University: California State University Long Beach
City: Long Beach
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: journalism
Study type: semester abroad
Arriving in LAX, we first rented a car, which didn’t turn out to be the best idea. The rentals at the airport are very expensive and try to rip off newcomers in particular. So we unknowingly paid as much for a day as others paid for a whole weekend. The best alternative is to order a shuttle online in advance, which will take you directly from the airport to your hotel or apartment. At “Shuttle2LAX.com” you just enter the key data of the flight and the desired destination and you will be picked up on time. The shuttle costs about a third of a taxi ride and is very reliable. Check existingcountries to learn information about University of Gottingen Germany.
Finding an apartment on site was unexpectedly not that easy. It must be said, however, that we were looking for two right from the start and our aim was to find an apartment with separate bedrooms. The Oakwood apartments we previously looked at online all had two bedrooms, but are priceless for two people. If you are willing to share a room with others in groups of two or three, the Oakwood apartments offer a good alternative to student accommodation. You get to know a lot of people, especially students, and there are plenty of opportunities to spend your free time on the site. There are tennis courts, swimming pools, beach volleyball courts and a cinema, among others.
If, like us, you decide against a shared space, there are various points of contact that you could fall back on. First of all, there is the notice board at the university. Because we only arrived in Long Beach a few days before the start of school, most of the ads were already out of date or the apartments were already rented. Unfortunately, the bulletin board is not really kept up to date and is therefore less recommended. Luckily, we found newspaper stands with free advertisements on the university campus, which we browsed thoroughly over the next few days. Already on the third day of our search we found a suitable apartment for us in downtown Long Beach. Looking back, I would say downtown wasn’t the best place to live, therefore better inform in advance about the desired district. Belmont Shore, Naples Island, Huntington Beach or Bellflower are definitely better suited!
A car is an absolute must in California! The public transportation system is quite poor, especially for destinations a little more than five miles away. It was clear to us from the start that a car was needed as soon as possible and we bought one via the online portal “Craigslist.com”. It is also possible to rent a car for a longer period, but this is quite expensive as long as you do not have a US driver’s license and are under 25. Without a vehicle it is difficult to get from A to B, because even to nearby Los Angeles the bus ride takes about two hours and so much time is simply wasted. We sold the car again at the end of the semester without making a loss.
In the second week of university we had to decide on courses. First, we attended all the courses that were suitable for us to get an idea of the professors and the subject-specific requirements. We then chose four courses from the range on offer and got the signatures of the lecturers. Getting the signatures was pretty easy. No professor turned us down, even if some courses were already well attended. Since we are studying journalism in Germany, we chose “Media Design”, “Understanding News Media”, “Intro Mass Communications” and “Introducing to Online Media”. In contrast to our German university, there were a lot more tasks in the subjects that you had to do at home, but with a little diligence you could easily get good grades.
America is indisputably the “Fast Food Nation”. Not only in town, but also on campus itself, you couldn’t throw a stone without hitting some fast food chain. In addition, the food at such providers is really cheap. Unfortunately, there is no canteen on the university campus, so that healthy eating can easily be neglected. However, I believe that if you have enough self-control and are not too stingy to buy fresh groceries from time to time, you won’t come back clumsy than when you left. Especially since after a few weeks I was fed up with burgers and fries in particular.
The Long Beach area offers plenty of places to visit. My personal highlight here was Las Vegas. There is no place in the world better suited to partying. If you’re going there in a larger group and staying in quad rooms, it’s not that expensive and it’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you won’t soon forget. Two other great cities are San Francisco and San Diego. Although the 6 to 8 hour journey to San Francisco is a little arduous, it is definitely worth it. Nearby destinations include Venice Beach, Laguna Beach, Santa Monica and Santa Barbara. There is also a lot to see in Los Angeles itself. In addition to Beverly Hills and Hollywood, a very special highlight was being part of a shoot for “Two and a Half Men”.
Looking back, I really enjoyed the semester at CSULB. Even though the semester abroad was mandatory at my university and I had some doubts at first, I can say that California was the best choice for me and I wouldn’t want to miss out on my experiences.