Camarillo, USA. Big, Bigger – AMERICA (by Janek)

Hi Guys, I´m Janek from Cologne Germany and I´m doing my semester abroad at the CSU Channel Island in Camarillo. I want to tell you about my first impressions about the United States and California and how my first days at the university went through.

First of all, some information about how we organized our trip.

Me and my fellow students from macromedia campus cologne arrived at the 1st of August in LAX.  We are living in Camarillo which is a very nice city where you can do a lot of things like shopping at Camarillo premium outlets and visit the Edward cinema and the beach is just 20 minutes away. Our house, which we rent via Airbnb, is just like 10 minutes away from the campus. I recommend for you guys, to live close to the campus, because you will not have all classes together with your roommates and if you live too far away from CSU, you will just sit in your car all day long to get to university. For the first ten days in the US we rented a car via SIXT. During that time, we checked out all car dealers around LA to buy a car, which is really cheap in fact that you can resell your car after your time here in the States.

Before the semester started we did some great trips to LA, San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas and the Universal Studios in Hollywood. We never expected what we got to see. Los Angeles is like the biggest city we have ever been, so far. It´s like the double of Berlin.  We visited LA like eleven times before university started. There are so many things to do and to see. For example, Melrose Ave, Getty Center, Hollywood Blvd., Sunset Blvd., Griffith Observatory, Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach and so many other stuff.

Venice Beach, Los Angeles

Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles

Beverly Hills, Los Angeles

Beverly Hills, Los Angeles

At our second weekend, we traveled to San Francisco. Do yourself a pleasure and get you something like a coat, cause it´s very windy and cold in the evening. SF is a very cool city with also some interesting things to explore. Just walk around to check out your neighborhood and visit the pier. From there you got a wonderful overview of Alcatraz and all the insane bridges of SF. But be careful, SF is also a city with a high amount of crazy homeless people, so in the evening I prefer to rent a UBER to get to a bar, club or restaurant.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Las Vegas Sign, Las Vegas

In San Diego, we arrived two weeks later. And hell yeah it was an awesome trip. We stayed at a hotel in downtown, it´s like the heart of the city and the best place for some younger folk / students. At the weekend, the main streets are a full of celebrating people. You got so many opportunities in SD. Go and visit Coronado, it´s a little island in front of San Diego. There you can find so many nice restaurants, bars and stuff like that.

Viewpoint, San Diego

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Hogwarts / Los Angeles

Hotel, Las Vegas

You also can go out for a baseball match at the Petco park. Afterwards you should go to a sports-bar right around the park and celebrate with the other baseball match visitors. It´s going to be an awesome night, trust me!!

If you´re a absolutly Harry Potter fan, you have to visit the Universal Studios in Hollywood. It´s magical. But it´s also really eypensive, like everything in California.

To Las Vegas I just have to say: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Make your own experience. But it´s like you imagen. Huge hotels, big casinos and a lot of parties….

Now to the important things of life: Our first days of university.

The week before the classes started, we had our orientation days, which were pretty cool. Got some snacks and drinks before we had to listen to the police officer who told us how we have to behave at campus and other stuff. After that we got lunch at campus so that we could meet all the other German students. During this days, we got an invitation to come over to a house of a woman who works for the university. She told us, that she does this every semester when there are some new international students at campus. It was something like a come together party. All internationals have been there. Guys from Japan, France, India, Canada, Denmark, China and Germany. It was so much fun to meet all the guys and so good to get in contact with everyone. But I missed something like a real come together party organized from the CSU themselves.

CSU Campus, Los Angeles Avenue

At the 28th of August our first day at CSUCI finally arrived.

We all have been a bit nervous before our first class. We didn´t know what to expect and how university life will be. However, university life is awesome. It´s completely different to our campus in Cologne. It´s so huge and there are so many things and spots to explore. The Broom Library is insane. It´s the newest building on campus and it´s also huge, as you can see.

Bell Tower, CSU Channel Island

And you have so many opportunities to buy food. They have a big cafeteria where you have to pay just 9$ for an all you can eat buffet. You can choose between fresh made pasta, pizza, Asian food, salad, burritos, tacos, cereals, sweets, drinks and so much more. You can´t get any cheaper food around.


Now to the not so great part of studying in California/America. The classes are completely different to ours in Germany. Most of the time I have one hour of class, two times a day. That seems to be not that much, but you have to do a lot of homework. Do not underestimate that fact, if you don´t do your homework or read the chapters for the next class you will fail. You also don´t have just one exam at the end of the semester. No, in some classes you´re going to write about four exams and in other classes, like intercultural communications, you have to do two papers, two exams and three presentations. As you can see, there is a lot to do. So, you should come to America before university started, in case you would like to travel around the country/LA. However, I really prefer that system. In Germany, you start learning maybe one month before exams and that’s not really effective. At CSU, you have to show more interest and be present, which in my opinion seems to be much more effectively. So, it´s not impossible to pass your exams, but you have to work for that a bit more than in Germany. And in case you will study at one of the most beautiful places in the world, it will make things easier.

So yeah, that have been my first weeks in the United States. I hope you liked my little review so far and we will see us in about four months, when I did my final exams and my last two months of travelling will start.

See you guys next time, have a good one!

Restaurant, CSU Channel Island