University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: pedagogy and teaching
Study type: semester abroad
I spent Spring Quarter 2017 at UCSB in California. I really enjoyed the time, the new impressions and the campus life. Both at the university and in the various leisure activities, my expectations were met or even exceeded. See mcat-test-centers for Boston University.
PREPARATIONS BEFORE GOING ABROAD
For a semester abroad in the USA, some considerations and preparations are necessary before the start of the trip. A visa appropriate to the reason for travel and a valid passport are required to enter and stay in the United States. In the case of a study visit to the USA, this is the F1 visa, which requires an I-20 form. You receive this from the foreign faculty (here UCSB) after you have filled out the document “Application for Enrollment – University Immersion Program for International Students” and sent it to the “placement agency” (here MicroEdu). The document includes personal information, proof; financial means and further information about the applicant (including a copy of the passport, high school diploma, proof of language proficiency, transcript of records ). You can find out more about the recognition of language certificates at your home university (in my case the Freiburg University of Education). For example, a TOEFL or IELTS test can be submitted.. As part of the Application, it is also necessary to transfer the Application, Program and Student and Service Fee.
After a successful application, the student will be sent the I-20 form. In order to apply for the F-1 student visa, an appointment must be made at an American embassy (among others in Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt). A valid passport, passport photo with American standards, Form I-20, proof of payment of the Visa Application Fee, I-901, DS-160 and a financial statement are required for the student visa application. To meet the visa requirement, each student must earn at least 12 American credits during their stay in the United States, otherwise the credits are invalid. It is important to print out all documents and bring them with you, as mobile phones are not allowed inside the embassy.
Finding an apartment can turn out to be one of the biggest difficulties. The area around UCSB (especially the student village of Isla Vista, which I prefer) is a hard-won housing market due to the high number of students and the fantastic location. There are different ways to get an apartment. On the one hand, there are many different student halls of residence (including ICON, The Loop, Campus 880, etc.), but an online search portal called Craigslist can also help with finding accommodation. I had already secured an apartment at the ICON before arriving (price: around $1000 for a double room), but would do it differently next time. Instead of advance accommodation to reserve, I would first look around for an apartment in the suburbs. There are a variety of options that are also available shortly before the semester starts and are available for lower monthly rents. This also gives you the opportunity to inspect the objects in person beforehand and prevent nasty surprises. I would definitely recommend staying in Isla Vista as this is the hub of student and campus life.
STUDIES/ INTERNSHIP IN THE HOST COUNTRY
I had to before choosing a course at UCSB coordinate with the International Office which and how many courses I have to take in America in order to meet the requirements of my home university. This agreement was recorded in a so-called Learning Agreement (LA). In general, you can take academic and extension courses at UCSB as part of a semester abroad. It is important to observe the relevant time limits for enrolling in courses. Extension courses can already be booked online from Germany. For the Academic courses, on the other hand, you can only register on site, which means that there is a certain risk that you will not be able to take the courses you want. However, it is always important to check the prerequisites and, if necessary, to have the course director issue certificates.
I opted for a combination of Extension and Open University courses.
The UCSB will ask you to send in a non-binding list of courses that you would like to take during the semester abroad. Some of the courses offered (usually all extension courses) can already be booked online from Germany. There is also an Orientation Day on site, where the university introduces itself and students can ask questions about course selection. However, it is advisable to reserve the extension courses online from home in order to secure a place. For the Academic courses, on the other hand, you can only register on site. The requirements and the process for this will be explained during the Orientation Day.
STAY IN HOST COUNTRY
Santa Barbara is a beautiful, centrally located coastal city in California. The University of California, Santa Barbara is located just outside of Santa Barbara in Isla Vista. Isla Vista, the small suburb where most of the students live, is right on the beach. In Santa Barbara it is nice and warm and dry all year round. In addition to the academic opportunities that this renowned US university has with numerous Nobel Prize winnersas former graduates, leisure activities are not neglected. In addition to the Recreation Center ($90 for a semester), there is also the Excursion Club ($30 for a semester) where you can rent camping gear, surfboards, wetsuits, kayaks, etc. for free. The Excursion Club also offers excursions! Both institutions are highly recommended and worthwhile after just a few visits. Especially the Excursion Club is essential, because every UCSB student should go surfing at least once!
There are many cities on the west coast of the USA, but also national parks to discover. A rental car, which can be rented at Santa Barbara Airport, is suitable for excursions. However, a minimum age of 21 years is required. However, Fox Rental already offers rental cars for people under the age of 21. Popular excursions are: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego and the national parks like Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Yosemite National Park, Zion National Park and many more. Unfortunately, the time is almost too short to explore all these sights. If you leave the USA during the semester, for example to travel to Mexico, you need a signature from the university. These can be obtained from the International Office at UCSB.
UCSB students can also use the Santa Barbara MTD bus for free. This bus provides easy access to downtown Santa Barbara, which is highly recommended. Unlike many other American cities, the center of Santa Barbara is very beautiful and worthwhile.
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR FOLLOWING STUDENTS
A key tip is to get a bike as soon as you arrive, as the campus is so big and every student gets around by bike. The bike can either be borrowed or resold at the end of the semester.
All in all, the time in Santa Barbara was a wonderful time that I will never forget and that I look back on fondly! You can get to know great people there and also a new, exciting culture that is very lovable and open. I would recommend anyone who has the opportunity to do a semester abroad to take advantage of this opportunity. No matter where you spend the semester abroad, it is an experience that enriches you personally and with which you mature a little bit. It is also an opportunity to meet people of the same age from all over the world and to build a network.