The decision to move my 5th semester abroad was the best decision I could make. I can only recommend everyone to plan a stay abroad as part of their studies and in my opinion California State University Chico is ideal for such a stay. California State University Chico is also known as CSUC listed on abbreviationfinder.
When I started looking for a university for my semester abroad, it was clear to me that only California would be an option. After doing a lot of research on the internet, I finally decided on Chico State. That this is not as expensive as many other universities, especially in terms of living costs, was just one of the pluses that Chico has to offer. The university has a wonderful campus and a very wide range of subjects and the English scores required for admission are also not as high as at many other universities. The university also has a really great fitness studio, the WREC. Unfortunately, the course fee is not included in the tuition fees, but you can train there for around 150 euros per semester. In addition to a wide range of courses, there is a large training area, a running track, table tennis tables, a pool with whirlpool and even a climbing wall. So it’s worth it! The Student Association “Adventure Outings” also belongs to Chico State. This offers very cheap weekend trips for students. From river rafting to surfing to climbing, there really is something for everyone.
I personally found the language school, the American Language and Culture Institute, ALCI for short, to be a bit too easy, even though a new and more difficult level was offered especially for us. However, the language course could be deselected after a quarter. However, the support from the language school was very good. For example, trips to San Francisco, a water slide park, a basketball game or the like were also offered.
What worried me at first was the choice of course. Since you are not a regularly enrolled student, you cannot simply register for the relevant courses via the Internet, as we do with us, but have to take part in what is known as class crashing. On the CSUC website, you can search for your courses in the catalog and create a timetable. Don’t worry, all of this will be explained in detail during the introductory week. Once you have put together your schedule, you go to each of the courses and ask afterwards whether you might be able to get a place. I have to say that all of my worries about this were unfounded as I got all of my courses straight away. Most of the professors are also very nice and understanding and the ALCI can also help you with problems. It is of course always good to choose more courses than you ultimately want to take, as it can of course happen that you can no longer get into courses. In total, you can take 3 regular university courses of 3 or 4 units.
You pay for 10 units in the program, as there are also courses that include 4 units. If you have three courses that include 3 units, you can, for example, book a 1 unit course. You can find some interesting 1-unit courses in the course catalog under Kinesiology, where you can take a golf or yoga course, for example. I would say that the courses are generally of a slightly easier level. Therefore, one can acquire very satisfactory services very quickly. However, the American higher education system is more like our school system, as there is a lot of homework and tests in between.
Chico definitely has a lot of advantages and I didn’t just choose it because of the university. Aside from its great location – it’s only about a three-hour drive from San Francisco – one of the advantages is definitely Chico’s size. With around 80,000 inhabitants, it is of course not the largest city, but you can find your way around quickly and everything is easily accessible on foot or by bike. Chico is popularly known as the cycling town because it is very flat and there is very little rain. The advantage of this is that you are not dependent on public transport, as many know for sure that the bus and train system in the States is not the most reliable. Another plus point of a small town is that it is very easy to get to know people there. Americans are very open and nice people!
As a language test, I would recommend that you take the DAAD test at your university at home, as it is usually offered free of charge. At that time I had taken the TOEFL test, which is not only expensive, but also, I think, quite difficult. I recommend booking the flight as early as possible, otherwise the prices can feel immeasurably high. In my opinion, you don’t need to look for an apartment yourselves beforehand, because it is always better to look at them directly on site. It is best to check Craigslist or you can get a list of rental companies from the Chico State Offcampus Housing office. Craigslist is not only useful for looking for an apartment, but also for finding cheap furniture or the like. However, you should also be careful of possible fraudsters. Furniture can also be found quite cheaply in the Holbrooks Clearance Center or the Orange Street Consignment Center. Sometimes you can also find cheap mattresses on offer there. You can best buy it at Walmart, it only costs about 100 dollars there and the quality was completely sufficient for me. I was even able to sell mine on Craigslist at the end of my stay.
For grocery shopping, I can definitely recommend WinCo Foods or the Farmers Market. The Farmers Market takes place on Thursday evenings in summer and on Saturdays all year round. The Thursday market is a big event that also has live music. Many restaurants and cafes offer their food there that evening.
Chico also has a lot to offer in terms of leisure activities. In addition to the aforementioned Adventure Outings excursions and the Farmers Market, there are many street festivals such as Taste of Chico or music festivals. Bidwell Park, for example, is wonderful, where you can not only go for a walk or ride a bike, but also go swimming. Especially in Upper Bidwell Park there are great swimming holes such as Bear Hole or Salmon Hole. If you don’t want to go that far, you can also cool off in the Sycramore Pool, which is located in Lower Bidwell Park. Chico even has its own brewery that offers free tours with beer tasting.
If you like to have a drink, Chico is the place for you. Almost every evening there are special offers or promotions somewhere. On Mondays, for example, Madison Bear Garden is “Bearaoke” (karaoke night;-) and from Tuesday to Thursday there are buck or dollar nights in various bars, i. e. beer for one dollar. You can go to Riley’s on Tuesdays, to the University Bar or Crazy Horse on Wednesdays, and to Panamas on Thursdays. You can dance for example in the “Bear”, the Beach or in La Salles.
After the semester abroad, it is a good idea to go on a road trip through beautiful California or the country. At that time we had spent New Years in Las Vegas and from there we went to San Diego. From San Diego we drove up 1 to Vancouver. I can only recommend couch surfing as a place to stay, because it is more than cheap and it offers a great opportunity to learn more about American culture. It’s always worth checking out Groupon or Travelzoo for cheap things to do. We flew back from Vancouver at the time, so we didn’t have to drive everything back. However, I also know some people who have flown back via New York. There are also very cheap flights to Hawaii from the west coast.
All in all, I can only recommend that you make the jump and apply for a semester at Chico State. I would have liked to have stayed longer and would choose it again anytime.