University: California State University Long Beach
City: Long Beach
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: life sciences
Study type: semester abroad
I was in the USA for almost 1 year. I had known for a long time that I wanted to go abroad. It was also clear that English is a must in my degree program. In the end I chose the USA because I find the landscape extremely attractive and the USA also plays an important role in research. Now it was just a matter of finding the right university. At first I thought about the situation. That’s why I immediately ruled out the universities in the interior of the country. In addition, I wanted good weather all year round if possible. So I was hesitating between Florida and California. Since Florida has hurricane season, I chose California. Since there was only 1 place at our university in all of California, I was looking for a “cheap” university. I finally had a few to choose from. See existingcountries.com for information about University of Gottingen Germany.
Now I would like to write something about the application. MicroEdu is THE contact. They did so much work for us. I don’t know how many times I’ve spoken to Aline and asked what I need to do. MicroEdu Post gives you what forms etc. you need and they do the rest for you. Of course you still have to go to the embassy and apply for a visa, but that’s not that bad. They hardly asked me anything. However, you should plan a little time. You also need international health insurance for the CSULB. I chose Hanse Merkur. For 32 euros a month you get everything you need. The insurance of the CSULB is significantly more expensive. In addition, you should be vaccinated against a few things. A tuberculosis test was not required for Germans. I submitted my application 7-8 months before the start of the semester. The CSULB now also allows the DAAD language test. I still did the TOEFL. It is significantly more expensive and also a little heavier.
Next comes a small report about the university itself. I’ll start with the negative aspects. One of the worst things is the “course choice”. I knew beforehand that I would have to crash the courses, but the procedure is still pretty stupid. The Americans, who pay significantly less, have priority. You can also check online which courses are still available. That would be good in itself, BUT unfortunately there are also Americans who crash courses and they have priority again. This means that the very few courses that may still have 1 place will fill up quickly. Open University students, our program, have no rights at all and are sometimes sent out before they can say open university. You have to be very annoying and have a thick skin to get into the courses. The two weeks at the beginning can be very exhausting. Other subjects have it much easier. The exchange students receive significantly more attention. They get an introductory event of the extra class. We were greeted and then left to explore on our own.
The second thing that bothers me about the university is the content of the lecture. It’s shocking how little you learn there. I have attended courses in the 300-400 range and was shocked at what I was “taught” there. You felt like you were in 10th grade. You are told everything down to the smallest detail without having to think about it or understand it. Transfer is not required at all. The photosynthesis equation is not a requirement even at higher courses. Almost all exams are multiple choice, which can be solved with a little common sense. Converting units None, even with the professors.
So now a few positive aspects. The university offers a lot for its students. The campus is beautifully designed and there are numerous entertainment options in the Student Union: bowling alley, swimming pool, billiards, Wii, Playstation, table tennis, table football and television. In addition, there are some fast food shops as a substitute for the canteen.
There is an escort service for people, especially women, who are afraid to walk alone across the campus in the evening.
The bus connections are also very good. Not to be compared with Germany, but very good for America. Unisport is also great, of course. You should definitely watch a basketball game. The atmosphere is great and the team is very strong. But you should also take a look at less popular sports such as volleyball or baseball.
What you should also note is that the CSULB is much more academic than German universities. You regularly write tests, quizzes, inclass quizzes, assignments, papers… and you’re “hunting” for points. So there is a lot to do. You don’t have a huge exam at the end like in Germany.
Now comes the huge downside of the CSULB. The CSULB, even if one of the cheapest for California, is super expensive. I paid a total of 7400 euros for 2 semesters. And that’s just the tuition. In addition, there are the flight, the apartment, the travel health insurance and life itself. Life in America is significantly more expensive, at least if you want to eat reasonably healthy. Some things are significantly cheaper (gas, fast food, some electronic goods…) others are significantly more expensive (salad, vegetables, fruit, housing…). If you want to explore the area, a car is an absolute must. You can still get to LA very easily with the Metro day pass, but San Diego is something different. America is and will remain a car state. With a bit of luck you can get a cheap one.
I paid for the semester abroad with the help of the Auslandsbafög. However, since you don’t get the full tuition fees (max. 4600 euros), I also put some of my savings on top of that. The flight costs were also higher than the money I got from the Bafögamt.
Life, Travel, American
So now we come to my favorite part. Life in Long Beach is much more relaxed than in Germany. BUT that also means that you have to wait 1 hour at the Department of Motorvehicle before it’s your turn. Often numerous employees just stand around and wait for better weather. A bit like the Italians. My landlord didn’t manage to repair the washing machine in the 9 months that I lived there. The whole city lives according to the motto Go Beach. Lots of people surfing or lying on the beach/bay. Californians are also very mindful of their bodies. Numerous joggers can be found on the beach. Dogs have many too. Often even several. The beach itself is super nice. It’s very wide and relatively clean. In the morning you can often see dolphins in the water. I lived in Belmont Shore. The area is very beautiful and relatively safe. 2nd Street is used by many people to go away. However, you should be aware that the shops close at 2 a.m. Alcohol in public is actually forbidden. House parties often call the police. She came to us 3 times in 1 month.
Of course I also drove around a lot. My highlights were Death Valley and Highway No. 1. At the moment I’m still on a round trip in the USA. You can stay in the country for 60 days after the end of the program. I’m just using it. I’m in Key West Florida. What I can totally recommend to you are: Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Arches National Park, Antelope Canyon, Zion and Bryce Canyon NP and Yellowstone. Are not close now, but are totally great.
Of course I was also in San Diego, Las Vegas and San Francisco. The cities are worthwhile, but cannot be compared with European ones. A football game is very worthwhile. The closest team is the San Diego Chargers. Was a great experience. Much more atmosphere than the Lakers. Really a lot more. Ice hockey is cool too. The Anaheim Ducks and the LA Kings are nearby.
Now something about the Americans. Californians are super nice. Often overly nice. But very superficial. It’s hard to get in touch with them. There’s a little small talk, but nothing more. And be prepared that America is the best at everything. There are the world’s best Christmas trees, the world-famous bars that nobody outside of town has ever heard of… The veterans have an absolute special position. They are celebrated as heroes. You will hear the national anthem very often. There are streets with 100 flags hanging around… It can happen that a bomber flies over the stadium during the national anthem… But you will find out all that yourself.
Even if it doesn’t sound like it, the year abroad brought me a lot. You have a much better understanding. Unfortunately, speaking is often neglected. It’s easier if you move into an American family or flat share. Long Beach itself is very beautiful. The Shoreline Village area in particular is very nicely done up. The national parks are particularly worthwhile. The course itself is not very demanding. Maybe you should attend some sports courses, because you get to know people faster and the content in the lectures is less useful.