The preparation went as smoothly as possible, only obtaining the confirmation of the available capital, which was required by Cal State, took some time at the Sparkasse. Otherwise, your website was very helpful with this. Book the flight earlier rather than later and arrive a little earlier than necessary, this makes settling in and looking for an apartment easier.
Under no circumstances do the search for an apartment in advance, of course do not make advance payments or believe promises, especially on craigslist.com you often come across fraudsters, but you should take the opportunity to arrange viewing appointments. On site, however, this site is quite suitable for looking for an apartment, but you may need to plan some time and a few days in the motel.
Campus and course choice
My apartment was quite central between the university and downtown, had a convenient bus connection and a bike was easy to find. So the way to the campus was quite pleasant. It convinces with a clear structure, many shops (Panda Express, Starbucks, Carls Jr., Subway, Pizza, even a hairdresser), swimming pools, Student Union building with billiard tables and bowling alley, as well as a gym and more. Choosing a course in the “Study at the Beach” program was a bit time-consuming, as you have to enroll and register directly with the professor using an Open University form. Unfortunately, this does not necessarily mean that you are entitled to a place in seminars and lectures.
In the program you are entitled to 12 units, in my case 4 courses, 2 each in English and history, each with 3 units:
Composition (at my home university this course is run under Writing)
The United States 1877-1920
The professors were all extremely personable, open-minded and interested in foreign students. The courses usually take place twice a week for 75 minutes per unit, accordingly 2 subjects per day at the university and Friday mostly free. Indeed, you should use your free time because, especially in the history courses, more homework is given than you might be used to at your home university in Germany. The whole atmosphere, also in some lectures, some of which are attended by no more than 30 students (at my home university up to 300), is sometimes more reminiscent of a school context, which was by no means noticeable in a negative way. The professors take more time for the students and answer e-mails much faster, than you were used to in your previous university career. As a result, the participation and smaller services, as well as a mid-term in the courses at Cal State, are included in the assessment to a not insignificant extent – unlike at many German universities – the motivation to attend is enormous. The required reading is quite expensive, even when used, but compulsory. On average, I needed books for (sometimes well) over $ 50 per course, for a semester this is portable, for the regular students it is certainly rather uncomfortable.
As you would expect, life in Southern California is pleasant and eventful. Skating, sea, surfing, pleasant temperatures, house parties, dive bars and LA itself leave nothing to be desired. From the Lakers game to the hipster scene party in Santa Monica, everything is included, and in the course of the study program you not only get to know locals, but students from all over the world. The only weak point are the long distances and a car is almost a must due to the rather sparse transport network, but here, too, you can get together and take remedial action. The various local rental car companies also have attractive offers for people over the age of 25.
Of course, you shouldn’t just use your free time for lounging, celebrating and doing university assignments. California and the neighboring states offer more than enough cities, sights and natural wonders that are definitely not to be missed. Starting with LA, the Griffith Observatory there, Venice Beach and Santa Monica, to Malibu, Hermosa Beach, San Diego and the local zoo, San Francisco, Big Bear Lake (the ski area in California!), To Yosemite National Park alone California already has a lot to offer. And also, for example, Las Vegas in Nevada, the Grand Canyon and Phoenix in Arizona, as well as the extremely impressive Monument Valley in the Navajo Territory in Utah are some of the countless things that are more than recommended to visit.
There is not much more to add except: Have fun in California, it’s worth it!