How did I come up with a summer session in the USA? In my case, the idea did not come from myself, but from one of my fellow students. It wasn’t until the end of 2009 that I decided to spend the 2010 Summer Session at UCLA. At first we could also choose from UC Berkeley, but because of the more suitable date, we decided on UCLA – and we definitely didn’t regret it!
- Check topschoolsintheusa for more about The School of Law at University of California Los Angeles.
Applying to the university was really not complicated. The first anchor that you could use for orientation were the course descriptions and brochures from the previous year, as many of the courses from last year are offered again and again. The second anchor, one can almost say “solid as a rock”, was MicroEDU. Annika Uhlig answered all questions within a very short time, always had the latest course descriptions ready and always knew advice. After I had chosen my two courses, Management 88 and Communication 156, everything went by itself. The actual registration at the university is done by MicroEDU, so you can’t go wrong. After a while we had the confirmation by email and a little later also the university documents in the mailbox. Armed with that, I had to fill out some documents online and make an appointment at the American consulate, in my case it was in Frankfurt. Just 4 days after my appointment at the embassy, I already had the student visa in my pocket or in my passport.
The Management 88 course was led by Professor John Ullmen. I have seldom had a better professor and I have never worked in such a well-equipped lecture hall. Office armchairs for everyone, elegant wooden desks and microphones on every table and the two projectors also seemed to be oversized at best for the hall – the only downer: the air conditioning system was way too cold. In terms of content, the course can simply be summed up in two words: “relationship building”. How can you build relationships, how can you use them and what techniques are there to build your network professionally. Those who expected hard memorization were disappointed here. It was about the much-vaunted “soft skills”. Everyone had to get involved in different group work, it was about giving lectures in front of the whole class.
My second course, Communication 156, led by Steve Peterson, was about social networks. The professor, a sociologist from the very beginning, unfortunately left out the economic aspect, which is why I changed this course in the second week – but don’t worry: changing on site is also completely uncomplicated. You get a PTE number (permission to enroll) from the professor in whose course you want to change and can then simply leave a course online via your own university account (URSA) and add the other course.
The campus is phenomenal to compare with German standards! The buildings all look very neat and to say it with Kate Perry’s words from the song “California Girls”: the grass is really greener! So when it comes to botany, the campus looks a lot nicer than my German counterpart. What really impressed me was the opportunity to do sports: play tennis, go to the gym, swim in one of the university’s own pools or just run laps on the track. That’s all included. In addition, you can of course watch the university team’s soccer games – show your student ID and all the doors will open.
I lived with a fellow student in an off-campus apartment in the Gayley Towers (address: 565 Gayley Avenue, if you want to take a look at it on Google Earth). The apartment is very spacious for two people, unfortunately it is equipped with NOTHING apart from the furniture. So we first had to get pots and pans, crockery and cutlery before we could really feel at home. We always cooked ourselves and I recommend it to everyone. The meal plan at the university is too high in calories by European standards and you will certainly take a kilo or two more home with you. In addition, you pay for eating almost every day, which at least we couldn’t use, because the weekend is mostly used for traveling. There are plenty of washing machines and dryers in the Gayley Towers, both of which are coin operated (quarter dollars). However, detergent has to be bought in the supermarket, you can’t get that at the washing machines. For this, Ralphs or CVS pharmacy in the vicinity are suitable. If you want to go shopping at Ralphs, you should MUST have your Ralphs Card issued. This really saves you a lot of money for an address at which you can no longer be reached 6 weeks later anyway!
We had rented an economy class car for the entire period and drove it for less than many who only bought a big sled for the weekend. We also saved the fees for a garage parking space. There was usually enough parking space on the street – but be careful: parking is prohibited on red curbs and the signs should be read very carefully (e.g. you are not allowed to stand when the road is being cleaned!). If you don’t want to or can’t rent a car, you can also reach any major destination without problems using public transport. Contrary to my expectations, the bus connections are very good and cheap (one-way total distance: $ 1.50).
California offers many beautiful places, but what you definitely shouldn’t miss are Coronado Island by day and San Diego by night. 4th and 5th Avenues are the only party miles with great clubs and bars. However, you should show up here with a tight wallet! If you make the detour to San Diego, you should also take the 15-minute drive to Mexico with you. IMPORTANT: You absolutely need your I-20 form for the border!
Otherwise, the many national parks are worth a visit.
From the experience factor I can recommend it with a clear conscience, but you have to know that in addition to the costs for the university and accommodation, travel and partying in the USA also cost a lot of money.