California State University Fullerton Review (78)

University: California State University Fullerton

City: Fullerton

Country: United States

Continent: North America

Field of study: mechanical engineering

Study type: semester abroad

California State University Fullerton Review (78)

I too wanted to live abroad for a longer period of time and get a taste of another culture. I had one goal in particular: to learn English. Since it is becoming increasingly important as an engineer to communicate with other nationalities and to be able to exchange content, it played a major role for me to complete my stay abroad with a technical background. As early as during my bachelor’s degree, I realized that a semester abroad can be perfectly integrated into my studies and at the same time I can gain valuable experience outside of my studies. As a result, I started planning my semester abroad as early as my bachelor’s degree. At the same time, I started to save some money, since I was already aware that I was going to the USA and would therefore need some money. See educationvv for Boston University Exchange Program.

I was also aware that California would be the right place for my stay abroad, as I wanted to travel a lot alongside my studies and it would never get boring in California, as there is a lot to discover there. After personal reports from friends and the detailed experience reports on MicroEdu, I quickly came across California State University in Fullerton (CSUF), as it is located in the center of southern California and many places can be reached quickly. It is also affordable compared to many other American universities and offers a sufficient range of courses in the field of mechanical engineering also existed. Finally, I had to choose between a fall semester or a spring semester. Here I decided to do a fall semester (August-December), because even in the “Sunshine State” of California it can get uncomfortable in winter (I was more than happy about this decision afterwards!).


Once I was sure about the university, it was time to apply. Here, the support of MicroEdu was crucial, who help you with the entire application and also submit it to the respective university at the end.

Since I wanted to apply for a master’s semester, I needed a language test, which had to be passed with a C1 in at least one area. I took the (for me) free DAAD language test, which was offered every two weeks at my university. If you don’t pass this the first time, you can also write to other universities and ask for another DAAD test. The evaluation criteria are sometimes different, so that this test is much easier at some universities.

For financial proofI had to make a few phone calls to my savings bank, as banks are often not directly able to issue certified proof in English. It is also important here that the thousands separator is displayed as a comma and not as a point. The CSUF also accepted a point that the UCA Apartment did not. It is best to have the proof issued twice.

The visa application should be done early. Be aware that you have to make an appointment in person at an embassy (Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich) and that the appointments are often tight and far in the future. You need a special photo for the visa, a photo for a German ID or passport is not accepted. At the embassy (Frankfurt) I was only asked about the reason for my stay. The face-to-face interview (in English) lasted only a minute and was done at a counter. The passport is kept and after about three days I was able to pick it up at a post office in Frankfurt.

Since I was applying for the master’s degree, I had to commit to three courses (nine units) in advance. A fourth course (12 units in total) was optional and would have cost additional money. More than 12 units are (as far as I know) not allowed according to the visa. There were some problems here, as the course descriptions on the Internet were not very detailed and I did not know which course would correspond to the content from my studies in Germany. Requesting the syllabi sometimes took more than a month, since there were almost no syllabi available from MicroEdu for the master’s degree in mechanical engineering. When applying it is recommended to submit a list with several desired subjects (six to eight subjects). Unfortunately, I had several problems because courses that were advertised in the catalog for this semester were not offered, so the choice of courses was very limited in the end. I was also allowed to take a bachelor’s course, but this was only determined on site (by course crashing ). In any case, plan a lot of time for the course search.

Other preparation

What I would recommend to everyone is to apply for multiple credit cards. Here you should choose credit cards that have no foreign currency fee and are permanently free. I had the combination of DKB and N26 which was perfect as both are free to use abroad. I would also recommend that you find out about an account with the US Bank. This is usually completely free of charge, can be canceled at any time and can make it easier for you, for example, to pay the rent (often high credit card fees). I chose

T -Mobile as my cell phone provider because you could find a T-Mobile store anywhere and Ihad reception almost everywhere. It is best to look for as many people as possible for this, as the contract per line will then be significantly cheaper. I had an unlimited contract (USD 33), so I saved the cost of a DSL connection in my apartment. For a few dollars more you also have network in Mexico and Canada included. Finding a flight can also be complicated. Some search engines ( Skyscanner, Google Flights, etc. ) can certainly help you with this. At the beginning I had only booked my outward flight because I didn’t know when I would be flying back. However, it is usually cheaper to book the outward and return flights together. If you want to travel a lot, it is best to use these flights to make a few stopovers. If you don’t have a laptop to take with you, CSUF also offers free devices that you can use privately for your entire semester.


The main options for living at CSUF are: The UCA or UCE Apartments, the Homestead Apartments, University House, On-Campus Housing, or the Oxford North. Of course, renting an AirBnb is also possible, but this will probably be further away from the university. Be sure to ask about the possibility of accommodating different genders in one apartment. Apparently, this was not always possible and some students only found out after their arrival, which ended up being very expensive. Also, most apartments only have the option of one-year contractsto complete. Finding a new tenant can be more difficult than you think.

I personally lived with two other German roommates in the UCA Apartments, which is right next to the CSUF, which was therefore within walking distance. According to the contract, up to three people are allowed in a 1-bed apartment. The apartment was relatively affordable, but still (in my opinion) not worth the high price. The apartment was large enough for three people, two of us sharing the bedroom and one living in the living room. Despite the living room being occupied, we still had enough space for a dining room. The grounds of the UCA are very well maintained and we had a huge pool and jacuzzi. There is also a table tennis table and billiards. However, the apartment was very dirty upon arrival, so we spent several days cleaning it. Be aware that most apartments are completely empty when you rent a new apartment. There is nothing in the apartment apart from the kitchen and wardrobe (no bed, crockery, cutlery, shower curtain, etc.). We hired a minivan the first day and bought all the stuff at Ikea (about 30 minutes away). If you want it cheaper, ask about furniture yard sales from other students or buy most things at Walmart. There should also be a kind of church, which passes on cheap furniture. U-Haul (USD 20) also has particularly cheap vans.


I had two master’s courses in mechanical engineering and one bachelor’s course in finance. In summary, one can say that the level in Germany in the engineering field is significantly higher, but one should not underestimate the courses and an A is not a matter of course. Attendance is compulsory in most courses, giving points towards the final grade. I only had to take notes in one course. The language wasn’t a problem for me as most of the professors spoke very clearly and the same words are used over and over in the script. Participation was not required in any of the courses, which of course is not always the case. At the beginning of each course you should usually buy very expensive textbooks. I would recommend you to wait and see whether the respective books are used at all. If so, there is usually the option of downloading a book cheaply as an e-book or renting it for the semester.

EGME 540 – Computer Applications in Engineering Design

This course mainly revolved around the FEM simulation software Ansys. The procedure was strictly based on a textbook and the professor only clicked through the tutorials from the book during the lecture. Despite everything, the course was interesting and fun. As a professor, I had Wally Portacio, who was very nice but not very knowledgeable about the software. We had a small project as a team work, a midterm and a final. The exams were more demanding than expected, but doable. Only the use of the software was required, there was no theory in the entire course. In the project you should look for a smaller assembly and optimize it using FEM. A small presentation at the end of the semester was also required. All in all, I would recommend this course, since the software is also used in Germany and the course can therefore be used very well.

EGME 512—Mechanical Design and Management

This course covers a wide range of mechanical engineering topics. Here, too, the procedure was strictly based on a textbook (Engineering Design, G. Dieter), which was worked through almost completely in the meantime. As a professor we had Andy Bazar. If you see a class with this professor, choose a different class. In my opinion, the professor is a bit too old for this job. We received over 100 handouts in addition to the book. Everything that was digital was not used by the professor. In the lecture you couldn’t understand a word because he spoke very quietly. He was also unpredictable when it came to giving grades, as he often gave them based on feeling.Despite everything, he was very courteous with international students, but especially with Germans. He is also humorous and you can have fun in the lecture. There were two tests and a final, which often had nothing to do with the handouts and were therefore more difficult than they should have been. None of the announced quizzes took place. Unfortunately, at the end I felt like I hadn’t really learned anything in the course. I was able to have this course recognized as a design apprenticeship in Germany.

FIN340—Introductions to Investments

Everything about this course was just right. A comprehensive insight into the handling of stocks, bonds and other investments was given and explained in a comprehensible manner. The professor, Ajay Buhtra, was extremely nice and helpful. The material was well structured and you learned a lot. In terms of level, it wasn’t particularly difficult, but you should take notes in the lectures. I did well, even though I’m not a finance student and the course was completely new territory for me. There were three tests, two midterms and one final. The format was a combination of multiple choice and arithmetic. Definitely recommend this course.

Student life in Fullerton

Regarding life in Fullerton, I can only repeat what has also been described in other reports. Fullerton is perfectly located for exploring all of southern California and beyond. Every weekend you can do something and drive to national parks, cities, beaches or even canyons, so that the semester goes by faster than you would like. California never gets boring. Focus on the beaches in the summer as it might be too cold for them from the end of October. My personal favorites were 1000 Steps Beach in Laguna Beach (40 minutes by car), Yosemite National Park (about five hours) and the rooftop bars in Los Angeles (e.g. Mama Shelter, 40 minutes).

You definitely need a car to get around, as public transport is hardly usable. I also rented a car from Standard Auto (Chicho). Chicho is much cheaper than all other well-known car rental companies. You usually get an older car for this, which has never caused us any problems. We paid just $600 a month for a Mazda 6. Admittedly, the shop doesn’t look very serious at first glance, but Chicho always makes sure that you can get a car cheaply. Chicho has over 30 different cars and is always willing to help when you need him. We had a very good relationship with him. We were with himtogether in Tijuana, played golf several times and had a beer with him a number of times, he’s definitely fun to be with. Chicho was always very generous and even ended up giving us a BMW X5 V8 for free for two weeks. Invite him to the Bootleggers Brewery for a price negotiation.

Student life is great. There are many opportunities to do things at university. Personally, I often went to the CSUF gym (USD 120 per semester), where you could also meet for badminton, volleyball or basketball. In the outdoor area there are also tennis and soccer fields, balls and racquets can be borrowed free of charge. In addition, I signed up for the intramural league. This costs USD 20 and you will be unlocked for all leagues (soccer, basketball, bowling etc.). In addition, I was in the Adventure Club (USD 20 per semester), which organizes an excursion every Saturday, for example hiking or camping, offers. There were also enough parties, we were often invited to the University House. There are also plenty of bars and other activities to catch up with friends in the Fullerton area. You can find good food everywhere. In Fullerton my favorites were definitely the Taqueria de Anda, Pita Hot and of course the In-n-Out Burger.


I enjoyed every minute in California and would do it again anytime. I recommend it to anyone. Early planning and a good choice of course are important. I already regret not having done it earlier, because otherwise I would do another semester abroad.

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