Dear future CSUEB students,
I am studying industrial engineering at the Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences and spent the 2011 Fall Quarter at CSUEB.
You should prepare for your planned stay abroad at an early stage. I started about three quarters of a year before my stay abroad and decided on the “cheapest” alternative: California State University, East Bay (CSUEB) in the San Francisco Bay Area. This university works in the trimester system.
For the application, $ 130 had to be transferred to the CSUEB. After I had completed my application documents and handed them over to MicroEDU, I received my acceptance from CSUEB after a few weeks. Then I submitted my visa application and made an appointment for a visa interview at the American consulate in Frankfurt.
In addition to the visa application with all its fees (a total of approx. 250 €), many other matters had to be settled in advance. Including, for example, the international health insurance (which must have a contact person in the USA), the return flight, as well as vaccinations, financial evidence, transcripts and the language certificate.
A week before the start of the term, I flew with a fellow student from Düsseldorf via London to San Francisco. Since you made the acquaintance of other German foreign students early on through an email list through MicroEDU and exchanged ideas during the planning, we were able to meet with the other students in a hostel in San Francisco during the first few days. So you could explore San Francisco together and get to know each other. In general, it is advisable to spend a few days in San Francisco before going to university.
According to Liuxers.com, the university is located in Hayward, a city of approximately 140,000 people about 25 miles (30-40 minutes) from San Francisco. Around 14,000 students are enrolled at CSUEB. The campus is located above the city in the Hayward Highlands, from where you have a wonderful view over the entire bay.
I lived on campus in the International House. You lived with up to 8 international students (although this term it was also possible for American students to live in the I-House for the first time) in an apartment. I (unfortunately) did not have the pleasure of living in an apartment with American students, but I was able to gain interesting new cultural impressions from Chinese and Korean students. The apartment was very spartan. There was only a refrigerator and microwave in the common room. All other utensils such as duvets, duvet covers, pillows, cutlery, plates and mugs either had to be brought along or bought on site.
There was also a meal plan for the students who lived on campus. With my meal plan, I was able to go to the dining commons twelve times a week. In addition, you received 250 so-called Flex- $ credit, which you can use to pay for the essentials in the fast food restaurants (Subway, Panda-Express, Raging Burrito, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Starbucks, Jamba Juice) on campus and in a small shop could buy. In the Dining Commons there was an all-you-can-eat buffet (daily pizza, burger, french fries, salad buffet, sandwich station, fruit and yoghurt buffet), which amazed you at the beginning of your studies. Over time, however, one was happy to get a little change from daily food and therefore went to eat outside or elsewhere on campus more often.
Sports activities were not neglected either. For example, the campus has tennis courts, baseball and basketball fields, and a swimming pool. There is also a large fitness center (Recreation & Wellness Center) directly opposite the I-House, where you can register for a fee of $ 85.
Course content and supervision
The CSUEB offer a wide range of courses. The student visa requires that you reach 12 so-called units, this usually corresponds to 3 courses. If you want to take further courses, you have to pay an additional fee. I have attended the following courses: Engineering Economy, Principles of Microeconomics and E-Business Supply Chain Management.
In contrast to my university, midterms and a final exams have to be written in the CSUEB courses. The final grade is made up of the individual exams as well as weekly homework (which must be submitted either in writing or via an online portal) or participation in the courses. This system is very reminiscent of the German school system. However, it will make it easier for you to prepare for the exams. So you have more effort during the trimester, but with a little diligence you can easily get good grades.
A lot of patience and perseverance is required when enrolling in the courses. Since the American students can choose their desired courses two weeks in advance, it can happen that some courses are already closed or have long waiting times. Therefore, you have to contact the professors to get a so-called permission code, which you can enter in a portal after about two weeks in order to be able to finally register in the desired course.
The support of foreign students by the Office of the American Language Program (ALP) is not necessarily to be emphasized. Since the ALP itself is run in Asia, I felt that it was much easier for the many Asian students to get information. For example, you could also attend your own information event at the beginning. In the ALP office you could see daily how tasks were delegated from one office to the other, although one of them didn’t know what he was doing or where he was from the other.
Regarding the care in the dormitory, it can be said that there was a responsible American student (Resident Assistant [RA]) for each floor, who could be asked for advice in every situation. The RA’s were, so to speak, the watchdogs in the I-House. If someone had “broken” something, they had to do their duty. Sometimes it felt like kindergarten.
Means of transport
The Bay Area’s public transportation system is among the best in the United States. Almost every city in the Bay Area can be reached with the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). With the BART you can be in San Francisco in half an hour for $ 5. There is also a good local transport system in San Francisco by bus, subway and tram. However, you shouldn’t rely too much on public transport!
The CSUEB offers a free shuttle during the week that shuttles between the campus and the Hayward BART station every 30-45 minutes. However, since the shuttle runs very irregularly, it is advisable to take the bus. As a rule, there are no discounts for students when using public transport. Nevertheless, in my personal experience it is far cheaper to use public transport (a taxi to San Francisco costs $ 80-110).
To get to know the area and California, you have to rent a car. The problem with this, however, lies in the so-called under-age fee (approx. $ 25 per day) that you have to pay if you are under 25 years old. There are also smaller providers who do not charge such a fee. We recommend supercheapcar.com here. After an interesting day in the car, it is definitely worth going to Walmart in the evening to do some cheap errands.
Of course, I’ve also made a lot of nice trips through California. After the trimester ended, I discovered Highway # 1 on a road trip with stops in Monterrey, Los Angeles (Hollywood, Santa Monica, Venice Beach) and San Diego. There are numerous national parks to discover not far from San Francisco. For example, I spent unforgettable weekends with other MicroEDU students in a house in Yosemite National Park or on Lake Tahoe. Those who prefer to fly can, for example, book cheap flights to Las Vegas with Spirit Airlines. This city should definitely be visited once if you are studying in the Bay Area.
You can also visit a wide variety of companies in Silicon Valley. Even if no tours are offered there, a visit to companies like Apple, Google and Facebook is simply part of the to-do list in the Bay Area. The ALP also offers various excursions such as a wine tasting tour to Napa Valley, an excursion to the Great America theme park and to the largest outlet center in California in Gilroy.
The trimester abroad at California State University, East Bay was an indescribably wonderful time and enriched me with countless experiences. I improved my English skills and got to know life at an American university. It is something completely different in contrast to Germany! I got to know a lot of nice people and the American lifestyle. In addition, I got to know many different cultures, had many parties and had numerous new engineering experiences.
San Francisco is a beautiful city that has a lot to offer. I don’t want to miss the time at CSUEB and I can recommend everyone to take the step abroad!