University: California State University Long Beach
City: Long Beach
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: engineering
Study type: semester abroad
My studies in “Sports and Health Technology” in Germany made it possible for me to start a semester abroad in the 5th semester. In mid-January 2017, I started thinking about a semester abroad in winter semester 2017/2018, after which I took the DAAD language test at my university in early February. In discussions with the International Office of my university, MicroEdu was recommended to me, among other things, if the partner universities were not suitable for me. After a few counseling sessions at MicroEdu, in which I clarified which universities would be suitable for me (be it the location, the language certification or the course start), I decided on them California State University Long Beach (CSULB for short). MicroEdu guided me through the entire application process and was able to successfully submit my application with all the necessary documents. Check act-test-centers.com to see UCI study abroad opportunities.
After I got feedback from America that I was accepted for a semester abroad, it was a matter of getting the visa for the stay. With the help of a MicroEdu leaflet that gave step-by-step instructions on how to apply for the visa, this process was a (time-consuming) child’s play. I decided on an appointment in Berlin and traveled there by train. A bus goes from Tiergarten directly to the consulate and at the subway station there I was able to leave my bag and mobile phone at a kiosk for two euros. You then have to wait for the appointment at the consulate and have yourself checked with all the necessary documents. For the important interview at the consulate, I took a letter from my bank and my tennis club with me, in addition to the necessary documents, so that I could prove that I could pay for the semester abroad and that I would then leave the country and return to Germany. I did not have to show this additional letter, but they are meant to be examples of what could be shown to US officials if they request such evidence. During the interview, I was asked what I wanted to do in America and how long I would be staying. After that I could go andmy passport was sent home with the visa.
Flight, apartment, etc.:
The flight booking was then one of the further preparations. Since it was clear to me that I wanted to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve in the USA, I scheduled the return flight for the New Year.
In addition to the flight, you should think about staying in the USA in good time. I decided against a room in the dorms (student apartments on campus) because they were significantly more expensive than other housing options near the university. Apartment complexes on the Traffic Circle were repeatedly recommended in reviews, and I got offers from them. I also asked around for roommates in a Facebook group that was created for the fall semester at CSULB.
After two German students got in touch, we got offers for apartments together. After we got a good offer for an apartment in the Beverly Plaza Apartments, we met in Germany to see if we could imagine sharing a flat together, fortunately they live near me and it was not necessary to travel to Germany. The Beverly Plaza Apartments were only renovated in the summer (and unfortunately also during our semester abroad). I was initially suspicious of the poor online reviews of the apartments, but knowing about the renovations to secure an apartment in advance made it worth the risk. We first decided to bring a fourth American resident into the two bedroom/two bathroom condo to lower the security deposit for the condo, since having a “social security number” that every American has reduces the security deposit many times over. But since we didn’t get any feedback from an American, we decided on another German and a Finnish roommate. That meant in the end that there were five of us living in a two-room apartment (three in one room and two in the other room). Sharing a room with several people is normal there, since rents can be reduced so much and a single room is very expensive.
It is very important that not all roommates are German, so as not to speak German all the time, and you also get to know other cultures better.
We went to Ikea to set it up and equipped ourselves with the essentials. The good thing about Ikea is that you have 365 days to change your mind and bring things back or have them picked up.
Course selection/desired course list:
The desired course list is one of the documents that the CSULB would like to have. Before I started, I looked at the university ‘s course catalog and listed my ten favorite courses. Among them was surfing (KIN 124B) which had to be included on this wish list as it was one of the courses that had to be reserved in order to take it.
Unfortunately, I had to realize that almost all of the courses I wanted were not offered this semester. This could have been because these were very special. On site I then looked at courses online that were offered in the semester and was able to take the following courses:
KIN 124A “Surfing I”
The surf course was one of my most exciting courses, which I was allowed to take. I’ve never surfed before, but I wasn’t thrown in at the deep end. After going through the theoretical basics of surfing such as surfing rules, building a surfboard, dangers in the sea, etc., we placed orders for the surfboards, which we picked up at the surf shop in the hour that followed. In addition to the surfboards, you could also buy a wetsuit in the shop, which was necessary in autumn and winter. A soft top surfboard cost up to $150 (depending on size and manufacturer). In the following hour we were at Bolsa Chica State Beach, our surfing beach, for the first time. We learned the basics of how to behave in the water with the surfboard, how to get behind the waves and there was a little check on how well we could swim. You should be aware that you have to get up early because you have to get changed at 7 a.m. and stand on the beach with your surfboard. Even if the waves can get very high (2m), you are not forced to go in the water, but who doesn’t want to surf (or try) a big wave?
A film review of “The Endless Summer 2” and three online quizzes or exams had to be written as an exam.
I ended up selling my surfboard for $100 (I couldn’t get more than that, since all the internationals who rushed home after the semester offered their boards very cheaply), but for $50 I wouldn’t have a rental board for the time either to get.
KIN 114B “Tennis II”
Since I’ve also been playing tennis in Germany for a few years, I continued my hobby in America with the ulterior motive of learning a little more about the sport. Since Tennis 2 was the more demanding tennis course, as I thought it would be, I took this course. But unfortunately I was disappointed by the content and the playing strength of the other players. Various serves (kick serve, slice serve and flat serve) and grip styles were taught. The other students took tennis I last semester or did a summer course in tennis. It was definitely fun and I learned a few things, but I found it difficult to adapt to the skill level of the other students.
A quiz, two practical tests on serve technique and grip types and a written exam were written as exams.
If you want to compete against good players, I recommend joining the tennis club at the university.
KIN 167A “Soccer I”
In order to take part in a team sport in addition to water sports and racket sports, I also enrolled in the football course.
The football course was all about having fun and strengthening the team spirit. That’s why it was important to play often in addition to fitness and technique exercises. In theory, however, there was hardly any input. Since I don’t play soccer myself, the skill level was appropriate, whereas German soccer players who play in a club can stand out quite clearly on the course.
In this course there was a small paper that had to be written, two exams and a practical exam.
ATEP 207 “Prevention & Care of Athletic Injuries”
The Prevention and Treatment of Sports Injuries course was one of my favorite courses. In addition to a theoretical part, there was also a practical lesson every week in which we learned how to treat certain injuries to the foot, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow or hand using tape and bandages.
In the theoretical part we learned a lot about injuries that can occur in sports or in everyday life. The focus was on injuries to the bones, tendons, muscles and ligaments. In order not to have to learn more than is necessary for this course anyway, you should have prior knowledge of anatomy.
There were practical tests for every taping or bandaging learned, as well as for measuring blood pressure and pulse. Every week there was an online quiz and three exams that were tested on the PC in class.
ET 311 “Quality Engineering Technology”
The Quality Engineering Technology course used a book ($20) and practiced exercises after each chapter. I had the lecture in a seminar room that had no windows, which didn’t contribute particularly well to the learning atmosphere, also because the course lasted three hours (4-7 p.m.). During the lecture we went through the material from the book by handwriting the important points on the blackboard – an old method, but it certainly helped with the learning. In terms of content, we talked about different approaches on how quality can be defined, how quality can be introduced into the company and how it can be measured (and much more).
The test was based on three exams and a presentation on the quality implementation of a self-chosen company as well as homework that was given for each chapter and which had to be handed in by hand.
ENGR 296 “Introduction to Biomedical Research Methods”
As the name actually suggests, it was an introduction to methods for biomedical research. However, as the course progressed, I realized that students with an ongoing study were significantly better off than I, who had not conducted a study before. It was about how to keep notebooks, how to deal ethically with animal and human experiments or how to statistically evaluate the data you have collected. In addition, the form of examination involved writing a so-called research paper. Like few others, I had to come up with a topic for a study and write a research proposal, a report on how I imagined the structure and procedure of a study on a short-term topic.
Since some of the students already had topics and had already written parts of the lectures and papers, I felt a little out of place in this course. It’s only good if you get to know Americans on the course who are happy to help you if you don’t come with them. Oral participation was also assessed in this course, since so-called in-class activities had to be presented at the end of the lesson. These tasks were collected and returned rated. In addition to the tasks, there were a large number of assignments (larger homework) and quizzes, as well as midterms and a final.
You should also buy a book here (price if you borrow it for the semester: $70), I only used this book for the first quiz and then never looked back because nothing was asked about it anymore.
The course selection process is a bit complicated, as you first had to get the signature of the professor, then that of the department, then that of the Study Abroad Office before you could hand in the slip of paper with the courses for enrollment. But if that doesn’t work out or you have problems choosing a course, the Study Abroad Office will be happy to help you.
The courses I took were all seminar-sized, which means I was in the course with a maximum of 20 people (apart from the soccer course). This has led to a good atmosphere and you quickly came into contact with Americans, since you should usually do tasks in groups.
The exams varied in difficulty. There were easier but also very difficult exams, where even the Americans had a hard time. On the whole, however, the level is somewhat lower or equivalent to that in Germany. You have to get involved and hand in the tasks that are given to you. The final exams (finals) are much more superficial if they cover the entire material of the semester, but the midterms and quizzes are sometimes very specific. But, you can pass everything with good grades and still go out and do something at the weekend.
First and foremost, what I can recommend to everyone is to get a car, be it rented or bought. We, that is a roommate, two other Germans and I, bought a car in the USA, to be more precise a Chrysler Sebring from 2008. We had to do some (many) repairs, like changing the crankshaft sensor or tires, but we still experienced a lot by car and in the end it was probably cheaper than making all the trips with Uber or Lyft. So we made trips to San Diego, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles, Malibu, Joshua Tree National Park, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.
During the free time in November, the Fall Break, I took a trip to Hawaii with two girls, where we traveled to three islands in eight days at high speed. My tip: leave out O’ahu (because it’s very touristy) and take a better look at the other islands, I especially liked Maui.
We unanimously decided not to have any parties in the shared apartment, as they tend to get out of hand, because everyone brings other people with them and damaged things in the apartment affect the deposit, which we wanted to get everything back in the end (we could this really minimizes the deductions from the deposit as nothing was damaged).
This semester abroad was the best I’ve ever experienced and I can recommend everyone to take this step, I would do it again and again. I had the best roommates I could have imagined, made lifelong friends and am still in touch with a few Americans ready to visit in the near future. I would like to thank everyone who gave me an unforgettable time, especially my father, without whom I probably would not have started this semester abroad.
PS: For all those who are under 21 and want to study in the USA and have doubts about their age: It’s worth it, you don’t miss out on anything.