University: California State University Northridge
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: cultural studies, art and design
Study type: semester abroad
Live the American Dream!
Who hasn’t dreamed of crossing the pond to America and finding out what life is like there. Of course, you’ve seen a lot on TV or heard stories about how life in the land of opportunity feels like.
Something like this was the approach of our group (consisting of two girls and four boys) when we decided at the end of 2011 to embark on the great adventure in the USA. Check educationvv.com to see Brock University Exchange Program.
With the help of MicroEdu and the hard-working organizers of our group (a big thank you again for that!!!!) we were then able to find a suitable university on the west coast for our three different majors (trade fairs, event and congress management, international marketing and art and cultural management). In our eyes, California State University Northridge (or CSUN for short) seemed more than suitable for our adventure together. On the one hand it is one of the best Cal State Universities and on the other hand it is located in the northwest of the mega metropolis Los Angeles.
After we had finally managed the tedious process of international insurance, visa, flight and financing, we started our journey to Los Angeles on August 1st, 2012. For the first week we stayed in a hotel because we didn’t have an apartment yet and we preferred to look locally to get a better overview. Unfortunately, this turned out to be more difficult than initially thought. Due to the large number in our group, only one house was actually an option for living together. However, in the USA, leases are set for at least one year. Due to this fact, which remained hidden from us despite extensive research in advance, we decided to split up the group and make two separate flat shares. In order to live as close together as possible, we moved to the same apartment complex (Meridian Place Apartments Northridge). It wasn’t the cheapest, but we decided to pay more than live in a dump. Furthermore, the proximity to the university (five minutes’ walk), the location on the “main street” (Reseda Blvd) and the comfort it brought with it (shared pool & jacuzzi, fitness studio, outdoor area, etc…) were its advantages that could not be denied. All in all, we definitely didn’t go to America unprepared. However, in the first few weeks we became painfully aware that life usually doesn’t go the way you imagine it! However, the WG factor was an immense plus point of our stay because you could save a lot of money here in terms of living expenses. As a result, we were able to afford more trips to other cities.
After we had finished looking for an apartment and we had taken care of the furnishings (IKEA Burbank;) ), we were able to take another two weeks of vacation before the semester could finally begin.
All in all, one has to say that the CSUN has a wide range of different courses, but for my degree (arts and culture management) the number of relevant subjects was rather sparse. The next problem was the provisional choice of course, which we handed in 4 months before the start of the semester. This was mainly due to the fact that in the USA the lecturer first decides whether you can go to his course or not! We were informed of this quite late (two weeks at the beginning of the semester). However, we were finally able to create the best possible course schedule for our semester at CSUN with the help of the friendly and competent people in charge of foreign students! My courses consisted of AIS 304 American Indian Law and Policy, PAS 300 Contemporary Issues of the Black African Community, MGT360 Management And Organizational Behavior and Phil 305 Business Ethics. All in all, I was happy with my choice of courses, even if they didn’t exactly cover the content I needed for my semester abroad.
The CSUN campus itself is stunning. The center of the campus is definitely the imposing Oviatt library (perhaps known from films like Sky High or Star Trek), which, with 21,805.5 m² and a very beautiful appearance, amazes you at first sight. Furthermore, the CSUN is considered one of the newer CalState universities because it had to be completely renovated due to the great earthquake of 1994. But no matter how bad this event was, it can definitely be counted as a plus point for the CSUN when compared to other CalStates, such as the CalState Fullerton. Furthermore, not only learning is in the foreground at the CSUN, a wide range of sports and the newly built recreation center offer the perfect opportunity to find a balance in addition to all the learning.
However, a semester abroad is not just about learning. With LA you have probably the most central place in California from where you can quickly reach other interesting cities, such as San Diego (just under two hours drive south), Las Vegas (4.5 hours drive) or San Francisco (5 hours). In my opinion, each of these cities is a must if you are ever in the vicinity.
However, with Hollywood, Downtown, the Universal Studies, the Getty Museum, Santa Monica and countless other sights, LA offers enough variety so that you don’t have to spend the weekend at home!
All in all, I would go back to CSUN for my semester abroad without hesitation. It was by far one of the best parts of my life because of the people I got to know and the experiences I had. Furthermore, in my opinion, learning about yourself and others and experiencing a different world and culture is more important than learning at a university.