University: California State University Long Beach
City: Long Beach
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Psychology, Life Sciences, Law and Administration, Forensics
Study type: Academic gap year
In the beginning, I had a really hard time organizing my gap years at California State University Long Beach, because I was still very undecided and, to be honest, I was short on time. After graduating from high school, I had to try to come up with a plan “on my own” within a very short time. I found MicroEdu through the internet and got in touch with the agency directly. They had a great variety and many free offers, where everyone can find something. Elias and his colleagues were very nice, helped me a lot and had an answer to every question. In retrospect, I’m very glad that I didn’t make it into a student residence at the university, because they are extremely expensive ! But I still have to say that organizing this would have been a lot easier than trying to find your own apartment outside when you were 18. I came across the Beverly Plaza Apartments through Elias and can highly recommend them. I was able to arrange the flights cheaply and quickly through STA Travels, a partner. Check andyeducation.com to see San Diego State University study abroad opportunities.
While I was at it, there are specific Long Beach Roommate groups on Facebook that you can join. Residential ads for the whole of Long Beach are constantly being posted there and roommates are being sought. That’s where I found my future apartment and my two roommates. A girl who is also German sent me an ad and asked if I was interested. We went through everything together with the landlord and were able to secure the apartment very quickly. But be careful: looking for an apartment is extremely time-consuming, since not everyone answers directly. Be in contact with many people at once, so that the chances of finding an apartment are higher. The Beverly Plaza Apartments are a big recommendation from me! It’s about five minutes by bus to the university and you live right next to the Traffic Circle with eating and shopping facilities and good bus connections to the city. The apartments are very big and clean, there are a lot of young people and in the heart of the site, by the clubhouse and pool, there was always someone to meet and distract, sunbathe and cool off ! If you share the apartments, the price is also “ok” – everything is in the USA very expensive. I had to pay around €600 a month rent for a shared room without furniture. Get second-hand furniture (Facebook etc) and look out for offers in supermarkets to save money. Important: Buy a water filter – this filters your tap water so that you can drink it for free.
The site is really super big and everything is confusing at first, but I can guarantee you that you will find your way around quickly and will feel comfortable. It’s very clean and lively. The people are super nice and helpful. I was very happy to be there at the wellness center. There are big pools and the gym is amazing! It is very large and offers very unusual things for free, such as rock climbing. The cinema was also really cool and had current films on display monthly for free.
Unfortunately, the only point of criticism is the semester costs if, like me, you study there privately. Otherwise you really need the (free) bus ticket or a bike to get to other places. Personally, I didn’t really like the food court, vegetarians have a hard time there and it’s very expensive, you’d better get Starbucks in town than in the university. My roommates and I just cooked at home and took our own food, which I also recommend.
I was surprised at how enthusiastic I was about my courses. I took three different subjects (four courses of three credits each) in order to get a future orientation and to have variety. The course crashing was stressful and organizationally difficult because everything was right at the beginning. However, everything went well for me and many others, and although I couldn’t take a course, I found an even better replacement. The variety of courses is unbelievable and the requirements for joining a course are not that strict. However, attendance is compulsory, which is also usually strictly controlled, as is a lot of homework and projects. The teachers were absolutely personable and competent. I had a lot of fun in the courses and no difficulties, although I have never studied before and have even taken advanced courses. You can do it!
If you have specific questions, I have documented:
- 241 – Psychology
- 230 – Criminal Justice
- 340 – Molecular Biology
- 440 – Forensics Lab
As already mentioned, the courses take a lot of time, even in your free time, to get an A or B. In retrospect, I would have preferred to study less and go to the beach more often. You get to know future friends and acquaintances right at the beginning through the “Study abroad @ the Beach” program. Everything else takes care of itself. Long Beach is very beautiful and you can easily get to Los Angeles, for example Universal Studios, within two hours by public transport. My favorite place – be sure to get the Season Pass! Otherwise, I found the port in Long Beach, Laguna Beach, and the baseball stadium very worth seeingin LA, the Griffith Observatory, the Santa Monica Shopping Mall and the trips to San Diego were definitely worth it, it’s beautiful there. My insider tip for everyone who likes burgers, especially vegetarians: The DOGHAUS beer garden. The Impossible Burgers were the best I’ve ever eaten (confirmed by friends).
Many of you are probably also interested in party life. Frathouse parties actually took place with mottos, but unfortunately Americans aren’t all that reliable and then you suddenly didn’t come to the party or something like that. Basically, you always had to reckon with the police coming from 10 p.m. and ending the party. To avoid this, many Beverly Plaza parties have been held in the apartments or the clubhouse. They were also really funny, but only to a limited extent, since the apartments are rented and someone is responsible for them. These too were often crashed by security after 11 p.m. But alcohol wasn’t a problem on site and I was able to talk to other (international) students a lot. We definitely had fun. If you’re more of a clubber, there’s an 18+ club in Long Beach called Alegria that had really cool parties every Thursday. Check out Instagram at VibeThursdayslbc. So make sure you also find friends who are under 21 if you would like to go to clubs and are also underage.
I enjoyed using the holidays and days off to travel. Unfortunately, under 21 it becomes difficult to move around flexibly on your own, so you have to get together in small groups or travel alone by other means, for example by plane and Uber. After the semester I was able to explore San Francisco, Las Vegas and New York with friends from Germany. Las Vegas Under 21 may not be the purest Vegas experience, but it was definitely my highlight.
Negative – I have to say again very clearly that the costs are incredibly high for such a semester abroad if you are not placed through the German university. Estimates at around €15,000. Groceries cannot be compared with ours, so you have to spend more time cooking and comparing offers in the market in order to be able to pay halfway normal prices. The rent was also very high, for having to share my room. So privacy was rather difficult. Luckily, I got along well with my roommate and we had a good understanding, but that’s definitely not the case for everyone. It helped that she was also German, but it definitely meant I spoke less English than I would have liked. In general, we got to know a lot of Germans through the program. We had a little less to do with Americans and building up a good friendship for four months isn’t easy either. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time alone in my room doing my homework because I got a lot done. The area around the university doesn’t have much to offer either, you have to take the bus to Long Beach drive directly (but it’s not very far). At night I would not recommend anyone (girls) to walk around alone. There are a lot of drug addicts in California. It’s different again from where we are in Germany, where everyone speaks to you.
Positive – I really liked Long Beach. It doesn’t look like what you’d expect on the internet, but it’s actually a bit smaller and quieter, but it’s also very clean and civilized. The apartments were tidy and I felt very comfortable. The university had a lot to offer and welcomed everyone. In fact, I was about to get into a sorority. But if you are only there for four months, I immediately advise against it. The rules are incredibly strict (almost ridiculous if I’m being honest) and these “clubs” are super time consuming. Personally, I would have missed out on traveling.
I made great use of my location and made a list of things I wanted to see there at the beginning. I actually did everything and always had good transport connections (and nice weather). If you ever get lost or just want to chat, every American has helped you. My English has improved a lot and so has my accent.
Thanks to MicroEdu and CSULB for the great time. Always take time for the important things in life and dare to take a big step towards independence. Inquire about everything around you and inform yourself regularly about events on site. It will be worth it! If you have any questions, please email me.