University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: industrial engineering
Study type: semester abroad
“One semester a Titan”
“Titans” – that’s what the students, employees and athletes of Cal State Fullerton call themselves. I was able to spend a semester abroad at this great university in the heart of Orange County in California, in the greater Los Angeles area. My preparations began about a year before my trip. First, I found out about the various options for a semester abroad in the USA via MicroEdu . I quickly liked the CSUF for various reasons. The most decisive points were: the very good reputation of the university, the very good geographical location and the comparatively low tuition fees. With approximately 36,000 students, the CSUF is one of the largest colleges in the California State University network. See jibin123 for Semester Abroad In Brock University.
Preparation included proof of language proficiency, financial proof, application to the host university, application for a visa including a visit to the embassy in Berlin, application for a DAAD scholarship and, of course, private preparations. I received the acceptance from the CSUF very quickly, within a month. I then went from Germany to look for accommodation.
It is possible to live on campus, there are also a large number of private student dormitories in the area or you can search for them yourself. In California, it’s common for students to share rooms because the cost of rent is very high. So I decided to contact a private landlord, which later turned out to be a very good decision. There was enough space in our house, I lived with another German student and an American, who gave us a lot of useful tips and introduced us to American culture.
On August 15, 2018, the time had come. My flight from Berlin to LAX Los Angeles took off. Shortly thereafter, the winter semester at CSUF began with a large introductory event from the International Office. The guest students were provided with all information about the university, the area, laws in the USA, insurance, etc. During the entire semester, the International Office, which is mostly run by students, always tried very hard to support us in all matters. There was also a campus tour, which is also urgently needed because the CSUF campus is HUGE.
There are many teaching buildings on campus, organized by department, a huge library, a sports field with several soccer fields, tennis courts, a two-story gym with a climbing wall and pool, a stadium, a food court with several catering options, 5 Starbucks, a leisure building with bowling alleys, Billiards, game consoles and much more. After the first few weeks, however, you found your way around quite well.
At the university, I was able to take 4 courses from all departments of the university, provided there was space. I chose the modules “Working Capital Management and Computer Applications”, “Microeconomics”, “Starting a Professional Business” and “Real Estate Finance”. Basically, one has to say that the American system differs significantly from that of the German universities. The courses are much more school-based, with a very small number of students (usually 10-30), and there is also regular homework, as well as quizzes, midterms and the finals. As a rule, something has to be done for every lecture. However, the quality of teaching is very good, the professors are very friendly, mostly know the students by name and can always be reached.
Even if the courses are very demanding, there was still enough time to explore the country, get to know the culture and make friends in addition to everyday university life. Los Angeles is the ideal starting point to discover California. People are very friendly and open. The weather in California is exceptionally good, even in December it was always possible to wear shorts.
The highlights of my trip were Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Venice Beach, Malibu, many exceptionally beautiful Californian beaches, Yosemite National Park, Death Valley, Route 1, wonderful San Francisco with the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, Silicon Valley, San Diego, infamous Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Mexico with the border city of Tijuana, and New York City. So we actually went on a different road trip every weekend and tried to see as much as possible.
I was also able to experience an American Thanksgiving, Halloween and Christmas. All in all, I got to know a lot about the American university system, the country and the culture.
Finally, I would like to mention the costs that exchange students should plan for. Life in California is very expensive compared to Germany. Realistically, around US$15,000-20,000 should be budgeted for one semester. This is a lot of money, but I can say that the last half year has been an extraordinary experience for me and probably one of the best times of my life.