University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: psychology
Choice of university/planning:
First of all, I have to say that my reasons for spending a semester abroad in the USA were a little more unusual than usual, because before I went to CSUF I had no proof of study experience in Germany. I had just finished high school and it was clear to me that I didn’t want to start studying in Germany immediately after I finished school, especially as I wasn’t at all sure about my choice of study. So I wanted to go abroad for six months and since the USA appealed to me, but work & travel is not possible there, the idea of going to an American university came up. When I searched the internet for the possibilities and application requirements, I came across MicroEdu and actually found everything I wanted to know. See educationvv for California State University Fullerton Exchange Program.
When choosing the university, it quickly became clear to me that it should be in southern California (because of the great weather) and so I clicked through the listed universities in SoCal. Some fell out because of the price, because it is well known that studying in the USA is not exactly cheap. The CSUF was priced in the lower midfield and was also very good in the ratings. I had about 3 favorites and the CSUF had the advantage compared to other universities that they recognized the DAAD test, which is much easier to take and cheaper than the TOEFL test. In addition, you didn’t have to submit this language test at the same time as your application, which was lucky for me, because I was pretty late in mid-March. However, since I received all the necessary documents and information from MicroEdu very quickly and they were able to assure me that I would probably be accepted even without a German transcript, the application itself went through relatively quickly. There were a few forms to fill out regarding the visa, etc., but with the help of the checklist I was given and a bit of rest, that was also possible. So: don’t panic if it seems a bit much at the beginning and you’re wondering, if you have everything: it’s not that bad!!;-) and a bit of rest was fine too. So: don’t panic if it seems a bit much at the beginning and you’re wondering if you’ve got everything: it’s not that bad!!;-) and a bit of rest was fine too. So: don’t panic if it seems a bit much at the beginning and you’re wondering if you’ve got everything: it’s not that bad!!;-)
Orientation day/ choice of course:
I had hoped or expected from the Orientation Day that I would get my course list and thus know which of my desired courses, which I had sent to the university with my application, were taking place and when. However, that was far from the case. During the introductory day on the Friday before the first week of university, you were overwhelmed with organizational information, but no information about the courses was forthcoming. While I now knew what I had to do if I wanted to travel abroad and knew my penalties if I dared cheat or cheat; I still didn’t know when I was supposed to be in class next Monday. This was because the international students at CSUF almost all have to crash their courses, that is, you just go to the first lecture of the course and ask the professor if you can do it or not. If the courses are already full of national ones, the answer is no, but many Americans switch back and forth in the first week, so there is a good chance that you will still slip into your desired course. However, all this course crashing is really nerve-wracking, because you have no certainty at all whether you will get into the desired course or not and you therefore want to try your luck with as many professors as possible at the same time, which of course is not possible due to time constraints. For example, my preferred timetable included 4 courses on Tuesdays and 2 courses on Thursdays. However, since I did not know whether I could get into this, I was faced with the question whether I should crash one of the Tuesday courses with another professor on Monday as a precaution, in case he should already be full on Tuesday. Since I’m a rather controlling person, the first week was totally stressful. However, it turned out that there were no particular problems for me to get into my courses in Child Development and Psychology, as there were still enough places available. Nevertheless: for the fact that we international students pay significantly higher tuition fees than Americans, I actually think it’s cheeky that we have to worry about getting into our courses, but well, we can’t do anything about that!!
The lessons are much more academic than in Germany: there were a maximum of 30 people in my courses and the professors really looked after you personally and showed an interest in you, which I thought was great. This created a really good atmosphere in all my courses and the Americans were so open that you quickly got to know a lot of nice people. The level is not too high (at least in my 100-200 courses) and the tests are relatively easy, but I had to do a lot of extra tasks. Homework was the rule and there were at least 4 large essays in almost all subjects, some of which were weighted more heavily than the tests. However, it is precisely through these independent tasks that you have gained a much better insight.
All of my courses required specific books, which unfortunately are ridiculously expensive (usually around $100) to buy new or borrow from the library. I therefore recommend borrowing the books from Amazon for the semester, it saves a lot of money and it worked for me without any problems!
The campus is just beautiful!!!! I have never seen a university anywhere near as beautiful in Germany! There are palm trees everywhere and although the campus seemed very large to me at first, it is easy to find your way around. There is a botanical garden which is great for relaxing or walking around in and there is a large sports center for students – although this is chargeable for international students ($120 if I remember correctly).
The only downside, like everywhere in California: the parking! A semester parking ticket costs $250, but it’s really hard to find a parking space at peak times because it’s overcrowded. I was lucky that my courses didn’t start until midday, which is why I usually found what I was looking for relatively quickly, but when I had to be there a few times at half past eight in the morning, all the parking lots were full and it took me over half an hour to find one found a parking space – and that was probably quick, as Ammis told me afterwards! So if you have to drive to campus by car, you should definitely adjust your timetable a bit accordingly!
Since I lived with a friend of my parents in Long Beach, I unfortunately can’t recommend a facility in Fullerton. I’ve been to almost all of them because of parties, but I can’t say anything about the price-performance ratio. What I noticed was that there are quite a few Germans living in the homesteads, so if you want to improve your English you might want to look elsewhere. Personally, I thought the University Housing was the nicest because it was the most modern and there was always a lot going on there at the weekend.
First of all: In California (and probably all of America) you need a car!!! I was lucky enough to have my own car through local friends, but I also met a lot of Germans who bought one and got rid of it afterwards. So: no matter how, get a car, because public transport doesn’t get you far at all and certainly not on foot. However, there are a thousand things to experience with a car, so you certainly won’t get bored. Personally, I found the beaches impressive, it’s really worth driving 2 days from north to south or vice versa (Malibu, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, etc). Las Vegas (very cheap), San Francisco, In my opinion, San Diego and of course Hollywood and Downtown LA are a must and definitely worth it! The amusement parks Disneyland, Knox Berry Farm, Universal Studios and Six Flags are also not far and worth a visit! However, before you go to Disneyland, I would check with your fellow American students to see if anyone works there, because I’ve met a lot of students who work there and you can get one in for free, saving you $100. You should definitely use the Thanksgiving week, during which you have free time, for longer trips like to SF, but otherwise the university is actually not so restrictive that you don’t have time to experience something here and there. Anyway, I would advise you to do what you feel like doing, because you are only there once!
Unfortunately, California is a very expensive place, not only in terms of rent and maintenance costs, but I was amazed again and again in the supermarket. It’s particularly expensive to eat healthily, as you’ll often pay just $3 for a broccoli, which is quite expensive…. In comparison, burgers at In-n-out (recommended) are total cheap, which of course tempts you to eat unhealthy food – so it’s no wonder that the Ammis are so fat;-) In my case, the entire semester cost me around €12,000, if you want to have a rough idea.
I can really only recommend everyone to come to Fullerton, because you really get life experiences and meet so many nice people!! There is so much to see in the area and the weather is just brilliant all year round. It’s unfortunately a very expensive affair overall, but if you can afford the means, I really recommend that you dare a semester abroad – and don’t take the university too seriously, because CA has much more to offer! Have fun!!