University: California State University Long Beach
City: Long Beach
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Sports science, electrical engineering
Study type: semester abroad
Shortly before my master’s thesis, I decided at very short notice to study for a semester at California State University Long Beach. I had been thinking about it for a long time, but only when the submission date was getting closer and my exam schedule was foreseeable did my decision become firmer. The help from MicroEdu was very helpful. But it was very tedious to get the right forms together and not to overlook anything. The checklists from MicroEdu were very useful for this.
I recommend the DAAD English test as proof of language proficiency. I was able to take this for free at my home university. The test is accepted by the CSULB! See usprivateschoolsfinder.com for information about Simon Bolivar University Venezuela.
The CSULB sets very specific conditions for health insurance that are not met by all German insurance companies. I can recommend the Hanse Merkur insurance in the basic tariff + personal liability together with an additional dental insurance with a third party. When taking out the insurance, ask for an English translation. Medical and hospital bills are very expensive in California.
Note from MicroEdu: As of Spring 2012, all international semester students are required to purchase health insurance from CSULB.
For the visa you need a digital photo that meets the requirements of the US authorities. It is best to have it taken by the photographer together with the biometric photo for the passport – if you don’t already have it. Tip: allow time for the embassy appointment and arrive a little earlier if necessary. You are invited there along with many other applicants to the same appointment block.
Check the vaccination pass well before the actual departure date and refresh the necessary vaccinations if necessary. Vaccination status will be checked during orientation week in the SHS building on campus. There is then another opportunity to receive missing injections.
Little attention is paid to the international driver’s license in California. The police usually accept the German EU driving license. A California driver’s license can be purchased locally for $30. This includes a theory and practice test (expenditure approx. 3 weeks). The practical test is completed in your own car. Whether the California driver’s license makes sense, everyone has to weigh for themselves. With many insurance companies, the premiums for auto liability are more expensive if you do not have a California driver’s license. I was paying around $88 a month for my car. Common insurances are: progressive, gecco and AAA.
A cheap used old car can be found at craigslist.com. Since there is no TÜV as in Germany, many cars are offered in a less good condition. When buying a car, make sure that the car already has a smog check. This is required to register with the DMV. Drivable cars can be found from as little as $2000.
During the first week I bought a smartphone with GPS navigation. This, together with Google Maps, was very helpful for orientation. Since most mobile phone tariffs also require payment for incoming calls and text messages, it can quickly become very expensive. T-Mobile’s $60 student plan is recommended. With this I was able to make calls to the German fixed network in addition to an Internet, SMS and telephone flat rate.
I didn’t book my apartment from Germany and only went looking for an apartment on site in Long Beach. The Motel 6 (south/west of the campus) is ideal for the first nights. In the international office, apartment advertisements are posted in the hallway. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a suitable place to stay there. I ended up moving into an apartment in Belmont Heights with another exchange student from Brazil. The bus connection to the campus was great! We found the apartment via pabstkinney.com. The agency provides apartments in Long Beach. As a rule, however, these are not furnished and so we acquired the essential furnishings over the course of the first week.
Like Los Angeles, Long Beach has good and not so good residential areas. Recommended is Bluff Park, Belmont Heights, around Traffic Circle and north of campus. Downtown Long Beach is exciting, but just too far from campus. The area north of 10th and on the canal above downtown is not recommended.
With the University at the Beach program, I wasn’t able to choose my subjects until the orientation week. To do this, however, I had to run from professor to professor and ask for a place on the course. In engineering, that wasn’t a problem for me.
The courses are often not overcrowded. However, considering the high tuition fees, I do not find this procedure appropriate. All other students can take the courses online in advance.
In addition to the engineering subjects, I also took three sports courses to get the required number of credit points. My choice of subjects:
- Solar Energy (S Topcis Electrical Engr)
- Energy and Environment
- Astronautics and Space
- self defence
- Social dance
The Solar Energy course in particular has enriched me professionally. The Energy & Environment course is recommended, but involves a lot of work. The sports courses were all a lot of fun and I can only recommend everyone to take at least one activity course. The support was great in all courses! Only the course materials were very expensive and often not very helpful.
Since I didn’t have any lectures on Fridays, I traveled by car as often as possible. Definitely worth seeing:
- highway no 1
- Laguna Beach
- Caramel Beach
- Yosemite National Park
- Death Valley
I really enjoyed the view through a telescope from Griffith Obervatory. By the way, admission is free and Los Angeles at night is just great!
I’m glad that I did a semester abroad before I graduated. It was a great time for me and rich in experience. California is a multifaceted country. However, making local friends is not easy. A lot happens on a rather superficial level. The academic level at CSULB was not particularly high.
But if you just want to improve your English and choosing a course isn’t that important, Long Beach is the place for you. Otherwise I would recommend you another city and another country. But it always depends on what you make of it yourself!