University: California State University Long Beach
City: Long Beach
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Aerospace Engineering
Study type: semester abroad
It has always been a big dream of mine to spend one semester of my studies abroad. I finally came across the MicroEdu website through a friend and decided to apply to California State University in Long Beach because of the mostly positive reviews. Check act-test-centers.com to see UCSD study abroad opportunities.
MicroEdu’s guides were extremely helpful in compiling the application. These were then forwarded to the university for me, which worked great. In addition, the MicroEdu team was always able to help me with individual questions. If you send the application and the application for foreign BAföG about four to six months before the start of the semester, you will definitely not run out of time and can plan everything else in peace.
The most important document for the semester abroad and entry into the USA is the student visa. I had my appointment to apply at the US consulate in Berlin about a month before my departure.
Finding an apartment was relatively easy for me because I wanted to move into the Oakwood Apartments in Seal Beach. I also got to know my roommates online before I left. The Oakwood Apartments offer quite a lot of amenities. Among other things, the rooms are fully furnished, there is a large swimming pool, beach volleyball and tennis courts and a fitness room on the premises.
Don’t expect too much from the daily breakfast. During the week it mainly consists of coffee, tea and sweets such as donuts. On Sundays, however, there are also bagels with jam or cream cheese.
Seal Beach is a very beautiful and calm place. The CSULB campus is about 15 minutes by bike and bus. It’s a little quicker by car. It is also just a few minutes’ walk to the wide sandy beach. Shops and restaurants are plentiful. Main Street, which ends on the beach with a large wooden walkway, is particularly beautiful.
I arrived on a Friday and the introductory week started the following Monday. In addition to the introductory events, however, there was plenty of time for orientation on campus and in Long Beach. The campus is huge and overall very nicely laid out. In addition to the lecture and administration buildings, there is the USU (University Student Union) with lounges, billiard tables, bowling alley and the food court on the 2nd floor. Unfortunately, the food offer there is only fast food. There is no cafeteria like you know from German universities.
My absolute highlight was the university’s fitness center (Student Recreation and Wellness Center) with a large free weights and equipment area, countless cardio machines, a 200 m running track, three basketball courts, a climbing wall as well as squash and racquetball fields. You can also take part in various courses. Unfortunately, membership is not part of the tuition fee for international students participating in the Open University program and costs around 30 dollars a month. But it is definitely worth it for every sports enthusiast.
Also part of the campus is a large sports hall with 5000 seats in the form of a blue pyramid (Walter Pyramid). At the games of the college basketball team (Long Beach 49ers), students have free admission there and stand together in a fan block. There’s a real sense of community…GO BEACH!!
If you’re not part of an exchange program, you can’t register online for your courses, you have to “crash” them. In other words, you go to the course with a list and ask the respective lecturer whether there is still a place available and then have their signature given. This will be explained in detail again in the introductory week. It is possible to contact the lecturers or the responsible department in advance if you absolutely need a course and it is already full according to the CSULB homepage. The “course-crashing” is my only major criticism. You pay more tuition fees than US students and still have to hope that you can take the courses you want at all. Some lecturers didn’t even know about this system. There is clearly room for improvement here
Unlike in Germany, the grade usually consists of two intermediate examinations (midterms) of 20% each, a final examination (final, 30%) and a further 20% of homework and short tests. However, this can vary from lecture to lecture. The quality of teaching is high and there is a wide range of courses for engineering students.
There are probably more surfers than bike riders in Southern California. Appropriately, the CSULB offers a surf course. However, you do need your own surfboard and a wetsuit for the cold Pacific waters. Both can be bought new or used (Craigslist.com, Boardhunt.com). As a beginner, you should also get one of the large beginner boards if possible. They are unwieldy and usually not nice to look at, but you catch a lot more waves and have a lot more fun surfing.
Nightlife in Long Beach is concentrated on 2nd Street with its many bars and restaurants. The main port of call for students is Panama Joe’s. On Thursdays there is always a student party with a second dance floor. Also popular are Legends Sports Bar and Acapulco Inn.
In LA and Hollywood there are some big discos near the Walk of Fame. The absolute insider tip in downtown LA is the rooftop bar on the hotel “The Standard” between all the big skyscrapers.
Travel & Car
During my stay I did some trips and excursions together with my friends. We drove to San Diego, Six Flags amusement park, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and San Francisco. If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to drive along the coast (Highway #1) on the outbound or inbound journey. It may take a few hours longer, but the scenery along the way is gorgeous.
Beautiful places to visit in and around Los Angeles are Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Malibu, a hike to the Hollywood sign, the Walk of Fame and the Griffith Observatory at night with a view of all of LA. Fortunately, tickets for domestic flights in the USA are relatively cheap. So I was able to fly to New York City for a weekend and then travel to Miami and Key West for 10 days.
If you have the opportunity to buy a car alone or in a group, it is really advantageous. The distances are usually very large and public transport connections are quite limited. Otherwise you can always rent a car.
Depending on how much you do, you have to reckon with around 1300 dollars a month in addition to the tuition fees. The costs for rent and groceries are much higher overall than in Germany, you only save a little when you fill up the gas.
The time at CSULB and in Long Beach was simply unforgettable. I’ve made many new friends from all over the world and my experiences have been almost entirely positive. The weather was always great, studying was a lot of fun and I was able to experience a lot. I can therefore only advise anyone who is toying with the idea of spending a semester abroad in Long Beach. Nobody can take away the impressions and experiences you have gathered later. I definitely have no regrets.