University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business Informatics
I knew from the start of my studies that I would go to California State University Fullerton for my theory semester abroad. It is one of several partner universities of the DHBW in this area and has an excellent reputation in the field of business. It is also very close to the Californian metropolises of Los Angeles and San Diego – so sunny weather is an everyday companion. In addition, I wanted to improve my English skills and especially my pronunciation, so I chose an English-speaking country to do so. I also really wanted to get to know the American culture and mentality, since I had never been to the USA before USA was. Check jibin123.com to see Semester Abroad In Boston University.
For the DHBW, we had to register for a theory semester abroad in the first year of study and fill out a form. All further organizational steps were taken over by the MicroEdu agency, which forwarded our application documents to the CSUF. Another requirement for the application was a DAAD language test, which passed without any problems. The CSUF then accepted us and the place was secured.
The most complex part was the visa application. In addition to filling out a time-consuming online form, various documents such as a valid passport, the training contract and a bank confirmation of the account balance had to be presented for the application. An appointment was booked online with the consulate for the visa application (we chose Frankfurt and had a very positive experience with it). The request for an appointment cost about €330 plus travel expenses. We had to drive to the consulate during the exam phase of the third semester because the opening times are limited to weekdays. Fortunately, the visit to the consulate went smoothly and quickly. After we showed our documents and conducted a short interview in English, the process was already over. 1-2 weeks later the visa was sent to us by post.
Shortly after receiving the visa, we booked the flights. For the outward flight we flew from Hanover via Paris to New York with the airline AirFrance, which can only be recommended. After two days in NYC, I went to Los Angeles with jetBlue, and from there I took an Uber to Fullerton.
On the return flight we spent a few more days in New York and then flew back to Germany with the Dutch airline KLM via Amsterdam to Hanover. The next organizational point was the search for an apartment. I opted for the “On-Campus-Dorms”, the dormitories on campus.
The following housing options were available:
- On Campus Dorms: around $1000 per semester, 4-bed apartments, kitchen, furnished, right on campus, canteen food included
- University Village: around $1,000, small apartments, food in their own canteen, mostly furnished, 10 minutes’ walk from campus
- University House: approx. $900-1000, 4-bedroom apartments, large kitchen, furnished, own parking garage, own gym, pool, BBQ area, computer rooms, 1-year contract, 5-minute walk from campus
Since there is hardly any public transport in California, we planned to rent a car for the period. We went to “Dirt Cheap Car Rental” in San Diego because they offer the best conditions for under 25 year olds. We paid a total of $2300 including insurance for four months of rental. Since it is very difficult to get from A to B without a car in this area, I recommend everyone to rent one. This allows you to flexibly reach all the adjacent beaches, supermarkets, outlets and cities in the shortest possible time. Compared to German petrol prices, those there are very cheap. The money for a rental car is definitely worth it. For starters without a car, Uber (private taxi drivers), which you order via the app, offer a very good alternative.
Studying at CSUF
CSUF campus is beautiful, huge in size, kept very clean and consists of lots of green space including palm trees and flowers. Each faculty has its own building. Our lectures all took place at the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics. There is a large library which is great for studying as it is equipped with the latest technologyis. There is also a large baseball field, a football field, a soccer field, a gym for the “Titans” (university basketball team) and a large gym. In addition to many other cafés and small snack bars, there are also numerous Starbucks on campus, so that you can stock up on snacks and drinks at any time. The idyllic campus is also very suitable for walks or simply to study outside. Emergency telephones for the campus police are distributed across the area to ensure the safety of the students.
The CSUF oversees numerous events, associations and campaigns. For example, sporting events such as the basketball games of the university team “Titans” take place regularly, to which CSUF students have free admission. In addition, there were often baseball games, a “spring concert”, and many other events.
The choice of courses to be taken was made in advance. We received a learning agreement from the DHBW, which outlined the four compulsory courses and possible alternatives. Fortunately, we didn’t have to do any “class crashing” in the CSUF, but were able to successfully apply online for the courses in Germany. So we were allowed to take all the courses specified and didn’t have to take any alternative options.
Below is a description of the courses taken:
Database Management Systems (ISDS 402)
This subject was very instructive and practice-oriented, but also relatively demanding. The topic: databases and database systems. At the beginning of the lecture there were weekly quizzes about the next chapter in the book, ie regular preparatory work was required. Furthermore, we had to work out weekly assignments in a group that was voluntarily set up at the beginning of the semester. Although these assignments were feasible in terms of content, they were a challenge in terms of time and were strictly evaluated. They consisted of designing database structures and relations and implementing them using SQL commands. Sometimes we were allowed to do the assignments at home and had 1-2 days to do it. A few times, however, we had to finish them within one lecture hour. In order to master this group work on time and successfully, good teamwork and time management is required, because otherwise you sometimes have to sacrifice a few nights for it.
In this course we wrote two major exams: a midterm (examination during the semester) and a final (examination at the end of the semester). The exams were each broken down into two parts: a practical part, in which we had to write SQL commands ourselves, and a theoretical part, in which the edited chapters on the subject of databases were queried in the form of multiple choice. Both parts are easy to solve if you prepare yourself properly and, above all, practice a lot of practical tasks.
Overall, I found this course to be difficult to learn and challenging, but on the other hand I learned an incredible amount about databases and especially the database query language SQL. Especially through the assignments and the many practical exercises I became more and more confident in dealing with the topic over time.
Organizational Behavior (MGMT 340)
This course was my personal favorite. He mainly dealt with management issues and business ethics. There were many interesting personalities from different cultures among the students. The professor also made a very experienced, personable impression and was extremely articulate. In every lecture, we should exchange ideas and discuss them with one another in regular group discussions on business-ethical management issues. What struck me as particularly positive was that everyone respected and tolerated the opinions of others. No one was embarrassed or ignored, everyone was listened to carefully and allowed to openly express their views on the issues at hand. In this course we wrote three exams: two midterms during the semester and a final at the end. The exams consisted of knowledge tests (multiple choice) and were strongly based on the topics of the book:
The only point of criticism is that we only dealt with the case studies on various business topics in class and then discussed them. Unfortunately, we didn’t cover the chapters in the book, so you had to work through everything yourself at home. This then led to a huge expenditure of time for the preparations for the exams.
Nevertheless, I found the Organizational Behavior course to be a great enrichment and a great cultural experience, both personally and for my professional development. I would recommend everyone to take this course.
Business Telecommunications (ISDS 409)
This subject was all about communication systems and networks. The lectures were okay, but sometimes a bit monotonous because they were designed as lectures. The professor was very nice and knowledgeable about his subject area, but unfortunately conveyed the material in a somewhat unstructured manner and was difficult to understand for beginners. Since we had already dealt with the topic of networks in the second semester, it was easier for us to get into it, at least at the beginning. Announcements, teaching materials and homework were put online in a relatively confusing manner (sometimes via e-mail, sometimes via the “Titanium” study portal), so that it was easy to overlook something.
A group project consisting of three people each, in which we were to design a network, ran through the entire semester. We should submit our interim results to the professor for evaluation by specific deadlines. This project was not particularly time-consuming and relatively easy to understand. It was also interesting to see how a network is set up and what technical components are required for it.
Every week there was a quiz on the current topic. However, we were allowed to do the quizzes at home, which made the whole thing more relaxed because there was no time pressure. In this course we wrote 2 midterms and 1 final in the form of multiple choice questions. The professor kindly allowed us to bring a “cheat sheet” of 2 sheets, i.e. 4 written pages, to each exam. This made the learning effort much easier. The topics were interesting, but very complex and sometimes difficult to understand the first time. The exam questions were based on the book and the lecturer’s PowerPoint slides. However, one had to read very carefully as many detailed questions arose.
Overall, this course was a bit unstructured, but I was still able to learn a lot about networks and communication systems. The professor was helpful, always interested in our well-being and very personable on a human level. He provided many teaching materials and made the exams fair.
Intermediate Accounting (ACCT 301A)
This course was probably the most demanding. Since the accounting system in the USA is completely different from that in Germany, it was initially very difficult to memorize the English technical terms and to know what they mean. In addition, the course is only attended by students majoring in accounting. Every week we should do homework that is posted online on the “WileyPlus” learning platform. These helped to better understand the topics and to apply them in practice. They were also included in the overall assessment and accounted for a large part of the points – a major advantage in terms of the level of difficulty of the exams. We wrote 2 midterms and 1 final. There were also two papers (case studies).
The exams were a real challenge and required a high level of knowledge. Accordingly, the overall results of the course, which were on average at C – D (approx. 50-60%). The exams consisted of a theoretical knowledge test (multiple choice) and a practical part. Luckily, twice a week tutoring sessions were given by a student that I attended regularly. This made a lot of things easier to understand and was extremely helpful for the preparations for the exams, since we went through a lot of exercises. I can really recommend the tutoring to everyone who takes this course. It has helped me immensely.
The professor was friendly and helpful, but unfortunately conveyed the content in a way that was difficult to understand, so that we could hardly follow the material during the lectures. However, if you did your homework regularly, attended private tuition and worked through the theoretical basics in the book, you had a good chance in the exam. In this subject, practice helps practice practice. In the end, to our delight, the exams were rated very humanely, so you don’t have to be afraid of failing.
All in all, accounting was a borderline experience in terms of the learning effort, but in retrospect I am glad that I took this course. It was exciting to get to know the American financial and accounting system. I was also able to improve my language skills and learned an unbelievable number of additional technical terms.
Life and Culture/American Lifestyle
The typical American, cosmopolitan, “easy-going” mentality is particularly present in California and is always a pleasant side effect in everyday life.
You can approach people openly on the street and ask for help. Even at the supermarket checkout you can’t avoid a short chat. Many Americans (especially the Uber drivers) are very talkative. We were regularly asked about our place of origin and our study stay and how we like it in general. Californians also like to give a nice compliment, which we Germans couldn’t really handle at first. However, this always sweetened our day and lifted our spirits.
On the weekends we mostly drove to Los Angeles to explore the numerous corners of this huge metropolis. There is the Arts District downtown with many artistically painted walls, Venice Beach with its lively promenade, the Santa Monica Pier with its colorful hustle and bustle on the water and of course Beverly Hills with its sparkling shopping streets. We also visited the beautiful city of San Diego or beaches like Laguna Beach a few times. So there was a lot to see and admire.
During Spring Break week, I traveled to San Francisco, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon with my roommate. Culturally, San Francisco is more reminiscent of New York than LA. Many European restaurants, many tourists from all over the world (especially German) and a different mentality. After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, riding a traditional “cable car” and exploring the most picturesque corners of this cosmopolitan city, we continued to Las Vegas.
A completely different world awaited us there: everything glittered, blinked and sparkled. This city cannot be described, you have to see and admire it yourself. We continued with a coach to the Grand Canyon, which offers a breathtaking natural scenery. We spent two days there and couldn’t get enough of it.
The spring break week was really worthwhile and I recommend you to take advantage of it for travel in any case. There is so much to see in California and the neighboring states – in addition to numerous large cities, coastal beaches and desert areas, there are also national parks and nature reserves.
All in all, I am very happy to have spent my theory semester abroad at CSUF. Within a very short time I have seen and experienced so much and developed both personally and linguistically. The courses were challenging and sometimes very time-consuming, but at the same time interesting and instructive.
Of course, such a semester in the USA also has its price – so you should make sure beforehand that you are already saving for it in Germany and do not misjudge the planning. However, I can say with certainty that it was worth every cent and I would do it again at any time.