University: California State University Los Angeles
City: Los Angeles
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: real estate industry
Study type: semester abroad
A semester abroad was not really an option for me at the beginning of my studies. Based on various conversations and experiences of fellow students, I decided to do a semester abroad and I don’t regret it for a second. So only America came into question for me, because it has always been my dream to travel there. Since I’m also a big LA Lakers fan and I wanted to avoid the winter, it was clear to me that I had to go to California. Check educationvv.com to see University of California San Diego Exchange Program.
My college only had San Diego State University to choose from and I wanted to see/listen to other alternatives. I decided to consult with MicroEdu about the options, which in hindsight was probably the best option. Since I live not far from the head office, I also visited MicroEdu in person and the way via e-mail was always smooth. In the end, my choices were CSU Fullerton, Northridge, and CSULA. I finally chose CalStateLA because of my budget and central location.
To apply to California State University LA, MicroEdu sent me a checklist of everything I needed to submit. Including a language certificate ( DAAD test ), which I was able to complete free of charge at my university. I submitted the documents, but something was still missing by the application deadline, so I was actually too late. That fact didn’t change the fact that CalStateLA accepted me. For smaller delays, this is usually not a problem. In addition, the CSULA does not want a letter of motivation.
To apply for a visa I went to the consulate in Frankfurt. The many safety precautions are a little deterrent, but not so wild. Just follow the instructions and everything will be fine. At the counter itself, you are asked simple questions, such as when you will enter the country, how long you will be staying, why you want to go to the States and when and if you plan to leave the country. The officials want to make sure that you don’t stay in the US illegally forever and also work there illegally, so they always say that you’re definitely going back to Germany. In addition, the background of my passport photo was supposedly too dark, which I can hardly understand since it was almost white. So I had to sit down in a photo box and shoot a new mug shot. The whole fun cost another 6€ (to match and in coins, since the machine does not change). So make sure that your passport photo has a white background or that you have 6€ in coins and you don’t have to ask people at the consulate if they can change. Otherwise, applying for the visa is not a big effort if you have completed the necessary processes (appointment booking, etc.) on the website.
Since I wanted my own room, living in the dorms (living on campus) was out of the question for me. Finally I found a suitable apartment in Lincoln Heights at Airbnb (approx. 4-5 km away from the university). Not the cheapest option, but definitely the most comfortable. I shared the apartment with another international from Germany who also used MicroEdu for advice. On average we paid €1,200 pp
The CSULA is a bit old-fashioned with individual folding tables, which I didn’t expect, but we quickly got used to it. At least that’s how it was in the business courses building (Salazar Hall). At first I felt like I was in class 7, but you quickly got used to it. The food court was made up of five franchises (El Pollo Loco, Carls Jr., Kikka, Rice Garden, Johnny’s Kitchen) so the prices ($6-10) weren’t exactly student friendly. However, the portions were usually large enough that I could usually make two smaller meals out of them.
It’s easy to find your way around the campus, since the individual faculties have their own buildings. The level of the exams was significantly lower than in Germany, since there are mainly multiple choice exams, so that after reading the script a few times, you usually remember it immediately when reading the questions in the exams. Those who are not used to mid-terms will be a bit annoyed by this, but exams during the semester are ultimately helpful, so that a maximum of two weeks of preparation for the final exams was sufficient.
In advance I had to submit a wish list with about ten modules that I would like to take. I don’t know what this list is supposed to have brought with it in hindsight. However, the “class crashing procedure” is half as risky as I expected. You write an e-mail to the reading professor that you are internationals and have to take the modules for your graduation at home. This should get you a spot on this course. I haven’t had a case where it didn’t/wouldn’t have worked. You can get the email addresses from the website. Otherwise you would have to call the faculty and ask about it. However, you will be told all this on the introductory day, how it all works.
On the introductory day, you meet the other internationals and make friends with them if you’re not very shy. I had the most to do with them throughout the semester. Among other things, we looked at Yosemite National Park, which was the personal highlight for me, so I would warmly recommend this trip to you if you also like hiking. Of course, the other well-known tourist destinations are recommended as always (Grand Canyon, Vegas, San Diego, San Francisco). However, you should have checked out the tourist attractions in LA itself very quickly, since seeing them once is usually enough (especially the Walk of Fame).
If you want to go to the beach more often, I can recommend Hermosa Beach or Manhattan Beach. These are not overrun by tourism and you usually always have a free net to play beach volleyball. Also, these are pretty much the closest beaches if you live near CSULA. If you are planning to buy a surfboard for the semester, then it is best to use it and make sure that you sell it in time, otherwise you will be stuck with it. If necessary, you can also take a wet suit with you to Germany.
It’s the same with the car. I didn’t have a car and mostly drove “Uber/Lyft” (slightly more expensive than public transport, but definitely more comfortable and worth it), because I didn’t feel like the stress of buying and selling for a semester, but I was able to with the bridge the long distances to the beach etc. with other internationals. If you want to deal with the stress of selling a car at the end of the semester, I recommend advertising in good time. In general, congestion on LA’s streets is the order of the day, so you should bring a lot of patience. For all you party beasts, in LA the clubs and bars close at 2am. Also leave the entrance, they pay princely with $20/30. It is best to watch the alcohol beforehand and get to the clubs/bars in good time.