University: California State University Northridge
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
My semester abroad in 2019. Looking back, it was one of the best times of my life. I was at California State University in Northridge from January 2019 to the end of May 2019 and also lived on campus there. Check educationvv.com to see Saint Marys University Exchange Program.
The preparations went very smoothly and easily thanks to the kind help of MicroEdu, to whom I was referred through my university. I was always told exactly what I had to hand in by when. The VISA application took the longest. It is best to take care of this at least two months in advance. A lot of information was also provided on arrival on how the students could get to the university in Northridge as best as possible.
A tip before you travel: familiarize yourself with the Uber and Lyft apps and use them directly, the taxis are significantly more expensive. Traffic in Los Angeles is always very congested and there is almost no public transport. At the same time, this means budgeting a lot of money for transport. I must have made $800-$1000 just for transportation with Uber and Lyft over the five months.
Arrived at the California State University in Northridge, we had the orientation for the first two days, where we were explained all the processes, the campus and the rules. On the second day we all took a bus tour through LA together with the main attractions. The orientation is really good, especially at the beginning, because a lot of contacts can be made directly.
However, when I moved into the housing on campus, I was a bit disappointed at first. In the room everyone has a bed, a desk and a small closet. There is a small fridge and a microwave in the kitchen. That was it… so I had to buy the most important things right on the first day, such as pillows, blankets, shower curtains, kettles, toasters, desk lamps, and so on. Overall, the rooms with a balcony, a large living room, a large shared kitchen in the hallway, sports facilities in the housing area and a pool right in front of the house are really ok and also very safe, especially at night thanks to security.
After a week the courses start. Since I only had business courses, class crashing was not possible for me. But our on-site supervisor chose the best for me and gave me the choice between several courses for the first week.
Overall about the courses and the university: Everyone should be prepared to have to do a lot more, for example homework, submissions, term papers, exams and presentations are common almost every week. However, the grades are divided into many parts and in the end there is hardly a stressful final exam phase. Overall, the general level over the year is lower than in Germany, but it involves significantly more work. A big advantage of the American system is the communication in the courses. Americans discuss a lot and work more with groups. This means that contact with American students is quickly established.
Life in LA is really diverse. The university requires a lot of work on the side, but a normal German student usually only has 4 courses, which is about 12 hours a week. So there is still plenty of time to explore and travel. Los Angeles offers many different promotions. Nightlife is mostly in Hollywood or Pasadena (about 30 minutes from campus by car). Overall, the main attractions that everyone knows from TV (Walk of Fame, Hollywood Sign, Venice Beach, Beverly Hills, etc.) are mostly tourist magnets and therefore very crowded, especially in the summer months. After some time you also explore the insiders of Los Angeles.
The cities of Las Vegas, San Diego and San Francisco are no more than an hour’s flight away and are definitely worthwhile. Just like all national parks and the canyons in California, Nevada and Arizona.
The campus also offers many sports facilities. The Student Recreation Center is a large sports center on campus. Costs are around 160 dollars per semester, which is very worthwhile given the offer.
In addition, you have to calculate about 800 to 1200 dollars per month in addition to the university fees and housing. Even if the sum total is large, it is really worth every penny for having had this experience. The semester abroad really offers many opportunities. After two to three months I really felt like a part of society and was able to experience America from a different side.
One of the main reasons I went to America was because I wanted to improve my English and I’m sure everyone will. There are a lot of international people at this university, so a lot of attention is paid to whether English is your mother tongue or not. In addition, with the more interactive lessons, everyone is involved and the learning progress increases quickly.
In summary, the decision to study at CSUN for one semester was absolutely right. The campus is super nice and life in California is just like a dream. The opportunity to get to know so many people from different countries and thus gain different perspectives and experiences is very enriching. This is a big step for your own personality and everyone should take this chance. In the beginning it takes courage, but then it strengthens you day by day.