University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Business Administration, Economics
Study type: semester abroad
The program of my business studies includes a semester abroad in addition to the usual lectures at the German University of Applied Sciences. The host country was freely selectable. Ultimately, it quickly became clear to me that I wanted to go to the USA. The reasons for this decision were on the one hand personal interest, but also because the USA is an interesting country for my degree program. After the host country and even a region (California) were decided, I came across MicroEdu through an information event at the FH. First of all, I inquired about potential host universities on the homepage and then asked for advice in several discussions. Eventually I ended up at California State University Fullerton (CSUF). See jibin123 for Semester Abroad In Griffith College Dublin.
The support from MicroEdu was excellent and made organizing the semester abroad a lot easier. For example, there were tips and actual instructions on how to apply to the host university, how to apply for a visa and there were some tips and recommendations for finding accommodation.
But let’s start at the beginning: The preparations for the semester abroad should be started well in advance. I myself looked for potential guest universities almost a year before the start of the trip and the concrete preparations began about 9 months beforehand. Some of the friends I met in California had much less time, but I found it much more relaxed with a longer lead time, since the bureaucratic effort should not be underestimated!
Some forms have to be filled out for the applications and for the visa, documents have to be applied for and a visit to an American embassy in Germany has to be planned. In addition, if you have not already done so, you should apply for a passport and a credit card.
For the CSUF, a language certificate (for me, a certificate from the German University of Applied Sciences was enough), a certified document from the bank that you have enough money and an overview of the grades from the German university for the courses you have taken so far are required. In addition, an application form must be filled out and a “Course Interest Form” must be created. With the Course Interest Form you can select a few courses you are interested in in advance. At best, you will then be enrolled in the respective courses. For me it was the case that I didn’t get a single one of the eight courses I chose. Then I created my timetable for the “Course crashing”. The course crashing takes place in the first two weeks of lectures of the semester. You attend lectures that interest you “on the off chance” and hopes that there is still a place available and that the lecturer is willing to place you on the course. What should definitely be agreed beforehand with the German university is which courses are creditable!
At the beginning of the semester there is an orientation event for all international students. Again, some forms have to be filled out. However, this event is a good opportunity to explore the campus and make new friends. The tuition fees are also due when you enroll. In addition to the tuition fees, health insurance must be taken out through the CSUF. This is mandatory for all international students. In total, i.e. for tuition fees and insurance, you pay around $5800. Of course that’s quite a pile of money, but compared to other American universities it’s still in the lower price segment.
Some housing recommendations were also made through MicroEdu. In addition to looking for a private apartment, you also have the option of staying in various student dormitories. Again, most are quite expensive and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. I chose the University Village (UV). Three people live here in an apartment and each resident has their own room. Living room and kitchen are shared. A bathroom is shared between two people, the person who lives in the most expensive room has his own bathroom. The advantages of the UV are that the rooms are already furnished, two meals a day in the cafeteria are included in the rent and you get to know a lot of people quickly. You can also rent a bike for the semester and have a fenced parking lot for the car. In my semester (Spring 2015) there were quite a few Germans in UV, but all in all there was a good mix of nationalities represented. In addition, the UV is relatively small, so you know almost everyone. This creates a truly family atmosphere.
The big disadvantage of the UV is that (as I heard during my stay) the rental prices have been increased by a flat rate of $200 per month and from now on only rental contracts for two semesters, i.e. one academic year, are offered.
The university is comparatively large. About 37,000 students attend CSUF and the campus is really huge and reminiscent of the well-known films about American student life. In addition to the huge library and the various faculties, there are huge sports facilities on campus where the CSUF teams train and play their home games. In addition, there are seating areas throughout the campus, some cafes and fast food restaurants. Not to forget the Student Recreation Center (REC or Gym). The gym costs $120 per semester for international students and has a lot to offer. In addition to conventional fitness and cardio equipment, the two-storey building has a climbing wall, pool, course rooms, squash courts, tennis courts, martial arts studio, several basketball courts.
The course offerings at CSUF are quite extensive and the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics in particular enjoys a good reputation. All of my courses took place here. The building is quite new and modern. The courses I attended consisted of a maximum of about 50 students. In contrast to Germany, the grading is handled completely differently. In addition to tests (quizzes), mid-terms (exams during the semester), various presentations and homework, attendance or oral participation is often included in the final grade. This relieves the pressure at the end of the semester, but you always have something to do in between. The language of the lectures was not a problem. The lectures are easy to follow, I think it was a much greater linguistic challenge.
Outside of the university you should try to use the time as well as possible. The experiences and acquaintances that you make during the semester abroad are probably unique. Therefore, I can only recommend doing as much as possible and taking part in everything if possible. It is also advisable to buy a car. Everything in Southern California is very spacious and the infrastructure is completely designed for cars. Public transport doesn’t really get you very far, so hiring a car is almost a must. I myself rented a car with two fellow students. The longer the rental period, the lower the rental conditions. Without a car we would have had and seen significantly less from the semester abroad. In addition, I was fortunate to have made friends with locals. Americans are very open and welcoming, especially to Germans. This gave me a deeper insight into American culture.