A semester abroad in the United States of America and in California, the Sunshine State par excellence? An absolute must!
Organization of the semester abroad
I’ve been thinking and dreaming about a semester abroad for a long time. It quickly became clear to me that I wanted to study away from home for at least one semester. Since I got to know and love the USA after graduating from high school through a summer stay, I didn’t really want to go anywhere else. During my internet research I came across MicroEDU and used their website to find out about universities, programs, courses and prices.
Maybe you are feeling like me and you are sure that you want to go to the USA, but the number of universities and the question of whether a certain university is suitable for you is overwhelming – then I can only warmly recommend the team to write to, call or attend one of their information events. The information events in particular are great: you have the opportunity to get to know the different universities, get an overview and at the end you can talk to student advisors, exchange ideas and wishes with them, and leave your data so that they can help you with the Restricting the universities that can help you. I am grateful to MicroEDU for making the entire organizational and application process easier for me.Personally, I decided to go to California State University Northridge very late, so I had to put my application together quickly, but thanks to Collage Contact, that wasn’t a problem. You can actually count on a commitment from the CSUN very quickly! After that, the greatest organizational stress actually starts: booking a flight, applying for a visa, looking for accommodation and so on. During this time in particular, I had a lot of questions and I always found an open ear at Katharina von MicroEDU. A top support!
University, courses, campus and on-site support
California State University Northridge is arguably one of the most beautiful universities in all of California and had to be largely replaced about 20 years ago after a strong earthquake, what you can see on the campus. The Oviatt Library, which is in the heart of the campus, has been featured in countless films and TV series and I promise you will love it. From the outside it is a real eye-catcher and if you are looking for a space to study I can only warmly recommend it to you. In general, the CSUN campus is very, very large and spacious: there are great corners that you should definitely check out, such as the Orange Garden. There is a lot of life on campus and on many days there are campaigns by fraternities or sororities, university organizations or the associated students (often with free food!). According to Abbreviation Finder, CSUN is the abbreviation of California State University Northridge.
I’m studying social sciences and media studies in my bachelor’s degree and the CSUN was an absolute hit for me in terms of the range of courses. The media programs at the university in particular are amazing and the wide range of courses is a dream. However, it was not at all easy to get places in courses. With the application you already create your own timetable, which you can choose yourself based on the course offers. The actual goal of the CSUN International Office is to enroll you in as many courses as possible before the start of the semester – but that doesn’t work at all! Personally, I couldn’t get enrolled in any of my specified courses and had to crash them all. Class crashing I know from Germany, but as an international student, crashing courses at a foreign university, in a foreign country where another language is spoken, was an absolute no-go for me! In the first few weeks in particular, I was very annoyed about the International Office and about the fact that as an international student you are only a second-class student! It’s just that the internal university students are given preferential treatment and are therefore the first to be accepted into courses. During this class crashing process, you may have to deviate from your actual courses if there is no more space. But don’t panic, there are always open courses and even if your desired courses are full, I would always crash them! Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work out on the first few courses.
The lecturers and professors were great and had a lot of understanding for the situation of the international students and always tried to give me a place. The university system in America is very different from that of German universities: while in Germany there are exams, term papers or oral exams at the end of the semester, in the USA you have to do it throughout the semester: weekly quizzes, exams, term papers, presentations, Reading books and much more is on the program, but the level of the courses is lower than that at German universities. Nevertheless, I benefited a lot from my courses and was enthusiastic about the American learning atmosphere : Fellow students, lecturers and professors are more friendly and open than I have ever experienced before and they make it easier for you to start your American college life. Contacts are made quickly and it can often happen that the professors approach you after the course and ask how you are or would like to have a coffee with you.
With the CSUN’s acceptance, I was faced with the decision whether to be on or off campus wanted to live. I decided to live on campus and haven’t looked back. The CSUN dormitory is very large and you can choose between a single and a double room when applying for a place. The prices are not exactly cheap when you consider that you live in an apartment with four or two other students. However, you can eat 20 meals a week for free in the Geronimos (cafeteria) and have several hundred dining dollars that you can spend on the entire campus. Places in the dormitory for international students are limited, which is why you should apply early. I chose a double room and shared it with a Norwegian. In general, however, it remains to be said that you won’t get mixed up with the American students, which is a bit of a shame. there is no such thing as the feeling of being alone! It is precisely through these contacts that you can quickly get to the infamous college parties. The residences of the CSUN have two pools that you can use in your free time, and there is also free WiFi. In addition to all these advantages, there is also a major disadvantage: the equipment in the apartments is very poor! There is a refrigerator and a microwave, but there is a lack of kitchen accessories (such as plates, cutlery), rubbish bins and hangers. If you find a reference to bed linen and towels that can be borrowed in your letter of acceptance for a dormitory place, you should not rely on it, because this is by no means up-to-date! Rather, you have to buy basic equipment when you move in or bring it with you.
Leisure and excursion possibilities
California is one of the most beautiful states in the USA and Los Angeles is perfect thanks to its central location. Northridge, however, isn’t all that big: there is a mall and many restaurants. But you are never far from the action: the sea can be reached in less than 30 minutes, as can the Hollywood district. Sunset Blvd., Venice, Santa Monica (especially Third Street Promenade and the Pier), Malibu, the Pacific Coast Highway, the Getty Center, as well as Beverly Hills and Bel Air, as well as the national parks nearby are an absolute must ! You can also easily reach destinations or places that are further away over the weekend, such as Las Vegas, San Francisco, Santa Barbara or San Diego.
Try to do and experience as much as you can. Especially if you want to meet new people and like to travel around, you should visit the CSUN’s Outdoor Adventure Center. During the whole semester you have the opportunity to take part in activities, whether day or weekend excursions: visit national parks such as Death Valley, hike to the Hollywood Sign, whale watching and much more. As a student, you get discounted tickets for many things, you can buy these on the CSUN campus via the ticket office of the Associated Students, so you can get discounted entry to Universal Studios, for example. Los Angeles is the film metropolis par excellence and you have the opportunity to get tickets to all kinds of events for free: extras in films, tickets for talk shows such as Ellen DeGeneres or Jimmy Kimmel, as well as for other TV recordings. Anyone who informs themselves early on and takes care of cards can experience that.
All in all, I would recommend everyone to do it if they have the opportunity to do a semester abroad. For me it was such a valuable experience that I wouldn’t want to miss and from which I grew. Be brave and dare to think outside the box. Good luck and success with it, your Alina.