I was always afraid of going abroad for long periods of time, but I also thought that studying would be best suited for a stay abroad (apart from maybe 11th grade, which is where I missed it).
In addition, studying in Germany annoyed me after about 1.5 years and so I thought it was time for a new challenge and to improve my CV. A semester abroad was an obvious choice. It was clear that I wanted to go to the USA. An English-speaking country and a country outside of Europe was important to me. England is too close to Germany, so there was too great a risk that I would have flown home again after the first week. Australia was then again too far away, at least on paper, although once you get there it probably doesn’t matter. So it was USA, also because I’ve been there several times and I liked the country very much. Unfortunately, my home university only has one partner university in the USA and unfortunately I did not get into the program with the many applications.
Since I now had the choice between 29 universities, I preferred an area for my longer stay that I hadn’t seen before. I had already visited the east coast and the mid-west. Therefore California. It became Chico because of the good reviews, the slightly lower costs and because it is a medium-sized city that does not need a car. My home university was in a very big city and since I come from the country and a village with 400 inhabitants, I thought I would try something in between.
As I said, Chico is a relatively small town and very clearly laid out. Lots of students and lots of opportunities to do things. The pubs and bars are all downtown next to the university. You can go away very well. The parties start earlier and end earlier, as everything closes at 2 a.m., but that doesn’t really matter. Either you go home or somewhere else privately. There is a very nice park with swimming, good food and trees everywhere and it’s green.
It’s hot in summer and relatively mild in winter. I’ve heard that it usually rains a lot in winter, but that wasn’t the case when I was there. From spring to autumn there is also a market twice a week that you should definitely go to. The fresh fruit is delicious and you usually meet half the campus there. Chico is also a very good starting point for traveling, whether you want to go up or down the west coast.
It was important to me that I already have an apartment when I arrive in Chico. That’s why I checked Craigslist and someone actually responded to my request. My roommate turned out to be a nice, but a bit strange American, who mostly spent the whole day on the sofa and talked to his guinea pigs. However, he was very helpful and since I was on the road most of the time and only to sleep on site, I didn’t have that much to do with him. The location of the apartment was great (very close to the university) and the “Village at the Timbers” apartment complex offered free copying and free breakfasts on Fridays.
The English course to choose was okay. The level was not the highest, but I would say that, thanks to the teacher, I took something away with me (and not only, the certificate at the end), because I was interested in the topics in class. We had to give presentations and had a lot of discussions. The teacher worked a lot with feedback and attached great importance to soft skills.
I was a little worried that I wouldn’t get into the courses I preferred, but it wasn’t a problem at all. The teachers / professors are mostly happy about international growth. Just ask nicely. The system is very schooled, but that benefited me because I always enjoyed going to school and personally think it’s better than the German one. Accordingly, the compulsory attendance and homework hardly bothered me. It’s good to be busy during the semester, but it’s not really harder when you’re reasonably organized.
The university campus is also very green. There is a lot to discover as well as many different sports clubs and societies. Very good for meeting Americans and making friends. There is also an organization called “adventure outings” and if you love nature, you are in the right place. From rafting to kayaking, everything is included. I also recommend the Wrec-Center. The university’s own fitness studio is super modern and offers everything an athlete’s heart desires. Pool, whirlpool, soccer court, basketball court, climbing wall, super modern equipment and fitness courses such as spinning, ABS, interval, Zumba, kickboxing etc.. Get more information about California State University Chico on educationvv.
A semester abroad is always associated with work at the beginning, but I can only say: for me it has worth it.
My goal was not to hang out with the other Germans so much, because I have them at home too (at the beginning I was a bit shocked how many there were) and that works very well if you want to. It takes some work to really get to know the Americans, since all of them are of course superficial friendly, but with a little effort you can make “real friends”. And then it’s just great! You speak English all the time, the Americans take you everywhere and you get to know lots of new places. I was never bored in Chico, because I’ve always done a lot and I think I’ve gained more life experience than in 3 years in Germany. It was one of the best decisions in my life.