University: California State University Northridge
City: Los Angeles
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
My name is Armin Gösch, I am 22 years old and completed my semester abroad at the California State University (CSUN) in Northridge. In Germany, I’m studying business administration -financial services in Stuttgart. I spent the semester abroad in my 5th semester from August to December 2018 in Los Angeles with three fellow students. Check educationvv.com to see Vancouver Island University Exchange Program.
Overall, I really liked the course and the CSUN. We took four subjects ( Corporate Finance, Risk Management, Investment Management and Urban Economics ), all of which were credited to us at our home university. In my opinion, studying in the USA is very different from studying in Germany: we had a maximum of two lectures a day, all day off on Fridays and a lot more homework, online tasks, and so on.
However, it also made studying American more fun for me because you have more free time doing your work during the week before and after classes.
CSUN is an excellent university. The university has students from all over the world and of different nationalities and is very modern and versatile. There are numerous freely available iMacs and Windows computers, study rooms that can be booked free of charge, a wide range of food and a wide variety of shops on the very lively campus.
This includes numerous restaurants/fast food, a bank, two pools, a gym with new equipment, a bar and many coffee shops. You can spend an entire day at CSUN, from dawn to dusk, without ever leaving campus. This way you get your lectures and assignments done and you get time for Friday and the weekend.
In our free time we (usually as a group) did a lot. Northridge is part of LA, but is north of downtown Los Angeles and the beaches. Nevertheless, I think the location is very good – it takes about 45 minutes to get to the well-known and beautiful beaches ( Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Manhattan Beach a little further south). If you want to go out in the evening, Hollywood is not far: it is about a 25-30 minute drive from Northridge.
Apart from that and the well-known sights (which I won’t list, you can google that yourself ), the state offers everything you can imagine.
I count the weekend trip to San Francisco (the most beautiful city on the west coast for me ), the hiking weekend to Yosemite National Park (which we booked through CSUN for around $200 per person) as one of the best moments of my time in California. as well as the road trip on your own to the Grand Canyon ( you never forget the first sight, believe me!).
We’ve also been to Las Vegas twice (about a 4-5 hour drive) and once to San Diego (about two hours south of LA, right on the Mexican border). What I recommend and advise you in any case: If you are starting the semester abroad alone, find friends locally and travel together. Share not only the cost but also the memories and experiences and you will have an unforgettable time in Los Angeles. Your free time and travel will definitely not be neglected during your studies.
We lived about 5-10 minutes by car or 20-25 minutes on foot from the campus. We knew from the start that there would be offers there, so we booked an Airbnb apartment for two weeks. Over the course of the two weeks it turned out that the room was free and would be rented out until the beginning of January anyway, so we negotiated and stayed.
I shared a room with a fellow student and we had five roommates, albeit in a very large house with a garden, pool and jacuzzi. Each of us paid $650 in rent + $100 in utilities (electricity, water, WiFi, etc.). That’s the equivalent of around €650 per person per month for a 20m² room and may seem like a lot, but it’s totally fine.
For comparison, other students from their home country have rented accommodation directly on campus for $1,000 without knowing who they are sharing a room with, no facilities, and so on. So my advice: Save the money for nicer things. You will definitely (!) find accommodation on site if you keep your eyes open. Apart from huge signs (Free Rooms), there is still Airbnb and the university staff is very accommodating, especially to international students, if you need help.
Now a few more things that concern different categories. If you’re studying there for more than a semester, it’s definitely a good idea to buy a car (since you’ll be traveling a lot, renting is expensive, and a driver’s license is cheap). I can’t say more than that, as we have rented cars several times. There are many different portals such as SIXT or Turo. Renting a car is very easy and smooth. Don’t get ripped off, but don’t hesitate too long or worry too much either.
We thought about renting a car right at the beginning, which we didn’t do for cost reasons. Wrong decision! In hindsight, we would have come out a lot cheaper. Now we have rented a total of four different cars, which again wasn’t bad either. However, one can summarize that one cannot avoid a car, no matter how. There are of course apps like Uber or Lyft (which you should definitely get – it’s very common on the west coast at least), but you’re going to limit yourself a lot if you’re dependent on others or don’t have a car at all.
In summary, I can give you one more important tip: Don’t turn your semester abroad into a 5-star vacation trip from the outset, where every tour, every route is planned. Be open to new things, get involved in spontaneous ventures and be as flexible as possible. This is how you manage to build friendships with other students, travel together and constantly discover new things. Then you are guaranteed a good time, even if it may seem a bit daunting at first.
I hope you were able to gain some helpful information from my experience report and wish you all the best for your semester abroad. Wherever you go – with MicroEdu you are always in good hands and will have the best time of your life!