University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: mechanical engineering
Study type: semester abroad
mechanical engineering course
- Elected Courses
- Fluid mechanics and aerodynamics
- Introduction to Mechanical Design
- Analytical Methods in Engineering
- Total weekly hours / number of courses
Two lectures per week per course, each 75 minutes. Three lectures on Mondays
and Wednesdays, 10.00 – 11.15 am Fluid Mechanics and
Aerodynamics, 11.30 am – 12.45 pm Thermodynamics, 5.30 – 6.45 pm
Analytical Methods in Engineering. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4.00 – 5.15
pm Introduction to Mechanical Design
i.e. Total number of examinations (including essays and written
examinations, possibly oral examinations)
In almost every course, except Analytical Methods in Engineering, I had
homework to hand in every week or every two weeks, which was also evaluated
and counted towards the semester grade. See existingcountries for Vancouver Island University Review.
In total, between 7-8 homework assignments came together during the semester, which had
different weightings depending on the course (approx. 20-30% of the semester grade). In
addition to the homework, there were two individual projects in Mechanical Design that had to
be worked on with a fellow student (10% of the
semester grade). In this subject, attendance was also included in the
semester grade (10% of the semester grade). Then there were two
midterms (each 75 min.) and a final (90 min.) in all courses, which started around
level of exams in Germany.
However, the assessment in the USA is different from that in Germany. As soon as you have
solved a complete solution to the end result, you get the full number of points for the task,
then something is deducted for each mistake. This system makes it easier
to get more points. The midterms both count between
55 and 60% of the semester grade and the final counts about 20-30%. The final grade, which corresponds to 100%, is formed from the
homework, projects, attendance, midterms and the final.
Depending on the course rating, this results in
an A (approx. 100-90%), a B (approx. 89-80%), a C (approx. 79-65%)
and a D (approx. 64-50), everything below that would be an F and thus failed.
+ and – are also assigned. However, the structure varies from course to
- Structure and level of the lectures
The structure is the same as in Germany, the theory part is
discussed in the lecture and the homework serves to deepen the knowledge. For
each topic, examples of exercises are discussed that
are helpful when doing the homework. The level of the lectures is comparable
to that in Germany, but the pace is usually a little faster than in
Germany. In half of the courses everything was written down by hand,
the other two courses were PowerPoint presentations. It is
difficult to follow the explanations in English while still
writing, which makes it difficult to understand what is written.
- Relationship between professors and students and also between professors and foreign
The professors have two office hours per week and can
also be reached very easily by e-mail. You can ask questions about
doing your homework or about lectures in general. I myself
was never in a consultation because I was able to clarify my questions by e-mail,
which were always answered very quickly. You can always ask questions
, even in class, which will be clarified immediately. Most
of the time, the professor also briefly speaks to the class if there are any questions on this
topic. Foreign students become equal to the locals
students treated. No consideration is given or asked.
Since the professor doesn’t know the students by name, I don’t think
he knows who is a foreign student and who isn’t.
Face-to-face teaching in math courses makes the communication between professor
and student “close to zero”.
- Relationship between foreign students and “local” students
I made a few contacts, but they did
n’t go beyond the day-to-day course of study. The “local” students were very
helpful with questions and also with problems with homework.
- Total length of stay
I was in the United States from August 9, 2012 to December 23, 2012
. The lecture period was from August 25th to December 21st. I
arrived a little earlier to have a look at the surrounding area and not
to get into the “unistress” right away.
- Which language level is necessary? Can I muddle through with hands and feet
or do I have to be a near-native speaker?
Before the semester abroad, I took the Toefl test, which was also a
requirement for admission to the foreign university. Since I
had only taken mathematical courses, the language barrier in the
lecture was not very high, since equations do not exactly require linguistic
sophistication. A few terms may be unfamiliar at first, but
you quickly get used to it and understand the five sentences of the statement
very quickly. Otherwise you can get by in everyday life with average English
. It’s different in economic courses as there are many
Texts have to be written, presentations have to be held
and discussions have to be held, but in the math courses
you just have to sit down, listen and take notes.
- Feedback after exams?
The two midterms last 75 minutes and are comparable to
exams. The final at the end of the semester lasted 105 minutes and was in
the same style as the midterms, only with more tasks, whereby the
processing time was generous.
- How do you get your grades? Only when they have already arrived in Hof
? After paying a fee of 4 dollars for the first certificate and 2 dollars for each additional certificate
at the end of the semester, the grades will be sent home to Germany about 3 weeks after the exam period.
- How helpful are the professors? How do you respond to student questions
The professors are very helpful and can be reached at any time by e-mail or in a
consultation hour. Questions are answered in detail and
they also offer help if there are problems with the homework.
The welcome took place on the so-called Orientation Day one day before the start of the
semester. After the welcome, a campus tour was offered
and questions about the procedure could be clarified in advance.
- Airport pickup?
The university does not offer pick-up from the airport.
- orientation week?
As mentioned above, there was an orientation day.
i.e. Help with finding an apartment? (before or only on site?)
You have to report to the International
Office before the start of the semester, after your arrival, and they will also offer help with finding accommodation.
- Help with scheduling your timetable? If so, how helpful?
There was actually no help, in the first two weeks you have to
“crash” courses as a foreign student in order to get into the course. Since
the courses fill up very quickly, you should hurry to choose a course.
- Tutor during the semester?
A tutorial was not offered.
- Other contact persons for foreign students?
The International Office is available to answer any questions.
- Organized meetings of all foreign students during the semester?
There was no meeting during the semester, only at the beginning and
- Dormitory available?
There are halls of residence around the university, but you should apply
there very soon to get a place.
- Price of the dorm?
Depending on the meal plan, between 900 and 1500 dollars.
- State of the dormitory?
The halls of residence are in good condition, but one expects more for the high
i.e. Lived there yourself?
I lived in the University Village right next to the university campus.
- If not: privately with a family or shared apartment or your own apartment?
- How did you get the apartment?
At first I tried to
get a place there via MicroEdu, but unfortunately that was not successful because the contingent was already
exhausted. Then I
applied directly via the University Village website and thus got my place.
- Price of the apartment (cold + utilities)
The rent was 995 dollars per month, which included all utilities
, as well as two meals a day in the dormitory’s canteen from
Monday to Friday.
- Location of the apartment (proximity to the institute and the city, etc.)
Right next to the university campus, the city center is about 5 km away.
- Size of the apartment
I had a room in a three-person flat with a living room with a kitchen and a
- Furnishings of the apartment (furniture? crockery? TV? radio? bedding?…)
Furniture was available, but no crockery, TV, radio or bedding.
- Washing machine available or laundromat? If the latter, how expensive was
Laundry room is located directly on the dorm lot and costs
$2 per wash.
- Are there rent subsidies?
- Expenditure on groceries per week, approx.
Groceries are relatively expensive compared to Germany. Since I
could eat in the dormitory during the week, I only had to eat at the weekend
. Cooking yourself is relatively expensive, fast food is a cheap and
facilities A supermarket can be reached quickly via a road bridge.
- To buy only national food or also European?
In the USA the food is like in Germany.
9.) Free time:
- Organized trips?
Organized excursions did not take place.
- Self-organized excursions?
You can always meet up with people, rent a car and
explore everything. The range of public transport is unfortunately very
spartan and hardly noticeable.
- What does the vicinity of the place of study offer?
Huntington Beach can be reached in 30 minutes by car, otherwise
you have to be on the road for about an hour (Hollywood). Restaurants,
pubs, fast food, shopping centers and supermarkets are only a short
i.e. Do you have time for excursions?
You have a lot to do, but usually
no lectures for one or even two days during the week.
Excursions can also be made over public holidays or vacations.
- Are excursions affordable?
You always have to rent a car, which is relatively
cheap if you share it with others. Otherwise everything is priced according to the USA.
- Sports facilities available? Maybe at the institute?
A large sports center is on the university campus. I had a
six-month subscription for a total of $100. There are also many sports courses
offered, but they cost a credit ($550). You can also use
the 12 credits you have to take sports courses.
- Swimming pool available?
The University Village had a pool and the sports center also has a
- Culture? Theatre? Movie theater? Museum? Available and also visited by you?
Admission prices or sample prices for a movie ticket, for example
. I didn’t go to a theater, only amusement parks like Universal
Studios ($80) or Six-Flags (I got it for free through a
partner card from a fellow student). Cinema is $11.
- Going out: are there pubs? discos? Student meetings? And above all
, prices that students can afford?
There are pubs downtown Fullerton that have live music or
a DJ on weekends. There was a student party in a
pub every few weeks where the prices were affordable, on normal days the
drinks are very expensive.
- Go for a coffee?! Where? How expensive?
You can have a coffee at Starbucks on every corner and the prices
are similar to those in Germany.
- Do I need a car or good public transport?
You definitely need a car, there is hardly any public transport
. I didn’t have a car myself, but many internationals buy one
and you have to work with someone.
10.) Further comments….what is essential
You should start looking for a place in a hall of residence soon, I waited too long
because I was still waiting for the TOEFL test and the acceptance from the university. It
is best to apply directly after you have made the decision. By
applying directly through the dorm’s website, I had to sign a one
-year contract and pay a $1,500 fee
to be able to move out after six months.
Of course it is advisable to take a tour of California before or after
When choosing a course at the beginning, you should hurry up and choose the courses well,
as they can only be changed with difficulty later.
11.) Final overall assessment: Good decision? Recommended? Why?
Of course it was a good decision and I definitely recommend it. It was
a very good experience to get to know another system and the standards in
another country. Of course you get to know a lot of new people from all
parts of the world and new friendships are made. California
was a good choice because it has many sights and a beautiful coast
to offer. In my opinion, San Francisco was the most beautiful city I
could visit and one should not be
irritated by the first impression of Los Angeles.