I think the state of California is so diverse that it is definitely worth doing a semester abroad there and taking the experience with you.
Because I only took four courses and was also lucky enough to leave them behind for 2 days, I had a lot of free time and was able to gain plenty of the country, the culture and a lot of great and fascinating things for me.
I was also lucky enough to be able to make many trips to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Malibu, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, San Diego and many more.
What I particularly liked were the local people. If you weren’t sure of a situation, you could talk to someone on the street, in the shopping center, etc. without any problems and you were given very friendly help.
Oxnard was the perfect choice for me during my semester abroad. The way to the university was about 15 minutes, which is absolutely acceptable. It was only 10 minutes to the beach, which was another very important criterion for me, as I am passionate about surfing. One or the other good spot for surfing can be found above Ventura, just drive along the beach and you will see plenty of surfers, especially in the morning between 6 am-10am.
According to iamaccepted.com, it’s a little way to Los Angeles, but it’s very easy to achieve, especially if you drive along PC1 via Malibu. The nice thing is that we were only a maximum of 30 minutes away from Malibu.
I rented a small apartment in Oxnard with two fellow students, the monthly rent was around $ 2007, plus additional costs of around $ 250. I found the location very convenient as we were between Ventura and Camarillo.
Tip from me: It is not easy to find an apartment short-term, most rent apartments, flats and houses for a term of at least 12 months.
Before I went to the States, on the advice of friends who had already done a semester abroad in California, I obtained an international driver’s license from the Citizens Registration Office.
I bought a car from a dealer with two fellow students (the advantage over buying it privately is that the dealer registers it and insures it properly). So we could divide the costs ($ 1800 plus tax and fee of $ 400, so a total of $ 2200) by three. We were “lucky” that we were able to sell the said car to the same dealer for $ 700 after our time.
I got along very well with my iPhone 5, I was able to use it without problems, telephony, SMS and also (and most importantly) the Internet. I had a prepay “contract” with Cricket (subsidiary of AT&T), which could be canceled monthly, paid for in cash or by credit card. $ 30 for free calls throughout the United States and unlimited SMS, plus 5GB of Internet. The 5GB were enough for me, optionally 2GB ($ 5 cheaper) or 10GB ($ 10 more) would have been possible. As a little tip: Don’t save on internet data volume;)
Statement of costs
All costs that I had before and during my stay abroad are listed here.
Unfortunately, I did not benefit from an attractive exchange rate (between € 1 = USD 1.05-1.10), I hope you are more lucky.
Prior to travel:
120 €: VISA
160 €: SEVIS Fee
1150 €: Flight (2x direct flights)
350 €: International health insurance
4900 €: Tuition fees
175 €: Parking fees on campus
300 €: Other preparation costs (passport photos, international driver’s license etc.)
Monthly costs in California:
$ 800: Accommodation
$ 150: Car
$ 100: Gasoline
$ 30: Cellphone
$ 300: Groceries
$ 500: Leisure
$ 1880 = approx. 1700 €
Total costs for 5 months = € 15,655
The time was by no means a failure, I would repeat the time immediately, even if it wasn’t exactly cheap. It wasn’t always easy, but with the tasks you grow more and more and in the end you have a great experience, which is great in the résumé.
One should not forget to study, because there is not usually a large final exam like in Germany, but several small intermediate exams and projects that are included in the overall grade. Certainly there will be a change in the structure for one or the other, but let me tell you, the professors as well as the international office are very helpful and can help you with any questions.
Yes! It was an unforgettable experience, I can only recommend the CSUCI to you.