At the beginning of my studies, I heard about MicroEDU from my roommate, as she also completed her semester abroad using it. After doing some research, I decided in December 2018 to apply to MicroEDU for my semester abroad. Thanks to well-structured instructions, I quickly had all the documents together and a few weeks later I received the acceptance for the California State University Los Angeles. According to AbbreviationFinder, CSUL is the abbreviation of California State University Los Angeles.
From then on the excitement grew more and more. Thanks to the provision of a structured checklist from MicroEDU, I was able to organize all to-dos, such as applying for a visa or organizing accommodation, stress-free until departure. My advisor Annika could be reached at short notice by e-mail with all kinds of questions and took a lot of my worries away. Thanks to their support, I felt in very good hands with MicroEDU from the start.
On her advice, I had already rented an apartment in advance. The dorms on campus are relatively expensive, so I opted for cheaper accommodation only 5-10 minutes by bike from the university. Of course, I had some reservations about renting an apartment for five months without even having seen it. However, the coordinator from Cal State LA also recommended off-campus housing options in advance. The agency through which I finally rented my apartment was also on this list, which is why I decided to rent the apartment four weeks in advance.
After almost 24 hours of travel time, I finally arrived in Los Angeles. Thanks to Uber and Lyft, which are one of the main modes of transport here, I got to my home quickly for the next five months and settled in quickly with my six roommates. I had come here two weeks before the start of the semester in order to be able to explore Los Angeles and all its facets. I can only recommend this because you then have a short break before you start everyday university life. During this time I did the typical tourist program for LA: Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Malibu, Venice Beach and many more can be reached quickly and easily, especially by car (at least by American standards).
On an orientation day I got to know the other international students and we quickly grew into a group.
With a good 21,000 students, the university is not the largest, but it offers everything you need. I especially liked the gym, which is included in the tuition fees, and I also made good use of the numerous seating areas to study in the Californian sun. There is even its own Starbucks on campus, which is probably very common in the USA. Becky Bishop was always available as an International Program Developer for questions about the choice of course, the visa or about the university and Los Angeles in general.
The choice of course is a little different here than I was used to at home: We had to find out independently which courses we would like to take and then write to the professors by e-mail or ask for permission to take part in the course in the first course session. It worked very well for me and I was allowed to take part in all the seminars I wanted. There were two English courses that I can credit for my studies in Germany, a course on macroeconomics, which prepared me for my exam at home, and two courses in the field of kinesiology. The latter are not relevant to my actual course of study, but I am interested in this area and felt it was a good opportunity to get a taste of other courses. On the one hand, I took a self-defense course, which I really enjoyed and which was a good balance in addition to the theoretical courses. In the other kinesiology seminar, however, my expectations were unfortunately not fully met, as the course related more to the general content of a degree, such as the correct way of citing, and did not really include alternative medical methods or the like.
However, the other courses were very similar to seminars in Germany and therefore I quickly got used to everyday university life. Basically it should be said that there are no lectures at Cal State LA as we know it from Germany, but all events are held as seminars with around 15 to 40 students. I also found the general level and the requirements of the professors to be somewhat lower than in Germany, which is why I actually had time every weekend to go on excursions and short trips.
For a weekend trip, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Diego and Las Vegas are definitely a must. In addition, some national parks are not far away and a good opportunity to leave the hustle and bustle of the big city behind.
All in all, I can recommend everyone to do a semester abroad in California. I had an amazing time with lots of new friends and great experiences. During this time I have developed a lot and gained a new perspective on many things. Even if I don’t want to miss the time and experience from here, I have also come to appreciate Germany and its many advantages more consciously.