University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: economics
Study type: semester abroad
You get a multi-page form, which you should fill out carefully, e.g. you have to prove through your house bank that you have enough financial means to study in the USA, if you have made it and passed one of the two English tests (TOEFL min. 80) successfully completed, you can send your application to MicroEdu and it will then be forwarded directly to UCSB. If you apply in good time, it is not a problem to be accepted. I applied for the Fall Quarter at the end of April and was probably the last one to get accepted. The procedure to get the visa is annoying, but not that bad, but you should calculate about 250€ extra for it (incl. travel to the embassy). See mcat-test-centers for California State University Long Beach.
You can see all the courses in advance, but you cannot enroll in the courses you want. First you send a kind of wish list to the UNI before the quarter starts and you get an answer as to whether it is even possible to take the courses and if so, what the chances are. Basically, in normal academic courses, Americans have priority! Nevertheless, almost everyone got their desired courses.
The first two to three weeks are a bit tiring because you have to go to all the potential courses and it takes a few weeks to find out if you can get the courses you want. With so-called class crashing, you have to get a signature from the professor, if necessary a signature from the teacher assistance and (and this is the most important thing) a signature from the associated department. International students are usually welcome as they bring a different mindset to many courses. I would not recommend the extension courses! Only international students and mainly Germans are enrolled there, and extension courses are usually quite late in the evening.
The UNI campus is a dream, lots of green spaces, right on the sea with a huge stretch of beach and a lagoon! There are bike lanes everywhere and even skateboard lanes. The UNI has a very good gym on the premises with an outdoor pool, whirlpool, attached soccer, basketball and tennis courts.
The campus is beautifully laid out and fully equipped with plenty of places to eat or study in the large library. With around 21,000 students there is always something going on!
The special thing about UCSB is that it doesn’t have a football team, but a fairly successful soccer team that has a large stadium by college standards and also has a lot of support among the students. Basketball is also at the forefront with its own arena on campus.
The courses vary greatly in terms of the number of students, I had a course with only 12 people, but also a course with 300 people. In the large courses, in addition to the normal lectures, there are also sections with around 30 people in which the material is discussed again and questions can be asked. Another difference to the German system is that smaller exams are written in between, which are also included in the overall grade, so that the final does not count as much in the end.
On the subject of housing, my example is pretty bad, because I was very lucky. I got a bed in a room in advance because whoever lived there before was doing a semester abroad in Europe, so I only had to sign for the quarter. It is often the case that you have to sign for a whole year and then have to find new tenants. Basically, two or three people share a room, as the rents are very high. Depending on where you live you have to reckon with a rent of 500-700$!
I recommend everyone to stay in Isla Vista. Isla Vista is the student-only neighborhood next to UNI and all of the shops there are geared towards students. There are normal apartment buildings there and you experience real student life there. There are a lot of cool house parties there, mainly on weekends but also during the week. There’s always a party somewhere, especially on Del Playa Drive (the road that faces the sea)! Personally, I’ve stayed on the outskirts of Del Playa and have had very good experiences. A lot of houses there are probably quite dirty because there are a lot of parties there, but I was lucky. Although I found my room ahead of time, I recommend looking locally for anyone looking to stay on Del Playa Drive. If you fancy typical parties à la American Pie, I recommend staying on Del Playa Drive. However, you can also live a few streets away and go there to party, but if you want to watch everything from your balcony, you are in good hands there and have a DREAMLIKE view of the sea.
I would always try to live with Americans because that’s the best way to learn English, but it’s also the best way to make American friends and attend private American parties.
California life in Santa Barbara on Isla Vista is dreamy and quintessentially Californian! You can go surfing in the sea every day or just lie on the beach, even between two lectures. You experience a typical student life and have a relatively large amount of time to do something because the UNI does not require as much time as in Germany. You get to know new people from all over the world every day and make friends very quickly. There are probably quite a lot of Germans there in the Quarter case (about 150).
Los Angeles is 2 hours away, San Francisco 5-6 and Las Vegas 7. There is a lot to see in the area.
In terms of partying, Isla Vista is a stronghold, UCSB is one of the best party colleges in the USA and rightly so. On the Halloween weekend, up to 60,000 students come from all over to celebrate in Isla Vista, but even a “normal” weekend is great!
Downtown Santa Barbara has a good selection of clubs. You can ONLY get in from 21 and what takes some getting used to is that the clubs close at 2am.
But it is also very possible to withdraw and study, although many students prefer to do this during the week!
At the latest, you think that you are in paradise when you drive your beach cruiser or longboard towards the beautiful sunset.
- Never mess with the police! It’s not like in Germany that you can talk about things for a long time. Especially when drunk! I know some Germans who didn’t take this to heart and ended up in jail for one night, which can quickly cost $1,000.
- Basically, you have no problems with the police if you don’t urinate in public, don’t carry open alcoholic beverages with you on the street and don’t walk around totally drunk and conspicuous on the street
- It’s also a rule that at 12: 00 am no more music can be heard outside on the street and it’s not like the police just break up the party when the neighbors complain, they come by themselves !
In general, I can only recommend a semester abroad at UCSB to everyone. For me, 4 fantastic months were, if not the best time of my life. However, I would recommend staying there for 2 quarters.