University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: pedagogy and teaching
Study type: semester abroad
Where is the best place to start? I had known for quite some time that I wanted to do a semester abroad at an American college, but I always delayed it a bit because there was a lot of organizational stuff involved. I speak from experience as I’ve been to the US for half a year. (high school). And I can only say that the effort was definitely worth it. My semester at Fullerton was one of the most beautiful, greatest, greatest experiences of my life. I flew to Los Angeles (LAX) on August 6th, 2009 (note: as far as I know there is also a closer airport (in Orange County)); so I still had a little time to settle in and look at California. I didn’t have an apartment when I arrived. It was just hard to find anything on the internet. So I spent the first few days at the Motel 6 in Anaheim and immediately started looking for an apartment. I found what I was looking for relatively quickly and found a super great (albeit not exactly cheap) apartment and also the perfect roommate for me. While I didn’t have any particular expectations, the only thing I wanted was for my roommates to be American, if only for the language. I’ve never regretted it either, you just get to know a lot more (culture, language, etc.) when you live and deal with Americans. Check iamaccepted.com to see California State University Monterey Bay study abroad opportunities.
However, I also had to get furniture, which proved difficult at first, especially without a car. But I lived a 10 minute walk from Target and I just got cheap furniture there and brought it to my apartment with the shopping cart and my brother’s help (he was visiting). In the end I was able to sell almost everything again. Another option to live is the University Village, where only students live. But I have to say that I was very happy to have ended up in my apartment. I had everything my heart could desire (pool, jacuzzi, gym, my own bathroom and a cool roommate).
So, what many are probably wondering is whether you need a car. To be honest, no! Of course, some things are more pleasant and easier with a car. But most exchange students I knew didn’t have one. From time to time you can rent a car or take the train or call a taxi. There are also buses, but the connection cannot be compared to that in Germany. If you want to go to the beach, you need a car… Personally, that annoyed me a bit because I’d rather go to the beach more often. I took the train to San Diego and Los Angeles, no problem and not expensive. I flew to San Francisco and also flew once to Las Vegas and drove once to Las Vegas. That was also something that really appealed to me about Fullerton, it’s very centrally located. We also had a week off, so I flew to Mexico (Cancún) with a friend. It was gorgeous and not too expensive either. Many Germans also flew to Hawaii, but that was too expensive for me, mainly because I had also been in Mexico shortly before. But everyone just raved about it.
So now to something really essential: the university The CSUF campus is just gorgeous, palm trees, pool and food court, huge gym that’s free for students. I always rode my bike to uni (bought it at Wal-Mart), provided you find an apartment nearby (which I would recommend, especially if you don’t have a car). The teachers (at least the ones I had) were all super nice and helpful. I took two education courses and two English courses. However, everything was a bit more complicated here, especially for those studying business administration. You only find out on site whether you can get into the courses you have indicated and it can also be the case that you do not get into the courses you want and have to be satisfied with the ones that are still left! In general, one can say that it might not be quite as difficult as in Germany, but a lot is required, I had to read an awful lot in almost all of my courses. The exams, on the other hand, were not that difficult. But don’t worry…I haven’t overworked myself at all;-) and I finished all subjects with an A. There is enough time for lots of fun! What I found a bit of a shame, though, is that it’s very difficult to make contacts at the university. The students there explained to me that it was because many of the students do not live in Fullerton but commute from further away. Oh yes, my highlight, Disneyland is only about 10 minutes away (by car), since I am a huge Disney fan, I immediately bought an annual pass and went there several times. So I think it’s worth it. On Halloween we were all (a lot of Germans) in Santa Barbara, that was also an experience, very chaotic, but fun. Well, if I had to decide today, I would turn the semester abroad into a year abroad. It was really, really hard for me to leave. It was just so beautiful and I still miss it terribly. I’m generally a family man, but I wasn’t homesick once, there’s e-mail and Skype
!!). In conclusion, I can only recommend everyone to do a semester abroad in the USA (CALIFORNIA It’s a really great and important experience, and I would do it again anytime!
So, to all who dare: HAVE FUN!!!