Usually I study business administration and then wanted to go abroad in my 5th semester.
Since my university hardly offers any international partner universities for my subject area, it quickly became clear to me that I would do a semester abroad as a so-called “free mover”. For this, some preparations have to be made, which, however, were not a major hurdle due to the cooperation with MicroEDU. First, of course, you had to decide which university to go to, and I thought the MicroEDU website was great for this! To make the right choice, of course, you have to think about the requirements you have of a university. The California State University Channel Island is of course more or less familiar due to its size (very small university) and I have to say the campus is simply great and beautiful. On the other hand, the range of sports on offer and the choice of courses may not be that large compared to a larger university.
After you have decided on a university and registered with MicroEDU, you get a good overview list from MicroEDU, which tells you what is best to do and when. In addition to applying for a visa (you can also find great information on this in the materials from MicroEDU), paying the tuition fees and booking a flight, you should definitely check the validity of your passport again.
With the CSUCI it is also the case that you have to book the health insurance mentioned by the university. However, this only lasts until the end of the semester, so if you plan to stay a little longer and take advantage of the GracePeriod, you also have to take care of another foreign health insurance.
Furthermore, you should already deal with the choice of subjects from Germany and consider which subjects are possible and, if necessary, apply for them at your home university. It is also important to deal with accommodation early enough. Unfortunately, I do not have any precise information on this, as I came to a host family through my friend. Some of them also lived at the university, although I have to say that this is very expensive. Otherwise you can always look out for AirBnBs.
Arrival and choice of course
In the first week there are two days of orientation days during which you can get to know the campus and the other “internationals”. I also took care of a SIM card during the week. At Target (or in almost every other supermarket) there are prepaid cards that can be activated very easily. My card was from cricket at the time. I paid $ 40 ($ 35 if you have the monthly amount debited from the credit card) and got free calls and SMS as well as 4GB (I think) data volume.
Choosing a course can be a bit exhausting at the beginning. The “non-internationals” can register their subjects in advance and most “internationals” have to do so-called class crashing. To do this, go to the desired courses and ask the professor before or after the course whether it would be ok for him to include someone in his course. If so, you will receive a code with which you can then register for the course in “MyCI”.
When choosing a course, you should look online to see whether there are generally still places available and thus the likelihood of getting a place is higher. Most of the professors are very relaxed, but I’ve also seen students no longer being accepted, so definitely have 2-3 more subjects up your sleeve in case you can’t get into one.
In the end, I took the following subjects:
1. Drug Discovery and Development ECON 341
This course was a course for science students (bio, chemistry) as well as business-related students. It is about the development and manufacture of drugs through to sale. It is held by two professors who both have worked in industry. They too come from chemistry on the one hand and from the business sector on the other. In this course you have a midterm (multiple choice only), a final (multiple choice and open questions), a book report (you have to read two books and compare them) and then you have a group project. Each group is assigned a drug and should present it in terms of production, effectiveness, pricing and marketing. I really found this course very interesting and with a little effort also possible to get a good grade.
2. Entrepreneurial Management MGT 325
This course is about what you should consider if you are planning to start your own business with an idea. You get to know a certain business model and then you have to set up your own project. To do this, you are divided into groups, each of which has to come up with an idea. This idea is then developed with the help of the business model as one should actually do it. You always have to submit submissions and at the end a presentation including submission of a complete (approx. 40-page business plan). There is also a quiz (multiple choice) and a final with open questions almost every week. All in all it was a really cool class and the professor is pretty funny. However, the requirements of the professor were not always very clear, which sometimes made everything a bit difficult.
3. Management of International Business MGT 410
In this course you are also assigned to a group at the beginning within which you have regular duties. These are made either within the attendance times in the course or outside of the course times. At the beginning the group is assigned a country. Various researches must then be carried out on this country (cultural differences, business, etc.) and these must be presented either as a text or in a presentation. Almost every hour there are so-called “in-class activities”. There you have to take part in a quiz or answer questions online, for example. Once within the half-year, the group has to present a case and there are a total of three larger tests on the chapters discussed. At the end of the year, the group also has to submit a complete book report on all the topics covered and give a presentation. Overall, it can be said that with a little hard work you can get a good grade in the course. Sometimes the lessons are a bit boring, but the professor tries to make the course interesting through various activities and presentations.
Overall, it can be said about the choice of course in America that you have to get books for almost every course. With a lot of luck you can get hold of these in the library, from other students or you simply have to buy them. Unfortunately, buying is not always that cheap, as the books are already quite expensive. Furthermore, I had the impression that as a student in America you are already very much taken by the hand by the professors and none of my courses were really difficult in terms of content. However, you have to remember that you definitely have to do a lot to get a good grade. With all the submissions, presentations and group work, you always have something to do, but with a little diligence, that’s really no problem.
Campus and connections
The campus is located a little outside of Camarillo in the middle of the countryside. It’s a beautiful little campus. There is a really good and also relatively cheap ($ 10 for all-you-can-eat) cafeteria, a “marketplace” with a small supermarket, “stationery center”, copy shop and other dining options. There is also a gym that is not very large but is available to students free of charge. The library is really well equipped with PCs, group study rooms and also relaxation areas. Due to the size of the campus, it is really very familiar and super nice. You can easily walk everywhere and don’t need a bike or car on campus.
The campus can be reached by a bus that leaves from various stations in Camarillo and Oxnard. However, if these stations are not close to where you live, a car is essential in my opinion. To be able to park on campus, however, you have to pay just under $ 200 for a parking ticket at the beginning of the semester. The bus ticket, on the other hand, costs just under $ 25.
In general, however, I would recommend buying a car. Whether in a group or alone, a car makes a lot of sense. With little public transport and widely distributed cities, a car is simply easier to get from A to B. If you should consider buying a car, here are my tips (these come from my own experience, so no guarantee of accuracy):
Back then I found my car on Craigslist, you should definitely be careful here, as there could be a few dubious offers. You probably know better than I do what to look for when buying a car in terms of its general condition, but generally speaking, buying a car goes as follows: To register a car in California, a valid smog test and a valid title are required. Every seller is actually generally obliged to submit a smog test when selling, but this is not the norm, but can theoretically be required. This is only valid for 90 days after issuance, so make sure you don’t get an older one here. If, for whatever reason, you don’t get a smog test from the seller, I still advise you to Carry out a reading at a workshop to see whether the car could even generally pass a smog test. You can also check when the next installment for the car is due. On the license plate there is always a month / year on which a new payment and a valid smog test is necessary. If this is in the near future, you could try turning the price down a bit or you could just count on about $ 150 more. If everything else is in order, the seller will fill out the so-called “Pink Slip” or (officially) the title with you. To be on the safe side, you can also do a VIN test in advance, for example to see whether there are any unpaid debts etc. on the car. After receiving the car you have to go to the next DMV with the valid smog test and the title. Here you can simply go there without an appointment or make an appointment online beforehand for the sake of simplicity. You then register your car, pay a fee for this, depending on the purchase price, and receive your title within 2 weeks.
Otherwise you will of course still need insurance. You can register this very easily (for example at Geico) online or in one of the offices with your German driver’s license.
Living in America / Cost
Life in America costs – and not necessarily too little. According to anycountyprivateschools.com, groceries are generally more expensive than in Germany. Eating out can also be very expensive. A meal with a drink there, including a tip, costs well and happily $ 15 until open end. But in America you can get from A to B very cheaply due to the very low fuel prices and thus travel a lot. We always got together with several people for weekend trips and rented an Airbnb. (Except in Vegas, where I always advise to go to a hotel).
I would do my semester abroad in Camarillo again and again. The area is just beautiful and you felt super fast everywhere. However, if you expect the typical American “college feeling” you might be wrong here. Sure, there are so many different groups that you can join, but not a stadium with a team, for example. I would also recommend working with MicroEDU to everyone again and again. MicroEDU always helps and is a great contact person.