The organization of my semester abroad began by looking for a suitable university for my subject (media production) and, of course, one whose area I like. Since I already knew the town of Monterey, my choice quickly fell on the CSUMB. Fortunately, MicroEDU had them in their catalog. I took part in an information evening in Frankfurt, where a representative from this university was also there, and was able to clarify a few questions and got all the important information. If you had any further questions, communication with MicroEDU was very easy and I always got my questions answered promptly. I then have a form for the application filled out and obtained all the documents, sent them to MicroEDU and my application was ready.
The CSUMB is a comparatively very small university by American standards. The place Monterey is a small place directly on the coast in a bay, two hours below San Francisco. It takes about 25 minutes to walk to the beach, which of course makes the university very attractive in terms of leisure time. The entire team in the International Office there is always available and can be reached quickly by email, as well as in the office and you communicate with them by first name, which makes them very personable. So if there are questions about life or the university there, you can always turn to them without any problems. I actually always got an answer to my questions within a few hours.
Since I am studying media, I took the Cinematic Arts & Technology department there. Subjects I had were Cinematic Storytelling, Introduction to Animation and Visual Design. Before that, I also took a look at the Directing for the Camera and Contemporary Media History courses, but then had too many units and had to make a decision. Each of these courses comes highly recommended.
Depending on the professor, you have to do homework in each subject, but in the media area it was much more relaxed than in business courses, for example. In animation there was no weekly homework and you only had to come to the course if you didn’t have the programs for working on the projects yourself. For example, you could appear to have questions answered. In Visual Design, the homework was to take ten photos or shoot short clips a week, which were then rated according to photography rules.
Every now and then there are small quizzes, but they are easy to master. What can be said about the media department is that the courses take place in a slightly more remote corner of the campus, so you are not in the business building, which is new, or in the science building; also new. It’s the same campus though, so the way to the cafeteria, for example, is a little longer.
I lived in an apartment building (Promontory). There you can choose between five, three or one roommate. I was in a shared apartment with five other girls, four of them not from Germany. You can look for roommates in a portal beforehand. As is typical in the USA, you usually share a room with another person, but you can also apply for a single room, which costs 1,000 dollars more per semester. Unfortunately, I had a bit of bad luck with my roommate in the room, but something like that can happen. That shouldn’t have a negative impact on your choice of university.
With my living situation, I didn’t have to book a so-called meal plan to eat in the cafeteria. This is a must if you live elsewhere (North Quad or Resident Halls). In our flat share we had a kitchen and a living room where we could cook ourselves, which in my opinion is a lot cheaper (and also healthier) than going to the cafeteria three times a day.
Five minutes away by bike is a target where you can get everything you need. With the bus, which you can drive for free with your student ID, you can also get to a large Walmart within approx. 25 minutes, which is a little cheaper. However, you can also go to the cafeteria as often as you like and you can buy a small number of meals on site if you want to eat there with friends. So-called otter blocks are then loaded onto the electronic student ID cards, with which you can pay anywhere on campus (including Starbucks) or you can buy a “meal” directly.
As I said, you can take the buses around Monterey and come north to San José and south to Paso Robles. It must be said that the buses are free, but take a very long time. The university is located between the cities of Marina and Monterey, or Seaside. The bus takes about half an hour to both. You can also borrow bicycles at the university for a whole semester, which is very practical.
Not much needs to be said about leisure activities, because I think everyone intends to do this during their semester abroad. The area around Monterey is super beautiful and it is also worth exploring a few paths in Downtwon Monterey, you can walk on a coastal path to Carmel if you want. There are Point the Lobos Park, Pinnacle Park, Big Sur and many more beautiful places right around Monterey.
The university also offers regular excursions here. Also to Yosemite and of course surfing. I went to Lake Tahoe with friends, which you should definitely do. San Francisco is two hours away with a rental car (or if you have American friends with cars), so it is even ideal for a day trip. It takes about six to seven hours to drive to LA. I took the train there on Thanksgiving to visit a friend.
So there is always something to do if you enjoy being in nature. It’s not a party university, there are no clubs nearby apart from a karaoke bar in Monterey. House parties take place on the East Campus, although it often happens that these are ended by the police due to noise, but this does not reduce the number. Something actually happens there every weekend, of course you just have to know the people who are making their apartment available.