University: California State University Chico
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
I did a semester abroad in Chico, California in the 2012/2013 winter semester. It was a great time that I will probably never forget. Before I decided on Chico State University, I read a lot of testimonials. I hope that I can help you a bit further with my report. See mcat-test-centers for Poland higher education.
In January 2012, after I was allowed to see a semester abroad presentation from my university, I suddenly felt like going abroad for a semester. Even then it was clear to me that I should go in the direction of the USA. My research brought me to the MicroEdu website. It was important to me to go to an area where I could experience a lot of American culture, where you can still live relatively cheaply and where I’m not necessarily one of 300 other German exchange students. Chico is a small town in northern California with a population of around 80,000, of which around 16,000 are students! The city and campus are very beautiful and have lots of green spaces. In addition, Chico is a very bicycle-friendly city.
In the preparation I had to take various hurdles that cost me a lot of nerves. However, the MicroEdu staff were always very helpful to me and were able to answer even the simplest and most banal questions in a friendly manner. The required application documents were checked by MicroEdu and then forwarded directly to the university of my choice. As proof of language proficiency, you must present a DAAD or TOEFL test with specific results. I recommend you to complete the DAAD because it is simply cheaper and is issued by almost every university. When visiting the consulate, I really recommend that you get an appointment as early as possible. Also take into account that it can take up to two weeks, for example, until the consulate sends your passport back to you or you sometimes have to wait four weeks until the first available appointment at the consulate! You can imagine how nerve-wracking it will be to see your semester abroad on the brink shortly before you start.
The arrival itself was easy. I organized the cheapest outbound flight from various flight comparison portals. Of course, the earlier you book, the cheaper the flight. Return flights are often cheaper if you book them in the US on American websites. Also, you might want to travel around at the end of the semester and don’t know when you want to fly back.
ACCOMMODATION and FURNITURE SEARCH
I arrived about four weeks before the start of the semester and lived in a motel in Chico for the first few days. From there I looked at shared flats on websites such as craigslist.com. I was lucky with the third flat share and after 10 days in the motel I was allowed to move into a flat share with three Americans. In hindsight, this flat share was the best thing that could have happened to me. I got my furniture from a thrift shop and a mattress store. But let’s be honest: a new mattress, a used chair and a desk. You don’t need much more, because you want to experience something in California!
Incidentally, the cost of daily living in Chico is inexpensive. Whether rent, groceries or the party night: Life is comparatively cheap and student-friendly in the city.
There is the ALCI Institute (American Language and Culture Institute) on site, which will give you great support there. In the office there are employees who take special care of the exchange students from all over the world. No matter what question you have, e.g. about the American ID or the procedure at the university, you will always get help here.
It is possible to take up to ten American units at the university as part of the Open University program. Other universities can also be booked for a small surcharge. Unfortunately, I personally had too much respect for the English-language course and only took three courses (that is, 9 units). However, four courses are easily doable, without letting your free time suffer. It’s difficult to get into a rhythm in the first few weeks, but later everything becomes routine and manageable. On top of that, the system there is much more schooled than it is here in Germany. Every week tasks have to be done, there are many tests, you have to hand in different papers or do homework. Does everything have the disadvantage that you really have a lot of work during the week, which, however, is usually not particularly demanding. In terms of grading, I would also like to remind you of the American multiple-choice system. In each test there are always up to five predefined answer options. In summary, I only came back to Germany with very good grades.
But there are two things that are a bit stressful. On the one hand, you have to get into the courses of the professors by “class crashing” at the beginning. It is therefore not guaranteed that you will get your place in the desired course. Luckily I didn’t have any highly specialized courses on my schedule and I had no problems getting into the courses I wanted. The second annoying thing is that you are “more or less” required to take the ALCI’s English language courses. The level of these courses is extremely low and is not very useful for most Germans. In order to meet your visa requirements, however, you must be present at least 90% of the time in the first few months.
Leisure and excursion possibilities
- Leisure in CHICO
16,000 students live in Chico and of course they want to be employed. Those who like to go out will definitely get their money’s worth in Chico. There are a wide variety of bars and clubs in the city that have different promotions depending on the day of the week and are accordingly frequented. In addition, there is the house party scene with big parties all over the city. In theory, you could go out six days a week. I personally found the Madison Bear Garden and the parties at Las Selles particularly cool.
But of course there are other possibilities in Chico. For a price of around €120 you can join the university’s state-of-the-art gym, which can only be used by students. The money definitely pays off, because in addition to indoor football and basketball courts, there is also a swimming pool, climbing wall, indoor running track and table tennis area. As a soccer player, I particularly enjoyed playing indoor soccer against the Americans four times a week.
You should also definitely go “floating” once. For this you buy a kind of swimming ring and let your friends drift down the Sacramento River with a few chilled drinks. I tell you: This is pure joie de vivre!
- EXCURSIONS/ TRAVEL
Chico is centrally located in Northern California. San Francisco, the west coast beach, Sacramento, Lake Tahoe and the mountains are all within about two hours. There are ample opportunities for weekend trips and excursions. Personally, I can also recommend flying to Las Vegas and spending a few days there. Los Angeles and San Diego are also suitable for a weekend trip by rental car. A friend of mine also flew to Hawaii, for example, because the flight distance is not far and the tickets are not expensive. Another friend went to the mountains to ski. There is also an adventure club where anyone can book one-off excursions. For example, a rafting trip or a kayak tour on Lake Tahoe. There are many ways to organize your weekends.
At the end of the semester, I can only recommend “using” the visa again and traveling around a bit. Canada and the east coast, with dream cities like New York and Washington, are almost directly on the way home and, in my opinion, should be “taken with you” if you’re ever in America.
- MY TIPS
Going to float with his friends on Labor Day. Thousands of people float down the river there. It all ends with a subsequent party on a small island, a mega event!
If possible, move in with other Americans when looking for an apartment. Of course it’s easier to move in with other exchange students from Germany, for example, but I think it’s better if you try to live with Americans. It’s better for your language skills and you get to know American culture better.
I also recommend that you buy your bike at Walmart. Not at Target, I had bad experiences and had to invest a lot of money.
Yes, that’s actually it from me. At the end I can simply say to you again with full conviction that Chico is definitely a very special city that you will not soon forget. There is so much to experience, of course in all of California anyway! Personally, I’m already planning to visit my friends there again if the opportunity arises after my studies. In any case, I wish you a lot of fun!