Hi everyone, my name is Alina and I am 22 years old. I did a trimester (late March – mid-June 2013) with my best friend at California State University in Los Angeles (CSULA). I am studying industrial management in Germany and was accordingly enrolled in the field of “Business Administration and Management” at CSULA. Learn more about California State University Los Angeles on andyeducation.
It was clear to us that we wanted to go to the USA (California). Only universities that offer a trimester were considered and for this reason the selection of possible universities was limited. For the CSULA, apart from the possibility of the trimester, the comparatively low level of tuition fees, the range of courses, the location of the university and the experiences of other students from our home university who had also spent their semester abroad in America spoke in favor of the CSULA.
The CSULA was chosen around four months before the start of the course. This time was enough to put together the application documents, book the flight, apply for the visa, etc. At the university, Jennifer from the International Office was always available to us before our arrival by email and telephone as well as during our stay. She is super helpful and always has an open ear for us international students.
We decided against living on campus and flew to Los Angeles two weeks before the start of our studies to look for an apartment on site. We then booked a room through “air2bnb” for the first few days. At the beginning we were more than shocked by the prices and it is also very difficult to find an apartment for just three months and also furnished. Most apartments can only be rented for a period of six months or more. We ended up finding an apartment in downtown Los Angeles and had to pay around $ 1800 a month ($ 900 per person). It was more expensive than we initially calculated, but it was one of the cheapest apartments we found in LA. The apartment complexes almost always include a pool, gym and computer room.
My fellow students lived on campus and unfortunately had mostly bad experiences. Be it with the roommates or because they found a dirty apartment on arrival. In addition, the metro connection to the campus is very poor at night and we have never regretted our decision.
The courses cannot be pre-selected by international students. We had to go to the individual lectures and after the first lecture ask the lecturers whether they would take us into the courses. We didn’t have any problems with it. Almost all of the courses were taken completely by the home students, but the lecturers can also accept us as “Open-U students” on a voluntary basis. Except for one lecturer, everyone was ready for this and we had already selected our four courses after two days of lectures. Since most lectures are offered three to four times a week at different times, you are quite flexible in choosing a course. We were able to select the lectures so that we only had lectures on Mondays (8:00 am to 3:00 pm) and Wednesdays (8:00 am to 9:00 pm), leaving us with a lot of free time to travel.
A little tip before you decide on a course + lecturer, visit ratemyprofessors.com on the Internet. Almost all lecturers are rated according to various criteria (e.g. difficulty, willingness to help) and there are short comments from students on the individual lectures (e.g. type of examination and evaluation criteria) !!
The courses are not as demanding as in Germany, but they are more complex. In addition to the finals at the end of the trimester, there are also homework, quizzes, presentations and midterms. For some lecturers, oral participation also counts. As a result, the finals are not that extensive and most exams, be it mid-term, quizz or final, are multiple choice. A lot of importance is attached to attendance. The lectures are either twice a week of 2 hours or 1x of 4 hours.
In the beginning we only rented a car for the weekend (Thursday-Sunday). For the last six weeks we had a permanent car so that we could travel a lot. Renting a car from Hertz costs the equivalent of around € 28 per day (only if you have an ADAC Club card). However, this was only due to the fact that there was an action during this period that no “under 25” fee was charged. Otherwise, an additional 12-18 € per day and per driver is usually charged.
I can only recommend a car, as the metro connections are not very good. The metro runs very irregularly and you have to change very often. For a period longer than three months, I recommend buying a car locally and then selling it again.
Party / life / travel
Of course, you can party very well in LA. However, such an evening is not exactly cheap. In clubs and bars, entry is between $ 10 and $ 20 (women often have reduced or free entry). Beer costs from $ 8 and up and long drinks from $ 15. The disadvantage is that the bars / clubs have to close at two o’clock in the morning.
Especially the party life in Hollywood is recommended (approx. 15 minutes from downtown).
There are a few beaches that are between 30-60 minutes away. Long Beach, Venice Beach, Laguna Beach, Santa Monica and others. Laguna Beach is beautiful!
Since we always had long weekends, we also traveled a lot. There are so many cities to and must see in California, all of which are delightful in their own way. We were in San Diego, Las Vegas, Newport, Riverside, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, etc. So plan enough time to travel !!
The weather was great during our stay! On two or three days it had rained, otherwise it was permanently over 20 degrees, mostly around 30 degrees and a lot of sunshine.
I have never regretted choosing CSULA or California. The lectures weren’t as demanding compared to the lectures at my home university, but to be honest, that wasn’t our primary intention when we decided on a university in California. We had three wonderful months in which we traveled a lot, met a lot of nice people and just enjoyed life.
If you have any questions about looking for an apartment, choosing a course or other issues, please contact me.