My name is olga I am studying English and Sport to become a teacher at Bielefeld University. As part of my stay abroad, I completed two semesters at California State University Los Angeles which is abbreviated as CSLA by abbreviationfinder.
1. University selection and application
Unfortunately, the University of Bielefeld and my faculties do not offer any academic exchange programs with English-speaking countries. So I got in touch with MicroEDU. I noticed the CSLA in the MicroEDU database because, on the one hand, it offers both English and sports courses and, on the other hand, the tuition fees have been kept within limits compared to other US universities.
The application process was very well coordinated and organized by MicroEDU. Overall, the application process only took about 3 months. As soon as I was accepted at CSLA, I tried to get a visa appointment. Applying for a visa was relatively effortless. The staff at the US embassy in Frankfurt were very friendly. I received all the necessary documents for the visa from CSLA by post. After paying any fees online, you can drive to the American embassy. I would like to emphasize that I could apply for a US visa even without a German passport. However, I also had to report to my responsible immigration office in Bielefeld so that my visa for Germany would not expire after a long stay abroad in America.
In preparation, one of the most important issues was the financial one. Since this was not an exchange program at my university, I had to pay for all costs myself. The cost burden in the USA is enormous. And that applies to everything: tuition fees, book costs, food, accommodation, travel expenses, etc. I have applied for a foreign allowance for my study grant.
One should take care of the TOEFL test as early as possible. For example, my test was not evaluated the first time because my intercom did not record the entire oral part due to a technical malfunction. So I had to do the test all over again.
I have taken out health insurance from CSLA as it is compulsory for all international students (around $ 200 per quarter). In addition, I got the Halle international health insurance for myself, because I didn’t take any courses at the university in the summer and therefore could not take advantage of the university’s health insurance (MLP Student Global Care http://www. mlp. de/#/studenten / financial products / health / international health insurance).
Finding a flat in LA is not an easy matter. You can find all offers on www. craigslist. com, but often the landlords do not want to rent out an apartment or a room for a short period of time. Based on the experience of other students, I would always recommend looking for an apartment locally.
However, I wanted to experience campus life within walking distance, so I lived in the dormitory for the first trisemester (about $ 670 per month, you share the apartment with 4 people, the bedroom is shared between 2 people). It was easy to maintain contacts and get to know other students in the dormitory. But after a while I began to lack privacy. Therefore, after the first trisemester, I rented an apartment in Alhambra with two other international students (about 10 minutes by car to the university, costs about $ 400 per person including rent).
Regardless of where you found your accommodation in LA, I would recommend anyone getting a car. Also on craigslist you can find offers from numerous car dealers and private individuals. Life in LA is very colorful and unique, but it is very difficult to explore the city and the surrounding area without a car. It is advisable to get all the necessary information regarding a car from the DMV website (Department of Motor Vehicles, i. e. the vehicle registration office, http://www. dmv. ca. gov/portal/home/dmv. htm). DMV is basically responsible for everything to do with cars, i. e. car buying and selling, car registration, driver’s license, etc. There you will also find, for example, numerous tips on what to look out for when buying a car (http://www. dmv. ca. gov/vr/buyinfo. htm).
The selection of the courses was a bit complex in the context of the Open University program. You have to attend at least 12 units ($ 4800, more units cost more). You usually take 3 courses of 4 units each, but there are also courses of 3 units or sports courses of 1 unit. Before the start of the semester, you can roughly think about which courses you would most like to take, but there is no guarantee that you will actually get the courses. You spend the first few weeks with “class crashing”, ie you put together a timetable, go to the professors / faculties and ask if you can be accepted. Whether it works depends on many factors. The process usually takes the first 2 weeks. The professors were very understanding and helpful, but the faculties sometimes caused difficulties who have placed restrictions on the course size. Therefore, you should always be very flexible when choosing a course. However, it can be said that the admission to the courses in Fall 2013 was much easier than in Spring 2013.
I’ve put together a schedule of courses from the English, sports, and dance faculties. All courses roughly corresponded to the content of my studies at Bielefeld University. In terms of level, I found all courses easy to manage. However, you have to get used to weekly homework, quizzes, essays, mid-terms, finals and other numerous “assignments”. The course is labor-intensive, but not too demanding in terms of level. If you do everything in a disciplined way, from the first week on, you usually have the whole weekend off and all A’s at the end of the semester.
4. Leisure activities
Los Angeles offers an endless list of things to do. I explored the city for 9 months and at the end of my stay I had the impression that I hadn’t seen anything of the city. Even if many people say that LA is not beautiful, you discover many corners that are close to your heart. In addition, the always sunny and warm weather conditions play a role. Even in winter there are a few really summery days every now and then. In addition, you can quickly get from LA to other major cities in California, such as San Diego, Las Vegas, the Pacific coast, San Francisco, or Hawaii. I haven’t regretted going to Los Angeles once.
My stay abroad in the USA was a unique time that I really appreciate personally and professionally. I got to know many international and local students whom I would describe as very sociable, helpful and open. This made my stay abroad a unique experience. Even if the first few months at university and in America in general were overwhelming, I appreciate all the experiences I have gained. Looking back on my time in America, I am sure that it was one of the most eventful periods in my life. I can therefore only recommend every student not to be put off by the effort of preparation and to have the courage to go abroad.