University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: computer science
Study type: semester abroad
My name is Johannes and I studied quarters in Santa Barbara from March to June 2010. I’m studying business informatics in Germany, but I “only” took two master’s computer science courses at UCSB. See toppharmacyschools for Vancouver Island University Study Abroad.
I booked my flight relatively late and landed in LAX, took the AirBus from there to Santa Barbara and stayed at the hostel there. I can warmly recommend the hostel, it was a good place to stay to get to know the city and to look for accommodation from there. The local buses in Santa Barbara are quite usable, but unfortunately a bit slow at times. If you get there early, you can also try to get the semester sticker, so you can travel for free.
I looked for a place to stay on Craigslist and found one within a week. I stayed with an American, which was an experience in itself. The target residential area was of course Isla Vista, the student enclave right next to the university, and of course on the beach. I paid over $700 for a single room in a “bad” location – ie not only 5-7 but rather 15 minutes by bike to the lecture hall – but it was definitely worth it for the 3 months. Here I can really only recommend looking for a place to stay locally and aiming for Isla Vista as a place to live, although it is not exactly cheap. You can’t beat the proximity to student life, university, the beach, sports and amenities like free cinema.
The selection of courses is definitely interesting, but unfortunately you have to accept the course fees. The style of my courses was more like a German seminar, under 10 students, a really dedicated professor, and lots of individual attention. Everything about the teaching is great, of course the teaching style is definitely different from what you are used to at home. However, that should be one of the experiences that you take home with you, for example I received a lot of suggestions and experiences towards the master’s thesis. Since my courses were each assessed on the basis of a project and several homework assignments, there was little stress, although it was definitely demanding and I had friends visiting for two weeks.
country & people
As already mentioned, I lived with an American and tried to speak English. Of course, that doesn’t always work out, especially since there are a lot of Germans at UCSB. However, this also has its good sides, because you have companions for excursions in the area such as San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Las Vegas. The many national parks such as Joshua Tree, Sequoia or Yosemite are also highly recommended, and you should plan a few weekends.
Of course, I didn’t enjoy my studies, but also the free time around it. House parties are plentiful in Isla Vista itself during the semester. The fact that you just show up there as soon as you even begin to know a single person takes a lot of getting used to, but you adapt to local customs. On Wednesdays we take the bus to the neighboring town of Goleta, to a well-stocked karaoke bar. On Thursday, Bill’s bus drives to downtown Santa Barbara – a spectacle not to be missed.
There are also various sports facilities. The university’s Recreation Center offers just about everything that can be accommodated in a building, from swimming to rock climbing and fitness. In addition, there is a student excursion club that offers many tours for really little money.
With the only point that is not quite so positive. With tuition fees roughly estimated at $4000, Santa Barbara is no more expensive than other universities, but it is still not cheap. In addition, the rent in Isla Vista is simply outrageously expensive, at least if you are used to German conditions. The old adage “pack half as much and take twice as much money with you” applies here quite well. Luckily, if you pack half as much, you can also fit a few new things in the suitcase. You can buy clothes and electronics very well here.
The semester abroad is an experience I absolutely wouldn’t want to miss, and the choice for Santa Barbara turned out to be perfect. I can only recommend anyone who is interested in UCSB to go for it, both the university and life in Isla Vista were really great. Being able to see America as it really is (at least in California) was totally worth it. That alone would be reason to stay more than a quarterback.