University: California State University Long Beach
City: Long Beach
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: law
Study type: Academic gap year
It was actually always clear to me that I definitely wanted to go abroad for a year after graduating from high school. Unfortunately, since I was not yet 18 after graduating from high school, many options such as work and travel fell away, but luckily I came across MicroEdu. It was already clear to me that I really wanted to go to California and thanks to the great advice from MicroEdu I finally decided on Long Beach. The application was super easy, as MicroEdu will send you a checklist with everything you need to consider. But you should still allow yourself enough time, since it can take a while until everything has been clarified with the language test and the visa . After I sent my application to MicroEdu and they checked and forwarded everything, CSULB quickly accepted me. See ejiaxing.org for information about Alma Mater Mission Venezuela.
I decided to live in a typically American way in the dorms on campus. On the one hand, it’s probably a lot cheaper than looking for an apartment, on the other hand, unfortunately, you don’t have a kitchen here and you have to pay for one of the many meal plans, which is much more expensive than the room itself. But you live directly on campus and you have to come in the morning don’t get up early to go to class. There are different residence halls. On the one hand, there’s Parkside, which are several suite-style buildingslives with other students. Normally you share a room with one other person. However, only students in their first year of study live here. Older students can choose to live in Hillside or Beachside instead . In Hillside there are both single and double rooms in suite style, but also typical dorms where you live with a lot of people in one hallway. Beachside has triple rooms only and is a bit off campus but closer to the beach. Then there’s also the International House, which is where Americans live with foreign students, so that can be good if you likewant to meet people from many different countries. I’ve lived in Parkside myself and can only recommend it. The food in the dining halls is also quite ok and they are fine if you have allergies or are vegetarian/vegan.
The campus is quite huge and also has a lot to offer. There are many different (fast food) restaurants and cafés, a free gym, two pools, a bookstore, several convenience stores, and above all a lot of green spaces where you can chill in the shade between classes. The Japanese gardens next to Parkside are also super nice. In front of the bookstore you can often find different pop-up stores, but also stands where you can win something or just get goodies for free. In the University Student Unionyou can also go bowling or play billiards and every semester the latest films are shown for free in the school’s own cinema, so it definitely doesn’t get boring. You can also join many different clubs. For example, I tried cheerleading for the first time and it’s really cool how much you can learn in one semester. Of course, it’s also a great way to meet people and partake in American culture.
During my time here, I took a total of eight courses, almost all of which were actually very different subjects, because I wanted to use my gap year before studying law to try out other things. I can definitely recommend the following courses:
- International Studies 222 – Skills and Methods for Global Leadership with Jolene McCall
- Business Law 220 – Introduction to Business Law with Patricia Giannone
- Sociology 100 – Introduction to Sociology with Oliver Wang
- Women’s, Gender, Sexuality Studies 102 – Gender, Race, Sex, and Societies with Abraham Weil
- Journalism 104 – Social Media Communication with Kelly Kehoe
What I would definitely not recommend are actually any communications courses. Although the university advertises a lot with these and tries to make them attractive to international students, all the internationals I spoke to had problems in these courses, especially in terms of comprehensibility.
Otherwise, I found the level of the courses to be quite comparable, if not even easier, than at the German grammar school, since many exams were multiple choice and if you had to write essays, the topic was often announced by the lecturers before the exam. In general I found the courses very interesting and varied. Group projects also came up quite often and they were mostly really fun.
Leisure and travel
Long Beach definitely has a lot of things to do. You can easily take the bus to the beach or to Shoreline Village and the Pike Outlets, where there is a cinema as well as various shopping facilities. Probably the most famous attractions are the Aquarium of the Pacific and the world’s most haunted ship, the Queen Mary. During the fall semester, around Halloween each year, the “Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor”organized. Similar to the Moviepark in Germany, there are actors in scary disguises that haunt everywhere and there are various labyrinths that are themed on the ghost stories of Queen Mary.
But there is also a lot to do outside of Long Beach. Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Seal Beach, and Huntington Beach are also fairly close and easy to get to. Especially the semester breaks are also great for traveling, for example to explore San Francisco, Las Vegas, or the Grand Canyon.
In any case, I experienced a lot during my year abroad and can really only recommend Long Beach. Sun, beach and nice people, what more could you ask for?