I can absolutely recommend a semester abroad to everyone. No matter how much time and money it costs, it is worth it. Not only does it read well on your résumé, it also helps you develop personally. The semester abroad was the best time of my life.
Preparation & organization:
I really wanted to spend my semester abroad in California. So I looked through MicroEDU’s offer. Here again a big thank you to MicroEDU for the great help and the smooth process. When choosing a university, everyone must of course set their own priorities in terms of location, tuition fees , courses, etc.
For me personally it was extremely important to study in a big city in order to take as much as possible with me and to make the best possible use of the six months. In addition, it was important to me that there were as few Germans as possible at the university, otherwise you inevitably spend a lot of time with other Germans.
So California State University Northridge was my choice relatively quickly. LA, as one of the largest cities in America with countless possibilities, many beaches, and above all consistently good weather, large university, extensive range of courses and, compared to other universities, relatively few German students.
Then it went to the organization. All I can say here is that MicroEDU supported me very well and that I was always able to ask about unclear things by email or phone. The organization is of course extensive and you should plan some time for it.
My tip for you: start planning and applying in good time. After the application process is through and you have been accepted, it is time to plan your trip. I have planned my trip in such a way that I have a stopover on the east coast each time I travel there and backdropped in because it is cheaper to use domestic flights than to fly direct to Los Angeles. So spent a few days in New York and then flew to LA Since I knew in advance that I had to be back in Germany by a certain date, I was able to book my return flight. I then used the stopover to see Miami and Florida. In my opinion, you should definitely use this as it is absolutely worth seeing. If you have no time pressure to fly home after the semester abroad, e.g. because of exams at your home university, I would recommend not booking a return flight or a return flight with a rebooking function. You should take advantage of the time after the semester and visa duration and decide at short notice when and from where you want to fly home.
- Check topschoolsintheusa for more about California State University Northridge Rankings.
Semester @ CSUN:
After my short stay in NY, I arrived in LA about 3.5 weeks before the start of the semester. You should definitely take a rental car first, as LA is incredibly spacious and public transport is, to be honest, a disaster. You need the car to look for apartments and a car.
- Point: Looking for an apartment: I have decided to look for a room first on site, as the student dormitories are very expensive and there are also many bad experiences looking for an apartment in Germany. Therefore I took a hotel room for the first week. The Craigslist website is ideal for looking for an apartment. I placed an ad and at the same time looked for offers. However, the search for an apartment / room turned out to be more difficult than expected. So don’t despair if the first 2-3 apartments turn out to be “not habitable”.
- Point: Buying a car: In my opinion, without a car you are lost and stuck in the San Fernando Valley. I started the car search parallel to the apartment search. A good idea because you should use the rental car as long as you have it. It is up to you whether you are a private individual or a trader (both have advantages and disadvantages).
After everything was done, it was time to explore Los Angeles and take advantage of the perfect weather. There is simply an unbelievable range of leisure activities in this city and there really is something for everyone. Personally, I liked the many beaches and nightlife the most. There are a variety of nightclubs that you can of course visit almost every day of the week. With a little internet research, you can quickly find out which clubs are best on which days. In any case, you will have to search for a long time in Germany to find something comparable;) The only negative point, however, is that most clubs and bars in California close at 2 o’clock. There are also a small number of clubs that are open longer, or you have to start earlier accordingly. Since I am very enthusiastic about sports, I also used my stay to visit some NBA and NHL games. You should also have been to the Dodgers baseball stadium and a USC or UCLA college football game. In addition, some stars of the music industry will be guests at the Staples Center for six months. Overall, LA is also a central point as an ideal start for companies. I’ve been on several trips with friends (San Francisco, San Diego , Las Vegas,…), everything easily accessible by car.
Regarding the lectures, I can only say that you have to spend a bit of time learning now and then, but with only 4 different courses there is still enough free time. However, you are constantly busy, because you have at least 3 exams in the courses and in my case there were at least one (group) presentation, term paper and occasionally homework. However, the learning curve is also limited because there are only multiple choice tests that are easy to master with less effort. When choosing a course, it is advisable to arrange the courses in such a way that you have to be at the university on as few days as possible. However, that’s easier said than done. I was a little unlucky because my original choice wasn’t really taken into account and I spent most of my college time on Saturdays. I would rather call the lectures themselves lessons. Great importance was attached to participation in at least 3 of my 4 subjects.
Northridge / CSUN:
It is a bit of a shame that apart from the student dormitory there are no or hardly any block of flats for students at the university. As a result, the students live all over the San Fernando Valley. The university itself is also known as the home driver university, as a lot of students drive from San Diego to the university, for example. The lectures are then scheduled for a maximum of 3 days a week and then driven back home. This makes the university seem very lifeless, especially on weekends. The highlight of the university is the huge and very affordable gym with a pool, basketball, volleyball, soccer field and even a climbing wall. It is very difficult to celebrate in the San Fernando Valley. Since practically nothing takes place at the university and unfortunately you have to do without the famous college parties. There is an Irish pub and that’s about it. However, the wide range of nightclubs in Hollywood and downtown make up for it all.
For me LA is an absolutely brilliant, but of course not cheap city either. Even if, like practically every city, it has its small disadvantages, it still offers a total package that is otherwise very difficult to find. Perfect weather practically every day of the year and an infinite number of leisure activities. There really is something for everyone. The semester abroad at California State University is highly recommended and I would do it again without thinking twice.