Hi! I’m Dominik, 22 years old and normally study “Material Design – Bionics and Photonics” at the Hamm-Lippstadt University of Applied Sciences. I spent my 5th semester at the CSU Channel Islands.
With my degree, it would have been difficult to find comparable courses anywhere abroad. Here I had the advantage that I didn’t have to have the courses at my home university credited to me. So I was n’t really restricted in my choice of courses, which made the choice of university much more relaxed. I was also relatively open about where I would end up. My only criterion was that I wanted to improve my English. MicroEDU really gave me great advice on this and so I finally got it because of Camarillo’s location between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara opted for the CSUCI. Another reason was of course that the fees were the lowest here (but unfortunately still far too high).
Initially planned differently, I ended up taking the following courses: “ Environmental Science & Resource Management ”, “ Critical Thinking for Science Majors ”, “ Spanish ” and “ University ””. The latter is actually intended for freshmen – in other words, first-time students in German – to get used to the system at college and to successfully manage the transition from high school to college. So actually more or less pointless for me. However, the courses in America are linked to different numbers of units. To be able to study there, you have to take at least 12 units. With the remaining three courses, however, I only got eleven units. Since the university course was one of the few that was weighted with only one unit and you have to pay more for each extra unit, I decided to go with it.
As you can already guess, the timetable and course choice in America is such a thing. According to act-test-centers.com, class crashing affects many people (and it was also for me before the semester abroad started) intimidating. However, since the CSUCI campus is manageable in terms of the number of students, it does not often happen that you cannot take the courses that you are planning. However, if you absolutely want to take the courses you want, you may have to cut back on the times of the courses. For example, in order to avoid overlapping, I had to take a Spanish course on different days than initially planned. Still, I was really happy with my schedule, as my weekend started at 10:15 a.m. on Thursdays. By the way, long weekends are no exception for CSUCI students. Very few courses take place on Fridays!
So I had the opportunity to use the weekends for trips to surrounding cities and national parks. To do this, however, you have to be mobile. Since you can’t really get around America by bus and train, a car is compulsory for anyone who wants to get around during the semester. And even if it’s just about getting to the university, the supermarket or the like, it is definitely worth buying a car. Of course, that entails a certain risk of how much you will get back for the car in the end. Here I was lucky that I was not traveling alone, but with a fellow student in the USA have traveled. We bought a car for $ 2000 right at the beginning of the semester and only got $ 1000 at the end, because we had taken care of getting rid of the car too late and couldn’t afford to wait for more bidders. Since there were two of us, each made a $ 500 ‘loss’, which is perfectly fine considering where the car has taken us. If we had got a rental car every time, we would have had to pay more than twice as much. And as already mentioned – it was our own fault that we made so much loss because we took care of it too late. For example, other internationals have resold their car for the same price they bought it for.
As already mentioned, our car took us to a few places. Since we’re pretty much into outdoor stuff, we’ve made most of the trips to all kinds of national parks. My absolute favorite place: Sequoia National Park. In contrast to Yosemite NP, with a bit of luck you can be out and about for hours without meeting many people. The view from points like Moro Rock or Sunset Rock is amazing. If you want to spend the night in a tent like us, you first have to be very early with the booking and secondly, dress warmly. We spent the weekend at the end of September in freezing temperatures. However, we were prepared for it and were really well rewarded by an amazing starry sky at night by the campfire and the encounter with black bears in the wild. Yosemite is one of the most popular national parks in the USA, which is also really hard to miss. During the day we hardly found a parking space and at night we only found a place for our tent with oh and no noise and a lot of luck. So if you really want to get out into nature and meet as few other people as possible, you are unfortunately wrong here. Other excursions have taken us to Big Bear Lake, Joshua Tree NP or cities like San Francisco, for example.San Diego or Las Vegas run.
All I have to do is tell you about living in Camarillo. Unfortunately, we weren’t particularly lucky here. But everything from the beginning…
What I can really recommend to everyone is couch surfing. At the beginning I was also skeptical, but in the end it turned out to be a great opportunity to spend the first few days on site if you don’t have an apartment yet. We made a conscious decision not to look for an apartment from home, as we were strongly advised against it. So for the first three nights we stayed in the guest room of a hitherto unknown person. However, this gave us the opportunity to get to know the city well and we received help with both buying a car and looking for an apartment. We finally found our place to stay through Craigslist. We lived in a house with the daughter of our landlord. Everyone had their own room, for which we each paid $ 700 rent and a one-time deposit of $ 700.California count. At the beginning we got on really well with our landlord, which turned into exactly the opposite at the end of the tenancy. Unfortunately, we let him know about our plans after the semester, so he knew that within a few days we would be heading for Mexico and then Canada would leave. Since we couldn’t do anything about it, we only got a fraction of our deposit back, which was justified with ridiculous explanations. I don’t want to put you off now, however, from moving to Camarillo for the semester! We are really an isolated case here, all the other internationals were luckier than us. I just want to encourage you to be careful and maybe keep your plans to yourself for the time after the semester.
All in all, I can only recommend the semester abroad at CSUCI! I really had the best time of my life and made friends from the US, Mexico and all over Europe. The only catch is the price. Groceries are as expensive in California as rent and tuition fees. If you also buy a car and, as we do, travel around during and after the semester, you have to reckon with total costs of € 17,000 to € 20,000. I hope not to put you off too much and with my report and the attached pictures I was able to convince you that it is definitely worth it for the time of your life!