University: California State University Fullerton
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Business Administration, Psychology
Study type: semester abroad
I knew from the start that I wanted to go to California. So it quickly became clear that I would have to organize the semester abroad myself, as unfortunately my university’s partner universities didn’t offer any options. I quickly found MicroEdu and IEC through recommendations from other students. However, I only received a standard e-mail from IEC on my first request. On the other hand, I immediately received a personal email from MicroEdu, which also answered my first questions. That’s why I chose MicroEdu, which I don’t regret at all. The advice was great and you could ask any question, no matter how stupid. For the CSUF I then decided simply because of the lower tuition fees compared to other universities. The university in San Diego was still on the shortlist for me – but of course it is a lot more expensive and I found out from MicroEdu that international students are separated from Americans in the courses there… that was the end of it for me. Most international students in California come from Germany and study with Germans – I can do that at home too! Check existingcountries.com to see California State University Chico Review 2.
Due to my great experience with my host family from my time as an au pair in Australia, I initially considered moving to a host family. Unfortunately, these families often don’t live directly across from the campus and I didn’t want to be dependent on a car right from the start. An acquaintance who had already attended CSUF recommended University Village to me. I also toyed with University House, but they only give out one-year contracts and I didn’t feel like worrying about a new tenant. In addition, the food (2 x daily from Mon – Fri) is included in the University Village, so that both do not take much in terms of costs.
The UV also offers contracts for five months and the pictures on the internet also convinced me. But please don’t be blinded by these photos – the reality in the UV looks different!!! But that’s mainly due to the fact that the Americans have a completely different understanding of cleanliness than we do. So I arrived at the UV full of anticipation and experienced a bitter disappointment when my roommate took me to our apartment for the first mail. I would have liked to get back on the plane straight away. My room looked like someone had fled it. It feels like the floor hasn’t been vacuumed in months. The sinks were rusted through. The promised WLAN was practically non-existent (that’s why we had to get additional Internet and television for the apartment). The great facility promised in the photos? None! All you get at the UV is a closet (some have doors, some don’t), a small bed, a bedside table, a lamp – that’s it. Looking back, this first moment of shock wouldn’t have been so huge if I hadn’t expected something completely different based on the pictures and recommendation. However, the fact that you then have to pay $1,159 per month for it (for the large room – unfortunately the small ones were no longer available) was still a bit frustrating. I would not have expected something completely different based on the pictures and recommendation. However, the fact that you then have to pay $1,159 per month for it (for the large room – unfortunately the small ones were no longer available) was still a bit frustrating. I would not have expected something completely different based on the pictures and recommendation. However, the fact that you then have to pay $1,159 per month for it (for the large room – unfortunately the small ones were no longer available) was still a bit frustrating.
Unfortunately, the position of the UV is not optimal either. Yes, the UV is across from the campus, but at the other end. It takes a good 20 minutes to walk to the buildings where the lectures take place, which is not much fun at 40 °C. So I bought a bike from Target. This made the daily trip to the university much more pleasant. Unfortunately, most of the shopping facilities and fast food chains are also on the other side of the campus (about 30 minutes on foot from UV) – which is also annoying. The only thing that’s really close to the UV is Target. Due to the daily catering in the accommodation, this is actually only half as wild. The UH and also, for example, the UCA Apartments are better in terms of location.
…I would choose the UV again. Why? Because my (American) roommates were great, because the staff there were all super nice (although not the fastest/most efficient), because the room wasn’t that bad after I cleaned it and spruced it up with some furniture because the food is really great (there is always a main course, vegetables, rice, noodles, pizza, salad, soup, fruit, dessert – some really, really delicious food – which I would have had to buy and cook myself, I’m sure would not have allowed it and would have flown home with significantly more kilos on my ribs) and above all because I met a lot of great people there. Eating together was always our highlight.
Although our group consisted mainly of Germans, that’s just unavoidable when you choose California. It’s the internationals who want to explore and travel the country. Americans don’t have time for that. So for various excursions at the weekend you get together with the other internationals – and they are a good 90 percent either German or Asian. There are also many internationals in UV – that is, Germans and Asians. We were a great group and I really enjoyed the time at the UV. However, there are also many apartment complexes in Fullerton with cheaper rents. However, it is easy to forget that there is also the cost of food. If you want to eat smart, then it doesn’t take much in the end. You can only get really cheaper if you share a room. However, that was out of the question for me. You should also keep in mind that these apartments are not furnished and you have to take care of the furnishings yourself. Some of our friends solved this with Ikea and brought the furniture back after the semester. There is also a church in Fullerton that organizes a furniture giveaway at the beginning of the semester – I also took a chest of drawers and an armchair with me. The church even organizes the transport of the furniture to the respective apartments. A really great thing! You can also get blankets and pillows, kitchen utensils and lamps… pretty much everything except beds.
The university and choice of courses
Support from the International Office was OK. Since I work in IO myself at my university, I expected a bit more. There is only one orientation day at CSUF. At my university, a whole week is spent on this. I’ve heard from others that the university in Long Beach also plans a week for orientation. It’s not like you absolutely need it. But there are so many things to do in the first few days that an orientation week would certainly have been a bit more reassuring than passing on ALL the information to the students in a few hours on one day, who are already busy processing the many new impressions anyway. Apart from that, the staff were always very friendly and helpful. Nevertheless, you feel a bit left alone with the whole crashing course at the beginning.
You have to attend twelve units, i.e. four courses – I got straight into two courses ( Training & Development and Staffing ) by specifying my favorites. So I had to crash two more. But there were also students who took all four courses at once and some who only got one course. For me, the crashing worked quite well in the first week. But that was mainly because I didn’t want any more business administration or management courses. They are very popular and accordingly difficult to crash – especially the “good” course times. I also chose Educational Psychology and American Character, an American Studies course with Prof. Amanda Perez. If you need a course where crediting doesn’t play a major role, I can highly recommend this one. It gives you an even better insight into American culture and you can at least understand a little bit why Americans are the way they are. Prof. Perez is also a really great professor who can definitely entertain!
The workload is certainly more, but it’s not harder. I had the feeling that it was more about quantity than quality – a lot of homework and smaller projects, but not as much is required for this as in Germany, so that with a little diligence you can actually get very good grades. Of course, this does not apply to all courses. Especially the 500 courses have it all. But it also depends on the professors. There can certainly be differences, although the course itself is the same. All in all, I found the quality of the lectures to be very good. I never got bored, it was very practical and interesting!
Leisure and environment
First of all: yes, daily life in California is quite difficult without a car. BUT: it is also possible without… at least without renting one for the entire period. My advice: just wait! There are a lot of people who buy a rental car right away. And who knows… you might even become friends with them… or you meet people you get on well with and after a month/two you decide to rent a car. Most of them have rented a car long-term in groups of three or four. It was often the case that later we didn’t get along so well and there were problems using the car…so: wait and see and take the time to get to know the right people.
For example, I didn’t rent a car for the entire period. On the one hand, we were always able to use each other’s cars. From time to time we only borrowed one for two weeks to drive to Yosemite Park or something similar. Apart from that, a car during the week would hardly have been worthwhile for me, since I always have an event in the morning and one in the afternoon, so there was no point in going to the beach in between. Especially since you easily need 40 minutes (TRAFFIC!!!) to get to the next beach – one way… you don’t drive that every day when you have the pool on your doorstep. In addition, there is also UBER…private people use their cars to drive others from A to B…just download the app – great thing! There is also a train service from Fullerton to San Diego and Los Angeles, from where it is also quite easy to get around by subway. So there are other options than just renting a car for €500 a month.
Destinations from Fullerton are of course LA and the beaches of Orange County. Those who like it far and wide will find what they are looking for in Huntington and Newport Beach. For those who prefer small coves, Laguna Beach is suitable. My personal favourites: the Thousand Steps and Victoria Beach. An absolute must in LA is of course the Walk of Fame (although it is actually not very spectacular – you should of course have seen it anyway), the Giffith Observatory, the hike to the Hollywood Sign and the beaches in Venice and Santa Monica. Be sure to apply for tickets to record TV shows. We went to James Corden and saw Seth Rogan, Jaden Smith and Jason Segal – it was amazing! Save yourself the Disneyland – most were totally disappointed (old and small! ) – take a trip to Downtown Disney instead. There you will find shops and restaurants with a Disney feeling… and without admission. You can also admire the fireworks from there. The entrance fee for Universal Studios is more worthwhile. Make time for San Diego, too – we spent a reasonable amount of time in LA, although San Diego isn’t that far away either and is definitely a much nicer city (most beautiful city in California for me!).
I underestimated the cost at first. I wouldn’t have been able to afford it without the foreign BAföG. Even with the maximum rate, my entire monthly BAföG was spent on rent. Other costs, such as internet for mobile phones ($40) and cinema, going out to eat, shopping, excursions are of course on top of that! Health insurance is also a big expense, which the university prescribes and which cannot be replaced by a German insurance (which of course you also need because the American one does not cover everything). So you have to reckon with insurance costs of about €1000 (about €800 for the university and about €200 for the Hanse Merkur). On the other hand, branded and designer things are cheap – especially the outlets lure with unbelievably cheap offers… shopping there is always worthwhile (even if it actually puts an “unnecessary” burden on the already strained wallet).
The time in California was fantastic and exciting. I would definitely decide to do a semester abroad again. But whether it has to be California is another question. After all, a lot depends on the people you spend time with, so it doesn’t really matter where you are. California is definitely worth a trip….
…if you value sun and sand, California is the place for you. But I found Yosemite Park in northern California and the cities of Seattle, New Orleans and New York to be much more impressive than sun and sand. If you really want to learn English during your semester abroad, you should definitely look for another state or maybe go to Canada ?! California is teeming with Germans. It requires a lot of self-discipline to actively turn away from all Germans and I also find that pretty rude…but everyone has to decide that for themselves.