First of all, the preparations
Two friends and I decided relatively spontaneously to do a semester abroad in Long Beach. Thanks to the agency MicroEDU.com, everything went pretty quickly and unspectacularly. After we had gathered the documents, we sent everything to MicroEDU, who then forwarded our application to Cal State. Within a few weeks we received a confirmation with further information and a checklist of things that we now had to do. Thanks to this list, the further process with the visit to the consulate etc. went off without a hitch.
However, you shouldn’t forget to pay some fees (such as SEVIS) and take your proof with you before visiting the consulate. Otherwise you will be asked a few questions there (such as why you want to go to the USA, whether you have relatives there, etc.). About a week later you will receive your passport including by post. After that we booked our flights and a hotel for a week, as it was said that living in a dormitory was not recommended and that one should look for an apartment on site. However, this turned out not to be as easy as imagined. Find more review on California State University Long Beach on existingcountries.
Before our flight to Los Angeles we had already found some apartments on craigslist.com that we liked, but things looked different on site. Either the environment or the connections to the university weren’t great. During the visits there were often communication problems or connection problems, because the bus system there is not as developed as in Germany. We also didn’t want to buy any furniture or the like for the five months we would be there, so in the end we opted for the simple variant, namely the Oakwood apartments, and actually didn’t regret it. The only “problem” was that you had less contact with Americans and the American lifestyle.
In any case, there is a bus stop practically in front of the door, from where it only takes about 15 minutes to get to the university. However, you cannot completely rely on the bus times, there are often delays or cancellations. That’s when I come to the transport problem: We didn’t buy a car, but we regretted this decision towards the end. Especially if you want to go on weekend trips, it is advisable to get one. We always rented a car for this, but in the long run it became too expensive and also too time-consuming and laborious. But as mentioned before, you often need a car in everyday life as the distances are simply great.
In the week before the start of the semester, there was an introductory week from the ALI with tours through the university and downtown Long Beach, which you don’t have to take part in, but which is useful because the campus is large. You will also receive your student ID on the first day, which is also used as a bus ticket. We have also received information folders in which the further procedure, such as course registration, etc., is explained. As we are part of the Open University system, we had to “course crash”, ie we had to look online to see which courses were still available, then go to the lecturers and ask them to be allowed to take part in the course. In the end, whether you come in or not depends on whether the lecturer wants to do the additional work, which is often not a problem. You also have almost six weeks to collect all the signatures, and when you have it, you have to submit the list to the ALI and have it signed. Then you can attend the courses.
I would also like to say about the courses that they are more time-consuming than the ones I had in Germany – but this does not necessarily mean that they are also more demanding. Midterm exams, final exams, presentations and three to five assignments were spread over the semester. What I found positive, however, was that passing or failing does not depend on the final exam. In addition, attendance is checked at the beginning of each session, so that you really have to appear. However, the courses were very interesting and I had a lot of fun, as the dialogue between the students and the lecturer is pretty close and relaxed.
In summary, I can say that I really enjoyed the semester abroad in Long Beach. I would recommend it to everyone because you really get to know a completely different lifestyle, you get to know many people and cultures, you become more open and relaxed and have unique experiences. As you may know, the bars (e.g. on 2nd and 4th Street) in Long Beach close at two, which means that they start kicking people out around one-thirty. There aren’t really any clubs, in Downtown Long Beach there is Seville, which you can visit even under 21 years of age. Most of the parties therefore take place “at home”, mostly in the Beverly Plaza Apartments near the university. in Hollywood, on the other hand, you can party a little longer, but officially no more alcohol is served after two.
To celebrate in Hollywood I would like to add that my passport was stolen in a club there. Normally I don’t take it with me, of course, in Long Beach the ID is enough to get into the bars and clubs, but mostly not in LA. On that evening, not only my passport but also the passports, cell phones and money of many other foreign students were stolen. I didn’t have any major problems, just unnecessary stress and of course I had to pay for the return travel ID…
In addition to studying and partying, you can also do a lot of sightseeing, with the car you can quickly get to Santa Barbara, Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, etc. You simply have to see these places / beaches! Los Angeles is also around the corner, so you should definitely go to the Griffith Observatory. From there the view of LA is beautiful!
Other cities, such as San Diego, Las Vegas and San Francisco, should of course also be visited, in general you should try to see as much as possible, as you can usually get together with other students and go on trips together, which is of course unique power.