California State University Chico Review (6)

University: California State University Chico

City: Chico

Country: United States

Continent: North America

Field of study: psychology

Study type: semester abroad

… and I would do it the same way again and again!

California State University Chico Review (6)

University

Uni Chico is a beautiful campus university with lots of green spaces, close to downtown and a huge, state-of-the-art sports center/gym that leaves nothing to be desired ($180 membership for the semester is highly recommended). See mcat-test-centers for Norway higher education.

I’m in Germany doing my master’s degree in psychology and I’ve taken two graduate courses in psychology and one undergraduate course in Chico. Honestly, the psychology department is great. I had really great courses (Counseling Psychology, Psychopharmacology and Health Psychology) that were super interesting. These were also my first three choices. Tip from me: Write to the professors personally in the week before the courses start and ask if you can be accepted into the course (even if it actually already shows as full). I have had very good experiences with it and even went to a course that was actually already full. Because Chico has a relatively small number of foreign students compared to other Californian universities, the chances are a lot higher that you will get your courses anyway, because you are something “special”. The courses are comparable in graduate level to the master’s courses in Germany. Nevertheless, the workload is divided differently. During the semester you constantly have to do some homework, online quizzes, midterms, but at the end there is no cumulative exam, but one that is comparable to the midterms.

Since MicroEdu organizes your stay there through the American Language and Culture Institute (ALCI), you have to take an English course in the first half of your semester (no matter how you do on the English Placement Test). Unfortunately, these are a joke in terms of level. There are many Saudi Arabians and Asians in the ALCI, for whom the English language is much more difficult, so the pace was unfortunately much too slow and the tasks corresponded to grammar lessons at intermediate level. So most Germans only do this to meet the visa requirements and look forward to the second half of the semester without the time burden of the language course. The ALCI also has a leisure program where very nice American students organize events to help them get started in American life.

Small but nice! Chico’s center is the campus with the small town center with cafes, bars and restaurants as well as Bidwell Park, where you can picnic, sunbathe and relax at the One Mile Pool in summer. Hiking in Upper Park or swimming in Bear Hole are also very nice. The Farmer’s Markets on Saturday mornings and Thursday evenings during the summer season are definitely a Chico highlight as well. On Thursday nights in particular, all of Chico is out shopping for veggies and fruit, listening to the concert in the plaza, and munching on tamales at the food trucks at the end of the market. My Chico tips for you: Shubert’s Ice Cream, drink Tres Hombres Margarita, do the Sierra Nevada Brewery Tour and later stop at the restaurant there, drink a Chico Chai in the Naked Lounge, eat Mac&Cheese at Banshee’s.

Personally, I didn’t like the party life in Chico at all. Alcohol is super cheap and disco music is okay too, but I didn’t really enjoy the atmosphere. Pure courtship behavior! Endless immature. Chico is known as a party university: many young students live it that way. It is not for nothing that there is at least one death from alcohol intoxication every semester. Nevertheless, there are many Chico students who don’t do it that way – I was happy to stick to them and so we spent more private evenings, occasionally dared to do a discover search, only to come to the conclusion that unfortunately we weren’t responsible for it really feel too grown up.

Chico is also a good starting point for trips: north for outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking or snowshoeing or south for Sacramento and San Francisco (wonderful city). The surrounding area offers a lot, but also in Chico you should float down the Sacramento River with a big swimming ring (tube) and a group of great people.

Housing

I lived with a 57-year-old woman who rents two rooms and an apartment to young people. Accordingly, I shared the kitchen, bathroom and large garden with her and a 29-year-old American flatmate, while the apartment is separate. I felt very comfortable. You pay a little more than elsewhere ($500), but everything is included, e.g. toiletries, detergent, spices and oils, bicycle. Renee is one of the warmest, most hospitable and helpful people I know and I really care about her. She loves German culture and her German students and has had German students with her for one semester for more than two years now. Her house is central and the walk through the park to the university takes about 10 minutes. It’s a very family setting where you also have your private sphere and can really do whatever you want (always happy to invite people, etc.: “You’re an adult and can do whatever you want!”). For me, life with her was really perfect for the four-month semester abroad, even though I prefer living in a shared flat with people my own age in Germany. You can get the address from MicroEdu.

Another option is to go to Chico and do couchsurfing first (check out Lorna and Daryll) to find a suitable flat share for you locally. NEVER choose a flat share beforehand – especially in the student dormitories close to the campus you can be really unlucky. Take a look at the shared flats, there is plenty on offer so that you know exactly what you are getting into. The Timber Creek apartment complex in particular is known as “The Zoo”. At the weekend it’s all happening there: alcohol en masse and since most of them are underage, people drink, smoke pot and party at home in the flat shares and the next morning you can stumble over the drunkards in the living room who still use your toothbrush at night and ate your fridge supplies. It is not comparable to Germany – so be careful!

free time/friends

Starting with three other great German exchange students from MicroEdu, our group has continued to “Americanize”. Everyone brought their new American friends into the group, so later we became an increasingly diverse bunch and had an incredibly great time together, which culminated in trips like Yosemite Park. We met people mainly in university courses, on outdoor adventure trips from “Adventure Outings”, in our flat shares and, for example, during volunteer work on the “CAVE” campus. And not all Americans are superficial: I made really great close friends there!

Travel

California is beautiful and so incredibly diverse that it takes time to travel. Since there was only one week of spring break during the semester and the fact that I wasn’t at the university for my courses was rather impossible, I ended up doing a three-week road trip. Down the Pacific Coast Highway and up inland through National Parks (Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite), Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. It was beautiful and would highly recommend if you have the money and time. You can book a car through the ADAC in Germany, then you can be sure of your insurance. During the semester, we especially took weekend trips to San Francisco (“USA Hostels” is highly recommended there) to get a taste of the big city and soak up the great atmosphere of the city.

Californians are a great bunch. The mixture of ambition and diligence as well as enjoyment and joie de vivre are contagious and make you happy. Of course the weather does the rest.

… and I would do it the same way again and again!

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