1. 1 Why USA? Why Fullerton?
It quickly became clear to me that I wanted to go to an English-speaking country in order to be as confident as possible in terms of language and to be able to apply and deepen everything I had learned in recent years. Since the first hurdle in the decision-making process was cleared, the next step was to find the right “place”, the right country and thus the right university. The USA as a powerful and influential nation has always impressed me and since I had never traveled outside of Europe before, but always wanted to “be a little further away from home”, I was now able to combine both. However, as is well known, the USA is not exactly small and with it the number of universities anything but manageable.
I heard about Fullerton from a friend who had also spent a semester abroad there two years earlier and who couldn’t stop raving about stories about California, the cities, the lifestyle and the endless possibilities. Another advantage of the University in Fullerton is that the semester – unlike most of the others – lasts four to four and a half months and that with almost the same or even less tuition fees.
1. 2 Application to the CSUF
When the decision to go to California State University of Fullerton (CSUF according to ehuacom) was made, I got in touch with the MicroEDU agency, who supported me throughout the entire process of preparation and planning. I have to honestly say that I don’t know how much more effort I would have had to put in if MicroEDU hadn’t supported me all along, no matter what questions I had. So here is a well-intentioned tip: Write a nice email with your plans and concerns and you will save a lot of time and effort.
After the whole process of obtaining all the necessary documents – allow yourself some time for this – for the application and the sending of these, the acceptance from the USA came relatively quickly with the required I-20 form, which you need for issuing the visa.
1. 3 Visa
The visa application is a process that if can go on for several weeks not even pull month while unfortunately usually not entirely stress-free will be staged. After paying a few fees and filling out long questionnaires on various websites, the final step is to visit the American embassy in Berlin personally. After a long wait and an employee answering a few questions, you hand in your passport at the counter, which is sent home 10-14 days later with your visa. So finally nothing stands in the way of entry.
1. 4 Insurance
In order to be able to study at the CSUF, you have to take out health insurance through the university. However, since this is not always free of high deductibles, I have taken out an additional one to be on the safe side. This was an offer from HanseMerkur and was valid for the entire period of the semester abroad and for a few weeks beyond. However, I also had a lot of fellow students who did not take this “double protection” – but I had a better feeling that way. In general, however, you have to say that none of us were sick or had to use the insurance properly at some point, so I cannot share any real experience.
1. 5 Learning Agreement
Since I was not the first to visit the university in Fullerton, I had the opportunity to have some courses credited through a learning agreement without further testing through syllabi or course content. For a few other courses, which I wanted to have checked in advance, however, you have to obtain this information. Here, too – as described above – MicroEDU can help. Since many students are placed and there is close contact with the various universities, there is also a wide pool of syllabi. I was able to benefit from this and was therefore able to have all my courses “credited” in advance. It is true that taking the courses At the university it is still anything but certain, but there is still certainty on one side.
1. 6 baggage
Since Fullerton is located in California and California is known to be a warmer area, you could also see that in my luggage: shorts, T-shirts and tank tops were the main ingredients. Furthermore, should the be a small first-aid kit have along, the most important personal items and everything Organizational two copies – one for hand luggage and once for the case, then you are doubly protected. If you still have a little space, try not to use every gram – there are enough outlets and other things in the USA that are worth buying.
1. 7 Accommodation
There are usually a relatively large number of housing options around large universities in the USA. Whether student dormitories, residential complexes, shared rooms or private apartments that you rent with several people – actually everything is possible. During my time in Fullerton, I personally lived in a so-called “University Village”, a kind of complex with many apartments, each of which consisted of three shared apartments with three rooms of different sizes. One was regular, one a little bigger and one even with its own bathroom. All rooms shared a kitchen, a living room and an additional bathroom.
The special thing about the residential complex, however, was that there were two warm meals every day, which were included in the rent. You could go to the cafeteria for lunch from 11:00 a. m. to 1:30 p. m. and in the evening from 5:00 p. m. to 7:00 p. m. The meal consisted of a daily changing main meal and an otherwise equal stock of salad buffet, pizza, vegetarian food, sandwich bar, ice machine, waffle iron, cornflakes and and and. . . so there was always something for everyone and you could also eat healthily – and that’s not exactly the standard in the US.
Another advantage also came through the food and the daily time you spent with the other inhabitants: already after a few days have been found within the University Village directly connection and over the entire period of time one has great community formed, with who traveled together, learned, celebrated and spent other hours. In retrospect, that was actually the biggest advantage of the whole time and one thing that I would not have liked to have missed.
1. 8 Arrival
After booking the flights and the first stopover, the organizational smack is through and the journey can begin. I flew from Hanover on a Sunday morning and am about 20 hours of pure travel time later at 7 p. m. landed in Los Angeles. Before I could go to my Fullerton accommodation, I had to spend two days in LA as my lease didn’t take effect until the beginning of the month. For this I had booked an AirBnB in advance, which was completely sufficient near the airport and for the first few nights. On-site mobility without a car is actually exclusively provided by Uber. I downloaded the app directly at the airport and then let it drive me to my accommodation. Then you first have time to relax a bit and process the first impressions.
2. 1 Arrival
After I was finally able to move into the University Village in Fullerton, the next step was to settle in and adapt to the new situation – especially the extremely good weather- to accustom. All the Americans around me were super nice, helpful, interested and made my arrival extremely easy. After a few meals in the cafeteria described above and browsing through one or the other Facebook group, I had already met the first people with whom one could make initial trips and spend time. The more people moved into the accommodation over time, the larger and more varied the circle became and the more fun each day of stay was. In the end, the “inner core” of our group consisted of around 10-15 people.
2. 2 Uni
2. 2. 1 First days
After a few days of settling in in Fullerton, the first visit to the university was already on the agenda. First of all, we had appointments at the International Office, where you introduced yourself to bring around all the documents still to be delivered and the tuition fees paid if you hadn’t done so in advance. In the days that followed, some welcome events were organized for us: Together with all the other international students, we learned about the campus, the various clubs and offers, the fitness center, the course system, how to deal with health insurance, the rules for traveling and so on and know. After all these lectures, there were actually few questions left unanswered, so that you had the feeling that you were well informed and could start into the first week of the lectures.
2. 2. 2 Course selection and class crashing
Before the semester abroad starts in the USA and you are still in Germany, the CSUF offers you that you can familiarize yourself with the range of courses in advance – which is really very extensive – and make your first wishes regarding topics and time: said and done. A few days before the start of the university, you will then be given access to the online portal, where you can see which courses in your area code you have been enrolled in. For me – and also for quite a few of my friends – this system did not work very well, so that we were currently enrolled in maybe one or two courses and these did not even fit in time.
Initially, however, nothing can be changed in this classification until the infamous class crashing occurs, which simply has nothing to do with fun. Armed with different course options and times, you have to sit down in all courses for the first week and ask the professors to include you in the course. The acceptance of the professors themselves was usually not the problem at all. More problematic was the number of students allowed per room, which was meticulously controlled by the individual departments. Basically it can be said that you can say goodbye to the “good” times of the courses and should rather look in the “peripheral area”, as these are logically not so popular with American students. At the end of the second week we had our courses, albeit at stupid times,
2. 2. 3 Difficulty level
I personally took four courses: Human Resource Management, Managing Operations, International Business Finance and Project Management. In general, it can be said that if you attend a normal German university and stress yourself there with normal intensity, then it is definitely not harder, if not a little easier, in the USA. The only really strong adjustment was that the entire semester had to be performed, be it a quiz, an assignment or a group work and not just a written exam at the end of the lecture, as is the case in Germany. The exams also rarely consist of written answers, but mostly consist of multiple choice.
2. 3 Travel
If there’s one thing you can do well in California, it’s travel. I have put together a small list of places we have visited:
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Yosemite National Park
- Redwood National Park
- . . .
- San Francisco
- San Diego
- Santa Barbara
- los Angeles
- Las Vegas
- San Jose
- . . .
- Huntington Beach
- Laguna Beach
- Malibu Beach
- Long Beach
- Venice Beach
- Santa Monica
- . . .
- Six flags
- Universal Studios
- Hollywood tours
- . . .
It definitely never gets boring and there is probably enough to see for a 20 year stay – just use the time and do as many things as possible!
3 After that
3. 1 Everyday life
If you are doing your semester abroad in Fall-Term, it will definitely be a tough number to come back home during the New Year. On the one hand you have the climatic change, the sun will be missing and the classic German weather will disturb a bit, on the other hand the lifestyle is different and a few days of getting used to it are definitely necessary.
3. 2 Credit transfer
After the finals have been written, it takes about two to three weeks until the first “unofficial” final notes are uploaded to the CSUF portal and then another two to three weeks until the now official transcript is sent to Germany. You then submit this – in the best case – together with your learning agreement and wait until the university has checked everything and credited it.
When I started planning, I spent a total of around € 15,000 – € 17,000. In order to happily spend this sum and not be plagued by a guilty conscience for six months, you should definitely work out beforehand how you can finance the whole thing and then be completely sure of the decision. I can definitely say for myself that the semester was worth it and I don’t regret a single cent.
Here is a small list of the biggest costs I had:
- Flight: € 1,369. 56
- Tuition fees: € 4,999. 75
- Rent: approx. € 4,400. 00
- Total: approx. € 10,769. 31
The rest of the costs were spent on everyday life and traveling.
Whether you want to do your semester abroad in Fullerton or anywhere else – do it! You will not regret it!