University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
Range of courses
California State University at Fullerton offers a diverse range of courses. From business administration to dance and theater to medicine, everything is represented here. In my opinion, the Americans are a bit more “open” than we Germans anyway. Everyone can realize themselves there and do what they feel like doing. In Germany, these courses are unfortunately often smiled at or not even offered at a state university. Check existingcountries.com to see University of California Los Angeles Review.
If you would like to use your semester abroad to get a taste of areas that you would otherwise not come into contact with during your studies, I strongly recommend that you attend one of these events during your semester abroad. Unfortunately, I was not able to take advantage of this opportunity because my learning agreement did not allow it, but especially students who want to go to the USA as part of the practical semester and semester abroad and do not have their subjects credited have all the freedom in the world here. But if you, like me, would like to go on a semester abroad outside of the prescribed semester, you will find a wide range of subjects from all areas, especially in the business faculty – whether marketing, management or investments, everyone will find a suitable course for crediting here.
Since the CSUF is unfortunately not a partner university of the FH Dortmund, I applied to MicroEdu as a freemover for my semester abroad. The CSUF does not offer direct applications, or the process is then much more complex than via an external provider, so I can only recommend this route. Even if you want to go to Australia, China or similar, MicroEdu is the right address!
The application process was very extensive and lengthy, but with the support of study advisor Annika, my contact person at MicroEdu, I was able to solve every problem. One difficulty that many students had was getting the bank’s certificate of proof of 15,000 euros in their own account. But here’s the little trick: You can have the money transferred from different sources to your account, to be transferred back after it has been issued. In addition, there is a myth circulating that says the visa application be harsh or something similar: I can only say that this is absolutely not true. You don’t need to worry, the interview at the US consulate in Frankfurt felt like three minutes long and the application process wasn’t particularly challenging if you understand a little English.
The AO for the entire application and organizational process is: Start early enough and make checklists so that you don’t forget anything! There are a million things to consider, so a structured approach is essential. You save yourself an incredible amount of nerves, money and stress. Both MicroEdu and the Internet provide many lists detailing all sorts of items.
Which courses did I take?
In order to meet the requirements of the visa, every German student must attend at least 12 units (24 ECTS points), i.e. 4 courses in most cases. I have chosen the following courses:
MGMT 350 – International Business and Management with Prof. Tomkoria
Prof. Tomkoria gives the most fun classes you will ever experience. You write several assignments as well as quizzes and homework in the course, at the end there is a group presentation that you work on over the semester. In addition, you write 2 midterms and a final exam – as you can see, the course is very demanding and it is really not easy to get a good grade on it. But as with many professors, hard work pays off, so stay tuned and don’t let a bad grade get you down in midterm! The course is very worthwhile if you are interested in the topic, as Prof. Tomkoria also reports a lot about his own experiences in professional life.
MGMT 465A – New Venture Creation and Funding with Prof. Jackson
What can I say – Prof. Jackson has become my absolute favorite professor. He is a kind-hearted person and puts an incredible amount of effort into his lectures. If you are really looking for personal contact with your professors, small courses and good connections, then you have come to the right place. BUT: The course is very very time-consuming and demanding! I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time outside of a class on a class in my college years. The possibilities that develop as a result have made up for it all. In this course you will set up your own company together with a mentor and have to develop a business plan. You also have 2 midterms, a presentation in front of a panel as well as interviews and presentations that you have to work out.
FIN 320 – Financial Management I with Prof. Ucar
This course was my least favorite of all. In my opinion, Prof. Ucar is a very funny person and not a really good teacher. I had to choose the course because of my home university, but would not want to do it again. You have to submit tasks to an online portal every week, you have 2 midterms and a final exam. The exams are doable with good preparation, but the content overlaps with exams from the first or second semester at German universities.
FIN 340 – Introduction to Investments by Prof. Bhootra
Prof. Bhootra is probably the smartest person when it comes to stocks, bonds and hedge funds. You can really take a lot with you from the course and use it in your everyday life if you want to trade in shares or similar. The best thing about the course is the “online game” that all students have to participate in. Here you can trade shares as a group and get a feel for the topic. At the end of the course, you hand in an assignment and give a presentation about the strategies you used. There are also 5 quizzes, 2 midterms and 1 final exam. Some of the exams are very demanding because the subject matter is very complex, but they are doable.
So I can warmly recommend (almost) all courses to you, including the professors. I was very lucky in my choice, I know a few friends who sometimes had really big problems with their professors (both with the language, the way of explaining, unclear requirements, etc.). Ratemyprofessor.com is a great site, the reviews are very helpful.
At the CSUF, however, it is very difficult for internationals to get into the courses they want. All internationals must participate in the so-called “class crashing”. Here you sit down in the lectures that you would like to attend and at the end you have to hope that you get a signature from the professor. However, the most popular courses and professors are usually fully booked right from the start and due to the strict security regulations, the professors are not allowed to take on any more students. In the end, we all went crazier than was necessary, but the rule here is: prepare alternatives! Try to have as many courses as possible credited in advance, the fewer problems you will have on site. Class crashing only lasts two weeks and it’s definitely nicer to leave the whole thing behind as soon as possible and use the time differently. A little tip that helped me a lot, but the university doesn’t like it: write the professors an email in advance. I only came to a course because of that, otherwise there would have been no chance.
What was the teaching style like?
The teaching style is in contrast to Germany, as you may have already seen from my course descriptions, a completely different one. The workload is definitely higher than in Germany, but the material is also a bit lighter. Anyone studying in the US can look forward to weekly quizzes, assignments and presentations. In almost every course there is homework and group work that has to be handed in and presented at the end of the semester. Personally, I didn’t particularly like the system, since I would of course have preferred to spend more time on trips or other activities during the semester, but it was correspondingly easier to get a good grade. The professors have much closer contact with their students and really try very hard. They arealways reachable by email and very understanding. I can only give you the tip to get on well with them, the more understanding you will be shown. I had to reschedule an exam due to my flight home and my professor gave me a different date for the final exam, which was really nice.
At the beginning of each semester you will receive a so-called “syllabus” from the professors, which very clearly reflects the examination requirements, as well as the grading. Many professors have attendance requirements that you really should meet if you want to get a good grade in the subject.
But don’t be put off: it all sounds worse than it is. The university was always a lot of fun and in the end you are there (among other things) to study. With good organization and a little consistent preparatory work, there is more than enough time to travel. But more on that later…
How was the contact with the students on site?
There are a lot of internationals at the CSUF, including many Germans, as in almost all countries. Because of the group work mentioned above, you also have a lot of contact with Americans. Often you are all alone in the courses, so you automatically catch a diverse group and get to know new people. You also get to know a lot of Americans and internationals at the parties, which are well known in America. On Wednesdays we often went to “Brians” and then to “Rems”, typical student bars where internationals hang out.
I met people from Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, America, Germany, Australia, France and many other countries.
Activities alongside your studies
The CSUF offers an incredible number of activities alongside the university. In addition to numerous sports offers ( cheerleading, running groups, volleyball, basketball, baseball – really everything you can imagine), the university very often offers events on campus where you can find out about job offers, internships or various topics. In addition, the university offers many clubs that you can join. Here, too, the offer ranges from Sales Leadership Clubs to Adventure Clubs and Accounting Clubs. I can only recommend this offer to you, because you will get to know a lot of Americans through it. If you have time and are particularly interested in a certain area, it is a wonderful alternative to participate in events and workshops and simply get to know the “American lifestyle”.. Otherwise, of course, you can also join one of the numerous “Fraternaties”. The connections are for women and men (fraternities and sororities) and usually cost a certain fee, which you should inform yourself about in advance. You can’t experience more America, more parties and more activities during your semester abroad, I promise. I have several friends who have entered into a relationship (often they have also been in America for 1 year, for one semester “it’s usually not worth it”), who really only had good things to say. Don’t leave America without going to a frat party, by the way!
There are numerous ways to find accommodation in Fullerton. It is important to note that the prices in the student areas are incredibly high. For a truly American student life, move to campus. Here you live in a shared room, but get to know a lot of Americans. I decided against campus and moved to University House, a student residence about 5 minutes walk from campus. I shared a furnished single room with a private bathroom with three other girls, who luckily were all American. There were often events and parties, two pools, two fitness rooms and best of all: coffee for free. The residential complex was very well maintained and a lot of internationals lived there, so we met by the pool almost every evening and had a barbecue or chatted. I have seen many other apartment complexes and in the end I have to say that University House is the best option for me. The price is very high for German standards, but unlike the other apartments you get the most for your money. I think I would definitely move there again if I had to make the decision again.
Caution is only required with the rental periods. Americans mainly give out annual leases, which is of course very unfortunate for a stay abroad for a semester. I also had to find a new tenant for my room, but that wasn’t a problem in the end because I took care of them early enough. However, you are liable for the room until the end of the rental period (ie the end of July!) and you must pay a deposit. If you panic as easily as I do, I might try to find something that doesn’t lock you into annual contracts!
California as a destination for a semester abroad
I would almost say that there is no more diverse option for a semester abroad than California. The “Golden State” has everything to offer that your heart desires – national parks, metropolises, beaches and sea as well as kilometers of mountain landscapes and lakes. Of course we traveled a lot and explored California from top to bottom. We also flew to Seattle and Vancouver over the weekend, two of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. I was also in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Malibu, Las Vegas, in some smaller towns along the way (Route 1 offers an incredible amount here!), in Death Valley National Park, Yosemite Park, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce and Joshua Tree National Park and at Horseshoe Bend and Lower Antelope Canyon. Of course, we also visited many of the numerous beaches, such as Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Manhattan Beach and El Matador Beach. Some students flew to Hawaii, Florida or New York after or during the semester.
Of course, when you are in America, you also have to explore the many different restaurants and supermarkets that are typically known in Germany (a big shoutout goes to the Cheesecake Factory, highly recommended, and Whole Foods, a supermarket that really does everything sells what the heart desires).
I would decide to do my semester abroad in California again at any time and can really recommend it to everyone!
Of course, the costs should not be underestimated and I would not like to give numbers in the context of this field report, since the costs are really very different for all students. I know people who have used twice as much from me, but I also know others who have spent significantly less.
The biggest cost factors are tuition (about $5,600) and accommodation (about $1,000/month). If you are under 25 years old, the car becomes an extremely high cost factor as you have to pay a young driver fee. It should be said that you really need a car in Fullerton, as there is hardly any public transport.
Almost everyone has received foreign BAföG for support, for which you should apply. BUT: Contrary to the myth that EVERYONE gets foreign student loans and EVERYONE can live on the amount, I unfortunately have to disappoint you at this point. Not everyone gets the entire amount and sometimes the monthly installments are really a joke and very unfairly distributed. I received very little foreign BAföG and was very shocked at the beginning. So get informed early! The calculation of the foreign BAföG is a simple plus-minus calculation and if you don’t get any BAföG domestically then the rate will be very low. I was always told back then that I would definitely get the full amount, which is just not true.
Otherwise, as in any other country, you should find out beforehand how high the cost of living is are (in America these are much higher than in Germany) and how much you might need for the semester abroad. I can only advise you: Plan more than what you think I need. In my opinion, one should not save on anything during a semester abroad, especially in California. The entrance fees (e.g. to amusement parks, Disneyland or Universal Studios) are very expensive, but you should still have been there. Therefore: Start saving early enough, maybe contact the KFW bank that grants student loans and enjoy your time, nobody will ever take that away from you again. If you want to do a “low budget” semester, I would definitely advise against going to America.
Problems and difficulties
I think every student who has planned a semester abroad has had enough difficulties. Beforehand, I thought a lot about whether I had planned enough money and taken out the right insurance, whether I would find friends or attend the courses I needed. In the end everything went very well and all the worrying hours were completely unnecessary.
Just find out in advance about the insurance you need, the costs you will incur and the special features of the country of your choice, then nothing will happen to you.
However, we already had a small, real problem: In Fullerton, you will eventually come across the name “Chico”. A private car rental company that rents cars to students at relatively low prices and does not charge a “Young Driver Fee”. I have read again and again in an incredible number of reports that people trust him, have always rented their cars there and got on very well with him. No sooner said than done, we went there one day and rented our first car there for a total of $750 with a $1,000 deductible. The car made a good impression on us and Chico was also incredibly nice to us. The fact that we had to hand over the money in cash there seems to be normal, so we weren’t worried. The next day we wanted to go to an outlet in Los Angeles and were unfortunately stopped after 5 meters on the freeway by our hood banging against our windshield. From that moment on, Chico wasn’t that friendly anymore. We weren’t allowed to call the police, we had to pay the $1,000 and allegedly we were to blame, although none of us even knew how the hood opened. We got a new car from him, but we returned it after three days because unfortunately we couldn’t trust it anymore. So here’s an urgent request to everyone: Spend a little more money and rent through Sixt, Dollar, Budget or one of the other car rental companies! No one can say whether we were even reported to the insurance company, which would have become a problem especially if we had caused personal injury. The costs of operations and medical care in the USA are largely known.
My ideas were realized 120 percent. I’ve been back home for exactly a month now and I still can’t describe how meaningful my time in America was. The personal development alone, which we’ve probably all gone through, is enormous. I used to smile at people who said “you grow during a semester abroad” – but it’s really true. You grow beyond yourself. Despite the numerous stressful organizational times, the fear of the unknown and the realization that you are completely on your own in a foreign country, the semester abroad was more than worth it. The friends I made there, the trips we made and the “American Experience” we were able to have, nobody can ever take away from me again andI will always remember the time fondly.
I can really only recommend you: Dare to consider countries where you can’t fly home in two hours, go alone and use the time to develop yourself! A semester abroad in the USA is an experience that you can’t compare to a two-week trip, living there for four months and getting to know the culture of the Americans is exactly what you should aim for.