University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: International Business Administration
Study type: semester abroad
Preparation of the stay
Of course, my adventure started with an idea. Due to the general international orientation of the IMBIT course, I naturally wanted to gain as much experience abroad as possible during my studies. So right from the start I kept my eyes peeled for information events on the subject, and one evening such an event was held. Here the rough guidelines for a theory semester abroad were given and the partner universities in the world (which were then mandatory) were shown. I took this information with me to my company and we discussed there which universities abroad would be closed anyway because the semesters were too long. See existingcountries for California State University Chico Review 2.
From the remaining possibilities I designed my top list in ascending order : Australia, Singapore and USA. Since there were several partner universities in the USA, I quickly limited myself to California because of my vacation experience with them and ultimately decided on CSU Fullerton. When this decision was made in consultation with my company, I contacted the International Office of the DHBW Stuttgart and they forwarded me to MicroEdu.
MicroEdu can be imagined as an online dating platform, except that it is not people who are placed, but rather German students at foreign universities. The friendly employees there serve as mediation, information and contact points. There I got an overview of all the things that had to be done by the start of the semester in a given chronological order. So I had a guide as to which topics were on the program and was able to work through them successively. In my opinion, the most important things here were: the student visa, the vaccinations, the flights, the accommodation, the tuition fees and health insurance. I found the search for an apartment on site the most complicated.
There are basically three options: on-campus accommodation, off-campus accommodation, or homestay accommodation. Initially, I opted for variant 1, but the people responsible on site messed up my application a bit, which is why I then decided on the second option and was therefore accommodated in Oxford North. More on this type of accommodation later.
Now that I had made all the official preparations, I applied a piece of advice from my DHBW ICM lecturer Jamie Cyrus: Give specific thought to your feelings and fears while you are abroad and define specific actions in advance as to how you can reduce or even eliminate them. For me specifically, it was primarily the contact with my family, my girlfriend and my friends. These actual little things later helped me tremendously to put myself in a positive mood again in difficult moments and gave me a better overall feeling for the entire stay abroad.
Study in the host country
But if you have survived all this preparation mania, then you will be on the plane faster than you think and you will find yourself all alone in a foreign country. After a few days, the preparatory week at my university started. In concrete terms, this meant that on a Thursday and Friday before the official start of the semester, all international exchange students were brought together and initially informed about the university rules and guidelines and the grading system in general. Although that seemed like theoretical blah-blah to me for the most part, looking back it probably made it easier for me to get into this new school system organizationally and these days gave me the opportunity to
Of course, the first one or two weeks were quite confusing: You don’t know your way around, you’re not cool with so many people and you often quickly feel overwhelmed with things that locals take for granted. Otherwise it was proven again that humans are creatures of habit and after a few weeks a lot of things seemed very familiar and familiar to me.
I will come back to the subjects themselves and the lecturers later.
To the university itself:
‘CSUF’ stands for California State University Fullerton. The university has an estimated 40,000 students and is, as far as I know, one of the larger universities in the CSU system. The CSU system is separate, for example, from the UC (University of California) system, in which, for example, is the more famous UCLA. It was explained to me that the difference is that the CSUs are state-owned and the UCs only partially. To what extent this affects the quality of the facility and the teaching, I cannot judge. However, I spoke to a few students from such UCs and it turned out that at least the tuition fees involved were significantly higher.
Despite all that, I really can’t complain about the CSUF. The campus is (especially for me as a DHBWler) huge and quite nicely prepared. It offers many sporting opportunities (baseball, tennis, gym, basketball, softball, soccer), typical of American educational institutions, but I was almost disappointed when I realized that the CSUF does not have its own football team. Well, complaining at a high level though. Otherwise, the buildings and rooms (at least I was in) are well equipped and actually leave nothing to be desired.
But because I was there not only for architectural purposes, but above all to study, I would like to go into the subject of the school system briefly.
In general, I think the content of the lectures (although adapted to the specific country) is comparable to the German ones – although at 75 minutes they are significantly shorter than the DHBW lectures. My four subjects each had two compulsory lectures per week, which makes it easy to calculate the time required for this. However, that alone was not enough. In addition, there is weekly homework (which is graded), individual or team projects (which are also graded) and, in addition to the final exam at the end of the semester, a varying number of so-called ‘midterms’, the intermediate exams. All in all, the university effort increased more than expected and so I was surprised how the days flew by during the week. Since I personally (probably simply because I was poorly informed) did not expect I was a bit surprised at first. However, I still had enough time to travel, especially on weekends and during the spring break week. But more on that later.
Subjects taken with title and abbreviation and a short personal evaluation
MGMT 340(B. Lusk) – ‘Organizational Behaviour’: leadership, culture, change
Cool subject with a really competent lecturer. Comparable to ICM.
ACCT 204 (G. Hatton) – ‘Accounting’
Not my favorite subject, teacher very meticulous
ISDS 402 (E. Gonzalez) – ‘Database Design & Management’: DB design, SQL, DB administration
Subject useful, lecturer very good
ISDS 409 (S. Yang) – ‘Business & Data Communication’: network & data communication
subject in itself ok, teaching quite dry, teacher fits
Stay in the host country
Looking back, of course, it wasn’t the lectures that were indescribable and unforgettable, but rather all the off-topic topics that came up. On the one hand, there are the personal challenges. For example, finding yourself alone on a foreign continent and, despite the great similarity, experiencing and discovering many cultural differences. Or jumping in at the deep end with complete self-employment. If you move in Germany, you still have easy contact with your family and in an emergency you can fly anywhere in 1.5 hours. This situation is of course completely different on another continent and so you are really responsible for yourself and have to master the challenges there alone. If this is still associated with uncertainty at the beginning,real self-confidence and healthy self-esteem.
Travel and experiences
But I don’t want to deny that the most fun and at the same time most instructive part of the semester was the topic ‘Travel & Experiences’. I had so many ways to use the time: whether it was day trips to Hollywood premieres, weekend parties in Mexico, spring breaks in Hawaii or road trips to Yellowstone National Park. In my opinion, one of the best things about the USA is not the really annoying fast food or the exorbitant prices in California, but much more the diversity and multifaceted nature of the country itself. And this variety of possibilities ends in these countless, unique experiences.
But because all of this is quite expensive in the long run and even as a dual student you have to save on one or the other corner, it is all the more important that the people you do things with are correct and that every event, no matter how small, is closed make one unique. The contacts that you make there are probably strange in general. When you arrive at the university and your dormitory for the first time and don’t know anyone yet, you can’t even imagine getting to know anyone here. Two weeks later you have your clique, with whom you do something every day, doing university stuff together and especially on weekends road trips or similar and feeling like you have known each other for years.
The fact that everyone finds themselves in the same situation welds together incredibly quickly and deeply. And while you’ll (hopefully) make friends for life in the process, it’s funny to think back on it now that I’m writing this report a month after my semester ended. Simply because contact with my friends there ended just as suddenly as it started. But that’s the way things are and who knows when we’ll see each other again in Germany.
First, as a practical tip, I would recommend applying through MicroEdu in the first place. They simply have expertise and experience in this field and in my opinion it would only be unnecessary extra effort to research everything together.
Secondly, I can recommend the above tip from my German ICM lecturer to think about fears and concerns during your stay abroad and to derive concrete actions from them to prevent them. That helped me enormously, especially emotionally, and in retrospect was one of the best times I invested.
Thirdly, it was particularly helpful to me that several weeks before departure I had already written a list of things that should be in my suitcase and backpack. So I had enough time to keep adding little things and to get everything that was on it in time. So during the flight I still had the slight feeling that I had forgotten something, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I originally feared.
Last but not least, all I can say is that it is important to always keep an open mindset. Of course (generally in other countries) many behaviors and patterns are different and sometimes do not seem comprehensible or logical, but it is precisely these comparisons that ultimately give you the added value of this experience. If you shut yourself off from any new input from the outset, you won’t be able to spend as instructive a semester abroad as it would otherwise be possible.
Oh yes: and save your most important documents in some cloud, if your cell phone crashes or you lose the originals, you at least have something to prove.
Personal evaluation of the stay at the host university and in the host country
Sometimes I imagine all the alternatives I could have bought with all that money. But at the end of the day, I’m glad that I made this investment in myself and, above all, was able to make it (thanks to grandpa there!). Because I would like to say right away: There are probably much cheaper places to study to spend a semester abroad. Nevertheless, this experience in such an international and busy place was an incomparable one and I recommend it to anyone who has the financial means to do so. And even if it won’t be CSUF, but some other university in the world, I wholeheartedly recommend thinking outside the box for this opportunity to use. Because in the end you only get to know yourself better through the ups and downs during this unique time. The famous breaking out of the comfort zone allows you to grow yourself and expands your personal horizon enormously. And let ‘s be honest: if not now at a young age, then when?