University: California State University Long Beach
City: Long Beach
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: industrial engineering
Study type: semester abroad
About 9 months before the start of my semester abroad, I started thinking about where I would like to go abroad for a semester. It was clear to me from the start that I wanted to go to the USA and I chose CSULB because it had good reviews and is not too expensive compared to other universities in the USA. Check topschoolsintheusa to learn information about Continuing Education After Graduation.
The paperwork sent out by MicroEdu is a bit tedious, but the folks at MicroEdu are really great at helping out if you have any questions. My commitment came relatively soon after a few weeks. Now it was time to make an appointment with the embassy. That was very cumbersome in my opinion. I must have needed 2 hours for the online application. On the day of the embassy appointment, I was very excited because I had already heard various things about unfriendly officials etc. on the Internet. But not so wild. After about half an hour I was outside again. The pass will then be mailed to you 1-2 weeks later. It is important to note that cell phones are not allowed. So definitely organize that you can store it somewhere for the time being.
After I received the visa, I booked my flight. I found a pretty good deal from Lufthansa with a return flight. I booked the return flight straight away because it’s cheaper overall and I knew anyway that I had to be home at the end of December because of my home university. Many exchange students I met have not yet booked their return flight and traveled around a bit after the semester.
Luckily I had a room before I arrived in Long Beach. I shared my room with a friend from Germany who is also doing a semester abroad. This really saves you money, since the cost of living is very high anyway. I found the room through Yarina, an apartment and room agent who takes very good care of the students. She rents out several houses and rooms throughout Long Beach.
However, many exchange students first got an idea of the housing situation on site. There are several large apartment complexes such as “Alvista” or “Beverly Plaza”, which are inhabited by many students and are all close to the university.
I arrived in Long Beach or LA at the end of July and was able to do a lot before the semester started. For example, explore the whole LA area and walk across the CSULB campus. I got a rental car to start with. This is very useful, since in LA it is practically impossible to get around without a car.
The entire CSULB campus is definitely awesome. I would not have imagined him so big.
It is also very green and very clean. There is really everything there. Various fast-food shops, small stores for snacks and a large “bookstore” where you can get pretty much all university things (t-shirts, hoodies, stationery, books, etc.).
Another highlight is the fitness center (“Rec Center”). I spent a lot of time there. There is a wide variety of sports: basketball, tennis, squash, climbing, boxing, football and of course a huge endurance and weight training area.
There is also an outdoor area with a beach volleyball court and an outdoor pool. Here you can either swim laps or just chill on the lounger.
For all internationals there was an introductory week one week before the lectures started. Everything was explained there, how things work here and how to choose your courses. In addition, a few things were done, such as a campfire on the beach or a visit to a baseball game.
I picked out a few courses in advance that would fit and just hoped for good luck that I would get them. Luckily it worked. This so-called “class crashing” is really very cumbersome, since you first have to get the signature of the professor and then in some cases you have to go to the “department” (as a faculty) to sign it.
The lecture in the USA reminded me more of school. So the students are much more involved and the classes are also much smaller. In my opinion, the degree of difficulty is also not as high as in Germany. You can get good grades without any problems, even if you are not a native speaker. Throughout the semester you have to hand in small assignments (usually over 1-2 pages) and homework. There are usually several tests during the semester. I liked this system much better than the one in Germany, because you stay on topic and can improve your grades over the course of the semester.
First of all, life in California is definitely much more expensive than in Germany. Sometimes you have to pay double or triple the price for groceries compared to Germany. Drinking a beer in bars is also more expensive. Normal are prices of 6-8 dollars per beer. It is important to know that alcohol can only be drunk from the age of 21. This is also very tightly controlled and you always have to show your ID!
Long Beach is definitely ideally located in California. You have the beach right in front of you. That’s already a huge plus point. From the university it is about 2 km to the nearest beach. There are also a few bars/discos in downtown Long Beach as well as in Belmont Shore which is closer than downtown. There you can celebrate very well. However, it should also be noted here that all bars and clubs close at 2 am!
In my free time, I have taken many trips around California with my roommates and other friends I have met. Whether it was San Francisco, Las Vegas, the famous national parks, San Diego or Mexico (just a 2 hour drive away), California really lends itself to many road trips.
Of course, LA is also very good for sports enthusiasts like me, since all 4 major American sports are represented here: ice hockey with the LA Kings, football with the LA Rams, baseball with the LA Dodgers and basketball with the LA Lakers and LA Clippers.
I’m very glad I chose CSULB and Long Beach. The Californian lifestyle and the great weather grab you right away. The only thing that can be said about the weather is that the sun shines 90% of the time. During my time I think there were 2 rainy days (and that in 6 months).
The university is very well equipped and the professors go to great lengths to convey the content. Of course, the costs for this semester are already very high. Calculate times with 12-15000 EUR for the time. But it’s worth it! Of course, a stay abroad is also very good for your English.
I made a lot of American, German and international friends.
Take the opportunity for this unique opportunity. At some point you will regret not having done it.