University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
I only started planning the semester abroad five months in advance. Despite the short time, the application to the university, the application for the visa, the choice of course and everything else went smoothly. Of course, you should organize yourself well so that all preparations can be completed in good time. It should also be noted that CSUF is very popular due to the wide range of business courses it offers and the low tuition fees (compared to other universities in the USA) and therefore you should not wait until the application deadline to apply there. MicroEdu sent the application to the university, after about 6 weeks I received my acceptance. For the appointment at the embassy, it is best to make an appointment early in the morning so that it does not take too long. I had mine right at 7: 30 in the morning and was done with everything by 10: 00. The panic that is often pushed around this date is unfounded. The officials at the embassy only ask 2-3 questions about what you want to do in the USA and for how long and that’s about it. I was even asked the questions in German and I was able to answer in German. Everything half as wild. See iamaccepted for California State University Los Angeles Study Abroad.
I got straight into 3 out of 4 I chose in advance. That was a good rate, since many internationals did not receive any or only a few courses of their choice. Since it then turned out that a course that I wanted to have recognized at my German university of applied sciences was not recognized, I tried to change this course. So it meant that I had to crash not just one, but two courses. It looks like you address the professors directly in the first two weeks of lectures and explain that you are an international student, still have to take courses and ask if you can take part in their courses. You often get a rebuff because the courses are already full. It is often the case that you just have to be persistent, by going to the courses again and again and talking to the professors so that you can still get into the course. It is helpful if you have emailed the professors in advance that you would like to take part in their courses so that they already know your name before you address them personally again in the course. Sometimes the professors don’t even know that we internationals are disadvantaged when it comes to choosing courses and don’t have the opportunity to choose courses via the online portal like American students do.
I had taken the marketing course MKTG 425 (Retail and Channel Strategies), the management courses MGMT 430 (Supply Chain Management), MGMT 340 (Organizational Behavior) and the course BUAD 201 (Business Writing). Courses 425 and 340 are very easy compared to courses at German universities, most of which have already been covered in previous semesters or at least heard about them. I found the MGMT 430 course more challenging than the others. Prof. Padilla is very warm and nice and has made the course really interesting, building up the lecture on the slides that are not so clear. The BUAD 201 course is very practical and I was able to take away valuable information. However, Prof. Hedges is quite strict with her evaluation and was not always fair to me, as the only international student.
In general, it can be said that the university in the USA is very schooled. During the semester, you have homework in many courses (for me only in BUAD 201 and MKTG 425), small individual or group presentations, regular elaborations of 1-2 pages, small tests and there are oral grades. The level in the courses is usually lower than at German universities, but the workload is higher. There are 3-4 exams per course within a semester, which usually only consist of multiple choice (sometimes there are also short questions, rarely essays; in BUAD 201 you write letters on the PC in the exam). On the one hand, I think that’s good, because you stay on the ball and don’t have as much learning material as in Germany if you only take one exam at the end of the semester. On the other hand, during the semester abroad, especially when you want to do a lot, it is a bit annoying to write so many exams, but it is doable because the material is usually not that difficult. It’s also worth noting that CSUF is a commuter student, so many Americans live off campus.
I stayed in University Village and can recommend it. Even if the food in the canteen is repeated quite often (chicken and rice;-)), it’s perfectly fine for a semester. If there really isn’t anything that you like, you can always help yourself to the salad bar and the selection of fresh fruit (pineapple, melon, grapes, strawberries…) and the delicious dessert (cookies, brownies…). Sure, UV rental is very expensive, but keep in mind that it includes two meals a day (weekdays) and food prices in the US are quite high. In addition, you have your own room, where you can retreat and have some privacy. Personally, I found it very convenient to only have to take care of the food on weekends (even on weekends you rarely cook due to travelling), as you have enough time for other things. The nice thing about the UV is that you always meet someone at meals together. You never eat alone there, you easily come into contact with others by eating together, the latest information is exchanged, you hear about upcoming parties and a community forms. This is usually not the case in other halls of residence. Also due to the fact that there is only one pool compared to the homesteads (which of course initially appears to be a disadvantage), this is a central meeting place that has also contributed to this community. that you always meet someone at meals together. You never eat alone there, you easily come into contact with others by eating together, the latest information is exchanged, you hear about upcoming parties and a community forms. This is usually not the case in other halls of residence. Also due to the fact that there is only one pool compared to the homesteads (which of course initially appears to be a disadvantage), this is a central meeting place that has also contributed to this community. that you always meet someone at meals together. You never eat alone there, you easily come into contact with others by eating together, the latest information is exchanged, you hear about upcoming parties and a community forms. This is usually not the case in other halls of residence. Also due to the fact that there is only one pool compared to the homesteads (which of course initially appears to be a disadvantage), this is a central meeting place that has also contributed to this community.
Disadvantages are that a lot of Germans live there, so you speak a lot of German and the staff is partly incompetent. However, this often happens in the USA;-). If a repair is due in the apartment, you have to be very persistent in the office so that action is taken quickly. In general, I can still say that the rooms are ok, some are a bit old, but there are worse. My wish that I didn’t want to live in an apartment with Germans (there are 3 people living together) was taken into account. It’s cheeky that the UV advertises that WiFi is included in the rental price, but in the first few weeks we had no internet at all and when it finally worked, it didn’t work in many houses because the reception range was not sufficient. We were forced to use an external internet provider and shared the internet with 5 people, which meant that each only had to pay $11 a month. The WiFi wasn’t always good for skyping, but otherwise okay.
Fullerton is an ideal base for travel. You can be in LA in about 1 hour However, there is almost always traffic jams around LA, no matter what time of day, even on Saturdays. In LA, I can recommend Universal Studios, the Griffith Observatory (view of the Hollywood Sign and the city) and Warner Broth for a sitcom like Two and a Half Men. Studios to be there (tickets are available online, but beware!: First come, first serve! Despite the ticket, you should be there approx. 3-4 hours before admission, depending on the series). Personally, I was disappointed with the Walk of Fame as it’s not as glamorous as you’d imagine, but it’s definitely worth checking out. LA is also good for partying, sometimes quite expensive. In Fullerton there are only 2 “clubs” and otherwise mostly bars, but there are always student parties in the dormitories. Incidentally, you can go shopping (cheaply) in outlets (we often went to the Ontario Mills, just 30 minutes away). Another tip: It is best to buy summer clothing in the first few weeks of the winter semester, as there is already a lot of autumn/winter fashion on offer in September, although the weather is of course still nice and warm for a long time.
From Fullerton you can be at the nearest beach in about 30 minutes, in about 2 hours in San Diego, but you need at least 7 hours to get to San Francisco. It takes longer if you want to walk Route 1 along the coast, but don’t miss it, it’s beautiful. San Francisco is the most beautiful city I’ve seen in the US and there’s a lot to do there. In Vegas you are even in 4 hours and a tip for the girls: As a woman you usually don’t pay for admission to the clubs and nothing for drinks, it’s worth considering going there twice;-). Disneyland is just a stone’s throw away from Fullerton. Admission is very expensive, but if you are a Disney fan, you should not miss it. Maybe you can make contacts with Americans, who work there and can get discounted tickets. It’s quite a drive to most national parks (e.g. Yosemite or Grand Canyon), but it’s definitely worth it.
As you have probably noticed by now, you definitely need a car if you want to travel. Fullerton isn’t particularly big, and public transportation isn’t that great either. I bought a car (at Chico) with two other people. It was overpriced and unfortunately we didn’t get the desired amount when we sold it due to time pressure, but all in all we saved more than others who always had to rent a car and Chico always gave us small repairs during the semester for free did. Apart from the costs, it is always a huge hassle to rent a car on a regular basis and we also had a car available during the week. Of course, there is always a risk when buying a car.
A semester abroad in the USA is very, very expensive (10-15,000 €), but it is definitely worth it if you like to travel and want to experience a lot. You meet a lot of new people from different countries and cultures and it is interesting to get to know a different student life than in Germany. In short: It’s a great experience of a lifetime that I wouldn’t want to miss.