units each. For me, the course crashing was actually a joke, because I got all the courses I wanted approved by the university. Even if I supposedly didn’t meet the requirements, I got the acceptance from the lecturers. In the end I had chosen 5 courses, with signatures, and then I was able to cancel one course. So don’t worry at all about whether you can find courses for you. The offer is large enough and as an international student you are quite popular with the lecturers.
- ECON 300: Fundamentals of Economics
On the one hand the best course and on the other also the most complex course. The lecturer (Jack Hou) is definitely only to be recommended. He is demanding, but also likes to chatter away from the sewing box. It’s not really that difficult to get a good grade, but you actually have to do a little something for it every week. The course is highly recommended.
- CECS 300: Design of Dynamic Web Sites
The course is so undemanding that an “A” can be planned. They build websites with the help of content management systems and add functions that are described in detail in a video on lynda.com. The course is given as 2 days a week, but in fact you only have to go there 1 day, as you get all the tasks for the week done on that day. The lecturer is highly recommended (Roni Allen), the course… well.
- CECS 410: Computers and Networks
The course is also called “Driver’s License for Computers” and is actually intended for students who do not come from the computer science field. Since I was very fit in the subject, this course remained absolutely undemanding to the end. But here, too, everyone got an “A” from the course at the end. I cannot recommend the lecturer (Leo Rodriguez).
- CECS 478: Introduction to Computer Security
This course would actually have been interesting if it hadn’t been for the first 3 weeks where we, extremely dry, looked at various encryption schemes. The course performance is a project with a partner and that was actually fun, especially because you could choose a topic yourself. The course itself is recommended, the lecturer is ok, but not really good either. (Moerdad Aliasgari)
Now I’ll go back to the point why Long Beach is so good and why I find Long Beach better than, for example, Fullerton or Riverside. On the one hand, Long Beach has a relatively beautiful beach that is not overcrowded with people, such as B. Venice Beach or Santa Monica. On the other hand, due to the proximity to the sea in Long Beach, the temperatures are still a little more pleasant than in Los Angeles or other places further inland. So it can be endured very well. Otherwise you can spend your free time very well, because there are various shopping malls and outlets nearby. Although there are always the same shops there (Abercrombie, Hollister, Victoria Secret, Nike, Apple, Macy’s…), they always have really good offers. Otherwise I definitely recommend going to a shooting ranch and shooting a pistol at the range. For me, holding a loaded gun felt a bit weird at first, but after a few minutes it didn’t feel so weird.
If you have a car, bought it or rented it for a weekend, you must definitely do the following things nearby:
- Drive up to Signal Hill in the evening and relax a bit at the viewpoint there. The view of Long Beach is fabulous.
- Griffith Observatory & Hollywood Sign: The two things are almost directly next to each other and can be easily combined. I recommend going to the observatory in the evening as the view of Los Angeles at night can be outstanding (depending on haze and fog)
- Huntington Beach: Huntington Beach is only a few miles away and has the most beautiful beach in my opinion. By the way, at the end of the pier you can eat typically American in a diner and drink very good milkshakes (very good!).
In addition, of course, there is all the standard stuff for tourists, such as Hollywood, Walk of Fame (warning: high potential for disappointment), Dolby Theater, Staples Center, etc.
Traveling was definitely one of the best things about the semester abroad. When you read the excursions like this, you rightly ask yourself whether we were also at the university… I went on the following excursions (always accompanied by other people from the house):
- San Diego: Quite nice, but enough for 1 day. I found the zoo very disappointing!
- Santa Barbara: My first time motorcycling up the Pacific Ocean and well worth it (both the Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Barbara itself).
- Las Vegas: This city is simply awesome! Just go into any hotel on the Strip and see the inside. My favorite by far: The Venetian. 1 or 2 days is enough.
- Hoover Dam: Impressive structure. A must when in Las Vegas.
- San Francisco: Two words: urine and weed. Those two things smell everywhere in SF, but the city itself is very pretty. There’s a lot to do. If you are fit, then 2 full days are enough, otherwise it should be more like 3 or 4 days.
- Monterey: The 18-Mile Trail is a must do while there.
- Ventura: Rather inconspicuous and not that busy. Still it was nice.
- Bakersfield: The first time that you see fields with strawberries and the like again.
- Miami: Miami is unlike anything you’ll see on the west coast. The city is very cool and you can do a lot of excursions. (see Everglades and Key West)
- Key West: The water in Key West is probably a little bit hotter than in Miami, although it already looks like paradise there. The way to Key West over the long bridges and the other keys is very beautiful.
- Detroit: Detroit was actually the first city in my life where I felt really uncomfortable. At night we ordered an Uber instead of a 15-minute walk.
- Toronto: A beautiful city with many sights. Canada itself is really worth seeing.
- Cleveland: Not really a special city, but a good starting or ending point for a 3-day round trip (Cleveland -> Niagara Falls -> Toronto -> Detroit -> Cleveland).
- Joshua Tree National Park: I would describe the JTNP as the “beginner” national park, as the hikes are all relatively short and not very strenuous. Attention: You are in a desert there. From there it is also worth visiting Coachella. (We were there at the time of the festival)
- Grand Canyon: Definitely the hottest starry sky I’ve ever seen. But to really do something there, you need at least 2 days.
- Yosemite National Park: My clear favorite of national parks and travel destinations. Take 2 or 3 nights there and do some hiking. I can especially recommend the hike to the Upper Yosemite waterfall. The view makes you completely forget the 2.5 hours of effort.
- Sequoia National Park: In my opinion, it’s only partially worth it. I didn’t think it was that great.
- Death Valley: For the first time in my life I experienced 50°C. One day in Death Valley is enough, but you should have done it.
- Niagara Falls: OK from the American side, just great from the Canadian side.
- Everglades: We were busy the whole time on the airboat tour keeping the mosquitoes away, but seeing alligators in the wild and then so close!
Those were the big tours we did. For more detailed details about the individual goals and other things, you can find everything in my blog. (https: //danielatlongbeach.wordpress.com/) There you will also find more pictures from my semester abroad.
So if you’re wondering if you want to go to the US: do it!
If you’re wondering if it should be Long Beach: yes, do it!
In the 6 months I definitely had the best time of my life and was able to make so many new friends. I liked it so much that I flew there again for 2 weeks in February 2016 to meet my American friends. I would definitely do it all over again anytime. Even if you have to take out a loan for it. In the end, it reads wonderfully in your CV and the experience you gain there cannot be bought later with any money in the world.