University: California State University Long Beach
City: Long Beach
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Hotel and Tourism, Geography
Study type: semester abroad
Living on the beach side of life. I took this motto to heart for my semester abroad and therefore I spent 5 months at the California State University Long Beach (CSULB) in California. It was clear to me early on: I want to go to the Golden State. Because one thing was certain: West coast – best coast! The decisive argument for choosing the CSULB was the wide range of courses, the ideal location of Long Beach for excursions and the fact that it is the largest university in the entire CSU network and therefore the spirit of American student life can hardly be experienced better anywhere else than here! Luckily for me, I was right in my assumptions and couldn’t have been better anywhere! Check iamaccepted to learn information about University of Leipzig Germany.
In the following report I would now like to share my positive experiences and encourage everyone to go to California State University Long Beach.
About your studies and the courses you have taken at the host university
The range of subjects at the CSULB is generally very large. With 87 different bachelor’s, 67 master’s and 4 doctoral degrees, the CSULB offers a wide range of options in every subject area. In the spring semester, I was able to choose from 41 courses in the Department of Recreation & Leisure Studies. For course selection, each program participant has a personal consultation with a responsible clerk for academic matters at the CSULB. Here, with the help of the module manual for my degree program, the previous knowledge for my desired courses was also checked.
The choice of subjects at the CSULB is a bit more complicated for students who come without a cooperation from the university. Since the courses are only assigned on site after the so-called “class crashing”, it is advisable to contact the respective lecturer in advance by email and express your interest. Contrary to my expectations, I was allowed to take all the courses that I had chosen in advance. But in the end I was really lucky. In some cases I have heard that some courses were already full and a plan B had to be worked out.
I took a total of four courses of 3 credits each (equivalent to a total of 24 ECTS). Three of my modules were from the College of Health & Human Services department and belonged to the Department of Recreation & Leisure Studies. I can thoroughly recommend the modules REC 321 – Leadership in Recreation & Leisure, REC 431 – Recreation Resource Management and REC 462 Travel Tourism Resort Recreation Management. There were great projects (such as creating your own website), group work and even a field trip to a state park in one of the courses. I took my fourth course in the “College of Liberal Arts” department of the Department of Geography, the course GEO 352 – Geography of Travel and Tourismvisited. However, I wouldn’t recommend this one because it was a bit unstructured and I didn’t learn much that was new. Nevertheless, the course projects were fun here too.
Compared to Germany, there is a big difference in the education system. Learning at an American university is much more school-based than in Germany. In addition to regular homework, oral participation, attendance at lectures and all results of tests and intermediate examinations written during the semester also count. The final grade is made up of different components and you stay “always on the ball” during the semester, so to speak., which makes the exam phases much easier. The level is quite different. Depending on the semester from which you take the courses, different amounts are required of you. In general, I would say that the actual exam level of the courses is mostly below that in Germany, while the participation in “classes” and homework requires more effort and sweat during the semester. In the overall picture I can therefore not identify any fundamental differences in level.
The integration in the courses was not a problem at all, as long as you try to do it yourself and also approach others openly. In the beginning you might have to try to find a group for group work, but that’s certainly the case in Germany when you’re new. The professors in particular try to get involved and are happy to ask about the perspectives of us exchange students.
The on-site support was good without exception and provided by the International Office of the CSULB. The office is responsible for all international students who, like me, take part in the Study Abroad at the Beach program on their own initiative and have thus largely organized their studies abroad independently.
Beforehand there was a meeting with the program coordinators and other internationals via video telephony. A one-week “Orientation Week” then took place on site, during which there was a welcome, various introductory and information sessions and a few events. These events could be used to make friends below the international program participants. In the first week of lectures, the so-called “Week of Welcome”, there is also a presentation of sports – and special interest clubs or other student associations. For course selection, each program participant has a personal consultation with a responsible clerk for academic matters at the CSULB. In addition, you can always find help with formalities such as enrollment, exams, visa extensions, etc. from the staff in the International Office.
The International Office organized further events during the semester. This included a joint excursion to Hollywood and free entry to the Madam Tussaud Wax Museum. There is also a joint visit to the LA Clippers sporting event, a farewell campfire and a farewell photo.
The application process is a bit more complicated than at partner universities of your own university. With the help of the MicroEdu organization, with which I organized my study semester free of charge, I always had help. Since I don’t live in Münster, most of it went by e-mail and I always felt well looked after and advised.
Applicants for the Study at the Beach Program at California State University Long Beach require the (technical) high school diploma and the following documents/evidence to be submitted:
- Application form and $150 application fee: The application fee is an application fee that is incurred by the CSULB to check the suitability of the application and is the equivalent of around €130.
- Financial Certification: This financial verification must come from a bank, sponsorship agency, or similar, confirming that the account/scholarship covers at least $12,500. This proof can also be provided via the parents’ account.
- Passport information
- Academic Transcript : The overview of grades issued by the home university should be in English and include information about the current average grade.
- Preliminary Course Wish: Here you enter 10 courses that you could imagine taking.
- English Proficiency Score: This document serves to prove the language skills. They must be proven using a standardized language test, such as the TOEFL (at least 61) or the IELTS (at least 5.5). Alternatively, like me, you can also submit a DAAD test (at least B2 level in all areas). The latter can often be done through your own university and is free of charge, much to the delight of your wallet.
- Academic Statement: In addition, the CSULB requires a letter of motivation written in English.
- After admission and visa application: Copy of identity card / passport and visa, copy of vaccination certificate and conclusion of an American insurance ($328 = 290€)
- Payment of the tuition fees (in the spring semester 2016 these amounted to $6000 (approx. 5,500€).
For a semester abroad in America you need an F-1 student visa. It requires a passport (between €37.50 and €59.00), a biometric passport photo from the photographer (approx. €25), filling out the application form DS-160, paying the SEVIS fee ($200 = approx. €176 ) and the visa application fee ($160 = approx. 140€). To apply, an appointment must be made at the American Embassy or Consulate General in Berlin or Frankfurt.
With the help of MicroEdu you don’t lose track and there is a good overview at the beginning of the whole process, which works wonderfully as a checklist.
There are many different options when it comes to finding accommodation. The CSULB has compiled some helpful tips on finding accommodation under the following link: http: //www.ccpe.csulb.edu/International/about.aspx?pID=132.
I live in one of the apartment complexes close to the universityused to, which were also recommended by the university. I met my roommates on Facebook by joining groups like “International Students CSULB” or “CSULB Roommates finder”. There are many of these groups and at the end of each semester many offers are posted here (also for furniture, bicycles or cars). So I ended up living in a 5-person shared flat with 3 Americans and one Australian in the Alvista Apartments Long Beach. There are many such apartment complexes with a gym and pool area in Long Beach and it is not uncommon for a few internationals to gather here. The downside to this option is that you often share a room because the rents are really high (about $550 for a shared room). It’s pretty normal there
There are also dorms on campus or the off-campus home stay variant, where you live with a kind of host family. In the dorms you live with several people and there is always something going on. Disadvantage: it is probably the most expensive variant that you can choose here, but that is what a meal plan is for contain. In addition, younger people who have just started their studies live in the dorms, and as an international you come to International Housing, where you only live with students from other countries instead of with locals. Therefore, I would recommend the options of off-campus housing and go looking for a shared flat in a house or in an apartment complex. Alternatively, as already mentioned, there is the “home stay” variant. With the host families you generally have a so-called “single room” for yourself. As a disadvantage, however, I would say that the distance to the university is often a little further. No matter which option you choose, you should be prepared to pay more rent than in Germany or to share a room. With luck you can find a double room for approx. 380 – 400 €, but with bad luck you also pay 750-1000 €. The single rooms are correspondingly more expensive.
Leisure and excursion possibilities
Long Beach is literally a long beach. It is of course very easy to endure here, precisely because we Germans are not as spoiled by the sun and beaches as the Californians. Depending on your mood, the wide sandy beach offers many opportunities to do sports, for example swimming, surfing, playing volleyball or jogging. At the same time, it also invites you to relax and sunbathe. During the Week of Welcome, all CSULB clubs present themselves on campus to recruit new members. The clubs range from all kinds of sports, art and special interest clubs to real rarities like the eSports Club. So you never get bored in Long Beach. When you become a member of one of the clubs, you usually have “training”/club “meetings” three times a week. But Long Beach is at least as great due to its central location as a starting point for many excursions. For example, San Diego in the south and the many stops on Highway 1 in the north, which runs along the entire coast, are tempting. Las Vegas and some national parks can also be easily reached by car from here.
Los Angeles, including Hollywood, Joshua Tree National Park, all the beaches such as Huntington, Laguna and Venice Beach and Disneyland in Anaheim are particularly dense and therefore great day trips. Due to the many things that you can experience in and around Long Beach, there is actually no real everyday life, because you can experience something new every day. In general, however, it can be said that the good weather in particular contributes to a relaxed atmosphere. I also have the feeling that the Californians go through life much happier, more open and more helpful, which makes life in the distance – especially at the beginning – a lot easier.
General Dos & Don’ts
I have to say that the Americans are very similar to us Germans in many respects. Nevertheless, there are a few pitfalls. Due to the open nature of the Americans, you don’t have to take all their statements too seriously. A “how your doing” is more of a phrase and the subsequent answer is not given too much attention. Especially people you don’t know very well should not be informed in detail about your emotional state, but simply answer “fine and you” or something similar, no matter how you feel. A blunder that you may come across in a restaurant is tipping. In America, a 20% tip is generally given for good service. If you give significantly less, this is considered very impolite. On the subject of the restaurant, it should be noted that you can usually share a dish. The portions are always so big that you take at least half of the plate home. What I had to learn at the beginning of my semester is that smilies/emotions in SMS are very important and some smilies are only used for very specific purposes. For example, a winking smiley has a very flirty meaning and should not be used unintentionally.
I had the best time of my life in every respect and would always choose a semester abroad there.
So my conclusion: Always say yes to new adventures!