University: California State University Long Beach
City: Long Beach
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Electrical engineering
Study type: semester abroad
I was one of those who, before the semester abroad, asked myself whether I was the type for such an adventure – far away from home and the familiar environment. If you read this or other field reports, then you have already taken the first step and I can tell you: Yes, you are the guy for it. Check andyeducation.com to see University of California Berkeley study abroad opportunities.
Preparation is very easy thanks to MicroEdu. Even if the effort and the mountain of organizational things seem very large at the beginning, they are easy to manage, especially thanks to the forms and checklists provided by MicroEdu. Nevertheless, you should start preparing in good time (keyword BAföG and visa ).
The BAföG application was surprisingly uncomplicated. I had confirmation within a month. You don’t have to be afraid of visiting the US consulate (in my case in Frankfurt). The staff there was very friendly in my case and three friends and the conversation as such was over within a minute.
Accommodation and car
There are various Facebook pages for the CSULB ( Cal State Long Beach ) where you can register. If you even want to live with other international students, you can look for fellow campaigners there. I just want to warmly recommend this to you – it has allowed me to make more close friends !
We stayed in the Park Avenue complex. In principle, I was also satisfied, but unfortunately I found out that we were ripped off in terms of price. I paid almost $500 for a shared room. However, 100 meters away is the Beverly Plaza complex, which is run by the same operator, but the apartments and the whole complex are much more modern – for the same money. Everyone should be aware that the US is huge. If you think you can get by by bus and train here in the long run, you are wrong in my opinion. Sure, there are modes of transportation like the Greyhound bus that I once took to Vegas, but I don’t need that “special” conform again.
So if you want to rent a car, I can recommend “Arrow Rent-a-car” in Los Angeles. This is a small, private company, however the owners are very friendly and go out of their way to ensure your stay goes as smoothly as possible regarding the car – even in the event of an accident, which we unfortunately had. The particularly good thing: With this rental, under 25 year olds do not have to pay any additional fee. Just keep in mind that car insurance in the USA is nowhere near the same as in Germany. So you will need to ask for additional insurance for coverage up to $1 million. Otherwise you’re only insured up to $30,000, but that’s generally the case in California.
The university, especially the campus, cannot be compared to my German university. While my home university is a typical Ruhrpott bunker, the CSULB is neat, green and much happier.
The university offers a wide range of programs. From fraternities and sisterhoods to sports clubs and debating societies to engineering clubs, everything is really on offer. I was only at the university for the courses so I can’t say very much about the clubs.
Certainly one of the best parts of the whole semester abroad – traveling the west coast. In California and the neighboring states you are offered so many sights that you don’t have a chance to inquire about even a fraction of them in time. I have visited all the major tourist sights with my roommates. My absolute highlight is Yosemite National Park. If you want to enjoy nature and absolutely breathtaking views, this is the place for you. However, camping should not be underestimated. During the day the temperature was 28°C, but at night it dropped to zero or even -2°! If you are not properly prepared here, you will have absolutely no fun at night.
The most beautiful city by far is San Francisco. We didn’t rent a house in San Francisco directly, but rented a house in Oakland through Airbnb and then drove about 15-20 minutes to SF, but also saved a lot of money. The most beautiful beach, although a few would certainly disagree with me, since it is very busy, is Huntington Beach – the surfer’s beach. In my opinion, no other beach offers this Californian flair. The absolute disappointment for me is Los Angeles. Certainly there are some who like this very special charm of LA – I don’t like it.
I would like to list a few costs so that you can get a rough idea of what to expect. No guarantee for the correctness of the information:
- University: ~$6500 in total
- Rent: $500 per month for five months = $2500
- Deposit: ~1000-1500$
- Car: ~$1000 (with insurance) if you team up
- Furnishings: $300-500
- Travel: $2000
- Meals: $1500-2000, but I also count shopping etc. here
A semester abroad is expensive and I often asked myself beforehand whether it would be worth it and I have to say that every single cent was worth it and I would have been willing to pay even more!