California State University Chico Student Review

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I completed my semester abroad at California State University in Chico in the 2012/2013 winter semester. The city of approx. 86,000 is a small student town in Northern California, where you can get to almost anything by bike or skateboard. In summer, temperatures like to climb to 40 ° C, which in winter also cools down to freezing point. In the winter months of November and December in particular, it rains a lot, whereas spring and summer are almost always dry.

Studied at the CSUC

According to, the CSUC campus consists of red brick buildings and is more reminiscent of a park due to the many green spaces, trees, a stream and rose garden. Especially in summer it is nice to sit outside and enjoy student life.

The American Language and Culture Institute (ALCI) is responsible for all college contact students at the CSUC. The entire team is really very friendly, open and always helpful. On the first day you get the first introduction, where you get an explanation of how to choose the university courses. You also have to choose an ALCI English course on that day. The English level of all courses is very low, as most of the ALCI students do not speak good English and instead of the university courses only take ALCI courses. In ALCI courses such as Survival English, for example, every German is out of place. After a few changes of course and conversations with Germans from other courses, I can really only recommend the “American Slang and Idioms” course to everyone. The ALCI courses are divided into two semesters.

Occupied university courses

In the first week I looked at eight courses, of which I ultimately chose four. Like most German exchange students, I received all of the courses I wanted. So I finally had the two bachelor courses “Managing Project Teams” and “Applied Strategic Decision Making” as well as the master courses “Seminar in Management” and “Leadership, Global Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)”. I was very satisfied with all subjects and the professors, and I do not regret any of the courses I have chosen. The workload was immensely high, but in my opinion I learned more than in a semester in Germany. In addition to the midterm exam and final exam, I was busy with homework, assignments, group work, tests and lots of reading. With a little ambition, but also a (very) good grade is guaranteed. I am of the opinion that you can only fail at the CSUC if you do absolutely nothing.

Accommodation search

Apartment Search

Since I was unable to find an apartment in Chico from Germany, I decided to look locally. When I got to Chico, I looked for shared apartments on the website Unfortunately, I was personally unsuccessful; I do know, however, that a few other German exchange students have found their flat share through this.
After no one answered me at Craiglist, I drove to the Timber Creek apartment complex (, which is mainly home to students. In the office I filled out a self-assessment (name, hobbies, telephone number, etc.) for those looking for a flat share. The very next day I received a text message that another flat in Timber Creek was looking for a roommate. I received the apartment immediately and was lucky enough to live with three very nice American students. The apartment in Timber Creek including electricity, water, TV and home insurance costs around US $ 350 instead of the average price of US $ 400-500 in Chico. However, there are only annual contracts in Timber Creek, so you have to find a new tenant yourself.

Furniture search

Since my own room wasn’t furnished, I borrowed a bed from a friend for the time and bought the other furniture second-hand. In Chico there are actually so-called “yard sales” every week, where private people sell their things in the garden or in the garage. garage sale).àWhen and where yard sales take place can be found on the website (for sale In the second-hand shop “The ARC Store” in 2020 Park Avenue Chico, CA 95928, there is also used furniture for little money. For example, I bought my desk there for only US $ 8.

Leisure and excursion possibilities

Free time in Chico

Chico is small, but an absolute student town, where life is raging even at night. It’s always full on Wednesdays in “Crazy Horse”, Thursdays in “the bear” and on weekends almost every bar and club is well attended anyway. The drinks are particularly cheap in Chico. At happy hour you get cocktails for US $ 2 and a pitcher of beer for US $ 5. At 2am, however, there is curfew, so afterwards you can either go on to house parties or go home.

During the day you can go jogging, walking, relaxing at the “One Mile Pool” or cooling off in the pool in Bidwell Park. In Upper Bidwell Park there are also natural swimming wholes (e.g. Bear Whole or Salmon Whole), in which you can swim in summer.

The university has a large gym with a climbing wall, a number of courses, a weight room, running track, swimming pool and whirlpool. The recreation center is very new and really good. For this it is also worth paying the US $ 180 semester membership. A day ticket without membership costs US $ 10 Thursday through Tuesday. On Wednesdays it only costs US $ 5 if you come with a Recreation Center member who is wearing a “Chico State” garment (at least that was the case in the 2012/2013 winter semester).

ALCI also offers a number of activities such as dance classes, football, knitting and lunch meetings (e.g. on the taco truck). You can only get bored in your free time if you want to.

Excursion possibilities

Chico and its surroundings are known for nature. There are national parks nearby such as the Lassen Volcanic National Park. In summer you should definitely go to Lake Tahoe. At the airport in Chico you can easily rent a car and visit the USA over the weekend or for longer. You don’t need an international driver’s license for this. The German driving license is absolutely sufficient.
San Francisco is also worth several visits and is only a 3 hour drive from Chico. There’s a lot to see in Northern and Southern California. In summer you can go to the beach, in winter you can go skiing and snowboarding in the mountains.

In addition, ALCI occasionally offers excursion options that are relatively inexpensive. In the winter semester, a day trip to San Francisco, a day trip to the SixFlags and a trip to the Halloween corn maze were offered.

California State University Chico


In summary, I can say that Chico was more than worth it for me. I love the university, all the motivated professors and my chosen subjects. Although I was very busy, I surprisingly enjoyed the university. The city is small, cute and almost anything can be reached by bike. The cost of living is very low compared to other American cities. I got along very well with the Americans. I just had to learn to deal with the demotivation of most American undergraduate students. There were only 15 German exchange students at the entire university, so in my opinion it was easier to get to know Americans. I made very good friends in Chico and would recommend everyone to spend their semester abroad there.

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