University of California, Santa Barbara Review (21)


City: Santa Barbara

Country: United States

Continent: North America

Field of study: marketing

Study type: semester abroad

University of California, Santa Barbara Review (21)


My name is Isabeau Stender and I am a freshman from the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). I’m studying Marketing and International Business at the Koblenz University of Applied Sciences, so a semester abroad was mandatory for me (one of the reasons I chose my course). See mcat-test-centers for California State University Chico.

University decision

Deciding on the “right” university was a long journey for me. After the first semester I started thinking about my semester abroad. Here I found out for myself that many foreign universities logically have different beginnings of the semester. In February 2016 I started thinking about the country in which I would like to spend my semester abroad. However, I knew that I would not spend my semester abroad in Europe want to spend. First, I looked at the partner universities of our university. Unfortunately, there was no ideal partner university for me, it mostly failed because of the country or the location of the universities. That’s why I researched on my own on the Internet and became aware of the organization “MicroEdu”. I couldn’t believe at first that MicroEdu is completely free for their service, but it was true. MicroEdu offers numerous partner universities on their website where you can complete your semester abroad. The site offers all the necessary information ( financing options, costs, location of the university, data about the university, field reports, accommodation options, etc.) in a very clear and simple format. So you don’t have to bother yourself through the sometimes confusing pages of foreign universities.

Since my budget ( Auslandsbafög, no savings) was limited, I ruled out the possibility of studying in America. In the summer I did an internship and told my boss about my plans. He guided me, so to speak, on the way to study in America because he believed that choosing a university is an investment for the future and that universities are always a permanent part of your CV. I then thought that I shouldn’t limit my decision to financial obstacles. And so the choice fell on America, a lifelong dream of mine. I researched universities in the US and the cheapest are in California. There are the CSUs (California State Universities) and the UCs (Universities of California). CSUF (Fullerton) caught my eye first as they had a lot of good reviews on the MicroEdu site and I wanted to move to LA. But the UCs are recognized worldwide and enjoy a renowned reputation. And if I’m already spending that much money, then it should be one of the best universities. So the choice fell between UCLA and the UCSB. However, UCLA, despite its better reputation and ranking, fell straight out of the election because student life is not supposed to be that great. UCSB had over 100 reviews, all raving about the location (two-sided oceanfront), student life (IV is a party hotspot), and the university itself.

The requirements of the UCSB included the TOEFL, good grades and financial proof. I explain the financial proof under ‘Recommendations’. Since the quarter at UCSB started at the beginning of January, I was very happy to have found out about the semester abroad so early. So I was able to apply without any problems, since I didn’t have to take any exams in the fourth semester. In addition, I applied directly for two quarters because it was cheaper for me because I received foreign student loans. The Auslandsbafög Office does not accept a quarter. Overall, the application process for UCSB was handled entirely through MicroEdu. Special thanks to the team from MicroEdu because I was able to ask all sorts of questions, which were answered directly. First- class advice, without you it would have been much more difficult! After two weeks I had my promise and I was the happiest person in the world.

Getting there

I traveled from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) as I spent another week there over Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I found out about the shuttles at the airport and after an hour of waiting my shuttle to Santa Barbara came. That was the first moment I realized that the adventure begins now – no friends, no internet and no idea where exactly I am going. My goal wasn’t Santa Barbara directly, but Isla Vista. Isla Vista (IV) is a district of Goleta and is right next to the campus. It’s a 20-25 minute drive from Santa Barbara and it’s pretty much student-only.


I found the accommodation via the Facebook page “UCSB Housing “. All sorts of people post their rooms here. I was in contact with a lot of people, wrote to them, sent videos, but it turned out to be difficult to get a room from Germany. At the beginning of December I finally found a room. Price was important to me as I don’t have a big budget and the location. Also, I didn’t want to live in an apartment complex as I found this to be an easy way not to really deal with it and it was important to me to have the right American “housing” situationto experience. So I ended up with a “triple”, ie three people share a room, which would be unimaginable in Germany and still for the whopping amount of $600 per month. I then drew up a contract with the girl in the room that it was really safe. My room was in a house where eleven other Americans and another German lived, so there were twelve in total. The house was a good size with a “sort of” garden. My room was approximately 16m². In the room was a bunk bed from my two other roommates and my single bed. All in all, the American students live under completely different conditions than we do. Everything was dirtier, posters were everywhere on the wall, odds and ends were lying around everywhere, but it didn’t bother anyone. My house was then in block 66 in IV. This was good, because the block directly at the university is the 65th and then it goes further and further away from the university until the 68th. Also, my house was on Fourth Street from the beach. In IV you only get around by bike or skateboard, which is why the university also has its own bike paths and even “skateboard lanes”. All in all, I imagined it would be more difficult to have absolutely no privacy, but since not everyone is always at home and you are only on the go anyway, this posed almost no problems (even if it was of course really exhausting at times). which is why the university also has its own cycle paths and even “skateboard lanes”. All in all, I imagined it would be more difficult to have absolutely no privacy, but since not everyone is always at home and you are only on the go anyway, this posed almost no problems (even if it was of course really exhausting at times). which is why the university also has its own cycle paths and even “skateboard lanes”. All in all, I imagined it would be more difficult to have absolutely no privacy, but since not everyone is always at home and you are only on the go anyway, this posed almost no problems (even if it was of course really exhausting at times).


Before my trip to the US, I expected only the sun to shine in California. I was totally wrong here! In my first quarter it rained consistently and we all just walked around in long dresses and even winter jackets. Furthermore, I thought that it would be easier to find American friends, since they usually have a very open and easy-going manner. However, in my opinion, many Americans are very superficial. They also live their lives there. Why should they pay special attention to the Germans. Here I come to the next expectation. During my stay in Australia it was clear to me that I would meet many Germans. That’s not what I thought of my semester abroad at UCSB, however, because there were only six of us in the Winter Quarter from MicroEdu. However, there were also a number of dual students (mostly from Stuttgart). And as it is, the Germans abroad attract each other like magnets. In the spring quarter there were even more Germans (winter about 30, spring over 100). Through my two quarters, I have also experienced that many of the foreign students are friends for fun evenings, but not real friends. Many thought only of themselves and lived according to the motto: “In three months I’ll never see you again!”. However, my expectations regarding the behavior of Americans at parties have been confirmed 100 percent. If you’ve seen the movie “Project X” or “Bad Neighbors” then you know. In the beginning it was so incredibly different, because in Germany there are far fewer such deviations.


UCSB requires an LPC (List of Proposed Courses) to be sent prior to the start of the quarter. In my opinion, this only serves to estimate how many people want to take which courses, since the choice of course varies changes again on site anyway. It has been my experience that many dual students have to take Open University courses (OU) to get them recognized at home. However, it is very difficult to get into the desired courses, since the Americans have priority and so you have to “crash” the courses in the first few weeks. This is all very complex and the OU courses are twice as expensive (usually over $1000) than the extension courses. Of all the fellow students I met in the two quarters, none of them got to know “more” Americans by attending the OU courses, which was the reason for some to take the OU courses. At the beginning of the quarter, I was told that if you stay two quarters, you have the opportunity to do a certification. So I found out about it and decided to “Business Leadership Certificate ” decided. Here I had to take certain courses, but they all appealed to me. I was also happy about the courses because I didn’t want to take any marketing courses, as I had already taken enough marketing courses at the HS. Certification is extension only and costs $100 plus course fees. But it was worth it to me and I only wanted to take the cheaper extension courses anyway.

So my courses were as follows: BUSAD X401.3 Principles and Practice of Public Relations, TMP X130C Entrepreneurial Leadership of Teams and Talent, BUSAD X436 Workplace Culture, BUSAD X450.38 Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace, BUSAD X482.201 Human Resource Development, BUSAD X435 Foundations of Leadership, ENGR X452.01 Introduction to Project Management, BUSAD X432 Business Negotiation; and these two I picked out of pure interest: ECON X430.10 Business and Financial Fraud, ECON X430.52 Behavioral Finance. At UCSB you have to take 12 units per quarter, so I ended up with 24 units (48 ECTS points).

Quality of the courses

Overall, the quality of the courses was okay. I didn’t find it “more difficult” than at the HS, but the courses involve far more effort. Firstly, you have to be present in every course in order to secure your “attendance”, which is also included in the grade. Secondly, you usually have to read more than 150 pages of books every week, do your homework, post and comment on forums, write quizzes and hand in papers. I noticed that I already knew a lot about the HS, but I also learned a lot of new things. In my opinion, you learned more through the constant tasks during the week, because you had to deal with the topics intensively and permanently. My absolute favorite course was “Business and Financial Fraud”. Here camethree guest lecturers who either work at KPMG, Deloitte, the FBI or are prosecutors. This was very interesting because they shared their own personal experiences and put it in an economic context. Furthermore, studying in the USA refreshes your English perfectly. With all the weekly chores and assignments, I have no problem writing a ‘Five Pager’ in a short amount of time, because you just get used to it. All the professors I had at the time were also very cooperative and mostly offered their help for the future.


Per quarter in America you have to have financial means that you are liquid enough to afford life there. For me, that was €25,000 for two quarters. But you don’t need your parents or you to have the money in an account, it’s enough if there are other relatives or even just friends. Furthermore, I advise everyone to apply for an international BAföG. Even if it’s a lot of paperwork, it’s definitely worth it (partial tuition fee waiver, flight allowance, monthly living expenses). One of my most important recommendations is: Go alone !

I got to know so many foreign students who came in twos or threes. They shared a room and did everything together. I mean, why go abroad when you hang out with the exact same people you hang out with at home? These groups mostly kept to themselves and so it was also difficult for individuals to integrate. I’ve never been the kind of person who likes to do ‘stuff’ alone, but this was one of the best decisions of my life. You get to know so many more people and overcome challenges on your own, which will help you a lot later in life.

My personal highlights alongside my studies include the Landshark in Santa Barbara, Las Vegas, the sunsets, Mexico, New York and of course the Grand Canyon. Landshark is a kind of bus that goes into the water. We took this just before sunset, which gave us an ideal view of Santa Barbara (plus, you can drink alcohol on the bus). Las Vegas was also one of my best experiences, because as a girl you don’t have to pay anywhere, thanks to several promoters. I also recommend everyone to take a trip to Mexico. The sandy beaches are like something out of a travel catalog and you only need a small budget. However, I don’t recommend traveling to cities like Tijuana, but to more touristy areas like Cancun or Playa del Carmen. New York was my beginning and will be my end in America. The city is a metropolis that cannot be missed on a trip to America. Finally, an absolute ‘must-do’:


I would like to provide an estimate of my expenses for future students. This is done in the following list:

  • Visa 350€
  • Tuition for two quarters $4400
  • Tuition for two quarters $4300
  • Accommodation for six months $3600
  • Round trip $1000
  • Groceries total (very expensive in IV/SB!) $5500
  • Transcript $35
  • Travel as needed

I spent about €25,000 for both quarters including travel. I had expected this from the beginning, but I thought that I could save more money on site. However, there are many unexpected costs, such as two cases of illness (altogether $350), which were not planned at the beginning.


Unfortunately, at 23, I sometimes felt a bit ‘old’, since many UCSB students are between 18 and 21 years old. I also had a course that was just taken over by a professor. Unfortunately, he did not prepare for the lectures and did not even change the data in our online portal GauchoSpace. Other foreign students also had a course led by a German DHBW professor. He strictly adhered to the German rules, for example when doing housework. My friends were very disappointed because you pay so much for a course and have a professor who speaks English at the same level as you do. This is not a general criticism of UCSB, as this can happen at any international university.


Financially I can pay back the next few years but for me every penny of my investment was worth it. In ten years, the amount of money is no longer as high as it seems to be as a student. Nobody can take that experience away from you. What I would also like to mention is the ‘feeling’ that you get at an American university. All were a unit and wore the initials of the university on their clothes (optional). Everyone who has ever been to UCSB is called a gaucho. We already had this experience when we were in San Francisco and a man greeted us with: “Go Gauchos” because we were wearing the university clothes.

I was having the time of my life here in America and would never have even dreamed that my dream; studying in America will ever come true. Now I’m sitting here at the pool in LA and writing my experience report and I’m already looking back on the time in IV with two sad eyes. I can only recommend IV and UCSB to everyone.


If you have any further questions about the university, foreign student loans or America, I am of course very happy to help!

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