University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: economics
Study type: semester abroad
I thought early on that I would like to spend a semester abroad in California. A friend suggested I contact MicroEdu and after a personal consultation it was clear that UCSB was the only option for me. At the end of August 2008, I submitted my application, including the successful Toefl test, to MicroEdu and easily got one of the coveted places in the UCSB University Immersion Program for Spring 2009. The most time-consuming part of the preparations is definitely the application for the student visa the US Embassy. It takes a while to fill out the application and I had to wait five hours at the embassy itself, but the visa is usually easy to get. You should book the flights as early as possible, because the earlier you book, the cheaper the flights are. You can enter the country no more than 30 days before the start of the university and must leave the country no later than 60 days after the end of the term. I flew to LA and then drove to Santa Barbara in a rental car. You can also fly direct to Santa Barbara, but you’ll have to pay about $200 more for the flights. See mcat-test-centers for California State University Northridge.
I had arranged accommodation in advance via craigslist.com. I lived downtown and bought a car right away (…but you can also get from A to B by bus, free for UCSB students). So it was no problem at all to get to the university or to Isla Vista for the parties. One should have no illusions about the often mentioned Isla Vista. There are 18,000 students living there and it’s really great to party, go to the beach and enjoy student life there, but Isla Vista isn’t particularly beautiful. Downtown, on the other hand, is beautiful thanks to many Spanish-style houses, many parks and small shops, so I have not regretted the decision to live downtown and to sit in the car more often… and since Thursday evenings in the clubs downtown “College Night ” is,
As a student in the University Immersion Program (UIP), you are not a regularly enrolled student, but are looked after by the UCSB Extension Office, which mainly offers university continuing education programs for professionals. According to the visa, you have to attend events worth at least 12 units per term. This can be three events with four units, or two with two units, one with five units and one with three units – there are no limits to the freedom of design. Of course, you can also book more than 12 units. The individual courses are paid for per unit, so it gets more expensive the more units you take.
As a UIP student, you basically have the choice between Academic Courses (the courses that regular UCSB students take; lessons like in Germany during the day) and Professional Courses (the further education courses that are offered via the extension; lessons often in the evenings and at weekends). I can only advise everyone to take a mixture of both types of courses. Measured by German standards, the professional courses are very simple in terms of material, but work-intensive due to frequent assignments. It’s only through the Academic Courses that you get the real American university experience, because you sit in the classes with American students of the same age and can make good contact with the Americans. In the professional courses, on the other hand, there are only working Americans and an extremely large number of UIP students (sometimes up to 30 Germans in one course). The corresponding course catalogs for each term are published early on, so you should choose your courses from Germany. You should also book and pay for the professional courses from Germany, because the places are allocated according to the “first come, first serve” principle. As a UIP student, you are admitted to the Academic Courses after the regular students. You have to “crash” the courses in the first week of lectures (just go there without being registered) and get a signature from the professor that you can participate. This signature is usually easy to get. Payment is then made on site at the Extension Office. You have to “crash” the courses in the first week of lectures (just go there without being registered) and get a signature from the professor that you can participate. This signature is usually easy to get. Payment is then made on site at the Extension Office. You have to “crash” the courses in the first week of lectures (just go there without being registered) and get a signature from the professor that you can participate. This signature is usually easy to get. Payment is then made on site at the Extension Office.
The location of the university right on the beach is unique. The campus is huge and the sports facilities are fantastic. I highly recommend everyone to join the Recreation Center or take part in the many exercise classes on offer. There are regular concerts on campus and there is also a party or event at any time of the day on neighboring Isla Vista.
California and the neighboring states are well worth seeing. Excursions to San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas are almost a must. If you have a lot of time, you should definitely go to the Grand Canyon and Pheonix. Death Valley (with the lowest point in North America) and Yosemite National Park are also particularly worth seeing. In Yosemite National Park, I can particularly recommend the strenuous route past Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. In Santa Barbara you can of course lie on the beach or surf in the Pacific. There is also a lot to discover in the area around Santa Barbara. If you drive about an hour into the mountains, you will come to a canyon called Red Rock, which has a dammed river and is swimmable. Hikes through the mountains are also highly recommended. You need a car for almost all excursions. If you don’t have your own, you have to hire a car. If you are under 25 years old, you usually have to pay an extra 25 dollar “underage fee” per day. However, there are two Enterprise Car Rental locations in Santa Barbara (at the airport and on Chapala Street) that waive the $25 upon presentation of a UCSB student ID.
I ended up having a very hard time leaving Santa Barbara and California. The city is beautiful, the people are friendly and helpful and you feel welcome everywhere. There is probably no better way to get to know the “Californian way of life” than to spend a semester abroad at UCSB.