University: California State University Los Angeles
City: Los Angeles
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: mechanical engineering
Study type: semester abroad
Personal motivation and choice of university
Very early on, I had the personal desire to go abroad for a longer period of time. Perhaps the best way to realize such a stay abroad is to complete a semester abroad. Here you not only increase your professional skills, but you also develop personally, get to know new people and cultures and you can travel to many beautiful places. First of all, however, you should think carefully about where you would like to complete your semester abroad. Factors such as language, semester times, costs and the location itself can play a major role here. For example, it was important for me to go to an English-speaking country and avoid the cold winter in Germany. After I took a closer look at the MicroEdu partner universities, I chose California State University in Los Angeles because, in addition to the good ratings in terms of engineering, it is also very central Los Angeles is located so you can see some interesting places in your free time. In addition, the tuition feesthere are low by American standards. Check educationvv.com to see Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona Exchange Program.
For my dream of completing a semester abroad in Los Angeles, I then contacted the free consulting agency MicroEdu, which greatly simplified the application phase and my stay abroad with their support.
The application phase
First of all, I would like to mention that it is very important to deal with the topic of a semester abroad as early as possible, since a large number of documents are required and it takes a lot of time to apply for them. Many documents are required, especially when applying to an American university. Which documents are required and how you can get them can be found out through MicroEdu (website, emails, telephone calls, checklist) and my home university also helped me with this. For more detailed application processes such as B. the application for a visa or the language certificate I will not go into more detail here, as this has already been described in great detail in many field reports and forums on the MicroEdu homepage.
After I sent the application package with all the necessary documents to MicroEdu, a few weeks later I received an acceptance with another stack of papers in which everything was explained in detail, so that I had no more questions about the further process and I was good to go could prepare everything else. First, I sent all the necessary documents to MicroEdu, such as the language certificate, the general application form and the financial statement. My compiled application documents were then checked and sent to the CSULA. Then I applied for the visa and went to the embassy in Frankfurt for an interview. As I said, I won’t go into detail here. When I got my visa I booked flights about two months before the start of the semester abroad program. Then I got busy finding a place to stay in Los Angeles. Here at the latest it becomes clear that this is the case Living in Los Angeles is very expensive. Since living on campus was out of the question for me (very expensive and you also share a room with two to four other people, little privacy), I looked around in Facebook groups and on Airbnb. In the end, I decided to stay with Airbnb because it was the safest option for me. However, I only booked the apartment for the first month for a variety of reasons. Ultimately, I have never regretted this decision. So when I booked accommodation, I had everything planned out, giving me about three weeks to just look forward to my unique adventure.
Arrival and experiences (university, city)
When I first arrived in Los Angeles, I was very enthusiastic and surprised by the many different impressions I got, especially since this was my first time in the United States and I was also traveling alone.
The day after my arrival, a meeting of all international students at California State University took place, where everything organizational was presented and explained. I can recommend arriving here about a week in advance if possible, as it saves you a lot of stress and you are not confronted with too many things at the same time. After the organizational day at the university, I still had three days off so that I could get used to the new and exciting situation.
The university itself is relatively difficult to reach, especially by public transport, as buses are often unpunctual and the walk to the bus stops is often long. I lived in Alhambra, a very close place (3-4 km). The first two days I walked to the university because I wanted to explore the area and didn’t have a bus ticket or means of transport. For the further course of the semester I bought the TAP card, i.e. a bus ticket for the whole semester. I can recommend this bus ticket to anyone who doesn’t mind walking a lot and is a little flexible in terms of time. Financially, it is definitely the cheapest way to get around Los Angeles and the surrounding area.
You are expected to create a course wish list during the application process. The courses offered for each semester can be found on the California State University website. I can only recommend that you think about which courses you would like to take! Since you can only find very brief descriptions of the individual courses on the website, I would also ask MicroEdu again, since they usually still have syllabi from students who have already been there.
I can also recommend thinking about alternative courses, as I only found out on site that one of the courses I wanted was not taking place in the winter semester.
On site you then go to the desired courses in the first week and speak to the professor before or after the respective course and ask whether you can join their course. At the organizational event for the international students, which I also mentioned, good tips are given on how to convince the professors to be allowed to join their courses. So I was able to join any course I attended, even if I had to be a little more patient with one course and didn’t get a signature from the professor until the second week. Here I can only recommend being persistent and using the tips received to convince the respective professor. The courses I took were Calculus, Ethics and Professionalism, Economics for Engineers and Machine Design. The level of effort and difficulty of the courses varied greatly and at California State University (and at American universities in general) also depends heavily on the professor, since professors have a great deal of leeway in how they structure their courses. In general, however, I can say that the level of difficulty is easier than I was used to at my home university, but you still have to invest a lot of time in the individual subjects, since homework has to be done weekly, intermediate examinations (midterms) take place and you have to take the have to get used to the language. A large part of the final grade consists of the intermediate exams and homework.
As far as the costs for a semester abroad are concerned, I can say that Los Angeles is very expensive and you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Exactly how much money is needed is very individual and depends on a wide variety of factors. These factors are, for example, additional travel (which I think makes a lot of sense since you are there for a longer period of time), whether you are there alone or with friends or how many units you take at the university. I traveled there alone, so I had to spend a little more money on things like rent and food, and I also occupied an additional unit.
Over the entire period of my stay, I made a note of when and what I spent money on. In the following, I will give a rough overview of the costs that I incurred and that you can also incur.
- University application fee: €175
- Visa (photo, application fee, SEVIS): €325
- Flights (return): €700
- Accommodation for the whole period: 5000 €
- Tuition fees (+1 extra unit): 5970 €
- Transportation: €200
- Trip to San Francisco: €330
- Trip to Hawaii: €1500
- Dining and excursions/events in Los Angeles: €5500
- Mobile phone contract: 150 €
- Clothing: €600
- Total: €15,950
Again: Don’t be put off by the sometimes very high costs. Of course, you can also save on some corners in Los Angeles. But I tried to do something every weekend, which added individual costs. For example, I went to the football stadium, visited Universal Studios and looked at some museums (mainly in Hollywood). I also bought some clothes because the outlets offered them. So here’s the tip: Don’t take too many clothes with you, since branded clothing in particular is very cheap compared to the prices in Germany.
I financed my stay abroad with foreign BAföG and personal savings, since I started putting money aside for this wish very early on.
However, I would like to point out once again how important it is to deal with the topic of studying abroad at an early stage. Unfortunately, I was no longer able to receive the internal PROMOS scholarship because you had to apply nine months before the start of the semester abroad. So ask your universities as early as possible which funding options are available and which deadlines apply!
Los Angeles is a very big city with many different people and cultures. That’s why it’s important to be present on campus to make new friends. A small example: During my first week in Los Angeles, I met a friend at university who was also doing a semester abroad. But since he only went to university once or twice a week at most, he told me after a few weeks that it was difficult to find friends and social circles. What I’m trying to say is that even if you’re shy, there will be situations where others will approach you and you can make new connections. But don’t even hesitate to talk to someone yourself! I have only had positive experiences with it and most of them are extremely happy about it and also very nice!Taking a physical education class or going to the gym. I went to the CSULA gym four times a week on average, which is where I made most of my friends.
If the budget is enough, I can only recommend traveling as much as possible. California is huge and there are just so many things to do and see that even five months wasn’t enough for me to see everything. So I almost never got bored!
My personal highlight was my trip to Hawaii. Since there is the so-called spring break in April, i.e. a week without classes at the university, I traveled to Hawaii with two other friends who I met there. So that meant experiencing something new again, experiencing another culture and traveling to great places.
I also recorded a lot on social media like Instagram. If you would like to find out more, would like to gain impressions through pictures or simply have a few questions for me, you are welcome to contact me there at any time (dzianofficial3).
All in all, I can recommend everyone to complete a semester abroad. I certainly don’t have to mention the large number of advantages. I can only say that the semester abroad was an experience for my life and that I personally developed a lot. I was also able to continue my professional training and am very happy to have passed each of my courses with flying colours. Of course, there is a lot of organizational work, diligence and sometimes patience in such a semester. However, I have never regretted my decision! On the contrary: Today I am a little proud to be able to say that I successfully completed a semester abroad with everything that goes with it at an American university.