The first step towards the semester abroad is the application. There are a few things to consider here. Letter of motivation, visa application, application deadline and much more. To make sure that everything goes according to plan, you should deal with the specific planning approx. 9-12 months in advance. Organizations can also be contacted to support the application process. I completed my application with the help of MicroEDU. The support is free and reliable and they refer to a variety of universities.
I have decided to do my semester abroad in the Fall Semester 2015 at California State University Long Beach.
California State University Long Beach, or CSULB for short, is a university in southwest California in Long Beach, about 30 kilometers south of Los Angeles. It is part of the California State University Network, which extends across California. Around 37,000 students are currently studying at the CSULB. 1,500 of them are international students.
One of the highlights of the CSULB is its beautiful campus. This extends over 130 hectares and offers almost everything a student’s heart desires. A huge food court, a fitness studio, all kinds of sports, lots of green space, pool tables, bowling and a cinema. Some of these offers are free for students, some are paid but cheap. Read more student reviews on Anycountyprivateschools.
The pride of the university, however, is the so-called Walter Pyramid, an event hall in the shape of a pyramid, in which, among other things, the CSULB basketball team plays.
To complete a semester abroad at the CSULB, there are various programs on offer. I myself was part of the Study abroad @ the Beach program. Students of this program bear the costs for their semester abroad themselves, provided there is no scholarship, BAföG or similar funding.
In general, I liked the program, but Study abroad at the Beach students are at a disadvantage compared to exchange students and American students. For example, only Study Abroad at the Beach students have to pay a membership fee for the gym. In general, however, the program is very well designed. The semester begins one week before the start of the lectures with the Orientation Week, during which all the necessary information is received and prepared. In addition, events are organized to get to know each other.
The main disadvantage of the program is that undergraduate students in the Study Abroad at the Beach program are denied access to business administration courses due to high demand. However, all other lectures are available. Here is an overview of the colleges at California State University Long Beach.
- College of the Arts
- College of Business Administration
- College of Education
- College of Engineering
- College of Health & Human Services
- College of Liberal Arts
- College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics
- College of Continuing & Professional Education
Finding courses and registering is generally the biggest challenge at the beginning of the semester. Local students can register for courses online, while international students have to “crash” courses. This means that before the beginning of the semester you have to check on the Internet whether the courses you want to attend are still available. I recommend being patient here and researching as precisely as possible. Otherwise you will find out afterwards that you could have taken a more interesting course.
Now you have to appear at the first lecture and get a signature from the lecturer. You also need a stamp from the responsible department and a stamp from a person responsible for the study abroad program. One problem with this is that many of the courses available at the beginning of the semester overlap. So you need a bit of luck to find the right courses right away. If you missed the first lecture because you were in another course, it is best to contact the lecturer by email and notify them that you would like to attend the course. This process is time consuming and stressful. In most cases, course registration is completed within the first week of the semester. Once you have this process behind you and found accommodation,
Many students are a little nervous at the beginning because they do not have accommodation yet. My tip: Book a motel for the first few nights, e.g. Motel 6 (right next to the university), look out for posts in Study abroad groups on Facebook, or take it into your own hands and rent an apartment. The area around Beverly Plaza Apartments is ideal here, as the majority of students who live off-campus find their accommodation here. The best options with addresses are also listed again on the university homepage under Housing.
I myself lived close to the campus and always took the bus to the university. Even if the public transport network in Long Beach is expandable, the connection to the university is satisfactory.
The course is structured differently from the German system. Right from the start, you get a plan from the lecturer that includes the course of the entire semester. When which homework has to be done and handed in, when intermediate exams and exams take place, what the lecture includes, i.e. everything you need to know. What is noticeable here is that there are many small projects, homework and presentations during the semester. In return, the effort for most of the tasks is manageable and the degree of difficulty is usually easily manageable for international students. In my personal experience, courses at 100 and 200 levels are more recommended for first year students. In order to take a lot with you, I therefore recommend choosing courses at Bachelor level, i.e. courses of 300. These take more time, but you also take more with you and if you do your tasks properly, good grades are definitely achievable here as well.
In my opinion, the American system has the advantage that the effort that is made during the semester reduces the learning effort for the final exams. In Germany, on the other hand, there is always immense pressure at the end of the semester, which I have not felt as strong here for a long time.
Since I’m studying at a university in Germany, another difference for me was that I had significantly fewer lectures, which led to more free time. Full-time students at the CSULB complete 12 units per semester, which usually corresponds to 4 courses of 3 units each (10 hours of lectures per week). Depending on how high you set your goals, you can spend an additional 5 to 30 hours outside of the lecture. To do well in courses, I would recommend at least 10-15 hours for assignments, quizzes, and study. A little extra effort before exams, then nothing can actually go wrong.
This leaves enough time to do leisure activities or to travel, which certainly plays a major role for anyone interested in a semester abroad at California State University Long Beach. First of all, I would like to point out that the university has a lot to offer with student associations and lots of sports courses, such as surfing, karate, tennis, basketball, etc. These can also be credited, but you can also visit them that way. In addition, you will of course find beautiful beaches in the Sunshine State of California(e.g. 1000 steps in Laguna Beach & Seal Beach). Los Angeles County also has some beautiful locations such as Santa Monica Pier, Hollywood Boulevard, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Hermosa Beach and Venice Beach. Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, and Laguna Beach are also great areas nearby. San Diego is also only 2 hours away and is definitely worth a visit. Other interesting cities are San Francisco and the Bay Area with return via the Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Barbara and of course Las Vegas.
The national parks in the west of America are also absolutely worth seeing. The Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Yosemite National Park and places like the Hoover Dam or Horseshoe Bend should be mentioned here. My personal recommendation is on the one hand the Yosemite National Park, as it is the most diverse and largest park in California. On the other hand, you should see the Grand Canyon, which is simply overwhelming. If you are ready to continue traveling, cities like New York, Miami and Chicago should not be missed.
In summary, one can say that both the university and the region have a lot to offer. I can definitely recommend a semester abroad at California State University Long Beach as I had a wonderful time here. You can make friends from all over the world, improve your language skills, travel a lot, and experience what it is like to study in the United States.