University: California State University Northridge
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: pedagogy and teaching
Study type: semester abroad
First of all: The semester abroad was THE hammer! I would have preferred to fly straight back.
But first things first…
Applying through MicroEdu went smoothly. Getting the appropriate courses at CSUN was another matter…
What you can already read from other reports is that LA is spacious. There’s nothing lying about that! If you drive to other cities, like San Diego or San Francisco, you will immediately notice the difference. Check ehuacom.com to see SDSU study abroad opportunities.
BUT there are now good alternatives, depending on what the budget allows and your own goals.
I myself find buying a car for 5 months too stressful, apart from that I know fellow students whose cars have stalled from time to time, which is understandable for batteries in this heat.
With the bus (i.e. Orange Line (bus), you can get to Hollywood or Downtown with a smooth change to the Red Line (something like a metro), since the travel times are very well coordinated and there are hardly any waiting times. As a student you can get one too a great tariff for 30 days: 16 dollars! The catch is that you have to fill out a paper with a timetable. The processing time takes 20 working days, for me it was really 18 days before the (orange) Tapcard arrived in the post. My timetable had I only after the first 3 weeks after the beginning of the semester.So I had to top up my (blue) Tapcard (you can get it at every stop of the Orangeline and the other lines) with 50 dollars at the CSUN ticket office, which actually also happenedis a good price considering that you can go anywhere in LA by bus : Hollywood, Downtown, Burbank, even the airport, even if it is very far away.
“Normals” pay 75 dollars. A week is $20 and a day pass is $5. The amount is loaded onto a tap card, which costs an additional $1 and, with the exception of the day ticket, can only be loaded at machines or at the CSUN ticket office. Schedules are available on the bus and (all schedules) at Union Station (the place is amazing, who doesn’t know it from various movies? Most impressive at 12am…). I haven’t used the train in America yet, compared to various bus companies it’s a lot more expensive. Greyhound Bus, Bolt Bus (with power outlets and free wifi!!) and more coming out got me under $20 round trip to San Diego. Train one way 37 dollars cost 37 dollars advantage here a bike can be taken for free.
Speaking of bikes, I bought a used mountain bike ($50), admittedly got 3 punctures, but I enjoyed the bike ride, although I’ve never ridden that much at home!! I would have gotten a bike for campus alone as it’s just a reflection of LA: sprawling. The USC campus is more realistic per foot…
I’ve become a bus expert and don’t want to miss my talks with the locals and bus stories;)
Apartment hunting: Craigslist, Wimdu, 9flat or airbnb. Check out the apartment on site!!
Shopping: Walmart, 99 cent store and Target (popular, but not always cheaper than the first!)
Books: on ebay, for example, international edition get the same thing, just different page numbering and it costs less than renting the book at the university!
Nice and clean, print 20 pages for free in the computer lab, don’t miss Matafest…enjoy university life. You shouldn’t ask for more under the sun.
Many complain about doing a lot of homework and the like during the semester. As a math student, I’m very used to this and found it normal, even though my courses meant I had to write more English texts than prove anything. You have to put some time into your homework, but I got very good grades in a relaxed manner. The lecturers are very nice, as the only “foreigner” in each of my courses, some lecturers are very interested. Many classes have Americans whose native language isn’t English, but they’ve lived here since they were born, or at least have been in the States since their schooling.
Courses were always late afternoons/evenings:
EPC 420 (Monday from 4 a.m. to 6.45 a.m.)
Parallel to the course, I was at a high school every Wednesday from 10: 28-12: 30 and observed 2 school lessons there, so that I had an observation task and a typed paper to hand in every week. Observational tasks corresponded to what we taught at university, i.e. theory by Piaget, Kohlberg, Erikson, Vygotsky, physical development, learning/dealing with learning difficulties, etc.
It was an older lady, very friendly, always asking me if I was doing right, if there were any difficulties in understanding at school, etc.
At the end of the course I had to do an interview with a student and one with the teacher. Write 10-15 pages and give a presentation. We got our final exam a week earlier to work on.
The course was worth it for me because I finally got the opportunity to see an American school and the lessons from the inside. Also, I went to the right school. There was a film being shot for a week with a certain Mr. Kevin Costner…
Survival in the Wilderness (Monday from 7 a.m. to 9.45 a.m.)
For everyone who is looking for some fun and adventure and would like to know how to make a fire, a fire bed and always wanted to sleep in a cave! The highlight was the weekend in the “wilderness” as a finale to apply what you had learned! Regular small tests to check reading homework of not too long texts about the Jewish religion. Good for general education! Tests and final exam very well feasible.
The course usually ended earlier…
ELPS 417 (Tue from 4 a.m. to 6.45 a.m.)
The instructor describes herself as “Latina”. She was a teacher and even a principal. She never lets herself be told that she can’t do something. This only makes their will to achieve something stronger.
The main focus here was on cultural diversity in the classroom and what we as teachers should and can do to create lessons that appeal to every child (to sum it up in one sentence). We got our final exam a week earlier to work on.
SED 525MA (Wednesday from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.) without final exam!
In my longest (maths) course, I had to read a lot of texts, averaging 20 pages, and write a reflection about it, among other things, I had to develop a test, assessment, lesson plan, lesson series of 4-5 hours.
Here I was literally covered with material. I took home a whole tree!
At the end of the course we went to dinner with the course leader Ivan. He is an avid school bus driver and math teacher who has wonderful stories to share about his life and is always very well prepared. Most difficult course, but I take a lot with me from the course for my future. With the free participation in the CMC conference in Palm Springs, the course was more than worth it!
Important for great adventures in California besides learning, just a small excerpt of what I have experienced:
- Choose courses cleverly so that you can also travel!
- a USC football game. I have never seen such a mood. Insanity. Who misses something like this. Themselves to blame.
- Baseball (e.g. Dodgers) can be seen but is nowhere near as good as football!! I also found the Lakers game modest in comparison. But the great thing is you get to talk to new friendly Americans with every game!!
- Cities SD, SF, LV have to be visited. If you go to Hawaii (there are a couple of islands here, you have to decide for yourself what you’re looking for, more partying or more nature, but you’re stuck here without a car, although you’ll find nice people in hostels)!
- CSUN Outdoor Adventures also offers cool trips to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Black Canyon (e.g. Cliff – Jumping, hot springs) and Free Day at the Lake, just saying SUP Paddle. Attention: Seats fill up quickly!!
- Watch taping in Burbank, e.g. Two and a half men or the big bang theory (free, you just have to get there somehow;))
- Ellen DeGeneres Show or others, 1iota is a good address…(free)
- Sport in the SRC of the CSUN. You have to register for each date at least 1 day in advance, but from what I’ve heard, many courses are good. My personal insider tip: FitWall Mania and Boxer Basics. Say hello to me Peter. He’s the best!!
- Downtown: Observe outside shooting. Take photos with stars. Go for a walk, many say there is nothing, that’s not true: Financial District, Cathedral, Farmers Market and and…(free)
- Ghetty Villa and Ghetty Center
- Science Center near the USC campus, free admission and you become a fascinated happy child yourself…
- In-n-Out Burger (California’s favourite): Order an animal style burger or a burger with a salad, there’s a hidden menu here;)
And as a last tip: take as much as you can with you! Just do things that you don’t do or can’t do otherwise!