The best decision I’ve ever made!
I started studying straight after graduating from high school and unfortunately regretted not having traveled the world for a year beforehand. A semester abroad is a great way to catch up on such experience abroad. My dream has always been to go to California and now I’ve lived there for 5 months and I don’t regret a minute of it.
At an information event at my home university, the DHBW Stuttgart, I became aware of MicroEDU and, through MicroEDU, in turn, California State University Northridge (CSUN).
The application process took a long time and wasn’t exactly easy, but for me every effort was worth it! You should start the application process about a year before departure so that you don’t miss any deadlines and since, from experience, a document was missing here and there that you had to wait for, I can only suggest this to everyone.
I had a great contact person at MicroEDU, who was always very helpful and very friendly. No matter how many times I asked, I always got a nice and helpful answer (both by phone and email). Very good and simply explained guidelines and checklists are provided, so nothing can go wrong. After you have compiled your application for the university abroad, you send it to MicroEDU, where fortunately the documents are checked again for completeness and accuracy. The documents are then forwarded to the university in the USA.
After you have received the approval from the CSUN, you can start looking for accommodation and take care of the visa and the flights. I also had the assistance of MicroEDU with my visa application and very detailed guides on how to complete the application. But as I said – the effort is worth it!
California State University Northridge (CSUN)
The CSUN is one of the 50 largest colleges in California and is located in Northridge, which is about 20-30 minutes north of Los Angeles. The campus is huge and also very beautiful due to the palm trees and greenery. Nothing is missing on campus, there is practically everything: from the library and classrooms to the swimming pool, fitness studio, outdoor office, sports fields, cinema, billiards, dining options, etc. It actually works like in a film, most of the students are students on the go with longboards and bicycles and meet in the breaks between the lessons to study, eat and chill out. According to AbbreviationFinder, CSUN is the abbreviation of California State University Northridge.
At the beginning of the semester there is an introductory week in which you get to know the CSUN contacts and meet all other international students. From day one you belong to the SAC family (SAC = SemesterAtCsun). In this introductory week there will be a small city tour through LA, where there will be another opportunity to get to know the other internationals.
Mainly Jess and Boris were my contacts on site at CSUN. Two super nice people who you could reach at any time via Facebook, Instagram and of course at the university. Another plus point for me was that the CSUN does not require a TOEFL test. The DAAD certificate that my English lecturer was able to issue to me was sufficient.
In order to be able to do a semester abroad, it is planned to take four courses. If the home university prescribes more courses, then it is also possible to take more courses.
I am studying Business Administration – Financial Services and have taken a total of four courses: Risk Management, Investment Management, Corporate Finance and Urban Economics. In Investment we covered the following topics: Risk and Return, Global Investment, Mutual Funds, Portfolio Theory, Capital Market Theory and Fixed Income. In Corporate Finance, the topics were: Risk and Return, Bond Valuation, Accounting, Analysis of Financial Statements, Basic Stock Valuation, Corporate Valuation and Financial Planning, Determining the cost of capital and capital budgeting. In Urban Economics we talked about land use / land prices, transportation, what drives city growth, public policy and housing. In Risk Management, we have covered the following topics: Types of Risk, Cost of Risks, Risk Treatment, Big Data, Risk Financing, Risk Analyzing, etc.
I like the school system in the USA better, because there is not just one final exam week in which only one exam counts. The final grade consists of a mid-term exam, a final exam, homework, projects and attendance. So here more factors belong to the final grade and should you beat a grade, there are many ways to compensate for it.
Finding accommodation near the CSUN is not difficult. My roommate and I found our accommodation on the CSUN homepage because our landlady had advertised the room there. I shared the room with a friend, so we could share the rent. Our two roommates are both Americans who also study at CSUN, which was pretty cool because we could talk to each other in English all the time. MicroEDU gives you the tip to join a group on Facebook in which roommates are constantly being sought and rooms are also advertised. There are two options if you want to have permanent accommodation before you leave.
Another possibility would be to rent an AirBnB room for the first two to three weeks and then start looking for an apartment or room on site. For example, around the CSUN there are many larger building complexes with many smaller apartments that can be rented for a semester. Of all those who I have heard that they took this path and only looked for accommodation on site, none failed and everyone found something suitable.
Leisure & fun
I was never bored! My lecture week only ran from Monday to Thursday, which is the case in most cases. Usually there were only a maximum of 3 hours of lectures a day, but not in one go. That means, I had a long weekend and was able to use the time to explore LA and to travel. A car would not be a mistake in America either, in fact it would be very advisable. The five of us got together and then rented a car for the time being. There are enough car rental companies there and that was the easiest for us because the insurance is already included. Of course, you can also buy a car. The paths appear very briefly on the map (only a few blocks), but are usually further away than expected.
I’ve seen and experienced a lot. I’ve been to San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas, Laguna Beach, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park,…. In San Diego, for example, I can definitely recommend going to the Sunset Cliffs and in San Francisco, Sausalitos on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge is highly recommended. There are also very beautiful places or attractions in LA and the surrounding area that you should see. I’ve been to Disneyland, Universal Studios, SixFlags Amusement Park, the Hollywood Sign, the Walk of Fame and of course every beach I could visit. The beaches are also great for surfing and it’s a lot of fun!
It is also a huge benefit when you are 21 years old to be able to go to the clubs and bars. For example, if you only want to go to a restaurant on the beach, you must be 21, because most of them are beach bars, but there were also many bars and restaurants where it worked out that way. Even if you are not 21 and you can’t do this, LA is still worthwhile for all of the aforementioned things!
I count these 5 months as the best time of my life and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I can only recommend it to everyone to have such an experience! Even if you are alone and have no one to go with, you will definitely meet very great people.
For me, the people I met are now my best friends!