University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: communication sciences
Right from the start of my studies I wanted to spend a semester in the USA and after a lot of research I decided on California. My choice was between the east and west coast of the USA. Ultimately, the decision was made in favor of the west, since the east coast can be traveled from Germany “even so quickly”, while California is less so due to its distance. In addition, California has a lot to offer with its national parks, beaches and year-round sunny temperatures. See iamaccepted for Boston University Study Abroad.
At the beginning of the preparation I would not have thought how much work will be behind all this. First I had to choose a university. I quickly decided that this should be in southern California if possible, because I think there is the most to see there. In the end, I decided on the CSUF because the courses that my professors wanted to recognize in Germany were offered there. I organized everything myself and therefore had to convince each of my professors and lecturers individually that the course in the USA was more or less the same as the course offered in Germany – at times a very tedious affair, but in the end everything worked out. The acceptance from the university came pretty quickly, about 3 weeks after the application.
Otherwise you still have to take care of a visa, Bafög (which is definitely worth it, since the entire tuition fees are covered as a subsidy), health insurance, flight bookings, accommodation, if necessary renting the apartment in Germany, apply for transcripts,… I can recommend that you start preparing in good time. MicroEdu will send you a very useful checklist of all the important things you must not forget.
I lived in University Village, right next to the university. The location was great: you can be on campus in five minutes by bike (rented there for $25 per semester), there are supermarkets and all the fast food chains in the immediate vicinity.
The rent is quite high, but in my opinion it is definitely worth it: First of all, 10 meals per week are included in the price (contrary to expectations, the food was really tasty and varied). Of course, that saves time, because you don’t have to cook and, above all, it’s made quite difficult for you in America to eat healthily: There are often no vegetables in the supermarkets, only moderately healthy ready meals. In addition, groceries are more expensive in the USA than in Germany (in contrast to clothing).
I had a single room that was furnished and definitely sufficient for the 5 months. Living with my roommates (from the USA and Korea) also worked well. The complex is also really nice: there is a lot of green space, a pool, a TV room,…
As I said, the rent is comparatively high at over 1000 dollars a month (you pay 5 months rent, although you only live there four months), but you save the search for an apartment from Germany, does not have to buy any furniture, gets food and (what is most important) quick contact with Americans and other exchange students. A disadvantage: There were a lot of Germans there, which is why a lot of German was spoken (of course you can try to avoid that as much as possible)
I got all the courses that I needed for credits in Germany, but many had problems here. It probably depends on the subjects you want to study. Business and management courses are hard to come by as Americans have been preferred. I’m studying communication sciences and only had one business course, which I was immediately admitted to. I initially missed a design course, but after a short conversation the professor let me in (some professors do that, so if in doubt just go to the course and ask. As long as the waiting list isn’t too long, it might still work out ). I can only recommend that you be as flexible as possible here and be able to have as many courses credited as possible, otherwise there could be problems.
The campus itself is quite large and very well maintained.
Regarding my courses, I can say that the level is definitely a little below that in Germany. The lectures are very schooled and the contact with the professors is more personal. The exams were also very different for me than in Germany: cell phones ring, students are late, the professor leaves the room for a moment,… On the other hand, you are more challenged during the semester: frequent group work, projects, discussions. Many professors place a strong emphasis on classroom participation.
The books are very expensive and you are expected to buy them yourself (about $70 on average, cheaper on Amazon or Ebay).
My courses were Understanding Business, Typography into Graphic Design, Essentials of Argumentation and Principles of Advertising.
Leisure / Travel / Life:
Fullerton itself has little to offer: downtown there are only a few shops and bars, all of which are unimpressive. Nevertheless, the city is an ideal starting point for traveling around California: you should think about buying a car, as public transport is absolutely impossible to get anywhere. Buses to the beaches drive over two hours, by car it takes about 25 minutes (Newport Beach, Long Beach,…). Otherwise, you can of course rent a car, which is also not too expensive and offers more security since you get newer vehicles (this is important on a trip to Las Vegas or Death Valley).
As I said at the beginning, California has so much to offer and I’m still amazed when I look at my photos. From the gorgeous beaches, to cities like LA and San Francisco, to Hollywood and beautiful natural landscapes, there is something for every taste. A tour of Highway #1 from San Diego to San Francisco is highly recommended. There are also numerous national parks such as Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Death Valley,… Travel to the Grand Canyon or north to Seattle is also an option. Disneyland is in neighboring Anaheim and definitely worth a visit. There are no lectures for a week over Thanks Giving, which you should definitely take advantage of: whether it’s skiing in the north or sunbathing in Hawaii or Mexico,
As I said before, the costs are quite high and you should calculate with 10 to 15 thousand euros per semester. If you’re lucky, half of them can come from the Bafög office.
In any case, every cent was worth it for me.
I can only advise everyone to do a semester abroad, it’s worth it, even if all the planning is a bit daunting at the beginning. MicroEdu is extremely helpful and gives very helpful tips that made things a lot easier for me.