University: California State University Long Beach
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Geography, Geology, English Studies / American Studies
Study type: semester abroad
I rate the entire application process as very clear and easy to manage. Thanks to the very well-structured information documents and instructions provided by MicroEdu, as well as their good availability via e-mail and telephone, I personally didn’t have any great difficulty in coping with the application process. MicroEdu usually responds very quickly (less than 24 hours) via email. This helped me to quickly clarify my questions and to advance my application quickly. In general, I would recommend sending your application to MicroEdu once you have decided on a university. This gives time to clarify discrepancies without time pressure and to receive a faster confirmation. Apart from that, you already pay the first fees (application fees of $150). The home university also needs valid proof (i.e. a written confirmation from the university) for the entitlement to a leave of absence. Unfortunately, confirmations from MicroEdu could not convince my home university that a stay abroad was actually taking place. Check act-test-centers.com to see UCLA study abroad opportunities.
After receiving the commitment
After submitting my application, I was initially concerned that I would be rejected. However, the MicroEdu team is very good at judging acceptances and reassured me that I could expect one. After about 6 weeks I got my confirmation. Now it was time to go on an adventure. But before things really got going, the second application process had to be successfully completed. Documents (such as the Long Beach check list) from MicroEdu also supported me in this important final phase. They made it easier to keep track and not forget anything important.
It’s a good idea to start researching potential housing options in Long Beach at this point. The best place to go is Facebook. There you can easily and quickly make contact with international students who are looking for successors.
I would apply for the foreign BAföG as soon as you have decided on a university. So that you can be sure that you will receive financial support at the beginning of your stay abroad.
When choosing the courses, I would almost say that you keep 10 more in the back of your mind than the 10 possible courses generously set by MicroEdu. This may sound exaggerated or unrealistic, but as I’ve heard from some other international students, and myself in English, it’s often not possible to get into the desired courses due to high demand. I experienced this in business and communication studies in particular. Whereas one has the fewest problems with geography or geology.
At the end of my little journey, I am very happy that I chose CSULB. In addition to the selected courses, this university really offers a lot for international students. There are countless “student clubs” (over 100) that offer a lot. On the one hand, you can meet a lot of new people there. As a rule, most of them are very open and happy about the participation of international students. On the other hand, there is the opportunity to be active in the American community, even outside of the university. I joined the Rotaract, Human Resources Management, Women’s and Gender Equity Center, World’s literature and sailing club and I don’t want to miss the experience!
In addition, conferences are held on a large scale almost every weekend on a wide variety of topics, such as “Successful as a woman in professional life” or “Ethnic management”. Even though most of those conferences took place on the weekends, I was always very happy to have attended in retrospect. In this way I was able to take advantage of another very helpful and unique offer from the university. Namely that of the Leadership Academy. At first I wasn’t quite sure if they would accept international students. But to my surprise, you didn’t have to pay extra for it and it was welcomed with very open arms and a lot of enthusiasm. This program is open to every CSULB student and normally you have about 14 workshops of 2 hours each, 20 community service hours etc. 2 years time. Since I unfortunately only had one semester, it was compressed into one semester. That was a bit more work and probably less time for traveling or just lying comfortably on the beach, but I don’t regret having participated more intensively in university life in the least.
Finally, I would like to mention the Women’s and Gender Equity Center. I would like to bring it up at the end because it accompanied my entire semester abroad. I found out about this during the week of welcome. During the second week of university (not counting the orientation week for international students), all of the university’s clubs and centers gather on campus and provide information about their activities. That’s how I came to the table at the Women’s and Gender Equity Center and was interested in their work from the start. One of the most important tasks was to function as a center that is the first point of contact for every student when private problems of any kind arise or if you just want to go to a kind of chill-out meeting point on the busy campus. The center also provides computers and a copier in case the library is too busy. And the library was well stocked, especially during the day. I would like to highlight this center because as an international student, it has always helped me with all matters, especially when I was looking for accommodation again during the semester. Many valuable friends had also been made there. It was nice to learn that a center was set up on a campus that addresses the needs of students and draws attention to injustice and problems in society. As a volunteer in the center, I was able to make my contribution to raising awareness of issues such as equal opportunities, To speak about equality and violence against women and socially disadvantaged groups in the form of projects or evening performances. If you want to know more about it, you can get more detailed information on the CSULB homepage.
Long Beach is a very good place for things to do! In addition to the clubs at the university already mentioned, which also offer many leisure activities for students, you can also take part in other offers in the city of Long Beach. In addition to the festivals and parades, museums, cinemas and theaters in the city, there is also the opportunity to volunteer. Every second Saturday there was a beach clean-up organized by the city. Visit the Eventbrite page for a calendar of events for Long Beach and the surrounding area. In June I took part in a cycling event. We cycled from Long Beach to the beautiful neighboring beach Huntington Beach in a large group. It was a lot of fun and you made a lot of new friends that way.
Travel Tips: California is one of the most beautiful and best states in the USA when it comes to travel and nature experiences. During the semester break and especially after the end of the semester, I visited a number of impressive and unique national parks. These included Yosemite, Sequoia, Redwoods, Joshua Tree, Death Valley National Park in California and the Grand Canyon, Antelope, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley, Zion National Park and unique places like Sedona, Prescott and Las Vegas in neighboring states of Nevada, Arizona and Utah.
After my stay abroad, I can say that the insurance through the university was sufficient during the semester. I’ve used them three times since then. Each time you visit the University Health Center, you must pay a $15 “visit fee.” For all other students it is free as their tuition fees cover it. It’s not a huge sum that’s being asked for. But considering that you had already paid for the insurance and, in particular, had already paid the high tuition fees, I found this surprising.
At this point I would like to take the opportunity to add further points that are not covered by our tuition fees. That would be the offer of the Career Center, which is otherwise available to all other students. I bring up that example because I thought it was a pity not being able to take part in the very good workshops. Unfortunately, you could not visit the workshops for a fee. I learned from American students how important they are to them and that they would bring them a lot for their future. It is also not possible to take advantage of the offer of psychological counseling.
If you want to exert yourself physically at the university, you can do it to a very large extent. The CSULB Recreation Center is well equipped and students really get their money’s worth. However, international students also get their money’s worth. Because they have to pay $40 per month rounded up. For all other students, mind you, membership is again free of charge.
I would like to summarize my housing situation during the spring semester in a single point of view, as it was a bit unusual. If I had been told at the beginning of my stay abroad that my housing situation would be as follows, I would have invested even more time looking for an apartment than I already did. Finding an apartment is one of the most time-consuming things to do if you don’t accept the university’s “home-stay” offer. In hindsight I would say that it is a safe and good value for money solution.
Here is a table showing the progress of my apartment search:
Step 1: First, I asked the various Facebook groups about possible accommodation. Then I wrote to individual students who were in Long Beach at the time. From this a number of possibilities arose. More than expected.
From sharing single rooms ($650-$800) or sharing rooms ($325-500) with Americans or other international students in Beverly Plaza Apartments (mostly students only), to private home-stays. Home stay wasn’t initially planned for me because I already had a year’s home stay experience in America and now I just wanted to live more independently. It’s different if you live in a block of flats or in a private house for rent.
Step 2: Find all the options and get in touch with the contact person.
Step 3: Decision made from home to avoid the uncertainty of housing in America and the stress and hassle of looking for a home and to avoid staying in an expensive motel.
Step 4: My accommodation should be with an American couple near the university and easily accessible by bus, in a single room for $850 ($800 if you wash the couple’s dishes) in what I was told a safe place and beautiful accommodation. They sent me photos of the apartment and the room that looked promising. Another international student had already lived with them, and I also contacted them.
Step 5: Arrival in America; The couple was very nice and we got along well. However, neither of them mentioned anything about the current housing situation in the preliminary talk, although I had asked more precisely. Good, but unfortunately you can or must expect something like that when you come from so far away to someone else’s home.
Current housing situation was:
- Water damage in the bathroom: very large hole in the ceiling with mold
- My room was on the ground floor, without lockable windows, had 2 pieces, one behind and one right next to my bed
- the neighborhood was too unsafe for me
- it was very damp and cold in the apartment, no working heating and during the winter months even in Long Beach it can get very chilly at night
Step 6: After 4 nights I moved! I found my new home stay again on facebook and looked at it before moving in. In the house were 2 other students, each with their own room. You had your own room again for $850 a month and it was only about an 8-minute walk from 2nd Street. A very good location for Long Beach and a 25 minute bus ride to the University. In contrast to the old apartment, the house was in a very, very safe neighborhood. So that I occasionally came home alone at 11 p.m. at night.
Step 7: Moved again after exactly 2 months, for the following reasons:
- After consultation with supervisors at the university, the rent was set too high and for me it also became too expensive since the cost of living in Long Beach is high. At this point I would like to point out that for a home stay organized by the university for 700-750$ rent the food is included. Without food, it usually costs between $600-$700.
- The room was too noisy for relaxed studying (very poorly insulated! And in the kitchen and living room): the landlady watched television, mostly loud, until late at night in the living room (no chance with earplugs; although she had her own large television in the bedroom ), lots of loud visits and celebrations, her granddaughter was already in the house at 5 in the morning and that every 2 days a week, although one was assured of 1-2 times a week before the start of the rental. The landlady turned out to be a fanatic about controlling energy and water consumption.
Step 8: Search again for apartment for last 8 weeks via Facebook, university, friends, Craigslist, newspapers…
Step 9: In addition to a few nights with friends, I had found accommodation for the last 4 weeks. Another home stay. Because you can’t find anything to rent for this short time. However, it was lucky and my landlady also became a very good friend, with whom I am still in contact today. The Women’s and Gender Equity Center alone made this home stay possible for me.
In retrospect, I was glad that I finally decided to move one last time. Because it showed me that it is possible to find good accommodation and to enjoy the time in America to the fullest.
Here is an overview table with all the options that can help when looking for an apartment:
|From home:||On site:|
|Facebook: – usually good, but also risky! (you might pay an extra month or two without using the apartment as most contracts are 6 months or more!)||advertisements at the university; direct contact with other students|
|University : Home-stay – usually good. On campus – too expensive, but unbeatable location!||newspaper ads|
|Craigslist is very common, but you have to be careful because unfortunately, as I’ve learned while working at the Women’s and Gender Equity Center, there can be flops||And all sources that are already possible from home, of course|
|Elizabeth Manor House very helpful landlady and sympathetic to students, organizes weekend trips with her tenants|
In general, I would recommend Long Beach for a study abroad experience as it not only has a beautiful location, but is relatively safe and a good base for travelling. Whether it’s hikes, Disneyland, LA visit(s) or visits to the beach, etc. The place has a lot to offer!
Basically in California it is a great advantage to have a car. While Long Beach is a study location where you can get by without a car, you have to expect long bus journeys and can tolerate less flexibility. A journey that takes 10 minutes by car takes about 45 minutes by bus! No fun! But with a car, exploring Long Beach and the surrounding area can be a fun experience. However, note the peak times!