University: California State University Long Beach
City: Long Beach
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Communication Sciences, Journalism
Study type: semester abroad
Like everyone else, I can only emphasize it again: The 5 months at California State University Long Beach were the best semester of my life! With all the ups and downs that such an adventure entails, I had an amazing time and would go back in a heartbeat if I could. So: even if it seems expensive at the beginning, there is a lot to organize, or you still have doubts for another reason: do it! What you experience there, you will experience nowhere else! Check act-test-centers.com to see UCB study abroad opportunities.
MicroEdu is definitely the best address if you are interested in a semester abroad. So you always get support if you have any questions or problems. Start taking care of everything as early as possible to avoid unnecessary stress. Of course, flights are also cheapest the sooner you book them.
All I can say about the Toefl and the visa deadline is: it’s not that bad, I haven’t heard of anyone who really had problems there. I took out insurance with Hanse Merkur, which was easy and hassle-free.
It was clear to me that I neither wanted to live in a student residence nor with a host family. So an apartment. After it was difficult to find two more Americans who wanted to move into a furnished apartment with two Germans, I decided to look for a shared flat on my own. It was clear to me that I didn’t just want to live with Germans. However, the search was not that easy. Craigslist works best (which is also where I ended up finding my roommates), although you have to be a bit careful there too. The best thing is to be there, you can also look at the university’s bulletin boards and of course make appointments to view the university. The Americans prefer that and you are on the safe side too. simple, if possible arrive earlier and book a motel/hostel for the first few days. Americans often look at the last minute, they always find something (don’t get discouraged, I only found my apartment the day before my departure. Couchsurfing is a good alternative for the first few days, so you get to know people right away ). There are many apartment complexes: Beverly Plaza, Crossing at the Bay, Oakwood (furnished). I stayed in the Bay Hill Apartments (recommended – I really miss the view of the Pacific from the balcony). I was really lucky, my three roommates were super nice and just great! So you had contact immediately. We used to go out to dinner together regularly and had a lot of fun. From time to time there were problems with cleaning – always a tiresome topic. But I think, it was right to move in with Americans. In this way you immerse yourself even more intensively in the culture.
As usual in America, I shared a room with a roommate. Little privacy, but doable for half a year. The apartment complexes mostly have a pool and gym – a real plus. Our apartment wasn’t furnished, but the other girls actually brought everything with them. I bought a cheap mattress from IKEA and everything else from the yard sales that are always somewhere. There is everything and very cheap. Built-in closets are available, so it wasn’t a big problem.
Important when looking for a room: Pay attention to what is really important to you, where you would make compromises and where not. In general, be open and take it easy (also applies to living together), some things just work differently in the USA.
Regarding the neighborhood (Long Beach, like any city, has great and not-so-great corners): From 1st – 10th Street is a good area (especially Belmont Heights), be careful over there. East of Redondo Street, the higher streets are still safe, especially around Traffic Circle which is a popular area for students. West of Redondo, above 7th Street, you should keep your hands off. Personally, I don’t find downtown and the area around it that great to live in and it’s quite a long way to the university.
In the beginning I took the bus, it’s free with the student ID. The good thing: you always meet interesting people. The bus comes every 20-30 minutes, there are timetables on the bus, there aren’t any at the bus stops. The buses actually stop on every street corner. The bus is less punctual, so plan your time.
The Metro Blue Line goes up to LA, but that takes time and I wouldn’t ride there alone after dark. Getting around by bus is also difficult in LA itself.
Nobody walks in California. If you’re lucky, your roommates have a car, but without it you just have to cut corners, especially when planning your free time.
I bought a car after a few weeks. There was someone at Pismo Beach who had some sort of leasing deal for exchange students. So I didn’t have to think about how to get rid of the car. I can only recommend a car, I would do it again and again! (But with insurance. I had an accident there, but thanks to insurance and AAA it wasn’t a problem. Unfortunately, you have to pay a $500 deductible.) Parking at the university is expensive and you have to plan time.
If you want to have the American driver’s license: start early and bring your time! At the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicle) you have to take the written and practical test. For the practical you need your own car.
Avoid taking I-405 up to Los Angeles during rush hour. There’s usually traffic jams there, but if you’re lucky you can still be in Hollywood in 45 minutes.
The Beach, as the CSULB is known, is definitely a choice you won’t regret! The campus is huge and offers everything you need – like a small city in its own right. In addition to the classroom buildings, computer rooms and the library, there is a huge shop (among other things with the right outfits that everyone wears here). Of course there are small shops with food, magazines and university supplies on every corner. In addition, restaurants of various fast food chains, 2 Starbucks, a hairdresser, a huge fitness center (which costs us something), pool etc. And of course a shuttle bus that drives off the site if you don’t want to walk. A free shuttle service takes you to your car in the evening if you don’t want to walk alone anymore.
The university also offers many opportunities to sit outside and enjoy the sun while studying!
The professors are super nice. You can tell they really care about the welfare of their students. A professor told me at the beginning that I could always come to her, even if I had personal problems, because I didn’t have any family here. She invited me to her and her husband’s home for Christmas. The ALI people are also there to help with questions.
Choosing a course: It’s not that easy. The whole system with which courses crash means that most courses are generally already full. But since that is clear beforehand, one should prepare accordingly. Pick lots of courses that interest you and be flexible – this way you’re sure to get the ones you want. The same applies here: do not be discouraged.
Just go, even if the course is actually full. Describe your situation to the profs and ask nicely – some make an exception. It’s best to write them a nice email beforehand. In addition, it is also the case with American students that they register and then don’t come, so they persevere.
I took two courses that I can get credit for in Germany and two more “for fun”. A seminar is usually twice a week and often lasts 1: 15. I found the workload significantly higher than in Germany. Essays and homework have to be handed in almost every week, there are two exam phases per semester, plus all sorts of quizzes, etc. However, the content requirements are usually lower than in Germany. Personally, I learned more than at home, but it depends a lot on the specialty you study.
As hard as the exam phase can be, the university does everything it can to support the students. The library is open 24 hours a day, Starbucks offers free coffee shortly before closing time, coffee, fruit and even massages are also offered free of charge in the Student Center.
The books are insanely expensive. Borrowing or buying used is a good alternative and at the end of the semester you can also sell it again.
I opened an account with Deutsche Bank while I was still in Germany, because you can withdraw money from Bank of America for free. That’s not bad, but I would recommend anyone to create an account in the US. At Wells&Fargo this is easy and it makes a lot of things easier.
Of course, a semester like this is expensive, but I can only say: take everything that is offered to you with you. Where else can you experience, see and visit so much as in Los Angeles? These are all things you can’t do at home.
I didn’t quite get by with the 8000-10000 euros, although I didn’t travel much, which of course was also due to the car.
In any case, try to get Bafög.
The weekend actually starts on Thursday evening (keep that in mind when choosing a seminar).
Although the Americans are very open and open-minded, it takes time in America (like everywhere) to really make friends. Approach the people. Acquaintances are made much faster here and in the seminars you actually get to know a lot of new people quickly, otherwise through sports or other associations.
Definitely try “Sprinkles Cupcakes” – the best cupcakes in the world! The World Market is a good place for local groceries, although there are a few German restaurants/shops in the surrounding towns if you’re craving German food. (There is even an Oktoberfest in Torrance;-))
Very important: stay calm! Take everything as it comes and don’t have too many precise ideas in advance about how it should go – it will be different anyway! But you’re here to learn something new. Embrace the new and you will have the time of your life!