University: California State University Long Beach
City: Long Beach
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: History, English / American Studies
Study type: semester abroad
- The application
Before I write anything about my stay abroad, I would like to say a big thank you to the MicroEdu team, who have always been there to help and advise me, not only throughout the application process, but also at any time by phone, and be they question was ever so banal. See top-engineering-schools.org for information about Central University of Venezuela.
The whole process began with the decision to spend the semester abroad, which is mandatory for me as a student teacher for English, in the United States. After a lot of research and unsuccessful attempts to try it on my own, I came across MicroEdu, which, as luck would have it, also had an office in Münster, my city of study. After an information event and a personal interview, I decided on the CSU Long Beach in the greater Los Angeles area. The application process was easy due to the competent support and the clear information material with an “application checklist”. It is also definitely worth starting the application as early as possible, as collecting the documents, signatures, application for foreign BAföG,
- After receiving the commitment and preparations
After submitting my application to MicroEdu and spending a nervous 5 weeks, I received acceptance from the university along with other paperwork and a prep list of things to consider and things to do. So now it was said: It’s getting serious and the adventure can begin. No problem thanks to the MicroEdu checklist. A little tip from me: don’t be afraid or worried about the visa application. The questions that you have to answer in advance on the Internet are a little strange, but the “conversation” that you have to complete either at the embassy in Frankfurt, Munich or Berlin is carried out at a counter and lasts just 5 minutes. After the visa landed in the mailbox, it was time to pack your bags!
- Housing search and arrival
In the end, looking for an apartment in Long Beach was more difficult than I had imagined in advance. Some people who have already been to the USA advised me not to look for apartments in Germany under any circumstances, let alone transfer rent advances anywhere. You may end up in an address where there is no house, or you may end up in unsafe areas. I arrived with a fellow student from my course and we looked for a place to stay for the first two weeks via the “Airbnb” portal. Our hostess Jill was incredibly nice and even let us use her car and her roof terrace (!!!) with BBQ. So after “arriving” and surviving the jet lag, we started looking for a place to stay via Craigslist. Finding a suitable apartment was difficult. For one thing, most of the apartments simply blew our budget. On the other hand, around 80% of the people we contacted by email or SMS either didn’t get in touch at all or got in touch too late. A tip: Get an American SIM card beforehand. Red Pocket offers cheap prepaid contracts that can also be ordered from Germany and activated for you. After much back and forth we found our first room in a 4-person shared flat with other Americans. The room and the condition of the apartment was, to put it bluntly, an absolute disaster: a moldy carpet throughout the house, a kitchen that never saw a rag, and sanitary facilities that were simply inhumane. It is therefore recommended
The second apartment we ended up staying in was in a “sober living” complex 20 minutes by bike from the university on a side street off Anaheim Street. Sober living seems to be very popular in the US because you can find many such apartment complexes. However, as the name suggests, there is a complete ban on alcohol in these apartments. If you tolerate that, you get a nice roommate, in our case a high school teacher who was mostly never home, and a fully furnished apartment with TV and Internet for $500 a month rent. The apartment wasn’t in the flagship district of Long Beach, but it was secured with its own entrance and our apartment security: Astro the pit bull terrier. Anyone looking for something else must take rents from $600 to $900 and up for unfurnished apartments. I would also recommend not looking beyond Cherry Avenue for housing as everything beyond that, especially North Long Beach, is quite a ghetto. In general, however, you should not be afraid to look for apartments away from the posh areas and student districts. The local people are nice and open-minded and very helpful, especially towards international students.
- The CSULB
The university designed itself as a huge, meticulously maintained green area with its own restaurants, fast food chains and hairdressers. I was immediately happy that I chose CSULB. In addition to the selected courses, you can really study anything at the CSULB, even marriage. Yes, you read that right, marriage.
Since I can only speak for the English and history courses I have taken, I unfortunately do not have the knowledge to comment on other courses. The courses I took were without exception good in terms of content and organization, but also in terms of the commitment of the lecturers. However, the orientation week, especially when it came to course registration, was not very well organized in my opinion. The problem is that American students are allowed to take their desired courses online weeks in advance and the internationals have to “crash” the courses. That means you go to the first hour of the course with a form and ask the dear professor if you can’t take part. The courses are often already overcrowded, but this varies in each field of study. For history I had no problems, for English it turned out to be very difficult. It’s good to keep at least 10 alternative courses in mind, in addition to the ones you had to specify when you applied. It may sound exaggerated, but believe me, the choice of course is unfortunately a heck of a lot, especially when it comes to crediting courses or compulsory content from the home university. Otherwise, the American college system is very different from ours. On the one hand you write a lot more exams, quizzes, tests, assignments, homework and presentations. On the other hand, attendance is an absolute must. However, don’t be put off by this, it’s often not even half as bad or difficult as it reads on the syllabus.
College student life revolves around campus. Every week over 100 so-called “fraternities” recruit members. You have to love the Zetas, Betas and Gamma Deltas’ race to become the hottest Fraternity. Once there, there’s often no resignation.
- Recreational Opportunities
Long Beach, LA and California in general offer almost endless possibilities to experience, discover and do. First of all, while it is an advantage to own a car to be more flexible, it is not absolutely necessary. You get a TAP card, with which you can travel for free on the bus in Long Beach. While the buses aren’t what you might be used to at home, and they’re often unreliable, it’s doable once you get used to it. The cars that you can get on Craigslist for little money are often ready for the scrap heap, since in America there is neither an MOT nor is it customary to maintain your car’s “checkbook”. You often have to pay horrendous workshop costs or have to reckon with getting stranded in the middle of nowhere with your noble vehicle. The way to the next village is long,
There is a train for trips to LA, also through the ghettos, but if you travel in a larger group, nothing ever happens. In LA itself, you are far more mobile by bus and subway than by car, because the notorious “LA traffic” and the motorway junctions, also known as “spaghetti bowls”, do not have their names for nothing. We bought bikes to get around Long Beach flexibly. With it you can reach all destinations around Long Beach and even get to Huntington Beach on beautifully landscaped bike paths.
Among our destinations were not only LA and Hollywood, but also Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Malibu and Huntington. Also on the program were of course San Francisco, one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and of course San Diego.
As a tip: for excursions in the area, it is best to rent a car. The rental prices are dirt cheap in some cases and you can forget about the fuel costs at the equivalent of 20 cents per liter.
The CSULB also has a comprehensive range of leisure activities. Sign up for the university gym! If you don’t have a thing for lifting weights and can get over the $40 monthly fee, you still get a comprehensive range of sports, including your own climbing wall. You can also rent surfboards and other outdoor equipment there for a ridiculous price and go to the nearest beach with them, and if you really want to enjoy the “California lifestyle”, you can get it on a surfboard in the Pacific with the red evening sun. Guaranteed!
In Long Beach itself, Second Street, a long shopping street with restaurants, bars, clubs and other shops, is always worth a visit in the evening. Furthermore, a detour to Downtown Long Beach and Shoreline Village is always worthwhile.
To get to the point, the costs for a semester abroad in California are of course high. That should be clear to anyone who chooses this experience. It starts with the application fee, which is $150, continues with the $350 visa fee, stops at the tuition fees and the cost of books at the university and ends with the cost of living and other amusements such as excursions etc. Special the cost of living in California is significantly higher than you are used to in Germany. The rent makes up most of the monthly costs, which are estimated to be between $500 and $700. Everything below that is not habitable or is in areas that are better not chosen as permanent residences.
A semester abroad is a challenge. Not just staying in a foreign country, being involved in everyday life and seeing fascinating places for a time that goes beyond any vacation. It is an unbelievable enrichment of the language that sets in after just a few weeks. One finds friends not only from America, but from all over the world, with whom one studies, celebrates and lives. Therefore, I can only recommend everyone to complete a semester abroad at CSU Long Beach. Not only because of the great location for trips to California and the neighboring states, the location on the beach and the consistently bombastic weather (please don’t forget sunscreen factor 50, no joke), but also because of the comprehensive range of courses, the good courses and college life at CSU Long Beach. It was the best experience of my life. Not least because of the competent advice and processing by MicroEdu.