University: California State University Long Beach
City: Long Beach
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Communication Sciences, Sociology
Study type: semester abroad
After I decided to do a semester abroad last year, I sat in front of these field reports just like you now, trying to decide on one of the many universities. After a holiday trip the year before, California had long been my destination. The great weather, the nice people and the landscape, which has everything to offer from the beach and desert to snow-capped mountains, had convinced me for a long time. Today I can only say that I am very happy that I decided to go to Cal State Long Beach and have become a “dirtbag” through and through;-) (That’s the name of our sports teams and therefore all students of the CSULB). Check andyeducation to learn information about Christian Albrecht University of Kiel.
The application was incredibly easy via MicroEdu and I can only thank them for the fact that the staff there are always open to any (no matter how stupid;-)) question. With their help, the application was no problem at all. Once you have all the documents together, then nothing stands in the way of your studies at Cal State. It is important to take care of a suitable foreign health insurance company in good time, as the CSULB has precise specifications. If the health insurance you have taken out does not correspond 100% to those, you will also have to pay for the insurance of the university. I chose the Hanse Merkur because it exactly meets the requirements of the CSULB.
In America, practically nothing works without a credit card. Every little coffee at every snack bar is paid for without cash. When choosing a credit card, you should make sure that you don’t have to pay foreign fees for every transaction. I got the starter card (12 euros/year) from the ADAC and with the normal checking account debit card from Deutsche Bank you can withdraw cash at any “Bank of America” ATM throughout America without any fees.
Of course, a semester abroad is not exactly cheap, but Cal State Long Beach is more in the “cheap” range when it comes to tuition fees in America. You should not underestimate the costs that you have to factor in for living. I paid $530 a month for a shared room. You can certainly find something cheaper, but I stayed in an apartment complex that also had a lot to offer.
I had already found my roommates via Studivz and facebook and then lived with four other students in an apartment complex in Seal Beach (Oakwood) (ten minutes by bus to campus). It’s not exactly cheap there, but there are so many other students living there that you meet a lot of nice people very quickly and you can be at beautiful Seal Beach in five minutes. Other options for finding accommodation include www.craigslist.com and the CSULB’s Roommate Finder (found on the home page). If you want to search locally first, you can also use the university bulletin board to find a room.
Studies / University
The ALI (American Language Institute) is responsible for the internationals at the CSULB, which welcomes you in the introductory week and also helps with all questions and problems throughout the semester. The introductory week is a great opportunity to meet other internationals, find possible roommates and plan the first parties.
The first week of the semester is the so-called course crashing, which means that you go into all the courses you want to attend and ask the professor if you can take part in his course. This is because American students are able to choose their courses weeks before the semester starts and register online for them. Therefore, at the beginning of the semester, there are no more places available in many popular courses and you will be rejected in a friendly manner.
For this reason, since the last semester, the CSULB no longer offers some courses for internationals (e.g. business administration, psychology, etc.).
Of course, there are always gaps in this arrangement and some of us, with a bit of charm towards the lecturers, were still able to attend courses that were “actually” already full, but if you are not flexible in your choice of courses and need certain courses urgently, then unfortunately I have to advise you against the CSULB.
In addition, you have to run around a lot and reschedule at short notice, which is why you only start later with some courses and may already miss something. You only get access to the online documents for the seminars if you have confirmation from lecturers for all four courses that you want to attend.
With my courses, which I chose from sociology and communication studies, it wasn’t that difficult to get into suitable courses and there is also enough choice to just look for something else interesting. So don’t let that scare you too much.
The content of my courses was very good and I can only rave about my professors at the CSULB. As one of my professors put it, “Guys, I get paid for you walking out of here at the end and understanding what I’m telling you. So please torment me with your questions and come to my office hours as often as necessary until the last person in this room has understood everything.”. Well, unfortunately I can only dream of that at my home university. The support of the professors is really great and the style with which they conduct the seminars was always interesting and instructive for me, both in large lectures and in small seminars.
I guess I don’t have to say anything about the campus. The photos on the MicroEdu website don’t lie. It is a large campus, with modern, well-equipped rooms, large lawns where you can spend your breaks, a huge library with many computer stations where you can study until 2 a.m. in the study phase for the finals (coffee is available in the Library at one of the two Starbucks on campus, so two in the morning is definitely doable;-) ).
The demands of the seminars should not be underestimated. At my German university, I was used to the fact that the workload is relatively low during the semester and then at the end of the exams and homework, it takes a lot of effort.
In America, on the other hand, you sometimes have to take three exams during the semester, prepare and hold presentations, write papers, etc. Although I didn’t find the demands on this work comparable to Germany, you still have decent work to do.
What I definitely have to recommend are the sporting events at Cal State. On game days of the Dirtbags, as the CSULB teams are called, the entire university is dressed in the team’s T-shirts. The games themselves have an amazing atmosphere that you shouldn’t miss out on.
Of course, you can also do sports yourself at the university. Sport courses are heaps on offer, from surfing to playing Frisbee. Surfing is of course compulsory in California. If you want to learn it, then Chris, one of the coordinators of the ALI, is the best contact.
California has it all. One day you can lie on the beach at 25 degrees and the next day you can be skiing in the mountains after an hour and a half drive. Long Beach is an hour’s drive from Los Angeles. The metro takes you directly to LA, but you don’t really feel comfortable using public transport (especially in the evening). In Long Beach itself, the buses only run until noon on most lines, even on weekends. America is a car country. Renting a car is relatively cheap in America, but buying a car for six months is also worthwhile. Then all paths are open to you.
In the area, I wouldn’t miss Universal Studios in LA, but I also highly recommend Six Flags Magic Mountain roller coaster park. In the area Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, San Diego, Palm Springs, Disneyland, Santa Barbara, Malibu etc. are all worth a day/weekend trip. Don’t miss San Francisco either. I would advise everyone to add a few more weeks of travel to the semester. I did another three week road trip where I also did the famous Highway No. 1 down from San Francisco to Long Beach. Absolutely gorgeous.
I can only advise everyone to do a semester abroad. Not only do you get to know a different culture, another language and lots of nice people from all over the world, you also learn a lot about yourself. I haven’t regretted the decision for a second and would do a semester at Cal State Long Beach again at any time. So: Let’s GO BEACH!!!