University: California State University Long Beach
City: Long Beach
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: computer science
Study type: semester abroad
Decision and application phase
In the summer of 2008 I heard about MicroEdu from a friend and was thrilled that there was an easy way to organize my stay abroad. I have bombarded MicroEdu with questions about the University of Long Beach and the application process, and each time I have received a very helpful response. They took care of the “Application Form” and sent all the documents back and forth. I only had to send copies of my account balance, the TOEFL test and my passport to MicroEdu and received immediate feedback if something didn’t add up. When I finally received my semester abroad approval from California State University Long Beach and I-20, I realized that I really was going to California. See top-mba-universities.com for information about University of Zulia Venezuela.
Since I only made the decision to go abroad in July 2008, it was very tight from the registration, the TOEFL test, the visa to the search for an apartment. I didn’t get my visa until the end of November 2008 and started looking for an apartment in Long Beach, CA. After two weeks of desperate apartment hunting, I decided to rent a beachfront apartment on Ocean Blvd. renting, which cost me a whopping $975 a month, but other apartments inland would have been only $200 cheaper and offered far less convenient bus access to the uni and “worse neighborhoods”. I had to have the rental agreement sent by email notarized, which cost me around €17. Shortly after Christmas the time had come and I set off on the long, long journey.
I landed in Los Angeles on December 26th, 2009 and after a stopover in Washington and 18 hours travel time I was pretty exhausted. I would recommend everyone to pay more and book a direct flight. I stood at the airport with my two 23 kg suitcases and wondered what the cheapest way to get to a hotel was because it was already 10 p.m. and there was no chance of getting to Long Beach. I took a hotel shuttle to the Marriot right at the airport and stayed there. The next day I hope to get a rental car, unfortunately neither Hertz, Enterprise nor Budget had a car for me and I took the “Supershuttle”, a shared van, for $30 to Long Beach right in front of my new apartment. You simply follow the signs at the airport to the “Shared Vans” and speak to an operator there who will take care of the transport. Probably the best thing that could have happened to me was that I met a neighbor in my apartment complex on the second day, who helped me with all organizational questions. It started with a wired Internet connection at Charter, a bank account at Bank of America, and even a cell phone. In everything he helped me and became a friend.
After about a month of settling in, furnishing my apartment and overcoming the language barrier, I went to university for the first time. It wasn’t the official start of the semester yet, but I wanted to check out the campus. It took me about 2 hours to walk around the campus. A week later the semester began with an introductory event for all foreign students with general information, a health test and the systematic control of our documents. The American Language Institute, ALI for short, organized this introductory event and explained the course selection procedure to us.
You can only choose the courses on site and after the first lecture you have to go to the professor of the desired course with a form that you can get from ALI and ask him to sign so that you can attend the course. After I had the signatures of the professors for my four courses, I had to have them countersigned again by the chair of the Institute for Computer Science. I then had to have the forms stamped by the ALI and only then was I able to pay the course and study fees. Unfortunately, many Master’s courses were full, but I was still able to take most of the courses I wanted. The ALI has always helped me with every question and is really the perfect first point of contact for foreign students because everyone has a personal contact person. The ALI also helps with the search for accommodation and was even able to find an apartment for Daniel, a Colombian who had only arrived on the day of the introductory event. When paying for courses and tuition, remember to increase your credit card limit the day before unless you’re paying by check. You definitely need an American bank account, as some things can only be paid by check or money order.
Everyday university life
At the beginning it was exhausting to get used to the new conditions in the university, but all the students and professors were very friendly and helped me through the sometimes difficult to understand conditions for participating in the course. For all courses I had to buy books, which were very expensive but a condition for attending the course. So I spent about $260 on four books, which I could have sold at the university bookstore at the end of the semester, even though I had bought them much cheaper on the Internet. From these books I had several chapters to read and several assignments to do for each course each week, which was then tested in a quiz (short test) each subsequent week and included in the final grade. After a few weeks I had not only gotten used to everyday university life, but also found out
All courses had two midterm tests and then a final exam at the end of the semester, with the latter all taking place in the last week of the semester at the respective course times. In all my courses, the grading was based on a so-called curve, which means that you always had to be better than the others. Although I spent almost every weekend with my neighbors and visited all of California outside of university, I was able to complete my courses with very good results.
Long Beach is a scene city and constantly offers new attractions. In addition to the beach, LB Museum of Art, the many parks with public barbecue areas and the beach, there are monthly events such as the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in March. In Long Beach, public transport is generally very good and I had – without knowing it beforehand – the so-called “The Passport” bus right outside my front door, which took me directly to the CSULB. With the CSULB student ID I could use all public transport for free. I rented a car very often, which was also quite cheap with Enterprise, and visited Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego, Hollywood, Los Angeles Down Town, Santa Barbara, Malibu, Venice Beach, Orange County and many, many other cities, beaches and parks. An insider tip is “the beach of a thousand steps” in Orange County on Highway 101 just south of Laguna Beach. Unfortunately, Los Angeles and Long Beach are very expensive to live in, in rent, in restaurants and bars.
I’ve had so many experiences I can’t even list them all. I’m still in touch with my friends in California two months after coming home and will be flying over again soon.