Sun, surfing and relaxing
With these expectations, I traveled to Long Beach at the beginning of August 2014 to complete my semester abroad at Long Beach State and at the same time fulfill a childhood dream of living in America for a while.
6 months to be exact.
For those who are not yet sure whether Long Beach is the right place for a semester abroad – it is! Not only are you right on the beach, the university also has an excellent reputation and is one of the best in the Cal State system. The professors, at least in my courses, were extremely competent and hard-working. Whereby the course choice itself is a “pain in the a **”, to put it clearly – but more on that in the next point-
Due to the “course-crashing” system that unfortunately all Study Abroad students have to go through, it is relatively difficult to get exactly the courses that you would like. That does not mean that it is absolutely impossible, but it is definitely more difficult than possibly at other universities. Regarding the system itself, I can only say that the American or international students who complete their entire degree at Long Beach State can register online for the courses in the new semester immediately after the end of the previous semester and also get a preferential place because they are “degree-seeking students” and therefore 1. want to pay more (at least in the long term) and 2. want to graduate from Long Beach State. For Study Abroad Students this means
How does “Course Crashing” work? Very easily. You choose the courses online in the course directory and then go to the first session and ask the professor if he would accept you in the course. My tip: write the professors of your desired courses an email before you go to the session and let them know that you are interested in his course and would like to attend. In addition, in the online directory you can also see how many free places there are and whether the professor is still accepting students (green point) or whether the course is already full (red point or yellow point if only a few places are available) . Sometimes courses that are already full disappear completely from the online directory. As mentioned above, however, this system makes it quite difficult for Study Abroad Students to get their desired courses, as these are often already full – especially in the areas of business and marketing. But don’t worry, you will find all the courses that you like and that bring you to the 12 units you need.
There isn’t too much to say about everyday life at an American university. Except that it’s different. Positively different. You will see stalls at Long Beach State from time to time, or one or the other band. In addition, almost not a week goes by without any events or lectures that will bring you extra credits for your courses if the professor approves it. However, you have to be prepared for a lot more work than you might be used to at your home university. Most professors give homework or other assignments (sometimes just reading a few pages, sometimes a 3-5 page essay) after each session. Likewise, in most courses you write at least two midterm exams and one final exam, in addition to the various additional tasks that you will face during the semester. Of course, this does not apply to all courses, but if you are studying humanities and social science like me – congratulations and have fun with the essays.
However, looking back, I have to say that I learned a lot more through the many homework, essays, texts, books and the generally much higher workload, especially because the courses usually take place twice a week.
Enough of the university and the study and now to what probably interests everyone, including me, the most. The traveling. Long Beach is the perfect starting point for this. About 1.5 hours to San Diego, 5 hours to San Francisco (assuming you don’t take Highway 1), 4 hours to Las Vegas (from there another 4 hours to the Grand Canyon – the drive back to Long Beach then takes approx 7 hours and caution in the Arizona desert there are only a few gas stations), 30-60 minutes to Los Angeles, Venice Beach, Malibu, Santa Monica and approx. 10 minutes to the surfing paradise Huntington Beach. If you are thinking of buying a car for the numerous trips that you will hopefully all go on, I would definitely do it if I had the chance again. Even if there are cheap rental car providers (e.g.
The only negative point of my entire semester at the end. Finding an apartment in Long Beach and actually all of Southern California is really difficult. The rents are incredibly high and even a little higher for a short period, such as a semester. You can expect little help from the university when it comes to looking for an apartment. However, I can recommend apartment complexes such as Pathways Apartments, Beverly Plaza and Mariposa. If you share the apartments with 3rd, 4th or 5th, and possibly also a room, then that also fits. If you don’t want to move into one of these complexes, you have to diligently check craigslist and zillow for offers and often accept many rejections. I speak from experience.
Finally, when looking for an apartment, it is very important that you take a close look at the area in which the apartment is located. Long Beach is for the most part a beautiful and quiet “town”, but it also has a lot of unsightly corners. So always pay attention and pay a little more and move to a better area. My tip: the closer to Long Beach State and the closer to the beach, the safer and better the area is. Everything after the Traffic Circle (if you’re in LB you know which one I mean) in the direction of Long Beach Boulevard and PCH gets worse and more insecure, but don’t worry.
I can only recommend everyone to go to Long Beach State or Cal State Long Beach for a semester. The people are just amazing, the university is very good and offers a lot to do with studying, especially the gym. The city is also perfectly located as a starting point for traveling. And the atmosphere at the university, especially at the sporting events, gives you the feeling of being a real part of the community. I want to get rid of the last point, if you read my report you’ve already landed on the right page, your website really does an outstanding job and is always at your side with advice and action.
And to the future students of Long Beach State: Have fun in California and GO BEACH!