Before my semester abroad, I also read through 1000 CSUF reports and found that most of them were doubled. For this reason I will try to limit myself to the essentials and only name things that might have helped me in advance.
In contrast to all of the recommendations (“It is essential to plan 1.5 years in advance!”), I only started planning 6 months before departure – it was completely sufficient.
After hours of researching the your website, I finally decided on Cal State Fullerton, but unfortunately my decision-making process took so long that the application deadline was over. Your website Team was very committed to all late applications and was able to accommodate me at the CSUF even after the deadline. Your website made my application process a lot easier . I just had to collect the requested documents, which were then forwarded reliably and quickly for me – a big thank you to Anja at this point!
As a free mover, you have to take care of a lot of organizational things before you leave. From insurance, vaccinations, advance inquiries for the crediting of courses, to scholarships and BAföG abroad , everything is included. I recommend you send your BAföG application as early as possible – communication with the BAföG office was probably one of the most nerve-wracking and tedious during and after the semester (because that happens if you send the application too late).
I also looked for an apartment from Germany . I met other Germans through the your website Facebook group for students at the CSUF and we rented a flat share in the UCA Apartments. It was the easiest and most convenient method, and while the people were great, it was a big mistake. Look for internationals or Americans for your flat share via other Facebook groups (e.g. Roommate Data Base) so that you can speak English and get the feeling that you are abroad. The UCA, on the other hand, was a very good choice: the best location, good facilities, always something going on and one of the cheapest alternatives as far as I know. The half-year contracts are also a big advantage, because many in the other apartment complexes (especially in the University House!) Have not gotten rid of their apartments and are currently still paying their already high rent.
At the beginning of the semester there is the feared “ Class Crashing ” (actually for no reason) , the process of which you can read about in other reports. I was lucky enough to be admitted to three courses in advance and only had to crash one, which was not difficult and worked right away at the first attempt. My courses:
ECON310 – Intermediate Microeconomics (Rottschäfer)
Actually, this course was supposed to teach advanced economics including game theory, but I felt like I was in the first basic semester. The level was extremely low, the lectures boring, the grading overly finicky. Since the professor rejected any use of media and modern technology, we unfortunately had to copy the script from the blackboard – as we might have done in the Middle Ages. I had to choose this course for my home university and would not recommend it to anyone.
FIN342 – Money and Capital Markets (Milligan)
By far the best course I’ve taken. The professor was competent, funny and really knew about the industry. He managed to give skilfully interesting lectures, in which he repeatedly incorporated anecdotes from his professional experience and current events in the world of finance. Although you had to write an essay every week and the workload was relatively heavy, the grading was still very generous.
FIN321 – Financial Management 2 (Gil)
Also a good course, just the right mix of interesting and not too demanding. The professor was helpful, nice and liked to talk a lot. There were weekly quizzes and some case studies (which were sometimes dictated, eh?). This course had a final presentation. Important: The Americans hold their presentations in business clothes! So at least take a serious outfit, I had to borrow everything.
FIN340 – Introduction to Investments (Bhootra)
Also a good choice. After a short time you could overlook the professor’s strong Indian accent and the monotonous manner of speaking and devote yourself to the exciting topics. The stock exchange project really made sense to finally learn something practical.
All in all, my premonition has been confirmed: the workload is higher, the level lower. Nevertheless, I have to say that all of my finance courses were very interesting and that I learned a lot and lastingly. In the beginning, the many homework and tests annoyed me, but somehow this “being forced to learn” makes sense and is much more effective than the often widespread German “bulimia learning” before exams.
Regarding campus life, one can say: yes, it is actually like in the films, all clichés are fulfilled. Yes, there are, the excessive frat parties, the crazy professors, the cheerleaders and the wildly celebrated sporting events of the university teams. And yes, it’s a lot of fun!
Life in Fullerton
Fullerton is not a very nice small town, which means something like: You absolutely need a car (we rented one from Sixt), otherwise the ceiling will fall on your head. Downtown is very pretty and has good party opportunities (entry is free on Thursdays!) But otherwise there is not much going on there. On Wednesdays, students go to Brian’s – one of the few bars in the US with cheap beer; on the weekend you can party well in Hollywood (Sound or Argyle).
For me, a VERY BIG disadvantage of the CSUF was that there were just too many Germans. I have made many good friends with Germans and I am very grateful that they now live near me. Still, I hardly spoke any English, let alone improved my English. It was difficult to get hold of Americans and contact with Germans was repeatedly forced through the dormitories and, in some cases, courses specially trained for Germans.
Southern California has so much to offer and by that I do NOT mean the – in my opinion – completely overcrowded and overrated sightseeing attractions such as the Walk of Fame, Disneyland, Universal Studios etc. What made the Cali lifestyle for me were things like beach days in Laguna Beach, in the morning before the lecture in Huntington Harbor kayaking, hiking in the Hollywood Hills, cruising comfortably along the beach with beach cruisers, in Venice spending hours watching the skaters in the skate park, night walks on Newport Pier or just a spontaneous road trip to camp in start Joshua Tree National Park. Although LA is actually a super ugly city, there are also some cool neighborhoods with a lot of street art, cool cafes and shops (Silverlake, Melrose District, Arts District). When you can watch one of LA’s everyday sunsets from the Griffith Observatory in the evening and the hazy skyline of the big city and the palm-lined streets turn blood red, it’s hard not to fall in love with California. Life is just so good there;With so much beach, palm trees and a prolonged summer, you can only be in a good mood every day . And once you get used to the Cali lifestyle, it’s so difficult to get away from it.
The semester abroad was undoubtedly one of the best times of my life for me, but mainly and mainly because it was shaped by the people and our trips together. Even if I liked the university very much, I would not choose the CSUF again (but rather the UCLA , UCSB or UCSD) if I had another choice. For me personally it was just a big damper that I spoke so terribly little English (almost only at university). I love California and the lifestyle there, but for the ultimate California experience, I don’t think you should go to a university that is also attended by over 150 other Germans. Nevertheless, I do not regret my decision to attend the CSUF, because I had the best time in these unforgettable six months and can only advise everyone: Make sure you do a semester abroad, no matter where. Because it will always be an unbelievable life experience that you can remember for years!