University: California State University Long Beach
City: Long Beach
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Linguistics and cultural studies, English / American studies
Study type: semester abroad
I spent the past winter semester 2019/20 at the California State University Long Beach (CSULB). I had decided on CSULB more than a year in advance because my home university also offers exchange places for the “Study Abroad @ The Beach” program. Unfortunately, these places are mainly intended for business students. Luckily, thanks to MicroEdu, I still managed to attend the university of my choice for a semester. The application and organizational process was a little different for me and in some cases a little less stressful than with other international applicants, since I was not dependent on a visa or taking out the CSULB health insurance due to my dual citizenship. So I was able to save myself the visit to the embassy and the associated costs. Check act-test-centers.com to see UCR study abroad opportunities.
I looked around for accommodation relatively early on. In my opinion, the CSULB Roommate Finder Facebook group is the best way to connect with other exchange students and search for potential roommates. After about two weeks I set up a flat share with four other internationals (Netherlands and Switzerland). The five of us rented an apartment in the Park Avenue apartment complexes, near Traffic Circle, and we shared a room with three or two of us. That was the monthly rent including utilities at around USD 650-700. Mostly students live in the apartment complexes, so it’s easy to make new friends.
Course selection and study
During the application, in addition to the usual documents, a desired course list must also be created. Although in the end you only have to take four courses, each with three units, it is advantageous to look for as many alternative options as possible, since it is not always clear before the start of the semester which courses will ultimately be offered and to what extent it is possible for internationals enroll in specific courses. The semester started with an orientation week, where we were informed about everything organizational and had the opportunity to explore the campus. The exact process of how to enroll in their courses is determined by theCoordinators explained and demonstrated in detail in a workshop. Since exchange students cannot register for all courses themselves, so-called “course crashing” takes place during the first two weeks of lectures, in which you go to the respective courses and ask the lecturer to register you manually using a form.
Studying in the USA differs significantly from that in Germany. In general, the atmosphere in the course rooms and the relationship with the teachers is much more personal and resembles everyday school life. Communication is much more open and a lot of value is placed on interactive collaboration, which surprised me positively. In all courses, several examinations must be taken regularly during the semester in the form of presentations, tests, group projects or weekly short essays, which means more work, but also means that you automatically deal with the subject matter more intensively. In addition, there was at least one midterm in each course and a final at the end of the semester (either an exam or a term paper). However, despite studying a lot, it is relatively easy to get good to very good grades.
The campus also has a lot to offer in addition to academics. There is the possibility to enroll in various sports clubs and societies and to meet new people quickly. In general, there are regular events on the university campus, so it is worth staying on campus after classes.
Although there is a lot to do during the week, it is still possible to do a lot on the weekends. In addition to Los Angeles, there is also a lot to see and explore in Long Beach itself, such as downtown, the beach mile, the aquarium and various parks. During the winter semester there are many long weekends due to the holidays, which meant that we often went on longer road trips and were able to drive to San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas or the Grand Canyon and other national parks such as Yosemite.
In general, my semester abroad in Long Beach was a complete success. I visited wonderful places and met countless new people, which made my stay all the more beautiful. You not only get to know American culture but also get to know yourself better. However, what should not be neglected is the timely and, above all, sufficient planning of the financial means, since a semester abroad in California is associated with very high costs. On the other hand, there is also plenty to experience for the money, so I recommend everyone to do this experience.