University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: industrial engineering
Study type: semester abroad
Application / planning / organization
Planning the semester abroad is very important and should not start too late. First of all, of course, it must be discussed with the head of the degree program and it must be checked whether the UCSB has suitable courses for the degree program. I studied two semesters at UCSB (Fall Quarter 2017 and Winter Quarter 2018). I applied in mid-January and was accepted about four weeks later. When applying, make sure that you have all the necessary documents. Thanks to MicroEdu, the completeness of my application was not a problem at all. Due to my university in Germany, no TOEFL test was required, only a language certificate from the DAAD. During the planning, however, it should be taken into account that the TOEFL test is significantly more complex and also associated with higher costs. See toppharmacyschools for Griffith College Dublin Study Abroad.
As soon as you get the approval, you can already take care of the F-1 student visa with the I-20 form. To do this, you first have to fill out an online questionnaire (DS-160) on the website of the US embassy, make an appointment and then drive to the US embassy or consulate in either Berlin, Frankfurt or Munich.
You should also start looking for a scholarship early on. I received a PROMOS grant from the DAAD, for which registration deadlines had to be observed. Another important point is international health insurance. Health insurance is included in UCSB tuition. However, this does not cover the entire stay and also not every case of illness. Therefore, I was recommended to take out additional international health insurance.
Santa Barbara itself has an airport, but it is very small and does not have international flights. Either you have to change trains in Los Angeles or you only fly to Los Angeles and can take a rental car from there or book the Santa Barbara Airbus, which will pick you up directly at the terminal and drive directly to Santa Barbara.
UCSB is about a 30 minute bus ride from Santa Barbara, so I wouldn’t recommend going directly to Santa Barbara for an apartment to search. For example, you can look for an apartment in Isla Vista, which is an advantage since it is right next to the campus. Apartments in Santa Barbara and the surrounding area are very expensive, even for a double room you should expect around 700 USD. In addition, most landlords only sign annual contracts, in which case you either have to find a new tenant or pay a termination fee. The apartments in Isla Vista are mostly private houses or there are also university apartments. You can either fly there earlier and look for an apartment on site, which is associated with a certain risk. It is advisable to start looking for an apartment beforehand. There is a UCSB Housing Facebook group, craigslist.com and the UCSB Community Housing website.
First of all you have to take into account that you have to take at least 12 units in the quarter to meet the requirements for the student visa. The more units, the more work is involved in the courses. There are basically two types of courses at UCSB. On the one hand the Academic Courses (Open University) and on the other hand the Extension Courses.
The Open University courses are the courses taken by “normal” American students. However, these are very expensive and if you are enrolled via UCSB Extension, you do not have the option to enroll beforehand, but have to “crash” the courses. So at the beginning of the quarter you may have to take several courses because it is not yet certain that you will get the courses you want.
American students always have priority in the courses and as an extension student you will only be considered at the end if there are still places available. A course with 4 units costs about 1000 USD. But you should also attend these open university courses, because that way you get a feel for normal American student life. In addition, the Open University courses are also qualitatively better in terms of study content.
Learning and studying differs fundamentally from the German system. You have less attendance time, but more homework. With my Open University courses, you had lectures twice a week for about 1 ½ hours and then another session with a teaching assistant. This is a student who has already taken the course and has done very well on it. In these sessions, problems are addressed and discussed again. Not only are grades determined by an exam at the end of the quarter, but you have a midterm or two during the quarter and a final at the end. You also have homework and quizzes, some of which are also included in the grade.
The extension courses are pre-bookable and cheaper, but are only attended by international students and working Americans. This also means that they mainly take place in the evenings or on Saturdays. For the extension courses, a 4-unit course costs around 500 USD.
Leisure/ travel activity
Of course, in addition to studying, traveling and having fun should not be neglected. Santa Barbara is in a very good location for exploring California and the western United States. It is very easy to get a rental car and use it to explore the surrounding area. Here’s a little tip: we always booked a rental car through Check24 because this site was always the cheapest. You should definitely visit cities like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego or San Francisco, but the national parks are also worth seeing. In addition, there are sometimes cheap flights from Los Angeles to Vancouver, Seattle or Hawaii. Weekends may not be enough to see quite a lot, especially if you’re only studying a quarter at UCSB. Then you should also plan time for travel before or after the quarter.
In addition to traveling, you should of course also enjoy American student life. So, especially in California, you should grab a surfboard, cheer on the UCSB gauchos or go to the typical American house parties. If you’re already 21, you can also go partying in the clubs downtown.
When it comes to money, it works almost always and everywhere in the USA to pay with a credit card and also to withdraw money. Depending on the bank in Germany, however, it may be that they charge a fee for each transaction. An account can also be set up on site for the appropriate time if required. An international driver’s license is usually not required, at least the normal German driver’s license is sufficient for car rental companies. However, an international driving license may be required by the police. Another tip is not to buy groceries etc directly in Isla Vista as it is very expensive here. A better option is to take the bus to Calle Real Marketplace and shop there.From the Extension Center there is the bus sticker, with which you can use the buses free of charge. However, the American roommates are often so nice that they take you with them in the car. It should also be said here that Americans are generally very nice, open and helpful. But sometimes it’s only very superficial and you shouldn’t take the “I will call you tomorrow” too seriously.
There is also a Facebook group Free & For Sale (UCSB) where you can also buy things like bikes or books for the courses. I would not recommend buying the new, expensive books from the bookstore if possible, you can often buy them used from the Facebook group as well.
In conclusion, I can only recommend UCSB. Anyone who is considering and has the opportunity to study there should do so too! I would do it again at any time because it was a unique experience that I always like to remember. Not only did the courses offered by the UCSB fit well, the lecturers and fellow students are very friendly, the campus is also very nice, clean and the location is just perfect! You can’t imagine a nicer place to study. In addition to studying, leisure activities and fun in the beautiful city of Santa Barbara and the surrounding area are never neglected.