University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: psychology
Study type: semester abroad
Already 1 ½ years before my stay I started my planning. Since my university does not have any partner universities in California, I had to search on my own. After a lot of internet research and personal advice from MicroEdu, I then decided on Fullerton. On the one hand because it is the cheapest university in California and because the location is great for traveling all over California. See iamaccepted for Victoria University of Wellington Study Abroad.
I applied for the visa very early because as an Austrian I had to apply for it in Vienna. But this was not a problem, even the conversation with the official of the American embassy in English. As long as you don’t say you have no idea what you want in the US or want to stay there forever, they’ll let you through with no problem. Only an early application is important, especially for non-Germans, so that you don’t have to wait trembling for mail.
I also received foreign student loans. I wasn’t spared the well-known hustle and bustle with the paperwork either. That’s why you should apply as early as possible so that you can still submit the many supplements and documents that you don’t have all of them in good time. That’s why I applied for my foreign student loan a year in advance, which was perhaps a bit too early : -) With a visa and financial support in my pocket, I was able to start choosing a course with peace of mind. I had also read many reports here and heard about crashing courses. That’s why I chose 4 courses and still had a few in reserve.
The search for an apartment was a bit exotic for me. The CSUF does offer the option of living in the dorms on campus or in an apartment complex near the university, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. The dorms are 3 times as expensive as a normal flat share. And in the Homestead apartment complex there is practically “Little Germany”. Even if it was very funny to travel there with Germans, I am very happy to have lived in an American flat share. I found this via Facebook. I know, a little crazy, but everything worked out great : -) There is a group “CSUF Roommate Needed Database”. So I lived with 4 real Americans in an apartment complex not far from the Homestead and paid a total of $350 a month in rent instead of the $1,000 we had planned. I also shared a room for this.
On my outward flight, I landed in Stockholm for 2 days and in New York for 8 days. Then, a week before the semester started, I arrived in Fullerton and was picked up by my new roommate. The first few days I checked out the university and the mall and the surrounding area, signed up for the rec center (gym) and did activities with my new roommates.
When the university started, we 200 Germans (400 foreign students in total) were welcomed and the procedure was explained. Then our courses should be on the blackboard in our student portal after 3 days (Titanium from next semester). But that didn’t really work out in psychology. So for the first week, I should just go to whatever class I wanted and then ask the instructor if I could stay on the class. That wasn’t a problem for me in any of the courses. In other courses (especially business) it could be difficult because there are so many Germans there. Many of my German fellow students were four or five in a course. I was always the only exchange student, which made everyone very interested and friendly.
Then the semester started in mid-August. The university is very different than in Germany. It’s true what everyone says. You have to do more, but it’s not that difficult. It’s more like school. You have 2-3 exams per semester and then you have to read about 4 chapters for an exam, for which there are multiple choice questions.
The courses I chose are:
- Survey of Clinical Psychology PSYCH-342
- Health Psychology PSYCH-474
- Advanced Statistics PSYCH-465
- Psychological Testing PSYCH-462
Anyone who studies psychology should DEFINITELY take Prof. Catone. She is super sweet, teaches you a lot and gives you good grades if you try hard.
I chose 400 courses, which are fourth-year psychology courses (final year bachelor’s degree in America). At the beginning I was a little worried about whether I already had the level and then also in English, but then it was quickly confirmed that the German training is much more advanced than the American one. For the most part, I repeated things, especially from statistics, and then deepened them. That’s why I got an A in all courses. But I learned a lot from Prof. Catone about a wide variety of approaches and therapies in psychology and not just about VT. So more diverse and more practical than in Germany.
In addition to the university, of course, I also traveled a lot. Or actually I was at the university on the side : -)
I have San Fransisco, San Diego, LA, Yosemite, Vegas and highway no. 1 seen. We spent 2 weeks in Hawaii during our “fall break”, which was the highlight of my stay. I would advise everyone to see as much as possible and start at the beginning and travel the country. I was really annoyed that I only made one trip to San Fran in the first month and didn’t already do more, which in the end I don’t have the time for. Never think: “Oh, I’ve only just got here, I still have time!” You have far too little time!
As for the culture, I have to say that the people are really nice at first, but then often break off contact. So don’t be surprised if everyone is totally enthusiastic, interested and friendly and just says “hey” the next day. Nevertheless, it is very pleasant with the people there, even if it mostly remains superficial. If you are interested in music and theater, you will get your money’s worth in LA and also at the university. Check out the in-school performances. They’re really good!
There’s still so much to tell, but if you have any specific questions, feel free to email me!
Overall, the semester abroad was definitely worth it and I don’t regret going to the “small town” of Fullerton.