University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
Since I’m studying International Business at the FH Dortmund, a semester abroad was mandatory and after some research I decided on CSUF as a freemover. See iamaccepted for University of Canterbury Study Abroad.
I started to take care of the semester very early, I think about 9 months before. But you can also plan everything at short notice! I found out about the universities from the field reports on the MicroEdu website and that’s how I came across the CSUF, I didn’t know the town of Fullerton before. You can always go to MicroEdu with any questions and they will take care of the college registration process, apartment application and visa information.
At the beginning you have an “Introduction Week”, which is actually limited to just one day. You get heaps of information about insurance, rules, police, etc. and lots of documents with relevant phone numbers. After a few questionnaires and paying the tuition fees (if you haven’t already done so), you will be enrolled and will receive your student ID card and bus pass. After that you can also register in the fitness studio. If you intend to drive to the university by car, you can buy a semester parking permit. Otherwise you have to pay $8 per day. After registering in the online system, you have access to your courses and university emails and can see which courses you are pre-enrolled in and which you have to “crash”. So Monday starts going from class to class asking the professor for permission to put you on the class. The first 2 weeks are really stressful and since my semester abroad was mandatory, I had to choose 5 courses from a given area. But you can manage that too, the professors are usually very friendly. Sometimes you just have to get used to courses at unusual times (from 7: 00 p.m. to 10: 00 p.m.) because all the other courses are already full.
I decided to join the CSUF homestay program and applied to a host family through MicroEdu. In my opinion, the advantages were the costs and the guarantee that you live with native speakers. I would also move to a host family again and again. Even if I was a bit unlucky with my first family, Jessica Hammond – the US coordinator for international students – helped me immediately and after a few days I had a new family. I think it’s great because you’re integrated into family life, you can celebrate American festivals and there’s always someone who knows your stuff and supports you.
So what you definitely have to get used to as a German student is the school system in the USA. Quite small classes, some of the professors know your name and in some classes there are even grades for participation in class. It’s just not lectures but rather interactive lessons, like in school days. You have homework, from time to time a quiz and essays. Otherwise I had to do a lot of group work in my classes. The midterms and finals usually consist of multiple choice questions, sometimes short answer questions. I don’t think the level is difficult, but the effort is more than you might be used to. But maybe there is also the fact that I had an additional course. But you don’t have to worry about your free time. As a rule, you don’t spend as long at the university as in Germany and you’re not allowed to work anyway. I have taken the Family Business Dynamics, Multicultural Marketing, Consumer Behavior, International Economy and Economic Development courses, all of which I can recommend except for Family Business and Economic Development.
The place is very safe and geographically really well located. There are some good bars and clubs downtown and the Brea Shopping Mall is also not far away. What you have to be aware of, however, is that you can’t do anything without a car. You have a bus pass, but public transport is a disaster. Sometimes buses only come every 90 minutes, mostly too late, sometimes not at all and I never got connecting buses. There are no names on the stops, no stops are announced on the bus and if you don’t draw the stop line at the previous station, the bus will not stop at the actual stop. I then decided to rent a car in October (at Dirt Cheap Car Rental in San Diego), but would recommend just buying one straight away and selling it afterwards.
If you just read a California travel guide or do a little research online, you can find a number of things to do in beautiful California. Beaches, mountains, sightseeing, national parks, etc. Everyone should do their own research, depending on their interests. I can only recommend beaches and national parks at the beginning, you can always go on city trips afterwards.
As you can also read in all field reports – California / the USA are just expensive. Sure, you can get clothes cheaply in outlets and you can also get electronic devices cheaper, if only because of the exchange rate. Gasoline is also very cheap and if you were over 25, rental cars would also be cheap. So you always have to pay a young driver fee. I’ve had good experiences booking the car via German websites, e.g. Sixt.de, because then the insurance is usually already included. With the American websites, they are usually only added on site. Groceries are outrageously expensive and I never thought I’d spend so much money. You don’t even notice how fast the money flows there, especially since you pay 90% with a credit card anyway. In the end, of course, you have experiences and experience things
In summary, I would definitely recommend doing a semester abroad at CSUF, I actually don’t know anyone who was dissatisfied. You always have small problems, regardless of where you are. It was a great experience that I will never forget and I met great people that I definitely want to keep in touch with.