University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
In August 2017 I started my semester abroad at CSUF as a free mover. During the semester I decided to stay for a second semester and so spent the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 semesters there. Check existingcountries.com to see University of California San Diego Review.
I always knew that I wanted to do a semester abroad in the USA, but I started thinking about this quite late. In December 2016 I started researching and, on the recommendation of a friend, decided to enlist the help of MicroEdu.
Since everyone recommends that you book a semester abroad a year in advance, I assumed I would be late for the fall semester of 2017, but was informed by MicroEdu that it was still possible. It took me a long time to decide on a university, but Annika was always very helpful with all my questions. Ultimately, I chose CSUF because of the location and the reputation of their business department.
I had already taken my language test in January, most of the remaining application documents are completed relatively quickly. I sent off my application in May and was quickly accepted by the university. Due to the very late application, the planning was of course a bit more stressful, but still doable.
The university offers four options for housing : Dorms, University Village, Cultural Homestay and looking for an apartment on your own.
Homestay was not an option for me right from the start and I didn’t want to look for my own apartment either, as most of them are unfurnished. Since the dorms were already full, I opted for the University Village.
Here you have the choice between different room sizes, in 2- or 3-bed apartments or a studio. The rent includes electricity and gas as well as lunch and dinner in the cafeteria from Monday to Friday. The bedrooms are furnished with a bed + bedside table, desk + chair and built-in closet, the kitchen and living room are also furnished. There is a common room, a gym and a pool. Both Americans and many international students live in the UV. I was very lucky to have a Canadian roommate, so I spoke English throughout.
The university is directly opposite, it takes about 10-20 minutes to walk, depending on which building you have to go to. Lots of people buy a bike, but you can get along fine without one.
It should be noted that due to a change in management at the end of last semester, the University Village will henceforth be known as Oxford North. A lot is being completely renovated, the rents are changing and you can now choose how often you want to eat in the cafeteria, which is very helpful due to the different course times at the university.
At the beginning of the semester there is an orientation for international students. Everything you need to know for the semester abroad is explained here. There is a campus tour that is very helpful to get an initial overview and events to get to know other people directly.
The International Office team is very nice and helpful and always has an open ear for questions.
The campus is huge and super beautiful. There are a number of places to study, both indoors and outdoors. There are also many dining options on campus, including a food court, a few food trucks, and several Starbucks.
As a student, you can watch the university’s sporting events for free , such as basketball, baseball, softball, and soccer, where there is always a good atmosphere. There is also a student union (incl. bowling alley, pool tables and student bar) and a large gym, which costs around $120 per semester for international students.
Even before the semester starts, you have to fill out a list of course requests and send it to the university. If you are lucky, you will already have all 4-5 courses you want when you arrive, but this is very rarely the case for the business courses, as these are very popular and the local students have priority on the courses. I had to “crash” all four of my courses, i.e. go to the courses and ask the lecturer to be accepted. This can make the first two weeks very exhausting, but in my experience the lecturers are very open and helpful. I ended up getting all the courses I needed/wanted.
Many courses are offered several times, so you can try to schedule the courses well. Usually you have 3-4 days at university and therefore enough free time.
Courses of the first semester (fall 2017):
Principles of Macroeconomics (ECON 202) by Feng Xiao:
Very easy course, the professor is nice and understanding. There is a midterm and a final exam, every now and then there is a quiz and you have to give a short presentation. The course itself is a bit boring, but if you need macroeconomics I would highly recommend the course.
Quality Management (MGMT 425) at Don Smith:
The course disappointed me a little, because the professor didn’t convey the material in a particularly exciting way and the lessons sometimes dragged on a bit. There are 2 midterms and a final exam, and a group project.
Entertainment Business (MGMT 365) at Harold Fraser:
This course was one of the best courses I’ve had and I highly recommend it if you want to learn more about the background of Film & TV, Radio, Sport, Tourism and much more in this direction. Prof. Fraser himself has worked for large companies such as Paramount for many years and imparts his knowledge in a very exciting and lively manner. There are 2 midterms and a final exam, and a term paper.
Hospitality and Tourism Management (MGMT 471) at Ellen Kim:
This has been my favorite course the whole time. Prof. Kim is an incredibly nice and helpful lecturer who shares her own experience in the industry in a very understandable and interesting way. The course consists of a midterm and a final exam, and a group project in which you can apply the material you have learned very well.
My second semester courses (Spring 2018)
Financial Management I (Fin 320) with Marcia Clark:
The lecturer is very nice and tries to help all students as best she can. Since the course works with an online program, the purchase of the book (incl. online access code) for about $100 is required. The course is standardized and involves a lot of effort, there are 2 midterms set by the professor, weekly online homework and quizzes for each chapter, an online exam, and a final exam set by the department.
Introductory Psychology (Psyc 101) by Christine Scher:
Since this is an introductory course, the material is not particularly difficult. There are 2 midterms and a final, a paper, and you have to show 5 hours of research involvement during the semester, i.e. take part in experiments/surveys. In addition, there are 3 group projects that you can voluntarily participate in for extra credits.
Principles of Information Systems (ISDS 351) by Laura Marcoulides:
I didn’t particularly like this course because the material was presented in a very unstructured and uninteresting way in my opinion. Here, too, an online program is used, so you have to buy 2 books (including access codes), which together cost $120. There are 2 midterms and a final, all of which are conducted online in the course. In addition, a group project runs through the whole semester, which unfortunately was not particularly understandable and very confusing. If you don’t absolutely need the course, I would definitely recommend another one.
Organizational Behavior (MGMT 340) at Thiraput Pitichat:
This course is one of my favorites. The lecturer is still very young and motivated to convey the material in an interesting and understandable way. The course consisted of 2 miter terms and a final, a short term paper and a group project. There were frequent lessons in which the material was applied practically through active participation, which made the course very varied and exciting.
All in all, you can really say that the courses require more effort than the courses at German universities, you have to get used to the fact that there are some assignments, tests or exams almost every week. However, the fabric is a lot lighter and compensates for this quite well.
Fullerton really appealed to me because of its location. Within 30-40 minutes you are at various beaches, such as Huntington Beach, Newport Beach or Laguna Beach. It’s also not far to LA, depending on the district you drive between 30 minutes and 1 ½ hours, but this depends very much on the time of day, during rush hour you can sometimes need significantly more time.
In the course of my time there I have made many excursions and really seen a lot. In addition to many smaller trips to LA and San Diego, weekends are ideal for seeing Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon or Joshua Tree National Park. We even used a weekend to fly to Vancouver.
The Fall/Spring Break is great for taking a trip to San Francisco driving up the entire coast. I used the time between my semesters to see more of the USA, such as Miami, Orlando and New Orleans.
Not to forget all the national parks, I did these after the spring semester before going back home.
In terms of transportation, one can say that a car is clearly an advantage, since the distances in America are very large. The public transport system is not particularly well developed to drive and get around Los Angeles, but longer trips (especially to the national parks) are hardly feasible without a car. My roommate and I didn’t have a car, we either drove with friends or rented a car for certain trips. We always booked rental cars through Enterprise because they were usually the cheapest there, especially the young driver fee that you pay in America if you are under 25 years old.
All in all I had a wonderful time at CSUF and in California and would recommend it to anyone. I think the fact that I extended my stay speaks for itself. I’m glad that I decided to do a semester abroad because I gained a lot of experience, traveled to beautiful places and met good friends.