International Programs

Are you a first year or sophomore that wants to study film abroad? For years the Department of Cinematic Arts has collaborated with Hamburg University of Applied Sciences also known as “HAW Hamburg” through in person and virtual exchanges between our two campuses.  

Pre-approved credit transfer:
As part of the strategic partnership with HAW Hamburg, the Department of Cinematic Arts has pre-approved credit for the following classes in Hamburg:

Check the HAW Hamburg module handbook for course descriptions and more information.

Hamburg Course FEA Course FEA Course Title
Artistic Composition 2 FEA 330 Introduction to Production Design
Camera Acting Project FEA 344 Directing
Perception FEA 310 Film & Culture
Practice Dramaturgy FEA 322 Diverse Media: Writing & Production
Sound Design FEA 320 Sound Design
Studio Hamburg Project FEA 338 Television Studio Production
Video Technology Production FEA 360 Independent Media Production
Video or Audio Project FEA 499 Special projects in Film & Electronic Arts


 Hamburg is one of Germany’s most important locations for audio-visual media. Learn more about the Media and Film exchange with HAW Hamburg and the programs available through CSULB’s exchange with Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW).  

Hear from HAW Hamburg faculty and staff about the relationship between The Department of Cinematic Arts and HAW Hamburg as well as a testimonial about studying abroad from film student Faith Clancy in the video below. 

Choosing to study abroad at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences was the best decision I have ever made, and that is no exaggeration. I did not realise that I could change so much in just one semester. However, that journey almost did not happen.In high school, I had already planned on studying abroad at some point in university. But when the pandemic hit, I believed I would have to give up on that idea. I did not think about it again until my screenwriting class at my home university, California State University Long Beach, where I heard about the program from the professor. She gave high praise to HAW Hamburg and their media technology program, and when I showed interest, she gave me details about the exchange. I then contacted HAW staff members with some questions, and they were very quick to respond and provide me with resources. I was a bit hesitant, but my professor and the HAW staff assured me I would have a great time, and they were absolutely correct. Then, the pandemic got a bit worse during the holidays; so I began to worry about whether it was safe to go through with the exchange. These conflicted feelings about going were worsened by a death in my household two months before I left for Hamburg. But after much debating, I still ended up going, which did turn out to be a good choice. The change of scenery and the people there definitely helped me cope with the grief. Furthermore, HAW Hamburg handled the pandemic well, and I did not get COVID-19 at all. My anxiety regarding moving went away quickly, and I immediately switched focus to making the most of my time there, as well as my classes.

The courses I took at HAW Hamburg were all within the Media Technology department. I enrolled in Perception, Practice Dramaturgy, Video Technology Production, and the Studio Hamburg/PM BlueProject. I also took a German class at Colón Language Center. Perception was my favourite class out of the four at HAW Hamburg. The course focused on the visuals of films, and how different techniques are utilised to draw out certain audience responses. The professor taught in a lecture format with assisting visuals, which is a format I learn well in. I also just found the subject to be very interesting and I enjoyed the project presentations at the end of the semester. We were tasked with analysing sequences from a film of our choice, which was more fun than it sounded. Every group went incredibly in depth as well,which really reflected how much everyone cared about the field. In Practice Dramaturgy the class was discussion based, with the main topic being television series versus films.However, the students picked what was discussed and the topics varied as such.Video Technology Production was interesting because the class was entirely an independent project and/or report. It felt more like a personal project than a class,which was in part due to my project being a personal film. I learned a lot, especially regarding editing, in my time working on it.The Studio Hamburg/PM Blue course was the one that I was the most encouraged to take. It was a project based class in which the whole class worked together on one film. We organized ourselves into different departments; I was in the lighting,graphic, and set design departments. I helped with the lighting and made graphics as well, but my primary job was creating fake cakes as props for the film. It was something I had never done before, and while I struggled at points, it was very fun.Towards the end of the semester, we were given one week in a professional studio in order to bring the project to life. Ithink the idea of an entire class working as one crew was very cool, and I really appreciated the opportunity to work in astudio. All of the classes intimidated me abit at first, because I was not used to having project-based courses. The idea of having one thing determine most of mygrade scared me, but I surprisingly liked the project-based course much more than any classes I had at my home university. I felt like because the work was more focused, what I learned will stay with me rather than being quickly forgotten. For course difficulty, I felt that the classes I took were very fair, and the workload was balanced. As for the language class, the teacher was wonderful and I felt I learned a fair amount in the time given. I do not speak German very well, but considering I entered the class knowing almost nothing, it definitely was a good improvement. Iplan to continue studying the language even after leaving the country. In all classes, I interacted with my classmates much more than  I typically do at my home university. I got to meet a large variety of people, both HAWHamburg students as well as other exchange students. Both the exchange program and fulltime student group were very diverse.Everyone I spoke with was incredibly friendly,and many shared stories from home and about their culture. As such, I learned a lot from not only the professors but my peers as well.

I also interacted with and learned from many of my neighbours in my dorm. I had the pleasure of staying at the Armgartstraße building. I was initially very anxious about finding accommodation, but HAW Hamburg took care of the majority of the dorm application process. The building seemed very new and was very clean. I had my own room, which surprised me as my home university’s rooms are shared, and I felt very at home there the whole semester. The kitchen and fridge space were perfect for me as well.There was good privacy and a view of the garden from my window, and the front of the building was just across the street from the water which was really lovely. The neighbours were incredibly welcoming and came to my aid many times when I could not find something, and when I had trouble with the language barrier. They were very kind, and even gave me food and allergy medicine when I was having trouble at the beginning of spring. Overall I handled the weather quite well, though it was really varying early in the semester. We had a singular day of snow, which was a very happy surprise and made some lasting memories. It was the first time I had seen snowfall that actually stuck to the ground. The humidity was unfamiliar to me though, and I initially struggled a bit with that. I did adjust more to it as the time went on. The dorm’s location was very convenient as it was just a ten to fifteen minute walk from where all of my classes were. I really enjoyed the walk to campus, as the path was in the shade along the water. This was the first time that I was really enthusiastic about going walking outside! It was also incredibly close to the central station and city centre,which was helpful as many times my friends would meet there.

When I first arrived in Hamburg,however, I was not sure if I would make friends. I started out very focused on the paperwork, such as the residence permit, health insurance, residence registration,bank account, and so on. Though,the health insurance was almost completely handled by the exchange program coordinators, which was very nice. My buddy directed me on where to go for the residence paperwork, and with that help as well as the assistance of other exchange students, we were able to sort it out. I opened a bank account at Commerzbank, which I handled on my own with little trouble. Some of the American group, including myself, struggled a bit with getting the residence permit, but in the end it was resolved. Overall, the paperwork portions were stressful, but they were the only negative things throughout my whole timethere. Furthermore, my anxiety at the start of the semester was calmed by the welcome week for the exchange students. It was there that I met several people, some of which I feel will be forever friends. The welcome week began with activities for us to meet each other, and games such as scavenger hunts to help us get familiar with Hamburg. What I was most excited about was ice skating, asI had loved skating as a child but had not gotten the chance to since then. I believe it was the event I stayed at the longest, and while my feet hurt for days after, I was very happy. Other events, some later in the semester,involved trips to neighbouring cities including Bremen and Lübeck. I thought these were incredibly fun to visit with the exchange group, and it was where I made a fair amount of friends. These were the first trips I went on that were outside of Hamburg.


Overall I travelled much more than planned. Many of the trips were to other cities in Northern Germany, such as the aforementioned welcome week trips. I also went to Sierksdorf to visit Hansa-Park,as I am a big roller coaster fan, and I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed visiting so many cities, and although they were all close to each other, they all had unique and enjoyable qualities. However, I did also visit four other countries while living in Germany. I happened to have two online friends, who lived in villages in Denmark and the Netherlands respectively. Both were coincidentally very close to Hamburg. I first visited my friend in Denmark for a weekend, and it was very relaxing. It was nice to meet my friend and see the countryside and quiet towns of the country. I visited Denmark again before I returned home, and on the second trip we went to Legoland. As mentioned before, I love theme parks, so I really enjoyed it. My trip to the Netherlands was similar, in that I got to see another pleasant village and country landscape. I also went to Efteling, which was yet another theme park. Efteling was my favourite park to experience because the theming was very well done. Additionally, it met my requirement for roller coasters. I also had the pleasure of visiting Wroclaw, Poland. This was the first out of country trip where I did not travel alone. I went with a dear person I met during the welcome week, and they had a home in the city and thus knew it quite well.They were an excellent guide and thus the trip was even more enjoyable. Wroclaw is absolutely beautiful and the food everywhere was excellent. Travelling with other people also is less stressful. For example, you can sleep on the train and not worry about getting lost. I also personally feel more confident when I am not alone. Thus, when I went to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, I went with two close friends. This was the longest trip I went on, as the others were over weekends. We also did a wide variety of activities because each of us had things in mind we wanted to see and do. It was very enjoyable because we did several tourist things but at the same time went to many quieter places. Ithink I took the most photos there versus any other trip. For all the trips, I really am grateful I was able to visit and travel with my friends and create those memories. What is interesting is that although I did a lot of travelling, it was very affordable, even out of the country. Though, itis important to mention that my friends were very hospitable and allowed me to stay with them, so I only paid for accommodation in Prague. This was very helpful as I travelled on a budget. For the transport part, I took both FlixBus and Deutsche Bahn. FlixBus was on average cheaper, but Deutsche Bahn was around the same price if I departed very late or very early in the morning. The most expensive ticket I bought was 90€, but most were around €35-€60. I liked Deutsche Bahn more, even with some delays, solely because I occasionally get motion sick on buses. It is important to note that some of these trips took a long time, with the Flixbus trip to Poland being around 10 hours. Going to my friends in the Netherlands and Denmark also could take a lot of time, with it varying between 5 and 12 hours depending on what transfers I took, and whether there were delays. This did not bother me much as I was just happy to travel, especially for such prices. I also have no problem sleeping on vehicles, but someone who cannot might struggle to pass time. The trains and buses were also very clean and of nice quality. 

Still, despite all the trips, Hamburg remained my favourite city. I was very happy living there, and I felt comfortable among the people and environment. It is very clean, beautiful, and quite green. There are so many bridges and lots of water which makes the scenery very nice. The city is built around the Alster,so going out on a boat is a viable pastime. There is even a ferry line that serves as public transport,which initially surprised me. Public transportation is absolutely great, especially with the perspective of coming from a car dependent environment. I found theU-Bahn and S-Bahn very reliable and easy to navigate,and the buses were also very convenient. The trains were very punctual and clean. I was also very happy the semester ticket covered the public transportation, and was pleasantly surprised when the €9 ticket was introduced. I did not expect it to be so cheap to travel the country. Then again, everything was much more affordable than California, with the average rent among my friends being only a fraction of California average rent. Additionally, at the grocery stores, a variety of options are affordable and thus cooking and experimenting was much more appealing. Furthermore,going out with friends for food or to a cafe was not abank-breaking activity. I think I went out more with my Hamburg friends than I ever did back home. Pricesaside, there are so many interesting places to visit within Hamburg. There is an amazing variety of food places, and there is even a themed cat cafe! I have always been very excited about trying new foods, andI got to do so often in Hamburg.In spring the Hamburger DOM was open, which is a very large fun fair that had visitors from both near and far. In traditional fair fashion, it was full of several food stalls, carnival games,colourful lights, and rollercoasters. Since I love rollercoasters and trying new food I obviously had a good time. Notmuch is as fun as being surrounded by your friends and riding a really obscure themed roller coaster, and then immediately exiting the ride to get some junk food. That is why I was very happy when I found out the Hamburger DOM opened again for summer. Another fun thing to attend is Fischmarkt, which opens every Sunday at five in the morning.There are of course fish, but the market also has souvenirs,sweets, fruit, flowers, and more.Despite it being every Sunday, I only managed to go twice as it was hard to get a group together so early in the morning. There are also plenty of non-food related activities. Miniatur Wunderland is an absolutely mind blowing model railway and miniatures museum. They created a small version of both real and fictional locations, with much of the world having a section. There is even a little replica of Hamburg’s main stations and custom madeS-Bahn and U-Bahn trains. They also have a functioning model airport, which I heard sometimes has the Millenium Falcon land. I regret not visiting the Miniatur Wunderland earlier during my visit to Hamburg,because I could have spent an entire day there. It felt like every day I was doing something interesting, with or without friends. Even without company, I would decide to go outside and walk around or visit some place, and I never got tired of it.Even just sitting outside doing nothing was enjoyable. I suppose that shows how much impact one’s environment has over them. The city also felt really safe to me,and I never had much fear or worry even when alone at night. Of course it is still important to be cautious, but I went outside often and felt comfortable. I really miss the ease at which I could decide to go out, and not worry about the safety or how I would get somewhere; though I miss a lot of things about Hamburg.

I changed a lot over my exchange at HAW Hamburg, but all for the better. I have grown to be a lot more independent and self-sufficient. I was already pretty independent, but handling paperwork and bureaucracy mostly alone was quite new to me. There was more help available, but as I wanted to take care of everything as soon as possible, I did a lot on my own. It was difficult but I learned a lot in the process. I was also surprised that I did not feel homesick or anything, but instead felt at home there. I did not even create a schedule for myself but I still did my cooking,cleaning, laundry, etc. in an orderly fashion. This would surprise anyone who knows me,since I am far from being an organised person. For the cost of everything, I had planned for about 1,000€ per month, and I was working freelance remotely while in Hamburg. However, I spent far less than that every month. Per month my room was 361€, health insurance 111€, and groceries around 110€. Overall, I ended up spending a lot less money than I expected, which was very nice. I have managed my own finances since my first job, but it was comforting to know that I am capable of surviving and being responsible with my money too. Granted, I was aided by everything in Hamburg being cheaper than I planned for. The plane ticket was the only truly expensive part of the semester. Aside from being more responsible, my demeanour evolved too. My social skills were never very good, so I did not expect to make friends or go out too often.Surprisingly I was very social and I even found myself organising group things, although I used to hesitate to go out. My classmates and the other exchanges students were all very wonderful and friendly people, which definitely made socialising easier. I am very grateful to have met the friends I made, and I feel as though some of these friends will last forever. People learn a lot from those they surround themselves with, and I feel that my friends are quite positive influences. They are very kind and I think the time spent with them has improved me as a person.Physically there was also change,as I lost 20 pounds/9 kg over the semester, although I ate more. Though, I believe this was helped greatly by the quality of food I was cooking. Overall, much has changed regarding responsibility,friends, and health, but I am very glad I am not the same person I was at the start of the year.

I am really thankful I finally escaped my bubble. Since going to Hamburg I feel I have become more like myself. Moreover, the United States is kind of in its own bubble; at least in terms of what we are taught about the rest of the world. There is only so much you can understand from a distance, even if you try to be well informed. But, there are many people I know who have never left the United States, and never plan to. Iknow not everyone gets the chance to travel, so if an opportunity presents itself I think it should be accepted. I do not expect everyone will have as dramatic of an experience as I did; though I suppose I did not expect my own experience to happen at all. It is really hard to pinpoint what exactly made the semester so special. Perhaps it was because the exchange group was full of such kind and interesting people.Maybe it was because the HAW Hamburg professors and staff were so passionate about their jobs. It could have been just that Hamburg was a very pleasant environment to be in.Or maybe it was because the food was so great! I am not sure whether or not it was luck or something else that had all of these factors work together. But the semester was great, and I really did not exaggerate when I claimed it was my best choice. Regardless of the reason, I am very grateful I was able to study at HAW Hamburg,and I really hope I can find another opportunity to return.

In addition to our ongoing and fruitful relationship with HAW Hamburg, in summer 2023 the Film & Electronic Arts Department presented a new travel class: Film & Festival & World Cinema taught by Professor Andrew Pearson. The class travels to Rome and Bologna, Italy to explore the history of cinema on an international level and traverse the intersections of film history and culture through festival screenings, lectures, tours and site visits. The travel course focuses on the Il Cinema Ritrovato film festival in Bologna, Italy to examine the impact of film restoration and preservation on cinema’s engagement (and re-engagement) in contemporary world issues. This experience gives film students at The Beach the opportunity to study abroad with their fellow filmmakers in the department all while exploring Europe and expanding their world view on film and media.  

On top of furthering the foundational knowledge of film scholarship and production, study abroad creates meaningful, life-changing experiences by immersing students in a culture that is radically different than their own.  
The expanded worldview gained during international study plays a vital role in shaping the voices of young storytellers. At the same time, these experiences give students a deeper understanding of their individual role in developing meaningful ways to impact our global community. 

Learn more about CSULB's study abroad program.