University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Business administration, English/American studies, Romance studies
Study type: semester abroad
The application to California State University Fullerton went very quickly and easily with the help of MicroEdu. Almost 1 week after sending off the application documents, I received the acceptance from the CSUF, sent by MicroEdu. However, compiling the documents for this took quite a while and you should start planning your semester abroad at least 3/4 of a year in advance. It can be that you have to wait quite a long time for an embassy appointment, but the appointment is quite quick and uncomplicated, you are only asked a few general questions about your stay abroad. The visa was mailed to me a few days later. I booked my flight quite early, but you can also wait for a last minute bargain, but that was too risky for me. I would recommend arriving in California 1-2 weeks before the start of the semester to look around for local accommodation and to do some exploring and looking around the campus. I started looking for an apartment from Germany and wrote to various shared flats and the international office. However, this is usually difficult if you are not there yet, since most of them wanted to rent their room within the next few days and offered me appointments to view it. It is possible to apply in advance for a place in University Village, but I personally don’t think this is the best place to live. On the one hand, at around $950 a month, you pay quite a lot and you have to move out immediately after the end of the semester. It is also possible to apply for a room in a family. I think this is one of the best alternatives, since other international students are usually accommodated in the same family and you can get that for 600 dollars without meals. Check existingcountries.com to see University of California Santa Barbara Review.
I arrived in California 2 weeks before the semester started and spent the first 3 days with a host family. I would also recommend anyone who does not yet know where they will live to apply for this opportunity. My host family gave me a lot of support after my arrival and they gave me important tips on finding an apartment and living in the USA. They also drove me to the apartments I was looking at and they drove me to the shops as I still needed to buy such things as a cell phone and bedding.
After my arrival, I searched more intensively for apartments and finally found a room in a family’s house. This style of living is very common in the Fullerton area and it also gives you a little bit of family connection. The family usually rents 1-2 rooms in their house and you also have a roommate. With rental prices, expect to spend $500-900. I would have preferred to live in a shared flat with other Americans, but I found it very difficult to find this as many people are looking for accommodation at the beginning of the semester. I would recommend looking for apartments on the craigslist site, you can also find other things there like furniture or bicycles. I also bought a bike when I got there for $45. I would also recommend making this purchase, since you are not dependent on the buses, which usually only go to the CSUF once an hour. Otherwise you can also use the university card to travel for free on the buses in Orange County. Outside, a bus ride costs about $1.50.
I drove to a few beaches in the area before the semester started. If you use the buses for this, you should plan 2 hours for one way, since the bus connections are not necessarily the best.
On the first 2 days before the start of the semester, an orientation event takes place at CSUF for the international students and everyone is invited to the residence of the university president and greeted personally at lunch. You will also be shown around the campus and given various information such as a campus map or brochures on course selection. The campus map helped me a lot to find the right building at first. The course number is always preceded by an abbreviation that refers to the building.
Since most international students take business administration courses, it is also the most difficult thing to get exactly the courses you want in this area. Shortly before the start of the semester you can see which courses you have entered and which you have not. In any case, you should go to all the courses you want and always ask the lecturer before the class starts if it is still possible to get a place. Usually you have to wait 2 weeks and then you can only officially join the courses, but if you are lucky the lecturer will also sign the slip that you have to hand in to the international office to have new courses entered. I generally find the professors more helpful than at German universities. They are also always available for the students and some even offer to call them at home if you have any questions. Every professor is also happy if you drop by during his office hours.
I opted for 2 business administration courses, an English course and a French course. My French course was at a pretty low level, although it was offered as an intermediate french composition and grammar. The lecturer, Mrs. Druon, otherwise tried very hard to explain everything in an understandable way and she gave many grammar exercises as homework. These were then also evaluated, just like oral presentations or short compositions. The English course I took was called English in America and it briefly covered all the basics of linguistics. Overall, the course was more of a lecture style. I then took the Marketing Course Consumer Behavior, which was held by the German professor Mrs. Harich. I would highly recommend this course to anyone because Ms. Harich worked a lot with examples and always explained the whole material well. In addition, the students could vote on the topics that would be asked again in the next exam and there were also extra credit tasks, which increased the final grade.
Then I took the Entertainment Business Management course, which was also taught well by Mr. Fraser. If you are interested in this area, I can only recommend this course, as you will get an overview of the areas of television, cinema, gambling, amusement parks, hotels and restaurants.
I was very satisfied with the courses I took and found the teaching structure to be better than in Germany. A total of 2 midterms and one final were written in each course, which is normal for courses at American universities, but the workload is easy to manage and you still have enough free time on the side. In most business courses, multiple choice tests are written and there are 1-4 open questions. Overall, it was easier for me than in Germany and I think this system is better than at a German university, because you don’t have to study the material of an entire semester at once at the end. I also had to write a term paper for my Entertainment Business course and one for my English course. However, these were only a maximum of 7 pages long and therefore easy to manage, since you start with them during the semester. The percentage of the individual partial grades of the midterms and the homework in the final grade varied from course to course. The final grade can then be viewed online about 2-3 weeks after the end of the semester. You can also fill out an application to have a transcript of records sent to Germany.
At the beginning of the semester, all of the university’s organizations and clubs present themselves on campus and recruit new members. I would recommend everyone to join one of the clubs, because that way you can make even more contacts and the clubs usually organize different group activities. I myself joined the International Student Organization and this group organized, for example, a day at the beach with a campfire barbecue.
There are also numerous recreational opportunities on the campus, the large new fitness center can be visited every day and costs around 25 dollars a month. There is a pool and a climbing wall, among other things. Otherwise there are several bowling alleys and another room with billiards and table tennis tables and slot machines. On certain days of the month you can play there at reduced prices. Also, movies are shown approximately every 2 weeks at the Womens Center and Titan Student Union, both with free popcorn and drinks. In general, you can get free food very often on the uni campus, for example at various promotional events, you just have to keep your eyes open;)
Outside of the university, there are of course numerous opportunities for leisure activities. If you have a car you can drive to one of the beaches in the area in about half an hour and take surfing lessons there. Otherwise there are a few bars and clubs in Fullerton, which I didn’t really get to go to because I was under 21 and you can’t even get into a bar at that age in the USA. I then went to private parties in other students’ apartments, which also happen very often.
If you want to go to the cinema, you can go directly to Fullerton or the neighboring town of Brea, which costs around 11 dollars.
Otherwise there are of course a large number of possible travel destinations in California, all of which can be very well designed as weekend trips. For example, I’ve been to San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Yosemite National Park, Santa Barbara, San Jose, Santa Monica, and more. You can also fly very cheaply to other parts of the USA, I would recommend Southwest Airlines for this, as this airline usually has the cheapest prices and you can check 2 suitcases for free. For example, you can also travel to San Diego very cheaply by Greyhound bus or train. If you want to go to certain area attractions such as Disneyland in Anaheim or Sea World in San Diego, I would recommend buying tickets in advance at the Titan Student Union at the university,
All in all, I really enjoyed my semester abroad at CSUF and can only recommend everyone to do the same.