University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: industrial engineering
Study type: semester abroad
I started the planning phase for my semester abroad almost a year before my semester abroad in order not to be delayed. I first got in touch with the international office at my university and then turned to MicroEdu as soon as it was clear that I would be doing the semester abroad as a free mover. I already took the TOEFL test in November of the previous year. In February, I applied to CSU Fullerton via MicroEdu and applied for a Baden-Württemberg scholarship. In March I received the respective confirmations and from that point on I took care of a visa, the flight booking and accommodation and a SIM card (Simly was nice and I had good coverage everywhere, but there are cheaper alternatives if you get together locally). You should also check your vaccination card again if necessary. See ehuacom for UOB Study Abroad.
MicroEdu supports you with information material and Facebook groups when looking for an apartment. I chose Oxford North (formerly University Village). There I paid almost $1000 per installment for my own, quite large room (but with five installments for four months!). Additionally, there was a meal plan option for $156 per month, which is probably gone now that the restaurant has been closed since late December 2018. However, the staff/organization at Oxford North is a bit chaotic and you should always double check everything if you are moving in. Otherwise it was a great place to live right on the north side of the campus (about 20 minutes walk to the south side).
I signed my rental contract in May and received my visa in June. I had also booked the flight some time in advance through STA Travel, as I found the best price for my direct flights there. Also, I would recommend you to pay the tuition fees in advance to avoid any problems on site. For example, you can use TransferWise for the transfer, since the fees are very low there. Also, if you care about your money / your sponsors’ money, I recommend you to consider the exchange rate fluctuations, since with an amount close to $6000 you can quickly win / lose a few hundred euros.
Studying in the USA is very reminiscent of the school days during the Abitur. You have weekly homework, essays, tests, etc. There are also often several exams that are spread over the semester and are sometimes just as important as the finals at the end of the semester. I personally found this system much simpler than in Germany. Because even with a little diligence, a B could be achieved in every subject. If you also have a little something in your head, nothing stands in the way of the A. During Fall Semester 2018 I took the following courses:
ACCT 201B – Managerial Accounting by Birgit Feagin
Birgit Feagin is from Germany herself. She is a good professor and interested in helping the students. Sometimes there were bonus points or all grades were raised for collective failure. The course is said to be very difficult for many Americans. I think as long as you attend all the lectures, do the homework and other assignments (all online) properly and learn a bit for the exam, you can pass it very well. The exam questions are not difficult. It’s just a certain amount to learn. But compared to exams in Germany it’s still child’s play.
MGMT 443 – Team Leadership Skills at Benedicta Lusk
In this course, I found the exams relatively difficult because you have to read the book in great detail or have understood the principles perfectly in order to be able to answer the multiple choice questions on small case studies correctly. There was almost always a correct answer, but an even better one and only this one gave points. In my opinion, this course also requires very good knowledge of English, so that you can understand the material well. In addition, in this course you will do a group project that is relatively easy and even a bit fun. Despite everything, you can pass the course with a very good grade if you stick with it a little. The amount of work is always much less than in Germany.
MKTG 485 – Multicultural Marketing with Katrin Harich
In this course you will learn a lot of new things about all ethnic groups in the USA (which are also globally relevant). This knowledge will not only help you in the field of marketing, but can also help you with managerial tasks. However, the effort in this course was probably the highest. You must do a large group project with presentation, which counts for 35% of your grade. If your team members were busy, it wouldn’t be so dramatic. However, you work together with Americans and thus almost the entire project rests on your shoulders as long as you aim for a very good grade. Nevertheless, I find the course highly recommended because it has interesting content andLecturers from practice are regular guests who bring the theory closer.
EGCP 463 – Current Topics of Computer Engineering by Yu Bai
This course is very technical but not very demanding. There are only a few procedures, etc., which are somewhat more complex and should be examined more closely. The homework is easy to do if you pay attention in the lecture. In the exams (a midterm, a final) one page of formula sheet is allowed, on which you can also write definitions etc. In addition, a group project (two to three team members) should be completed, which ties in with the material of the lecture. Because of this, I would only recommend the course for students who also have an understanding of technology.
Fullerton is geographically ideal for traveling the entire west coast of the USA. I recommend that you take as many trips as possible at the beginning of the semester, on long weekends or during the holidays. Fullerton itself doesn’t have much to offer other than the weekly parties at Rems (Wednesdays) and Apartments (whenever you feel like it). So, go to the beaches or to LA, travel to the national parks, to San Francisco, to San Diego, to Las Vegas etc. I also traveled to New York during the Recess case, for example, which was absolutely worth it. There are also opportunities to travel before or after the semester. That’s why I wasI was already in Virginia before the semester started and after the semester I traveled the east coast from New York to Miami and then I went to the Bahamas (in this case you have to apply for an ESTA for the return flight to Germany!).
Conclusion / tips
A semester abroad in the USA is highly recommended. It was a fantastic time and I got to meet a lot of cool people. You should definitely rent a car from Auto Standard Fullerton (Chicho). It makes your everyday life easier and is much less stressful than buying a car. The three of us paid $2100 for the car for three months. You should also be aware that a semester abroad is not exactly cheap. I don’t want to give a precise figure on how much I spent here, but it baffles me how some people spend as little as €15,000 on a semester abroad in California. Nevertheless, this time was worth every penny!