University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
1.1 University choice
The preparation should start roughly a year in advance, as the organizational effort for such a stay should not be underestimated and there is therefore enough buffer for possible delays in various processes. See ehuacom for CSULB Study Abroad.
First of all, the question of which country and which university appeals to you the most is in the foreground, since this question is very broad, because theoretically the whole world is available with almost every university, and the selection of the suitable country and the suitable university takes several weeks. If your university does not have any partner universities that are suitable for you or if the partner university is not available to you (because it sometimes depends on the course of study), you can make your way to a foreign university as a so-called “free mover”. In practice, this means that you look for a university yourself and apply for a place at the university. Since these application processes are often very complex and unmanageable, precisely because everything has to be done in English, there are some organizations that support you in choosing the country, the university and the associated application. These organizations are completely non-binding and free of charge, they are financed by placement fees that they receive from the foreign universities for each student. I was supported by MicroEdu in my choice of university, which made sense because MicroEdu is based in Münster and it was therefore possible to get advice on site. Especially as a “free mover” it is extremely helpful to have such a contact person who is always available with advice and action in case of problems or questions. These organizations are completely non-binding and free of charge, they are financed by placement fees that they receive from the foreign universities for each student. I was supported by MicroEdu in my choice of university, which made sense because MicroEdu is based in Münster and it was therefore possible to get advice on site. Especially as a “free mover” it is extremely helpful to have such a contact person who is always available with advice and action in case of problems or questions. These organizations are completely non-binding and free of charge, they are financed by placement fees that they receive from the foreign universities for each student. I was supported by MicroEdu in my choice of university, which made sense because MicroEdu is based in Münster and it was therefore possible to get advice on site. Especially as a “free mover” it is extremely helpful to have such a contact person who is always available with advice and action in case of problems or questions. since MicroEdu is based in Münster and it was therefore possible to get advice on site. Especially as a “free mover” it is extremely helpful to have such a contact person who is always available with advice and action in case of problems or questions. since MicroEdu is based in Münster and it was therefore possible to get advice on site. Especially as a “free mover” it is extremely helpful to have such a contact person who is always available with advice and action in case of problems or questions.
After your application has been successful, MicroEdu will provide you with important documents and information that you need in order to have a student visa issued. MicroEdu can also advise you on housing matters.
In this case, my chosen university was California State University, located in Fullerton, USA. You can read more about the university under “The California State University Fullerton and the Fullerton area”.
1.2 Subjects and Learning Agreement
After you have decided on a foreign university, you should inform your home university and clarify with them whether subject recognition can be guaranteed. For this you should look for comparable “courses” in the course catalog of the host university in advance (you can find them on the homepage of the host university). The best thing to do is look for two or three alternatives for each subject you want to take, because at American universities in particular there is no guarantee that you will get into the courses. At the start of the semester, so-called “class crashing” has to be practiced, which means you have to attend as many different “classes” as possible in the first two weeks and get the lecturers to officially register you for the course by signing a form. This can sometimes be very time-consuming and nerve-wracking, because you are often not the only “international students” who are vying for the favor of the lecturers and thus for the signature. American students, on the other hand, do not have this problem; they usually register via the university’s internal course system. Even if the first two weeks are very stressful, it is still worth investing this time, because after all it is about the courses you want to take for the next six months and so you have it in your own hands which course with which lecturers you get. Therefore, as mentioned above, it makes sense to select certain courses with alternatives in advance and, if they are to be credited by the university, to record them in a learning agreement. this way you can be sure later that the selected courses can also be credited at the German university after your return. If it should happen that you do not get the subjects that you have recorded in the Learning Agreement during the time of “class crashing”, it is usually possible to change subjects afterwards.
1.3 Funding and Costs
An important point that should be adequately acknowledged from the outset is the question of financing and raising awareness of the costs associated with a stay abroad. This is very country dependent and also region specific. Here I will go into more detail about the costs associated with the USA and specifically with California. The USA in general is probably one of the most expensive destinations for the semester abroad next to Australia. Viewed separately, California is also one of the most cost-intensive regions within the USA. Because here, in addition to the high tuition fees and other costs that have to be borne, there are also relatively high living and rental costs. I will break down the costs to be expected in the Los Angeles area below.
Tuition including health insurance was approximately $5,400.00. For a flight in the high season, this is the case when you start in the winter semester, should be estimated at at least $ 1,400.00. Rental prices start at $600, depending on the type of accommodation. The cost of living depends very much on your lifestyle, but you definitely have to budget a lot more than in Germany, as you automatically have more expenses in the USA will. When considering the costs, it should also be considered whether it makes sense to buy or rent a car. For the Fullerton area, it is definitely advisable to get a car, because in the USA you will quickly realize that everything revolves around the car and you will be lost without it. Cars for a semester can be rented from various rental companies starting at around $2500 dollars. The cheaper option, which is also associated with more stress, is to buy a car. Here you can find a good drivable car for around $2000 dollars, which you can often sell for a small loss in value. Then there are the costs for insurance, which are also reasonable, around $50 – 100 per month. Before you can buy a car, however, you have to get your Californian driver’s license, which is handy anyway, since it also serves as a ID card and at a whopping $36 is a steal! You have to do a theoretical and a practical exam like in Germany, but if you already have a German driver’s license and are a little used to American conditions, neither of these should pose too much of a hurdle, since each test can be repeated three times. A small tip is that you can also get the questionnaire in German for the theory test. All matters relating to the car are handled via the “DMV” – http: //dmv.ca.gov/. Here you can also register online for appointments, which is very helpful, because without an appointment you can easily stand in a seemingly endless queue for three hours, which brings us back to the subject of the USA and its cars. A small tip is that you can also get the questionnaire in German for the theory test. All matters relating to the car are handled via the “DMV” – http: //dmv.ca.gov/. Here you can also register online for appointments, which is very helpful, because without an appointment you can easily stand in a seemingly endless queue for three hours, which brings us back to the subject of the USA and its cars. A small tip is that you can also get the questionnaire in German for the theory test. All matters relating to the car are handled via the “DMV” – http: //dmv.ca.gov/. Here you can also register online for appointments, which is very helpful, because without an appointment you can easily stand in a seemingly endless queue for three hours, which brings us back to the subject of the USA and its cars.
There are various ways to finance the “California Dream”, the most common of which is the foreign BAföG. If you are already receiving funding in Germany, you are very likely eligible for funding abroad.
You should also take care of the financing in good time and start submitting the documents about a year in advance.
As already mentioned under the point of costs, living in California is relatively expensive. Below I will introduce you to the types of living you can choose from.
I opted for the so-called “homestay”. This is a program delivered by the university and is very similar to a homestay. The host families are usually very close to the university. Depending on what you express in advance for wishes and what the capacities allow, it depends on which host family you come. There is everything from families with children and/or animals to single pensioners. Personally, I didn’t care what my host family was made up of and ended up with Judy, a retired nurse. Depending on the host family, other international students may also be accommodated. In my case, there was also a Korean student in the house. So there were three of us. Living together was very pleasant and I personally would choose the “Homestay” program again at any time. It’s just the best way to open up to the country and the people and also to learn something about the American way of life. Furthermore, only English is spoken in the houses, which in turn will help you a lot to get used to the language. It is a very positive experience how warmly and openly one is received by the families and it makes settling in the USA a lot easier. From time to time you will also do something with your “homestay” family, which will also bring you closer to the country and the people. There are families who go out to eat with their students from time to time or attend various events. There will also be traditional celebrations like Thanksgiving or Halloween in my day.
The costs for this type of accommodation depend on which menu you “book” with it. An overview of the prices for the winter semester 2012/13. Personally, I had the “homestay” program without meals for $650 as I didn’t want to be tied to meal times, but that’s a decision everyone has to make for themselves. If you choose food, you are usually closer to the family and more integrated. But ultimately it is very dependent on your own lifestyle.
Here is an extract from the costs for a “homestay” in the winter semester 2012/13:
Rent per Month One-time fee Private bedroom (bed, desk, chair, closet, lamp) Internet fee per Month Meals
$ 850 $ 50 Yes $ 10 3 meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner
$ 800 $ 50 Yes $ 10 2 meals: breakfast, dinner
$700 $50 Yes $10 1 meal: breakfast
$650 $50 Yes $10 No meals
In addition to the “homestay”, there are other ways to get a place to live. The university also often offers “on-campus living”, which means you will be accommodated in dormitories and share apartments with other students.
The advantage of the accommodation options offered by the university is that you can usually secure a place in advance of your trip if you have applied in good time and therefore no longer have to worry about finding a room when you arrive. In terms of price, it is probably slightly more expensive than looking for an apartment on site yourself, but you have to see that the service is definitely right for this price, since the accommodation is always very close to the campus, which I would recommend to everyone and you also have a contact person from the university.
If you are looking for a room or an apartment yourself, it is important to know that finding a room during the rush hour before the semester is very difficult, as many students are looking for apartments. For most students who were looking themselves, often only apartment complexes came into question, such as the “Homestead Apartment”. These are apartment complexes, which are mostly occupied by international students, such apartment complexes are usually also close to the university, but they have their corresponding price. Unfortunately, I cannot give final prices or price ranges here, as it depends very much on how many people you rent an apartment with and whether you book it furnished or unfurnished. But you must be aware that the “Homestead Apartment” in particular was decried as “little Germany” in my time, since so many Germans had booked in. Again, it’s just a matter of taste and lifestyle.
One site where you can find all sorts of things, including apartments, is Craigslist, but use this site with caution.
You can request a further overview of current housing options and price ranges via MicroEdu
2.2 The California State University Fullerton and the Fullerton (OC) area
This point is about California State University Fullerton CSUF for short and the region in general. The university, as the name suggests, is located in a suburb of the Los Angeles metropolitan area called Fullerton. It’s about 30-45 minutes from Fullerton to downtown Los Angeles. So you are only a heartbeat (by American standards) away from one of the most well-known and famous cities in America. The city of Los Angeles with Hollywood is well worth seeing, Venice Beach or Santa Monica are also worth a visit. The entire Los Angeles region has so much to offer and see that you will probably not only head to Los Angeles once during your stay abroad. Fullerton itself is located in the well-known Orange County and is not far from famous beaches like Huntington Beach or Newport Beach. What is a successful destination for a fresh cool down in the sea, especially on hot days in summer. Fullerton itself is a small town that is very much shaped by the university, and this is where most of the student life takes place. Another hub is Fullerton Downtown with its small shops and stores. A few comfortable hours can be spent here. If you want to go shopping extensively, you shouldn’t shy away from going to the “Brea Mall” and you’ll get your money’s worth there. There is also a nearby outlet that comes highly recommended, The Block – Orange. For more fun things to do in the Fullerton area, check out Disneyland in Anaheim, which comes at a price, but is a must-see, if only for any American living in the area to proudly ask you if you’ve seen it. You won’t get bored in the region as there will always be something to see or do, although sometimes you have to drive a bit, which is normal for the region.
As described above, a key hub for CSUF students is the campus and surrounding area, as most of your fellow students will also live in this area. The campus is actually always busy, as the first courses start at 8: 00 a.m. and the last courses end just before 10: 00 p.m. So if you’re unlucky, you might end up spending the whole day at the university. But this is usually only the case in exceptional cases. That’s why it’s also important, as described above, to devote yourself intensively to “class crashing” in the first two weeks.
Cal State Fullerton has an excellent business department and claims to be one of the best in the region. This is also characterized by a very new and modern building. CSUF’s campus is quite large as all faculties are concentrated in the area, including sports facilities and stadiums. As a result, it can be time-consuming to walk from one building to the other. The CSUF also has a so-called “Recration Center”, which is nothing more than a large fitness studio where various courses are also offered. It costs around $120 for international students, which is definitely worth it, as you will also meet many fellow students here. The Recreation Center also has its own pool.
There is also a large library on campus, which offers a lot of space for learning, the only drawback, specialist books that you could need for your lecture are generally not stocked and therefore cannot be borrowed, ie you have to get them elsewhere obtain by buying them or borrowing them in other ways. Many students borrow or buy the books in the “Bookshop”, which is also located on campus, or another possibility is to do it through various online providers. Don’t underestimate the cost of the books either, some textbooks cost hundreds of dollars.
For more activities, it is worth checking out the various “clubs” that exist on campus. Here, students with the same interests group together for various activities, such as a club for international students, beer clubs, adventure clubs, art clubs, fraternity clubs and much more. In the first or second week after the courses at the university have started, all the clubs on campus introduce themselves. It’s worth stopping by the stands and finding out whether the right club is there for you.
2.3 Courses, Lectures and Exams
Anyone who goes to an American university must be aware that the “system” is structured very differently than at German universities. Where it is the norm here to take an exam at the end of the semester, there is always pressure to perform in the USA. This is due to the fact that there are usually three exams to be completed in each subject within a semester. In addition, there are often additional “homework”, “quizzes”, “papers”, “group work” and “participation” which usually also flow into the overall grade. “Homework” is normal homework that you are given and, depending on the subject, is either evaluated or only used for self-control. “Quizzes” are announced or written unannounced in some subjects and usually count towards the overall grade, materially, they usually cover the last hour or two. “Papers” are your own work that you have to create yourself at home on a special topic or a special task and it can also happen that up to 10 pages are required here. “Group work” is completely normal group work on a given task, at the end of which there is usually a Power Point presentation, which is often presented by the team in the lecture. “Participation” is participation in class. As an international student, this is often difficult to express oneself on a more complex topic or to have the courage to express oneself on certain questions in front of almost only native speakers with imperfect English. Nevertheless, one should have the courage to participate, because no one will take offense if everything is not perfectly grammatically correct. After a while you will also realize that the Asians often speak worse English, but are often not afraid to express themselves, because in the end you will somehow be understood and that is what counts.
The lectures in general are often very similar to the German lectures or it is similar to lessons as you know them from school, since the classes are usually only designed for up to 50 students.
As mentioned above, you often have to deal with three exams, two so-called “midterms” and one “final”, the weighting depends very much on the course, but they are often weighted equally and usually account for up to 90% of your overall grade. The two “midterms” usually refer to the material that was made from the beginning of the semester to the “midterm” or in the second “midterm” from the last “midterm” to the second “midterm”. The “finals” are handled very differently in some subjects the “final” will cover the entire semester material or only the material from “Midterm 2” to the “final”. But the rule was that the “finale” includes the entire material. Exams at the CSUF are usually always “multiple choice” with up to five answer options, this is the case if only because since in almost all exams you have to use “scantrons” to which you tick your answers, and these “scantrons” are automatically given by a machine and thus your score and grade are determined. Which is a very teacher friendly method. The handling of the “Scantrons” is unusual at the beginning, but it is not really complicated.
2.4 Country & People
Many of you will have certain expectations of the country and the people in the USA, maybe also one or the other prejudice, as is often the case, but some are not true. First and foremost, I have to say that the USA and the people are a lot friendlier and more open compared to Germany, and that in California in particular there is a good and “sunny” mood among most people. That’s a very important thing that you should also try to acquire from the beginning, a high level of kindness. Because if you are and appear friendly, things will be a lot easier in the USA and the people will be very helpful and friendly to you. It’s better to say too many “Sorry”, “I appreciate it” or “Hello, how are you?” than too little. This is also the motto of the Americans.
In general, as a German, you are received very openly and without prejudice, but I have noticed that the typical German clichés are already very widespread and you will often be confronted with “Oktoberfest” or “German Beer”. But the Americans can hardly be blamed for this, often out of friendliness this is used as an introduction to break the ice a bit, which in turn is not so bad, since the conversation is often about the general way of life in California or in the USA deepened and then went beyond clichés.
The country and the region of Los Angeles and Orange County is very diverse, you will meet many nations who often live together in different parts of the city, you will mainly meet Americans, Asians and South Americans. But it is precisely this diversity that accounts for the openness of the population, also towards “International Students”, you are accepted and also respected, because many know what it’s like to come to a foreign country. You also have a good opportunity to experience many different cities and thus also population structures. Cities I have traveled to include San Diego, San Francisco and Las Vegas. There are also many smaller towns that often offer sights and deserve a stopover on the way to the larger cities.
You can also look forward to lots of sun, especially in the Los Angeles area, the “Sunshine State” is particularly equipped with lots of good weather. In summer you have very warm temperatures that can reach up to 40 degrees and even in winter it will hardly be colder than 15 degrees during the day. Nevertheless, it can cool down relatively quickly at night and you should also have one or the other warm piece of clothing with you.
The decision to do a semester abroad was probably one of the best decisions I made, choosing California State University Fullerton and living in California for five months, I have never regretted it. It was one of the best times in my life and I hope to be able to come back to the region one day to meet people I got to know and appreciate during my time abroad. It was a unique time that I look back on with great fondness and sometimes with sadness that five months have flown by. But what stays forever are the experiences that have been made there and will help you personally and professionally.
I would like to once again thank everyone who made this experience possible for me, especially MicroEdu, who gave me a lot of support in the planning phase and ensured that everything went smoothly.