The preparations for the semester beginning with the election of the host institution. In doing so, attention should be paid to the desired host country, suitable semester times, a comprehensive range of courses and appropriate tuition fees. First of all: California is beautiful, but expensive. MicroEDU is extremely helpful and will help you prepare. They provide a checklist so that you can easily work through every step. Allow enough time (approx. 3-6 months), as certain things like the visa sometimes take a little time. All in all, not too much work if you approach the matter with motivation.
Study in the host country
California State University Los Angeles
According to ehuacom, the California State University Los Angeles is part of the network of the California State Universities, which has 23 locations and more than 437,000 students, the largest university system in California. The CSLA is about 10 minutes east of downtown LA. About 20,000 students attend the CSLA.
The campus is huge and offers a lot (like in the US college films). He has numerous leisure opportunities. In addition to a small athletics stadium, a baseball, basketball and soccer field, there is a swimming pool and a fitness studio, both of which can be used free of charge. There are tons of clubs and sports teams to join. Many also live on campus, in the so-called “dorms”. There are various fast food restaurants in the food court and there is also a cafeteria, but I can’t say much about it as I have never visited it. Apparently the food is supposed to be good and there is a salad buffet every day.
It is not possible for international students to enroll in the desired courses before starting their studies. You have to enroll in the individual courses through “Class Crashing”. You attend the first lectures and ask the respective professor whether he still has space in the course and is willing to accept one. As a “free mover” it was relatively risky because my home university did not give me many options when choosing a course. Fortunately, everything went well, but I had to fight hard for a course and in the end my persistence gave me the place.
Regarding the choice of course, I would also like to say that often (not always) the open courses at the beginning of the semester are not the best. Almost all courses are offered several times by different professors. The local students can register weeks in advance and then of course they all choose the courses with the popular / good lecturers. These are then already full during class crashing.
For all of my four courses, I actually had to buy a textbook. However, I only bought it for a course as I had to buy the Homework Platform ‘WileyPlus’. The e-book was available there. Access to this portal cost me $ 80.
ACCT2110 Principles of Managerial Accounting
MoWe 12: 15-13: 30pm
The prerequisite was ACCT2100 (Financial Accounting), which of course I hadn’t attended, which made it a bit more difficult to get started. The content was relatively demanding, but I had an extremely good lecturer. Since the beginning of my studies, I have never seen such a good lecturer. Structured, helpful materials, good explanations and very helpful in general. However, we had a lot of homework (every week), 2 quizzes, 2 midterms and 1 final. So all in all a lot of work, but you can still get very good grades if you stick with it.
MGMT3070 Management for Organizational Behavior
Wed 6-8: 45pm
Extremely demanding and ‘hard-grading’ lecturer, but also very good. He is a former CEO at Nestlé and brought a lot of interesting experience to the lecture. The standard was also relatively high by American standards, and above all it was graded quite strictly. 2 quizzes, 1 midterm, 1 final and 1 group project.
CIS3050 Database Design & Development
Very popular course, which luckily I still slipped into. In this course, too, I was pretty convinced of the lecturer.
Since I had already taken a database course at my home university, I mastered this course without much effort. However, I was very surprised by the speed and level. If this had been new to me, this course would definitely not have been easy. 6 assignments and 4 exams.
CIS3060 Systems Analysis & Design
In this course a very nice older man from Russia lectured. His heavy accent was extremely difficult to understand (for everyone). As I said, super nice, but unfortunately poor in teaching. Only 13 students were enrolled in the course and about five came to the lectures, as they were honestly nowhere near instructive. That was the only bad course I took and in which I unfortunately didn’t learn anything. The level was okay, more easy than difficult. 1 midterm, 1 final and 1 group project.
Since I lived in LA for a year after graduating from high school, my situation was a little different. I lived with friends at first and then moved closer to university. But here are a few general tips:
LA is extremely expensive and the rental prices are a joke. It’s pretty hard to find something for a good price, especially without a background check, bank account in the US, etc.
I was lucky enough not to have to rely on that, but if I had been, I would probably have looked around in Facebook groups. I would also visit websites like Zillow, Gypsyhousing or Craigslist, but you have to be very careful, especially with Craigslist. Airbnb is also recommended, you may be able to negotiate something and thus reduce the Airbnb fees a bit.
Personally, I would not recommend you live in the dorms on campus. You share a room and you still pay a lot of money. The rooms are really not particularly nice and in general the area around the CSULA is not the best. You should consider renting a car and rather take on the commute. In itself, the area is now not dangerous or similar, just not beautiful and there is not much.
The city has a lot to offer. Numerous sports activities can be used on campus. Many beautiful beaches can be reached quickly and easily by car. LA is surrounded by mountains that invite you to hike (the LA cliché par excellence). Big Bear is about 2 hours away and invites you to go skiing / snowboarding! Downtown Los Angeles and many large outlet centers nearby offer a lot for a successful shopping trip.
There are several interesting amusement parks in the vicinity, such as Six Flags, Disneyland, Warner Bros or Universal Studios. The weather is great all year round! Museums are almost all free and highly recommended, “The Broad” and “LACMA” are a must! Due to its diversity, the city also offers a lot of different and very good food. Yes, there is a lot of fast food in America, including LA, but Los Angeles is pretty much on the health trip and there is a lot of vegan, gluten-free, organic, etc.
At night there is a lot to experience in Los Angeles with numerous (rooftop) bars and clubs. The nightlife there is definitely completely different than in Germany. Prepare to stand next to actors in the club. Quite normal there. For the weekend there are short trips to San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego, Santa Barabara or one of the numerous national parks.
It is important to know that the public transport system in Los Angeles is not particularly well developed (but it is being worked on and is already a lot better than a few years ago) and you need a car to get from A to B quickly and easily get. The popular prejudice about traffic is also true, by the way. Always plan enough time and use the “Waze” app. This helps to avoid the traffic. However, pretty much everyone uses this app and it doesn’t save too much time.
In general, areas like West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Beverly Hills are super beautiful and the “heart of LA”. Downtown and Hollywood are mostly not very nice. Find out a bit about the districts beforehand and then decide where you are going to ultimately move. But don’t forget the distances and the traffic.
A semester abroad is great and recommendable in every respect. It’s super interesting to experience American college life. You will have great experiences, great trips, meet a lot of interesting people and make new friends! Your English will also improve, especially if you stay away from Germans.