University: California State University Los Angeles
City: Los Angeles
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Business administration, engineering sciences
Study type: semester abroad
I did the 2013 Fall Quarter at California State University Los Angeles (CSU LA) with Timo. Since Timo’s report with checklist, list of costs, etc. is already very detailed, I strongly recommend that you also read it and I will go into additional things below.
First of all, of course, it should be said that the semester abroad was really great and you will probably never have such a learning curve in terms of studying and exploring the country again in your life. Check anycountyprivateschools.com to see San Jose State University study abroad opportunities. I myself am studying industrial engineering at the DHBW Karlsruhe in the 5th Bachelor semester.
Due to the tight timeframe of the dual study program, Timo and I wanted to look for a university in America that would correspond as best as possible to the 3-month theory phase at the DHBW.
Since we looked at California, CSU LA, CSU Santa Barbara and National University San Diego were shortlisted to study at during such periods. In the end we decided on LA because the range of courses there is very extensive, the business department of the CSU LA is very well-known and because Los Angeles, as the 2nd largest city in the United States, also promised a great many opportunities – and also offered them.
Another reason was that the CSU Santa Barbara for industrial engineers was not offered at the DHBW Karlsruhe. I mention this because Santa Barbara as a city – according to friends – is perhaps a lot more livable than LA, since it is a “small, prosperous idyll”, whereas LA as a megacity consists of 70% less beautiful areas. The remaining 30% are then of course with Hollywood Hills & Sign, Downtown, Beverly Hills, roof top bars, top clubs, Universal Studios, Santa Monica etc.etc. very vivid. In general, I would recommend everyone to do a real semester abroad if possible, because 3 months is really too short. Especially for California, where, as can be read under Excursions, the possibilities are simply “unlimited”.
California State University LA
The campus of the CSU LA is well equipped, which is not surprising considering the financing through tuition fees. The small course rooms have very good technology and on the campus itself there are:
- the bookstore for school supplies and some groceries, as well as university shirts and sweatshirts
- the library with many PCs and also quiet seating
- the food court with many fast food restaurants (not only fast food, but also some healthier Italian, Mexican and Asian food), Starbucks, 2 cafeterias
- Gym (for free)
- Swimming pool (for free)
- Common room for playing billiards and table football (on campus $1, in the dorms for free)
- Volleyball and basketball courts in the dorms
- Lots of places to sit and chill and free areas for throwing football
It would also be worth mentioning that although there is a football team at CSU LA, there is no American football team. Since the food court offers many options, we didn’t use a meal plan from the university. We were also mostly out and about from Thursday, so that many of the meals we had paid for could not have been used. Otherwise, the food you get from the Mealplan is a good portion on the one hand and atypical for the USA on the other, also healthy with salad, vegetables and fruit.
CSU LA’s connectivity to LA’s mass transit system is pretty good. Bus and metro stops are located directly on campus and also directly in the dorm.
The buses, for example, run quite frequently and punctually, about every 15 minutes, but for reasons that I can’t explain, there are no timetables at the American stops, so we always consulted Google Maps, which retrieves the timetables.
In general, when it comes to cars, we always borrowed one over the weekend from Enterprise in Alhambra (district where CSU LA is located). There is a weekend special for a rental of only $9.99 per day from Friday to Monday.
In addition there are about $20 insurance (for liability and the car) and a $10 young driver fee if you are under 25. So around $40 a day, which we always divided by 2 or by 3 or 4 when we went on trips with others. The fuel costs with converted petrol costs of approx. 70 euro cents also invite you to many weekend trips. Don’t forget to apply for your international driver’s license in DE. Supposedly the European one is also enough in California, which has always been enough with Enterprise, but to be sure.
If you want to rent a car for a longer period of time, you can calculate whether it’s worth it. Since we only used the car for the most part on weekends, we always took the weekend special.
Aside from Enterprise, I’ve been told that Hertz is still pretty good and Sixt is said to be coming to the West Coast soon. We didn’t have the buying and selling stress and the people at Enterprise always picked us up at the university free of charge and drove us to their branch. If, despite our booking, there was no car available in our price range, we always received a free upgrade to a larger car. So just always book online and maybe try to book online at short notice…
Since we rented a car from Enterprise (on Valley Boulevard) pretty much every WE, as a regular customer you can sometimes negotiate. They also have a red Mustang convertible…
Another tip would be the smartphone app Lyft, which you can use to call private taxi drivers, for example if you’re out and about in the evening or at the airport.
As for LAX Airport, there is a bus ‘LAX-FlyAway’ that runs every 30 minutes from the airport to Union Station and vice versa.
The best thing to do is to ask the International Office of CSU LA by email which courses CSU LA offers in your chosen Quarter. Because CSU LA is one of the largest CSUs, the course selection is extensive.
As is typical for American universities, the degree of difficulty is less difficult in contrast to German universities, since the grading by midterms, for example, is fairer in my opinion.
If you are doing a semester abroad at CSU LA, the help of the CSU LA International Office will make it quite easy for you to get into your desired courses.
If you are only doing one semester abroad, unlike the American students, you cannot register for the courses before they start, but have to ask the respective lecturer in the first lecture if he or she will accept you.
Since you get a so-called ‘open university’ form from the International Office and show it to the lecturer and have him fill it out, you can actually always join the courses. Roughly speaking, the OU form means that even if the courses are full, the lecturer can still take on more students.
Therefore, I am not aware of any problems with international students registering for courses at CSU LA.
MGMT 306 Operations Management by Mr. Baggot, MGMT 307 Management and org. Behavior by Mr. Washburn and MGMT 467 Quality Control by Mrs. Sultan.
In MGMT 306, I would say Mr. Baggot provided fair and simple homeworks and retreats. You don’t need to buy the book. You can also simply copy the pages you need from it.
MGMT 307 by Mr. Washburn was one of the best college courses I have ever taken. There, too, the midterms and exams were fair. You should study there with the book and its presentations, and if you then go to his lectures, you should be able to answer all the questions of your exams. At MGMT 307 I took the 4 hour Tuesday evening lecture. As a result, I had practically the entire Tuesday free until the evening and Thursday as well.
MGMT467 was the course I had the most to learn for in terms of difficulty. In the case of Mrs. Sultan’s book, you can also use the cheaper, international version, which is identical to the American version. Here, too, the midterm and the final were fair, but you had to spend more time than on the other two courses. Which still hasn’t changed the A or the fact that the level of difficulty is lower.
If you have questions about other courses, just look for groups of the CSULA Internationals or something like that on faces book and ask the people there about their courses.
Our decision to stay in the dorm during the period was pretty good. For one thing, the dorms are pretty well equipped.
The facility of the dorms was built for the athletes during the Olympic Games in LA. The dorms consist of several holiday home-sized buildings. In these there are two apartments on the lower floor and two apartments on the upper floor. There are 2 rooms in each apartment. You share this with a roommate. When you register for the dorm, you can state who you want to share your room with, but the CSU LA housing service will still not be able to organize it for you. Since you are international students, you must be at the CSU before the official start of the semester and you must also inform the Housing Service that you are moving in sooner.
Furthermore, each apartment has a balcony and a very spacious living room with couch, armchair, dining table and chairs and also the kitchen cabinets, stove, oven and refrigerator.
The dorm is divided into phase 1 and phase 2. The difference is that in the apartments in phase 2 there are 4 rooms instead of just two.
Therefore, when you apply to the housing service, indicate that you want your absolutely quiet environment, then you will be more likely to be in phase 1. Phase 2 has the basketball court and the volleyball field, but phase 1 has the table tennis, computer and billiard room and the apartments with fewer people. There are washing machines in both phases, which are also not far apart, but next to each other.
The dorm cost $2200 per quarter. Apartments off-campus are more expensive and you have less contact with American students. And while the dorm is generally pleasantly quiet for studying, you still know best there where something is going on.
…are the great advantage of California and especially the city of Los Angeles. San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego, Palm Springs, Yosemite National Park etc. are all within easy reach. What awaits there fills enough travel guides. And in and around Los Angeles Hollywood, the film studios, Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Laguna Beach, outlet malls, 6flags Magic Mountain etc.etc. await you anyway. You will find clubs by yourself and what you should definitely visit are the roof top bars on the roofs of the skyscrapers in downtown.
Another tip from me would be that the outward and/or return flight is made via the east coast. Then you can have a look at a few metropolises there. Through STA Travel we booked an open jaw flight after the finals from LA to Miami and on to Washington and then took the train to NY from there. The cheap Deco Walk Hostel in Miami is located directly on the famous Ocean Drive and in New York we have had good couch surfing experiences.
Anyone who has made many trips to the outlets can also send a huge package to Germany via US Postal Services for around $80. Put things in there. These are worth less than their purchase price and then you can also do that with the customs declaration (it’s just a form that you have to fill out at the USPS).
We made the best of the 3 months that were given to us by the DHBW with the CSU LA. You will never again learn as much as you would during a semester abroad. Not only in terms of content and language, but also in terms of the country, because unlike working abroad, you explore the country with your peers. And when working abroad, you don’t have as much useful time as with a semester abroad to try out the many opportunities the country has to offer.
Doing the semester abroad alone is no problem at all. The Americans are much more open and approachable in their way of life than one is used to in Germany and the group of German students at the CSU LA seemed just as large to me as the Chinese or Korean ones, so that one always quickly finds fellow students.
As far as the costs are concerned, I did receive a scholarship, but I was willing to finance it with a loan in advance because of the great advantages offered by the unique opportunity of a semester abroad. After all, for example, most American students leave the university with several thousand dollars in debt, which you can pay back after several months through your wages, and loans for cars etc. are also taken out in Germany, so a semester abroad is always worth it. There are also good offers such as the KfW education loan and of course the possibility of funding options and the AuslandsBaFöG.
So enjoy your time there! And preferably for a real semester or for several quarters or add a holiday to it. I wish you much fun!