My semester abroad at CSUF in Fullerton, California … Where should I start? It was a great time!
We first flew to Miami for 5 days and then on to LA (the flight cost the same as if we had flown direct – the flight cost € 1,300 because we flew in high season, there in August and back in December – our friends who visited us in November paid € 500 for a direct flight from Munich to LA and back).
We rented a car right from the start (there were four of us – 2 girls, 2 boys). We were then in Fullerton on August 10th and the introductory week started on August 17th. So we had 7 days to look around and find a car, because it was clear to us from the start: we would buy a car! The university can be easily reached by bike – 10-15 minutes – but for shopping (especially for the water bottles, since you can’t drink the tap water) and for weekend trips you simply need the car (renting is much more expensive – we have it us of all people!).
So after 3 days we bought our car – Mitsubishi Montero Sport, 12 years old for $ 4,000 at a normal dealership (it was down from $ 5,499 to $ 4,000 and we had a lot of fun with it :-)).
We had already fixed the accommodation from home. We stayed at the Homestead Apartments – and it was the only right decision. We also came across it through this homepage and it was recommended to us because the others are not much cheaper. Homestead is absolutely great, the apartments are beautiful (unfurnished, but the CSUF then held a furniture awarding event from the church, where every student could choose 2 things and since we lived in the apartment as a couple, that was a cool story) – We slept on inflatable air beds from the target next door (2 minutes’ walk), there is everything to buy, from food, to garden furniture, baby clothes, just about everything (comparable to Metro). The Homestead also has four spa areas with a pool and jacuzzi, laundry and a gym.
Then the university started and we noticed on the first day of the introductory week that we were dealing with many Europeans, Germans and Asians. We were all in a large room and when it was said, please all Germans get up, approx. 60% of the room rose and we were shocked 🙂 The goal is not to fly to America and then only study with Germans … But then everything turned out very differently, because during the lectures there were at most 2-3 other Europeans besides us.
The university is comparatively extremely easy to what we are used to here in Europe. For the first test I learned the same way as here in Austria and got 100% straight away … From then on there was less learning and all four of us only have 1s and 2s on the certificate 🙂 (there are also points for doing homework – Seriously! I can tell you a completely different culture.)
But it was great that the university was so easy, because we had every time in the world to explore California and we really needed it, because there was so much to see! It’s amazing … Even after the 10th time you drive into LA and see the Hollywood sign on the hill above, you’re still blown away and think: I’m really here! It’s like on TV … You drive about 30 minutes to LA by car (but that only applies at night when there is no traffic jam :-)). We were advised to only go in on the weekend, because during the week it is rush hour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. It took us 2.5 hours from LA to Fullerton …
But without a car, you’re in a fix. Public transportation is relatively poor in California, not comparable to Austria or Germany. There were some exchange students who did not have a car, but they always asked us if they could not take them to the beach or to go shopping, because otherwise it is really tedious. Where we would be with the next topics: Shopping and the beach 🙂
Within a radius of 20 km we had 9-10 of the largest malls ever, so there was enough shopping. Santee Allee in downtown LA is also a good shopping tip, especially for girls: shoes and bags for $ 20 !!!
But the beaches were awesome too and especially from August to October we were often on different beaches. I liked Dana Point best because it was very idyllic and quiet. Huntington Beach is more for the surfers and the onlookers, because there is always something going on 🙂
What else is there to say? … I could write another 5 pages about LA, Hollywood, San Diego, Disneyland, Las Vegas (we drove by car – 4 hours, great walk!), San Francisco, etc., but I think that’s beyond the scope. If you have any questions, please just write to me 🙂 Have fun in America!