University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
I decided relatively late to do a semester abroad (end of December 2012) because I actually wanted to do an internship abroad, but for legal reasons it wasn’t possible in the industry (aerospace) in which I had contacts. With the help of MicroEdu, however, it was an easy task, even if you still have a lot of organizational work to do, which is natural. I can only recommend MicroEdu because they really take care of everything, send you instructions, get back to you immediately with every little question, no matter how small, and even take care of housing, which also gives discounts in University Village.
Due to my choice of major (production and logistics) and my university in Germany, Fullerton was almost the only option, since the university simply offers the most courses in business administration and management in the USA and has a good reputation. I didn’t think that was particularly bad either, since I’ve always had a love for California and LA in particular through previous trips and stays on the west coast. See jibin123 for Semester Abroad In Boston University.
Maybe that’s why, before I moved to Fullerton, I spent two weeks in a great hostel right on the beach in Hermosa Beach (LA), which really was one of the best times of my life.
Since only six courses from my university in Germany were suitable for me, it was very difficult for me for the first two weeks to get my courses, which I could also get credit for in Germany. When you apply, you also hand in a course wish list, of which I only received one. Management courses and especially the one ISDS course (which I was able to get credit for Operations Research) are incredibly difficult to get, especially as an international student, since the university lets its people go first. In the first week I was in 5-6 classes every day, mostly only to hear from the professors that there was no more space in the classes. As a small tip, I would say that you always email all professors and go to their office hours, show as much interest as possible and don’t lose heart. It’s easier said than done and I had a few moments when I was really nervous, but when I finally got all the courses I was even happier. And from what I’ve heard from my other friends and acquaintances, I was one of the few worse cases.
Otherwise, I have to say that the university is really great. Almost everything is new and there are so many things to discover on the huge campus that you would never think of in Germany. The sports facilities alone, the recreation center (fitness), the library and other leisure facilities (bowling center) are huge and of the finest quality.
The course level varies a lot from course to course and in general I have to say that the level at German universities is higher. However, I learned more for myself this semester than most in Germany, because the learning system is completely different and more sustainable. You have about 3 exams per subject in the semester, plus there are often tests, homework and presentations, so you have to study much more continuously during the semester, but overall it is less. This more school system with a maximum of 40 students in one lecture and a lot of practical experience that the lecturers bring to the table has brought me much more personally and I also liked it better than the way of learning in Germany.
I stayed at University Village and it was the perfect decision for me. I not only got to know great people from all over the world and made many new friends, I also just felt very comfortable there. The big advantage of the UV is that two meals are included in the rental price on each day of the week. I like to cook myself, but for this time it was just great not having to worry about it, but still having a varied, good meal and it’s always cheaper, because food prices in California are very expensive.
I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so healthily, because there was always a salad bar, fresh fruit and a warm meal with and without meat (as a vegetarian I had plenty of choice).
The complex consists of seven residential buildings and a house in which the canteen, a common room (with table tennis, billiard tables and a large TV) and a room with a few fitness machines, which were sufficient for me. A small but adequate pool is also available, as is a secure and free car park.
Another positive thing about the UV is that it’s not as huge as other apartment complexes, so you get to know a lot of people relatively quickly and you can quickly connect with a large group by eating together and having lots of parties. There are a lot of Germans there, but that can hardly be avoided anywhere, because there are simply a lot of Germans studying at the CSUF. Nevertheless, you can quickly get to know other nationalities, and so in the end we had a nice mixed group that was like a family.
Los Angeles and California is just a dream.
The people are wonderfully relaxed, friendly and open and I just feel good there. They are incredibly supportive and happy about anything good that happens to them without ever being jealous. I was always welcomed with open arms and even if some Europeans (especially Germans) think that the Americans are more superficial, it is much more pleasant in everyday life to be smiled at and asked about your day than often only irritated grumbling to get back.
The whole simplicity is reflected in many (also bureaucratic) things.
Of course, during my 5-month stay, I was also able to see some disadvantages of living in the USA that holidaymakers do not experience so closely, but I would personally prefer living there (perhaps only for a few years) to living in Germany, precisely for the reasons mentioned above.
I fulfilled my long-held wish to learn to surf during my hostel days and then bought a surfboard at www.craigslist.de during my university days in Fullerton and sold it at the end of the semester. I used to surf with a friend once a week before college, mostly in Huntington Beach, the surfing town of California.
Of course we also celebrated a lot. I can particularly recommend the clubs and beach bars in Hermosa Beach, Huntington and Newport Beach, where the relaxed life is reflected. If you would like to immerse yourself in the rock history of the 70s, I recommend Sunset Blvd with Whiskey a gogo, The Viper Room etc., where you can meet great live music, originals and super cool people.
Travel as much as possible! I’ve actually been everywhere in California and have seen most of the national parks “nearby” like Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Zion NP, Yosemite NP, etc., which I already knew before, but which in my opinion you always and can see again and again, because the nature and the vast landscape simply blows you away. Of course we were also twice in Las Vegas, then in San Diego and also Highway No. 1 up to San Francisco and the city itself is beautiful.
We were out almost every weekend and even if we were at home for a weekend, we romped around in LA or on the many beaches.
LA as a city is still my favorite city. If you get to know them properly and not only look at the not so glamorous (as most people expect) Hollywood, but also get to know the Marina del Rey boardwalk, the beaches, the individual boroughs (like Melrose Avenue) and go to the Staples Center to see there watch a basketball game or concert, go to a TV series set (e.g. Two and a Half Men or Big Bang Theory are completely free, you just have to register early), not only dive into the tourist clubs, there is so much to do in the city win.
I bought a car with a friend at the very beginning and would really recommend it to everyone, because it’s so easy to do something spontaneously, since the public transport in LA and Fullerton is zero (or you sit in the bus for 3 hours). We’ve really been on a road trip or touring, weekday surfing or going to LA every weekend with the exception of three weekends and just didn’t have the stress of arranging car rentals or a ride every time.
Maybe that’s why it was so uncomplicated because we had the best car dealer ever – SAAD’S Autos Sales in Santa Ana. We came across it more by accident, but we have never regretted it. We first went to the well-known Chicho, but here we had the feeling that he had set the prices a bit too high due to his monopoly on German students. Then we went to SAAD’s and bought a cheap car there, which never gave us any problems and Habib bought it from us again after our time was up. The inspection and any repairs that would have been necessary were also free of charge. When we were there, he and his family always welcomed us with open arms and listened to our experiences with interest. He also took care of the insurance and re-registration.
It was one of the greatest times of my life and I will never forget the attitude towards life I had there. I’ve met great people and will continue to carry the experiences and hopefully some of the positivity and self-confidence of Californians with me. Despite the high costs: It is 100% worth it and I am grateful that I was able to gain this experience.