University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: alternative medicine
Study type: semester abroad
When it came to choosing the university, the courses were my priority because I had very specific ideas: I wanted to take sports psychology courses over there. So my approach was that I first looked for a pain threshold for the tuition fees. Sure, studying over there is always very expensive, so you always have to take that into account. After that, I went through MicroEdu’s list of universities and first looked at how expensive the tuition fees were. If it wasn’t too expensive for me, I would then go through the list of courses at the university in search of the right courses. Then, of course, I had to check whether the courses were being offered in the right semester. Check iamaccepted.com to see California State University Fullerton study abroad opportunities.
It was through this process of elimination that I finally ended up at Fullerton. Applying through MicroEdu was really easy. I started looking for a university about 11 months in advance. If you’re not quite as picky about the courses as I am, you don’t have to start that early. I’ve been looking for quite a long time. At the beginning of January I sent off the application and very soon afterwards I was looking after the apartment, flight and so on
To choose a course, you have to send the university a list of at least 8 different courses that would suit you in advance, and the International Office will then try to enroll you in the courses. When you are there, you will find out which (if any) courses you have already entered. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a single course in advance. That had been one of my biggest concerns in the run-up, which was then promptly confirmed. But it really wasn’t a problem at all. Others that I got to know did attend 4 courses, but they weren’t the “right” courses to get grades credited in Germany. They then had to crash different courses just like me. Everyone is in the same boat at the beginning and the International Office is also very helpful. You’ll definitely find a place. The only question remains, do you get the courses you need? It worked for me and everyone I met in the long run. Maybe you don’t get all 4 dream courses, but 3 dream courses are a good quota.
The crash looks like you go to the professor in the first lesson and ask if you can still go to the course. You have the first 2 weeks of the semester to do this. So it’s no problem to swap courses in the second week. I always found it very helpful to write an email to the lecturers beforehand. If you’re lucky, they’ll already know and know your name. Especially if many internationals want to take the same course, it helps to have written an email to the lecturer in advance. It also makes sense to sit in the front row, as this shows commitment and motivation. And don’t have any inhibitions or fear of contact. The professors over there are much more approachable than German lecturers, they are actually much easier to talk to.
Studying in itself is very schooly, but also easier than in Germany. You have to do homework every week, but it feels a bit like occupational therapy. The main thing is that you do your homework and stick to the instructions of the lecturers. The midterms are a bit annoying because you write the first exams quite early in the semester. Especially since you can have several such midterms within a few days. However, the scope of the material is considerably less than what I know from exams in Germany. The exams themselves consist almost entirely of multiple choice questions. Just like in Germany, you can be lucky or unlucky with the wording of the question. So all in all it’s a lot of work to do, but the work itself isn’t difficult.
I also have the feeling that I have learned something good. Interestingly, many of my courses were more self-aware. In that way, I actually learned a lot about myself. Those are definitely experiences that I appreciate. In addition, I have also learned “hard” knowledge and methods for my “toolbox”.
I chose the UV and have no regrets at all!! The UV has clear advantages and disadvantages: First of all the good sides: The location, directly opposite the campus, is very good and you can easily go shopping on foot. The apartments themselves are also quite nice, but nothing special. I found it very helpful that they are furnished. The biggest advantage was the cafeteria where you can eat twice a day. IN other testimonials you will read that there is mostly chicken and rice there. This is also true. The food is not particularly varied. The dishes are repeated very soon. But there is also fresh fruit every day (delicious, sweet pineapple or melons, and grapes) and a salad bar, daily changing soups and every evening cookies for dessert. So even if you don’t feel like eating chicken and rice, you can always find something to fill you up. I’m actually someone who passionately likes to cook for myself and in the long run I wouldn’t like it at all. But for one semester, it’s just an immense relief not having to worry about it yourself. Yes, the rent in the UV is very expensive, but the cost of living over there is also so expensive that I don’t think you could eat just as well and healthily if you had to go shopping for it yourself.
For me, the biggest advantage of the UV was the socializing and the shared meals. Because everyone goes to eat more or less at the same time, you never eat alone. On my first day there, I made friends over dinner, with whom I was then able to experience great things throughout the semester. No matter how much university stress you have at the moment, you see your friends at least twice a day. Every time I went to eat there was someone there to sit with.
One of the disadvantages is clearly that there were more than half Germans. So if you primarily want to improve your English, you have to make a great effort to only speak English from the start and not just speak German to all the Germans. The second downside is the somewhat incompetent staff. They are always friendly, but you really have to speak very clearly with them and sometimes bang the table if you want something from them. For repairs or the like, you sometimes run after them for a week. A final major flaw was the fact that there were rats in the walls of one building. Here, too, the incompetence of the staff is striking, as they haven’t been able to do anything about the rats for weeks. For the sake of completeness I mention the one with the rats. But don’t let that impress you too much. I always felt super comfortable in the UV!!
In probably all other field reports you will read that you definitely need your own car. Not here. I didn’t have my own car and thought it was the right decision. If you want to party in LA during the weekdays and go to the beach to surf during the weekdays, then you need your own car, yes. But if you study and have to do a lot for the university during the week and “only” travel every weekend, then you don’t need your own car. I had university courses from Monday to Thursday and used this time intensively to do all my homework and to study. So I had the weekend from Thursday 2 p.m. and used that accordingly for road trips and the like. used. My best friends bought a car, and I certainly benefited from that. So I only had to bear the fuel costs. Some weekends I did something with other friends and then we usually rented a car from Herzt. With a rental car you have the advantage that you get a replacement in the event of an accident. With your own car, on the other hand, you have a lot of stress (I could see that with my friends).
I don’t know exactly how it is in terms of cost, which is cheaper. But it’s definitely less stressful to rent one for the weekends. As I said, if you want to do a lot during the week, you should consider having your own car. But if you’re over there to learn and if the weekends are enough for travelling, I think it’s better to rent one.
Top! My tips for you: Do everything that has to do with summer as soon as possible: So go to the beach a lot in the first few weeks. If you want to go to a water park, do that pretty soon, because they go on “winter break” in mid-September and do it. And if you want to buy chic summer dresses and summery clothes, go shopping soon, otherwise the “winter collection” will come. Don’t worry, the weather is actually a dream the whole time (I even got another sunburn in December). But the shops adjust quite early to things that are less summery. And it soon gets too cold to go surfing without neoprene.
Anyone who loves nature will love the national parks. In addition, these were always the cheapest trips we have made, because sleeping in a tent costs next to nothing. But also here the hints: It gets cold much faster than I would have thought. In Yosemite we had around 0 degrees at night at the end of September, in the Grand Canyon at the end of October -3. So my tip would be to plan stuff like this earlier in the semester, and city tours (to San Diego, Las Vegas or San Francisco) and theme parks (like Six Flags and Disneyland) later in the semester. Another tip for the national parks: For some things in the parks you need special permits, which you sometimes have to apply for months in advance. For example, if you want to stay overnight at the bottom of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, you have to apply for a permit in advance.
When you first start out, you worry a lot about money. I would have appreciated a rough idea of the costs in advance, so I wrote down my expenses quite extensively: I actually spent an average of $200 a week on travel and leisure. I know that sounds like an incredible amount! I couldn’t quite believe it either. But there is a lot in the money: Purchases in the first few weeks (bed linen, crockery and everything for the apartment, monthly fees for cell phone contract and internet, fee for the Rec Center on campus), all shopping and souvenirs that I did in 5 months costs for meals and accommodation at the weekend, entrance fees, fuel costs, rental car (in addition to the 200 per week I also had to pay the rent for the UV and the tuition fees as well as the flight). Of course, I didn’t spend that much money every week. At the beginning a little more and after larger shopping tours also, if it only went to a national park at the weekend less. During the week I spent almost nothing, actually only on the weekend. I also saw a lot for the money: Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Zion, Sequioa, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, all beaches, Six Flags, Disneyland…
And one more tip: Especially at the beginning you often had the feeling that you had to be there everywhere and didn’t want to miss anything. But in the end that meant that you couldn’t enjoy the moment at all, because maybe there’s a hotter party somewhere else! Don’t let this drive you crazy or infect you. Make a list of what you want to do and plan it. If an opportunity arises spontaneously, use it. And otherwise enjoy the time and live in the moment. Sounds cheesy, but that’s how it is. If you are at the beach, enjoy the sun and the sea, the salty air in the comforting warmth on your skin, and don’t think about what others might be experiencing in Los Angeles right now and whether they are meeting a star that you could miss. You can’t be everywhere at once, so really be there
It was the hottest time of my life. I won’t experience anything like this again anytime soon. I am incredibly happy and grateful that I did it. Dare! It’s all worth the money and effort.