California State University Long Beach Review (7)

California State University Long Beach Review (7)

North America

University: California State University Long Beach

City: Long Beach

Country: United States

Continent: North America

Field of study: Informatics, electrical engineering

Study type: semester abroad

  1. United States

With 323 million inhabitants, the United States of America is the most populous country in North America and number 3 in the world (behind China and India ). Geographically, the USA lies between the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Canada to the north and Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico in the south. The USA is divided into 5 territories and 50 states, 48 ​​of which are contiguous on the American mainland, and Hawaii and Alaska have no direct land connection to the rest of the USA. The USA is the largest economy and military power in the world. Politically, the USA is a federal republic with a president (based in Washington DC), 100 senators (2 per state) and 435 representatives. The political landscape is mainly characterized by the two major parties, the more liberal Democrats (including President Barack Obama) and the more conservative Republicans (including future President Donald Trump). In terms of landscape, the USA is one of the most diverse countries on earth. From white sandy beaches (Florida), huge forests (including California ), deserts (including Nevada), ice landscapes (Alaska) and mountain ranges (Rocky Mountains) almost everything can be found. See for information about University of Dresden.

2. Long Beach and California

California is located in the southwest of the United States on the border with Mexico. With an area of ​​424 km² and approx. 37 million inhabitants, California is the third largest and by far the most populous state in the USA. Economically, California is by far the strongest state in the USA and alone would be the eighth largest economic power in the world. California is considered politically liberal and leaning toward the Democratic camp. It is home to the mega-city of Los Angeles and the metropolitan region “San Francisco Area” (with Silicon Valley), the capital Sacramento and countless national parks (Yosemite, Death Valley, Redwood National Park, and many more).

Long Beach is located in Southern California, directly adjacent to Los Angeles. Long Beach has about 460,000 inhabitants and an area of ​​171km². Long Beach is the fourth largest city in California and 36th in the United States.

Economically, Long Beach is important mainly because of the port, the second largest in the USA.


California State University Long Beach is part of a network of Californian universities. This network includes 23 universities with around 400,000 students and around 42,000 employees. With almost 35,000 students, California State University Long Beach is the second largest university in this network (after Fullerton). Since these are state universities, the tuition fees are usually significantly lower than at private universities (USC in Los Angeles). Long Beach has consistently ranked among the best in the United States for education in terms of the tuition it pays for in recent years. The campus, which is huge by German standards, is very spacious and “green”.. As is usual in the USA, there are a variety of dining and leisure options right on campus. If you live in one of the dormitories on campus, there is actually no reason to leave the campus. From a food court, cinema, Japanese garden, gym, amusement arcade and small shops, everything is actually available and many American students certainly spend the majority of their studies on campus. There are also countless clubs and there is always something going on on campus. The educational offer includes 8 faculties (colleges) and countless courses. In general, a lot of value is placed on familiar and friendly interactions with one another, so it is quite common to address the professors by their first names or to ask the professors questions about the material via SMS. The international students are looked after by a kind of “International Office”. There are countless programs for international students and a lot of effort is made to integrate them into everyday American university life and to be available if there are problems. A striking feature of the CSULB campus is the “Walther Pyramid”, a sports hall in which the university’s basketball and volleyball teams play their games.

4. Organizational

A special visa is required for a longer stay in the USA. This F-1 visa entitles you to study at a university, but not to earn money in the USA. If you hope to be able to earn some money in the USA on the side, you have to think about something else. With this visa you can stay in the USA up to 30 days before and 60 days after your studies. However, as soon as you leave the country (Mexico, Canada or, for example, for a short vacation home) you need a permit from the university (just a signature, so not much effort). This visa is also linked to the success or participation in the university courses. You have to be considered a “full-time student” (minimum 12 US credits), do at a certain level, and attend classes. However, I have not heard from any student that there were any problems in this regard. The organization before the study takes a lot of time (and money). Proof of sufficient financial reserves, a visit to an American embassy (Frankfurt, Munich or Berlin) and some paperwork are required. This can, especially if you deal with German authorities ( Foreign BAföG ), the German university, the American university and the American embassy, ​​can be quite nerve-wracking. Also health insurance, flights, accommodation etc. are not to be forgotten. There is compulsory insurance from the American university for the campus, but it is advisable to obtain additional health insurance for the “rest of” life. I personally had a bill of about $1000 in the mailbox for 3 visits to the doctor.

5. Arrival, transportation and traffic

a) Flights

For the journey you should plan about 700-1000€. Depending on the time and airports, prices can vary greatly. I flew in August and the high season, which was correspondingly more expensive. You should also choose an airline with enough luggage (you have a little more than on a two-week vacation). In my experience (and the experiences of fellow students), it makes sense either not to book the return flight yet, or to choose an airline with good rebooking options. If you meet new people during the semester or still want to visit certain places, the travel plan changes quickly. There are many airports in and around Long Beach (Long Beach, LA, San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco and many smaller airports in the area), so that you can combine your arrival with a small road trip or sightseeing.

b) Local transport – bus and train

In the USA, the public transport network is rather poorly developed and cannot be compared with Germany or Europe. However, the bus services in Long Beach are quite okay (for example for the way to the university) and the trip is free for students with a special card. However, you have to be prepared for sometimes longer waiting times or long detours. For the way to Los Angeles there is a train, which takes about 1 hour and is very cheap ($1.50 per trip). In my opinion, this is definitely recommended, but this train also runs through somewhat dodgy areas, which is why I would not necessarily recommend it, especially for women at night. However, we never had any problems.

c) Local transportation – car and Uber

In general, Americans like to drive a lot and by car. This is mainly due to the sometimes very long distances and the cheap petrol. A car is therefore highly recommended, especially for shopping or excursions. We were lucky enough to be able to use our American roommate’s car. If you don’t have that, you should definitely plan to buy a car or occasionally rent a car. In the USA, the taxi service Uber (or Lift) is highly recommended. It can be transported relatively cheaply and comfortably.

d) Local transport – bicycle

Personally, I bought a cheap bike from Walmart and used it to cover my everyday routes, especially to university. That was never a problem due to the mild and warm weather and so we did some sport every day to counteract the many burgers.

6. Accommodation

Finding a suitable apartment was the biggest and most acute problem of the first few weeks in Long Beach. I had decided against a dormitory on campus (very expensive) and against looking for an apartment in Germany. However, I partly regretted that. In Long Beach, groups of German students quickly formed who are also looking for an apartment, so the five of us first looked for a house and later the three and two of us looked for a flat share. Finding an apartment at a reasonable price, in a good location and according to your ideas is very difficult. One should not underestimate the search for an apartment and be prepared to deviate somewhat from one’s ideas (in terms of price or equipment). Apartment prices are very high, especially in good areas. I finally found a 3-bed apartment in an almost perfect location for a total of $2400. We had a kitchen, a living room and two bedrooms, each with a bathroom. I shared a room with another student, which brought me $600 a month to rent. In my opinion, it will be difficult to find anything among them. I bridged the time of the search with AirBnb, which was not exactly cheap in August. In the end we made a very good choice with the apartment, but the search was very nerve-wracking. In my opinion, it will be difficult to find anything among them. I bridged the time of the search with AirBnb, which was not exactly cheap in August. In the end we made a very good choice with the apartment, but the search was very nerve-wracking. In my opinion, it will be difficult to find anything among them. I bridged the time of the search with AirBnb, which was not exactly cheap in August. In the end we made a very good choice with the apartment, but the search was very nerve-wracking.

7. Studies

The semester started in mid-August with an orientation week. This was exactly one week before the actual start of the semester and there were workshops on how studying in the USA works and what needs to be considered. These workshops were mandatory and definitely make sense.

First you have to work your way through the course list of the CSULB and you should look for some suitable courses with your responsible professor. Finally, I have to say that the only thing I really didn’t like about CSULB, at least for me, was the course selection. I think it’s the same at every American university, but I found that really annoying. All other students at the university can register for their courses online. We international students are the last and have to introduce ourselves to every professor and ask if we can participate. You can see the days / weeks before the end of the enrollment period online how your desired courses gradually fill up until some are completely full. I have to say that I didn’t get any of my “Priority 1” courses and I’m lucky that I did find solutions with my home university. One solution was that I had lectures all morning on a Saturday, which limited my weekend trips a lot (especially with the compulsory attendance and the internships in the engineering field). That annoyed me a lot, but there was no other way. I then found 4 courses, which were not ideal for me, but then it worked. I’m annoyed that we pay almost twice as much tuition as the “regular” students, but are then only allowed to choose the “leftovers” of the courses. That really annoyed me and I would have imagined it differently. I think there are also some subjects in the economics field that you can reserve in advance, but unfortunately that wasn’t possible in the engineering field. There is room for improvement here.

After the courses had been found, all sorts of signatures (dean, course director, professor and international office) had to be obtained for each course. That was also quite annoying and pointless, since everyone just blindly signed anyway, without really checking whether you are really suitable for the course.

As for the course itself, it has to be said that it was very time-consuming. You have homework and exercises every week and tests every now and then during the semester. The tests, homework, attendance and participation are graded so that you have something to do throughout the semester. However, you have the advantage that the actual examination phase is relatively relaxed (compared to Germany). Overall, I liked the system with the intermediate exams better than in Germany, but the many homeworks are very annoying and time-consuming.

Almost all of my professors work with textbooks, which you have to buy or borrow (which can also be very expensive).

I found the learning atmosphere with small classes (approx. 20-25 students) and many exercises and practical elements very good and in my opinion is far superior to the German system, even if I felt the level was a bit lower.

8. Life and People

I would generally consider life in Long Beach and Southern California to be very livable and enjoyable, provided you don’t have to pay attention to every cent. In general, you can say that pretty much everything is very expensive. Starting with apartment prices, but also food and leisure activities. Clothing and petrol are relatively cheap. I found the people to be very friendly. Everyone has a smile on their lips and tries to be friendly, which is sometimes not as difficult as in Germany with mild temperatures all year round. Americans are probably generally less worried and try to enjoy life. More serious issues are often pushed aside and one tries not to think about them (at least that’s how it seemed to me). They also try to take everything more relaxed, appointments,I was particularly impressed and fascinated by the diverse landscape of the Southwest of the USA. Breathtaking national parks (Yosemite, Zion, Grand Canyon) or megacities (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego) can be reached within relatively short distances and there is so much to discover.

9. Conclusion

Especially at the beginning of the semester abroad, when there was a lot to organize and a lot was uncertain (accommodation and courses), there were occasional doubts as to why it was actually done and whether it was worth it at all. Together with a bit of homesickness, one or the other thought about breaking it off completely. But once you’ve settled in and started to enjoy this beautiful piece of earth, you don’t think about it anymore. The completely different study life and getting to know new people did the rest. I can recommend anyone who doubts or ponders to take this step and bite through one or the other lonely or bad day. It was reallya great and very exciting time. I have made some friends (with Germans, Americans or other people) and hope to be able to keep one or the other of them up. In any case, it was a time that I will certainly look back on with pleasure and often. Improving my English skills (which was my primary goal) came naturally, so after a few weeks I didn’t even notice if the lectures were in German or English. All in all a very nice (but also very expensive) time.

California State University Long Beach Review (7)