An unbelievably great experience that I can only recommend to everyone !!
Organization, planning and application process
It is best to be clear about where you want to go early on! That is why I took care of the selection of the university about 1 year before it should start. It should primarily be a university that has semesters instead of trimesters and is good at mechanical engineering at the same time. It was also supposed to be in a warm area, which resulted in California. Then I compared a few universities and filtered out those that were either too expensive for me (I will go into the financing later) or did not meet my requirements. So in the end there were still three universities. Once at this point, the universities differed mainly only in their geographical location and therefore Long Beach was chosen very quickly, as it is simply the most optimal. After this,
At this point, your website comes to the fore, because even if your website provides the information on university selection, one is even more dependent on help with the actual application. Your website keeps a document ready, on which all documents that are required for the application are listed. Now you just have to collect all the papers (passport, transcript, etc.) and send them to your website , they will forward all documents to the relevant university and also let you know when the answer has arrived. It makes sense to start this application process about six months before you travel. As soon as the university has notified you, you should take care of your visa, because only if you have it does it make sense to book a flight. And the visa takes about 6-8 weeks.
All that remains is to choose a foreign health insurance, book the flight and find accommodation. I chose the BASIC tariff for the international KV at Hanse-Merkur, because that is the z. Currently the cheapest and covers all CSULB requirements. I booked the flight at a travel agency without further ado. However, only a one-way flight without a return flight, because I didn’t know where I wanted to fly back from (stupid, if you’re in NYC at the end of the trip, but first have to go back to LB / LA, only to then go back in the other direction to Germany to fly). The return flight can easily be booked online from the USA and sometimes costs a little less because the prices are in dollars and the exchange rate is e.g. At the moment it is still cheap for all Euro countries.
I looked for accommodation on the Internet beforehand, because I didn’t want to live on campus, but rather live with other American students. Simply to learn the language even better and to learn more about its culture. So I lived there with four American students in a house, each with their own room.
As a result, I also lived a little further away from campus, which wasn’t a bad thing, because the public transport network in Long Beach is well developed. Unfortunately, however, not comparable with local cities, such as Cologne, Berlin, etc. as only buses and no S-Bahn are used in LB. But Google Maps can be very helpful because the connections are already integrated there.
The university is located in the middle of Long Beach and has a very large campus with around 35,000 students. Since I studied mechanical engineering, I of course mainly dealt with the mechanical engineering departments. Yes there are several! A large department that is responsible for general mechanical engineering and aerospace and then one for chemical and one for civil mesh construction. Aerospace is very important down there because Boing® has a facility in Long Beach.
There I completed fluid dynamics, a software course for MatLab and the business administration subject necessary for studying mechanical engineering. It should be said that the level is a little lower than in Germany, but the workload for it is a little higher. This means that midterms, quizzes and final exams are written and there is also a lot of homework. But it also has an advantage – you stay in learning continuously.
Since you have to attend / fulfill 12 (American) units in order to fulfill your visa, I decided to fill in the missing ones with small sports courses. So I attended a surf, beach volleyball, swimming and rugby class there. I would recommend that to you, because you get to know a lot of different people very quickly and you also have a lot of fun. In addition, this is a suitable measure against the many fast foods. Because there is no cafeteria like at German universities, but many small fast food restaurants on campus.
When choosing a course, you should keep several options open or be flexible, because if your home university does not have a partnership with the CSULB, you can only get into the courses through the old “class crash” procedure, but most of them are already full , because all other students can register online beforehand. You have to be patient and maybe talk to the head of department to see if he can accommodate you in a course somewhere.
So you should plan around 11,000 € for the whole semester. You have to say that this includes the approx. 3600 € tuition fees, I paid rent for about 5 months, of course what had to eat and also went on one or the other city trip. However, I didn’t have a car. The whole thing can be financed very well with foreign BAföG, which is also paid or approved for many who would normally not receive domestic BAföG – so just apply for it! Because the BAföG abroad covers tuition fees of up to € 4,700 and also pays something for the return flight and health insurance. In my case, a scholarship that I applied for covered some costs – similar to the BAföG abroad. There is also the DAAD and of course private funding. You can possibly save on a bit cheaper accommodation on campus and of course by traveling less, but I think that should definitely be part of it.
Travel, excursions, surroundings
Right next to LB is of course LA with Hollywood, which is definitely worth a trip. Just as worthwhile are the many small towns north and south of LB along the coast, such as B. Huntington Beach, Malibu, Venice Beach in Santa Monica, Laguna Beach, etc. Within approx. 2 – 2.5 hours by car you are in San Diego directly on the Mexican border. Perhaps the following should be said about Mexico: You shouldn’t drive over there by car, because the border region is (very) dangerous. Instead, you should fly inland by plane (advice from my roommates!) Otherwise, you can also be in San Francisco and Las Vegas within 5 – 6 hours. Two completely different cities, but a must. At the end of my trip and practically on the way back, I’m still on the plane to Chicago, Flown to Boston and New York and from NY finally back to Germany. Because the domestic flights are comparatively very cheap and the hotels are also affordable.
I hope I was able to give you a little impression of my trip and maybe answer one or the other question. In conclusion, it remains to be said that I do not regret a minute that I put into the semester abroad and under no circumstances the time I was allowed to enjoy there. And no one can take away these experiences from you. Linguistically it brings you a lot and you get to know a lot of new people and make new friends. I can recommend it to everybody!