In general, I would like to start by saying that I have experienced a lot of nice things in the six months and like to think back to the past months. Of course, things didn’t always go perfectly, but smaller problems in particular make you stronger and learn to appreciate the opportunity to spend a semester abroad.
I applied in January and started all the preparations there too. At first it seemed easy, but in the end it was time-consuming work. When you finally sit on the plane, most of the work is done and the good life can begin.
In my opinion it was very easy to get the visa. After filling out the online forms, all you had to do was make an appointment and show up at the embassy with the documents. Remember that you are not allowed to take bags with you into the embassy. In Frankfurt there is a kiosk right next to the bus stop where you can leave your belongings. All in all, the appointment took 2 hours and two weeks later I had the visa in the mailbox.
Insurance is very, very important. I decided on the Hanse-Merkur and fortunately didn’t need it. Inquire really very carefully, because I met an international student who had to go to the emergency room twice and was supposed to pay more than $ 7,000 for it. She is still in litigation, so I hope you will stay safe. The medical situation there is not even remotely satisfactory for me.
You definitely need two maps in America. I had a debit card and a credit card with me. I know some who had problems with their credit cards and didn’t have a second card and therefore had to borrow money. Otherwise, I withdrew a larger amount twice a month and paid relatively little by credit card. So my credit card was never “hacked” and I always had an overview of my financial situation 🙂
The American mobile phone tariffs are comparable to the German ones 10 years ago. In general, I think it’s pretty overpriced. Had a prepaid card with a $ 10 cell phone (which really did its job). Ultimately, a flat-rate contract for $ 50 a month would have made it more affordable. You always have to pay for incoming calls and SMS – which in the long run will be $ 50 a month. I had T-Mobile and was very happy with the provider.
Well, I could write a whole novel about it. I found an American flat share in Belmont Shore. Unfortunately I fell on my nose with it. My roommates were dirty, noisy, and didn’t treat me very respectfully either. Unfortunately, I’ve heard from many international students that American student apartments are not the cleanest. Of course I don’t want to scare you of that, but I would advise you to look for a few German students and rent an Oakwood apartment – you won’t get any nasty surprises. The Oakwood facility is really super nice and has everything you need! If you are still looking for an American flat share, then take a look around Belmont Shore. The district is right by the sea, with many bars and shops and the D-line runs approx.
I mainly took courses in English literature (Women and Literature, American Short Story, American Ethnic Writers). The courses were super interesting and the lecturers in the English department are just great. Above all, Mrs. Blankley is a professor who is absorbed in her work and who is also very interested in the international students and their well-being.
Unfortunately, I also took a course in the film department that couldn’t have been worse. Every participant in the course was dissatisfied because she did not do any real lessons and gave the grades at random without being able to explain it afterwards.
The courses are structured differently than in Germany. You have them twice a week and you have to invest a lot of time during the semester. You have to write essays and tests all the time and at the end of the semester you have to write a longer exam. However, you work with it very continuously and semester breaks are really holidays there – unlike in Germany. It can be said, however, that despite the effort, the courses are not as “in-depth” as usual in Germany.
If you had any questions or problems, you could always go to the ALI Institute. Lynn and her team were super nice and always tried to help. The lecturers also always had an open ear and made every effort to ensure our well-being.
In my opinion, the introductory week was not satisfactory. Except for the necessary forms that we had to fill out, not much was actually conveyed to us. We, the Study at the Beach students, also had a different introductory week than the exchange students. They got a campus tour and even drove to a TV recording in Hollywood. The least I would have expected would have been a campus tour, which unfortunately didn’t exist for us.
In addition, there was unfortunately a small mistake in my course registration, which turned out to be a major problem. I was mistakenly enrolled in a course with the same name as my preferred course, but led by a different instructor. A simple change of registration is impossible in the CSULB system, so make sure to use the correct courses when registering! I ran from person to person for the whole semester and a solution was only found a week before I left.
I’ve traveled an incredible amount and I’ve really seen the most beautiful spots in the world. My highlights were of course the Highway 1, Carmel Beach, Laguna Beach, Yosemite Park, LA at night to admire from the Griffith Observatory and the beautiful parks in San Diego. But don’t spend any money on the Queen Mary tickets, it’s not worth it at all.
Most of the time we rented a car and four or five of us drove off. The car cost around $ 60 a day and if you got a cheap motel room, you got around $ 50 a day on top of that. Since you can divide all of that by 4 or 5, traveling is very, very cheap. However, the summer months are much more expensive than the winter months!
If you want to get to know a new culture and make local friends, you’d better look for another country. Because, at least in Long Beach, there isn’t much going on outdoors. The beach is mostly empty and people sit in their apartments or in air-conditioned restaurants during the day. You get to know a lot, a lot of Americans, but that mostly happens on a very superficial level.
But if you want to improve your English, admire an indescribably beautiful landscape and spend sunny months with international students, Long Beach is the place for you.
But as always, what you make of it is fun 🙂