California State University Fullerton Review (37)

University: California State University Fullerton

City: Fullerton

Country: United States

Continent: North America

Field of study: business administration

Study type: semester abroad

California State University Fullerton Review (37)

First of all: If you are doing a semester abroad with the aim of improving your English, it is better to choose another university! There are now a lot of German students there (especially in business administration) and the number is increasing every year, says a professor. See existingcountries for San Jose State University Review.

Preparation

I heard about MicroEdu from a fellow student. MicroEdu will help you through every step of the application and is always available to answer any questions. You also get help with choosing the language test or finding the syllabi. Before MicroEdu, I never thought it possible to experience a semester in the US because I didn’t think it was financially viable.
I chose Cal State Fullerton because it is close to Los Angeles and the tuition was reasonable. And who doesn’t dream of living in OC for a while?
Probably the most time-consuming part of the preparation was the visa. You need a specific passport photo and you have to pay two different fees ($200 and 100€). Then you have to pay another $10 if you want to make an appointment online or call the paid hotline. My tip is to choose an appointment in the morning, because then the waiting times are the shortest (it was around 45 minutes in total at the consulate in Frankfurt).
It is also important to clarify in advance which courses can be credited at your home university. It is best to have a list with many alternatives, as you cannot always get into every course. I would also recommend that you plan the semester abroad earlier in your course of study. I was already in my 5th semester and so only had a few courses to choose from in Germany.
Be sure to apply for foreign student loans! I don’t get Bafög in Germany, but the entire tuition fees in the USA were paid. Inquire at your university whether there are any scholarships, such as the PROMOS scholarship.

Tuition (~$5,600) must be paid in advance or by credit card. No matter which way you choose, there are additional fees. It is advisable to transfer the tuition fees in good time so that the university has already received them when you want to enrol.

When you enroll, you hand in the yellow Bafög slip and find out which courses you are sure to have. I was only sure of two courses from the start. For one of the courses (MGMT 343 Human Resource Management) an extra course for internationals was set up. What sounds good at first turned out to be a course in which only Germans and 4 other internationals were. During the group work, of course, only German was spoken again. The real face of the Germans was then also revealed when it came to the peer evaluation of the group work. Where Americans have no problem admitting that others have done more than they have, the Germans are not willing to admit it in order not to get a worse grade.
In my other course (MKTG 475 Import/Export Marketing Strategies) there were fewer Germans. The course wasn’t very exciting because I had already heard a lot in Germany. Professor Jeffrey Williamson is very nice and an easy grader.
I had to crash my other two courses MGMT 449 (Seminar in Strategic Management) and MGMT 422 (Operations Planning and Control). I got the tip to email the professors beforehand, which turned out to be very helpful. Both professors answered very quickly and asked me to come to their office hours or to the class to see how many places were still available.
Professor Paul Choi from MGMT 422 accepted me into his course right away, even though he thought I was probably going to be bored. It wasn’t that bad, but the level was lower than in Germany. Luckily it was one of my courses where I was the only German. Professor Choi is a very nice and understanding, but sometimes scattered professor.
It was far more complicated to get into the MGMT 449 course. I wrote to several professors about this (there were nineteen courses in 2013), but mostly I heard that the course was already full. After I finally got my signature on a course, the difficulties with the management department came along. As the course is intended for graduates in their final year, internationals are not normally accepted. After a conversation with the Head of Department, I was finally allowed to go to the course. It was the best course of the semester! Professor Lorenzo Bizzi is Italian and he also teaches with this passion. Rarely have I experienced such a motivating lecture, although the workload was higher than in other lectures (not very difficult, but a lot).
So in the end I got all the courses I wanted. You just have to be persistent! Unfortunately, 3 of my 4 courses were always in the evening from 7: 00 p.m. to 9: 45 p.m. That was often very annoying, especially on Thursdays.
In general, one can say that the professors in the USA are much more relaxed. E-mails are answered very quickly. Most professors understand that you are an international student and are not only here to study, but also want to get to know the country and its people.
The lectures themselves are very schooled. There are oral grades, homework or the like has to be handed in every week and several exams are written. Although the level of the lectures is usually lower than in Germany, I sometimes had a hard time with the multiple choice exams because the questions are not always formulated very clearly. But I had the feeling that group work works much better in the USA. Everyone tries to contribute something so that they don’t do badly in the peer evaluation.
A disadvantage of Cal State Fullerton is that it is a commuter school, ie only the fewest students live in the immediate vicinity. Most of the students commute. Of course, this does not create such a close sense of community as one might otherwise imagine at American universities. It was a strange feeling to come into a class where initially nobody talks to each other because nobody knows each other. Many students are also busy working during their free time and on weekends in order to earn their studies and livelihood.
Nonetheless, there are many clubs and sports teams at Cal State Fullerton. I joined the Equestrian Team (equestrian team) and was able to get to know some nice Americans. There is also the option to fill out a slip on Orientation Day if you would like to be assigned an “American Friend”.

Housing

I chose University Village because it seemed convenient to have food and furniture included. I was expecting to meet a lot of Germans in the UV, but not that many! Germans and South Koreans made up the majority of residents. Mostly internationals live in the UV, only a few Americans. When I applied, I stated that I didn’t want any German roommates, but I still had a German (and a South Korean) woman. Both were super nice, but of course you don’t speak English when you talk to your German roommate.
I had the smallest of the three rooms, but that was adequate. The downside of the small rooms (Regular) is the noise when staying in the Tokyo, Sydney, Rome or New York buildings. The regular room is at the front towards the quad, so it’s sometimes quite noisy even during the week when people meet outside to smoke or chat (or when all the air conditioning is on full blast in the summer). The quality of the apartments also depends strongly on the respective buildings. Some are renovated with nice, well-kept floors and a new couch, others are the complete opposite and run down. The bathroom area with sink, shower and toilet has also been modernized in some cases, whereas we always had to bend down to wash our hair in the shower,
One of the negative highlights was the termites in my roommate’s room. On the one hand, because the management reacted very hesitantly and my roommate had to move temporarily. Shortly before departure there were also problems with rats in another building, which has hopefully been resolved in the meantime. In general, it always takes a little while to raise a concern in the office. You can fill out a note with the necessary repair work, but usually something happens only after weeks, if at all.
The food mostly had a Mexican touch and often consisted of chicken and rice. But there was also a vegetarian alternative to every meal, which I really appreciated. If you didn’t feel like something warm, you could help yourself to the salad bar. It was also nice that you always met everyone and could eat together.
The advertised WiFi doesn’t work at all in the rooms, if only very slowly. When the printer for generating a password for the WLAN was defective, it took weeks to repair it and there was no WLAN for that long. Many students therefore get their own internet, which of course drives up the monthly costs again. The distribution of the bicycles (rental fee of $25 per semester), for which one had to put one’s name on a list, was random and chaotic.
The positive thing about the UV is that you quickly meet people with whom you can then travel. But if you go to the US like me to improve your English and experience the “American way of life”, you may not be entirely happy here. At least I got my entire $500 deposit back from the UV in the end. If I had the choice again, I wouldn’t move to UV again, but to University House.

Life

I realized relatively quickly that I had to deviate from my original plan of improving my English and experiencing the “American way of life”. So I then enjoyed the many trips with German friends.
I didn’t buy a car but rented one on the weekends. I was advised against it because there are often problems with sales at the end of the semester. It is best to book a car through the German homepage of the rental companies. Insurance is usually included. It’s also very helpful to ask if the Young Driver Fee can’t be waived. Both Enterprise and Hertz have done this. If there are three or four of you going and sharing the costs, it’s not that expensive anymore. Although I always had my international driver’s license with me, nobody ever wanted to see it, the European driver’s license was sufficient for renting cars.
You can go shopping in the Brea Mall, the Outlets at Orange and the Ontario Mills Mall (=outlet). Brea Mall is 15 minutes away by bus (number 57 or 153). You can also take the #57 bus to the Outlets at Orange, just takes a little longer. The bus timetable can easily be found using Google Maps.
In addition to Los Angeles and all the beaches in OC, it is also possible to go to San Diego, San Francisco and Las Vegas. I flew to New York with friends for the Thanksgiving holiday (domestic flights are often very cheap in the US). Not far from Fullerton is Disneyland in Anaheim, which you really shouldn’t miss (ask your classmates if they know someone who works there, it’ll be cheaper).
You have to be aware, however, that not everything is shiny in LA. Especially in LA the difference between rich and poor is really big. In the evenings, in one part of LA, the tents of the homeless are packed tightly together while in another part of LA there is partying. The Walk of Fame is also completely run down a few hundred meters from the Dolby Theater.
We actually went somewhere almost every weekend because Fullerton doesn’t really have anything to offer. Sooner or later, house parties in the UV were always crashed and broken up by security.
Regarding a mobile phone contract, I would advise you to get a prepaid card. At Walmart, for example, there is a $30 prepaid tariff with unlimited internet & text and 100 free minutes. The advantage of a prepaid tariff is that you are independent and don’t have to deal with the hassle of canceling when you leave. We initially had the four-way contract at $25 each from T-mobile. In hindsight, I wouldn’t do that anymore, because on the one hand you’re dependent on the other and on the other hand I still had some problems with it in the end.

Despite the negative points, the semester in California was a worthwhile experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would recommend everyone to spend a semester in the USA.

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