In order not to have 50 identical testimonials on your website, when writing my report I will only refer to points that I think are very interesting and important to know. I will go into details that I would have liked to have known when preparing for my stay abroad, but that are difficult to find through internet research.
1. Support from your website
I would generally like to start with your website, as this was also my first point of contact with regard to the semester abroad. As a preparation, your website is highly recommended – you can find out more about the various universities through experience reports and ultimately make the hopefully right decision on a good basis. The application process then also runs purely via your website, whereby you have to struggle through pages of (very useful and important) checklists yourself. The embassy appointment is also well prepared, although the 5-minute embassy conversation after a 2-hour waiting time seems rather ridiculous to me. Your website does a really good job here. I didn’t like the support in the area of apartment search and course selection.
2. Course choice
When choosing a course you usually get syllabi from your website – if at all – which are out of date. One would have to work more with the CSUEB in order to get to the syllabi, especially since the professors have no problems passing it on. In general, as an ALP (American Language Program) student at CSUEB, one feels more like a second-class student. The so-called class crashing takes place exclusively via the business department, i.e. when the specified number of participants in a course has been reached, the course can no longer be selected. Even if the professor gives his consent and numerous chairs are free in the lectures, it is not possible because many American students simply enroll in the course and then leave it at the last possible time. The consequence for ALP students is that these approx. The first two weeks you have to attend courses that you may not be able to attend at all. In addition, during this time, as an APL student, you do not have access to the online learning platform “Blackboard” and therefore, in some cases, you cannot provide graded performance certificates. Check mcat-test-centers to see more reviews from current students.
My tip for this enrollment process for future ALP students is to select courses in advance on the MYCSUEB page where the chance of getting a place is high. This is the case with courses that are not basic courses (such as Marketing Principles) but advanced courses (such as Marketing Research etc.). The basic courses are easy to overrun. In addition, as an ALP student, you can only enroll in the courses after a certain day. For example, if you want to go to a course in which only 1 or 2 places are free, you should sit at the computer at 8:00 am on the 1st day of the “late add period” and hope to be the first to get into enrolls in the course. (I am happy to help if you have any questions!)
3. Finding accommodation
When it came to looking for an apartment, the support from your website was not very good either. Since the dorms of the CSUEB are overcrowded anyway and you actually had no opportunity to stay there, renting an apartment was the only choice (e.g. the on-campus housing options are not only comparatively expensive, but also quite impractical if you don’t have a car and want to go shopping). Your website provides a list of landlords’ contact details; 30% of these were no longer up-to-date. I wrote to about 15 apartment complexes, of which 10 did not answer and 3 answered that they were full. One of the 2 positive responses was from Carmel Creekwood Apartments, which required enormous financial evidence, even for such short rental periods. In my desperation, I turned to your website about this, however, I only received an email here with the comment that something like this would later be a good basis for “you-remember-stories”, which was not helpful in this case. After a long email correspondence with Carmel Creekwood Apartments and numerous bank confirmations, I was then able to reserve the apartment. In retrospect, this was a very good choice.
My tip when looking for an apartment is to take care of it early on. Carmel Creekwood Apartments is also highly recommended. It is a bit more expensive, but short rental periods are possible (for me it was 3 months) and you have a spacious, very good apartment that is newly renovated (also gym, 2 pools, 1 whirlpool, …). It is also interesting to know that there is a free shuttle to the university. It runs every 15 minutes (even on Sundays) and stops at the corner of B-Street and Foothill Blvd. and at the BART station. Creekwood is right next to a Safeway, where everything you need for life is available in 10 copies, and a 10-minute walk from the CSUEB bus stop (B-Street / Foothill Blvd). A car purchase was therefore not necessary.
4. California State University, East Bay
The American Language Program Center (ALP) serves as the point of contact at the university for foreign students. In addition to the introduction on the first day and various “fun trips”, the ALP tries to find competent solutions for any problem. As an ALP student you can also take a sports course of your choice free of charge (these can be found in the link above under the subject “Kinesiology”). This is not only a good alternative to the paid gym on the university campus (about $ 70 for a quarter), but also perfect for establishing contacts with Americans and making friends.
The CSUEB itself is a very well-kept and beautiful university, so you can for example enjoy the view of the sunset over the San Francisco Bay while reading from the 2nd floor of the library. Such moments are definitely not factors that influence the selection of the right university, but moments that one will never forget for a lifetime.
In addition to a free sports course, I have of course also taken 3 other subjects that are not a problem at my home university. The subjects were “Marketing Principles”, “Information Technology Management” and “Financial Management”, although in retrospect I do not regret any of them. These 3 subjects have brought me a lot further personally and educationally. (I will be happy to help if you have any questions about these courses!)
One of the reasons for this is the university environment, to which reference was repeatedly made in every subject. The complete marketing course was about examples and companies from the Bay Area / Silicon Valley. Not only does this make sense, it is also very interesting, as it covered companies like Apple, HP, Tesla, IBM, Google, Facebook, etc. Not only did the lessons bring these companies and their concepts closer, but a 30-minute drive also gave them the opportunity to visit their headquarters in person.
My tip: To find out whether a course is good or bad, the professors’ assessments and courses on the website www.ratemyprofessor.com often help.
4.2. American study system
Regarding the American study system, it can be said that it is definitely different from the German one. In the preparation phase for the semester abroad, I kept hearing that the exams in the USA would be very easy and therefore good grades would be easy to achieve, which, in retrospect, is only partially true. If you compare a German exam with an American one, it is definitely more difficult to get a better grade in the German exam. In defense, one must also argue that the workload during the semester in the USA is many times higher. The overall grade is made up of lectures, participation grades, essays, homework, online tests, intermediate exams and a final test. While the student in Germany attends a lecture during the week without being required
I myself set the lecture times so that I only had to be at the university on Mondays and Wednesdays. So I had 4 days in a row to do a lot and also to go on longer trips.
My tip: With the CSUEB student ID you get numerous discounts – for example in outlet centers or on rental cars. This ISIC student ID is not necessary – I have never had a situation in which I could have used it. However, one should be careful when renting rental cars – in general, Enterprise, Alamo and Co. try to beat all their money.
In conclusion, I have to say that the USA – and California in particular – is a dream. Not only is the landscape impressive, the lifestyle there is also fantastic. The semester abroad brought me a lot further myself. Be it in terms of language, general education or personal development, the stay in Hayward and the study at CSUEB was a complete success. If I had the opportunity to study there again, I would do the same thing again, just a little longer. I can especially recommend working with your website.