My experience report
“Go Beach!” – That is the slogan of California State University Long Beach, where I spent my two semesters abroad and I really took this slogan to heart. The choice of the university was relatively easy for me. Important criteria for me were proximity to the beach, the lowest possible tuition fees and a suitable range of courses, which ultimately greatly narrowed the selection. In the end I decided on the CSULB, which I have never regretted afterwards according to iamaccepted.
During the application process has given me, MicroEDU strongly gripped under the arms, but a big thank you. The way to a semester abroad in the USA presents some hurdles. Already 1. 5 years in advance I started to find out more, to save money and to collect documents. MicroEDU also provides a checklist for this purpose, which you can use as a guide. Nevertheless, I will list the important points again:
- Fill out application forms for the California State University Long Beach
- Take a language test (Bachelor students need B2, Master students C1), TOEFL, DAAD and IELTS are accepted by the CSULB (the DAAD is the cheapest alternative, so it’s best to find out whether it is offered in your area. )
- Short motivation letter post
- Submit application
- Apply for a visa using the F1 form, which you will receive when you are accepted, and make an appointment with the embassy
- Apply for BAföG abroad
- International insurance is optional, as you HAVE to be insured through the university. However, there is then no insurance cover for the period before the start of the semester and after the end of the semester.
- Pay tuition fees and take out insurance through the university
- Organize housing or temporary accommodation
- Find the right mobile phone contract (T-Mobile’s family plan is well suited, UltraMobile is also a good alternative)
- Book a flight and say goodbye to rainy Germany
After the organizational part was done, we could finally start!
After minimal drama a week before my departure date (I actually managed to lose my F1 form, which is required for entry. However, the university was able to send me a new one free of charge within three days) and a long flight with an overnight stay in Stockholm, I finally arrived at LAX airport. Now just through security and I was officially in California. The shuttle first took me to my Airbnb accommodation in Hawaiian Gardens. On the whole, I was satisfied with my accommodation, but I would like to give you a hint: Pay attention to what kind of area you end up in and don’t try to save too much on this point, otherwise you will quickly find yourself in the ghetto. However, I quickly made contact with other German students abroad via the MicroEDU Facebook group which made the search for an apartment take care of itself for me. In general, you make contacts very quickly. I lived in one of the Alvista apartments. This apartment complex is equipped with three pools and a small fitness studio, which is quite an advantage, as Study Abroad students cheekily have to pay extra for the university’s Recreation Center, although this is included in the tuition fees for everyone else. However, some apartments are infested with cockroaches, or worse, bed bugs. If you don’t want to take this risk, I would rather recommend Beverly Plaza Apartments next door. Both complexes are mainly attended by students. So if you want to party a lot, you’ve come to the right place. The good location is expensive. I paid $ 450 + utilities for a place to sleep in the living room.
University / free time
Bringing university and leisure under one roof was not always that easy. As can be seen from other reports, the workload (not necessarily the level) is significantly higher than at German universities and especially if you still want to go on trips, there is often no time for homework on weekends. With enough effort, however, an A can be achieved in most courses without any problems. It is difficult to get into the desired courses at first. As a study abroad student, unfortunately, only the course crashing remains and unfortunately I didn’t get into almost any of the courses that I wanted, and my desired course list didn’t help at all. In the end, however, I found alternatives. So: Don’t panic right away. The first two weeks will be stressful, but somehow a solution will always be found in the end. It also doesn’t hurt to write to the professors beforehand, in some cases that can save you.
California offers a number of options for recreational activities. Anyone who likes camping – and California’s countless national parks are ideal for this – should contact the university’s Outdoor Adventure Club. You don’t have to join, but if you feel like going on an excursion or just have a campfire on the beach, it is often enough to ask about interested parties in the Facebook group. The people there often even agree. to drive you, because they know that the internationals in particular usually have no other means of transport. I didn’t really take the opportunity as camping isn’t necessarily my biggest passion, but I can confirm that the people there are all very open-minded.
Other destinations I recommend are San Francisco and the Grand Canyon. Las Vegas is definitely an experience that I recommend to everyone. And if it’s on budget: fly to Hawaii. This place is just as heavenly as you imagine it to be. If you want to participate more in the party life, then just stick to the other internationals. LA is a good place to party, but the nearby Second Street is also crammed with bars. House parties are of course also plentiful, although these are usually ended by the police around midnight.
However, I strongly recommend making friends with the locals and experiencing their everyday lives if you can take the full experience with you. First and foremost, this includes surfing, which then brings me to my number 1 leisure activity! If you are doing a semester abroad in California and have not tried surfing once, I can only say: “You’re doing it wrong!” For this purpose, you should definitely take the surfing course at the university with Phillip Poppler. If you want to surf, you have to get up early and believe me, nobody hates getting up early more than I do, but in this case it’s definitely worth it. As a beginner, you should get a softboard for this. They are used for $ 50- $ 60 and are almost indestructible. If you go in the semester, make sure that the wetsuit is thick enough. In December the water can get really cold. When buying, you will be faced with the choice of whether you want to have a thickness of 4 / 3mm or 2 / 3mm. Better pay a little more and treat yourself to the 4 / 3mm. It was never too warm for me as long as I was in the water and in winter I was happy about my decision. And should you actually be lucky enough to be able to go surfing in Hawaii: Swim trunks are enough there!
If you love the sea, want to get to know the Californian lifestyle and find it exciting to meet people from all corners of the world, Long Beach is the right place for you. I had the best time of my life so far in California and anyone who is still considering whether this semester abroad is the right decision can only advise them to put their doubts aside and send off their application.