University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Linguistics and cultural studies, literary studies
Study type: semester abroad
First of all, to use all the clichés:
Yes, the Americans are superficially friendly. Yes, the entry requirements are frightening for Europeans. (Applying for a visa is a bit of a adventure: in Frankfurt I had to pass heavily armed soldiers and my retina was scanned when I entered the country in 2005.) And yes, Americans like to wear sneakers and jogging pants (at university!), and they tend to behave in other ways too casual and like to eat burgers often. See toppharmacyschools for University of Newcastle Study Abroad.
But no, I didn’t come home 10 kilos heavier. And no, as a vegetarian I didn’t starve or become a carnivore – on the contrary, I got my money’s worth. There are fantastic health food stores and veggie burgers in Santa Barbara and I really miss Trader Joe’s in California.
The 8 months in Santa Barbara showed me how nice it can be to study with relaxed professors who have time for you anytime and anywhere. The courses are much smaller, the atmosphere is much more personal and nicer, and the support is much better than at a German university. Practically all courses in Germany have been credited to me. And since all my fellow German students at UCSB did well above average, you can count on taking some very good grades home with you! A lot of things are more schooled at the university than in Germany – tests and intermediate exams are constantly being written, homework is collected etc. – but such a system makes a lot of sense, especially for learning foreign languages. The Spanish courses are highly recommended!
Of course, life outside of university is also wonderful: I moved twice during my time in Santa Barbara and each time I lived close to the sea. And if your own apartment isn’t that great: after all, the campus is right by the sea! In any case, you should use your vacation to travel. I did a tour of all of California at the end of my 2 Quarters and went to Mexico over Christmas – both highly recommended!!
I found it a bit of a shame that it was quite difficult to get closer to the “locals”. You get to know other international students all the faster! They meet every Friday for coffee and organize parties, trips, etc. Fortunately, we had very nice neighbors in the second apartment, with whom we are still in contact today. So it can also work with Americans!
The party behavior in Santa Barbara was a bit strange to me. Since the students are on average younger than us and are only legally allowed to drink alcohol from the age of 21, there is so much drinking at parties that the female guests like to jump around in their underwear. Speaking of parties and alcohol, drinking on the streets is STRICTLY forbidden and strictly controlled. So unfortunately nothing with a cozy beer on the beach. And alas, your bike has no light! The police in the Isla Vista student village directly on campus are very present and vigilant. When it comes to cycling, I think of one more thing: buy a bike! It’s definitely worth it! The police auction their finds several times a year – I got one for $20 (without the light…) – and the whole campus is a bike lane.
The only major flaw in the story is the money: rents in Santa Barbara are exorbitant. I was lucky enough to be there with my boyfriend so we could share an apartment ($1100). In any case, you should be prepared to have a roommate. (Or find a host family.) Since we don’t have full student status through MicroEdu com, we can’t use the college dormitories. They would be cheaper, but you still have to share a room! Finding an apartment is also made more difficult by the fact that you often have to rent for at least six months and pay a hefty deposit ($1,500). We also needed a notarized letter from our parents that they would pay for us in an emergency…
Of course, the tuition fees should not be underestimated either. In the end, I got almost all my expenses back via Auslandsbafög (over 5,000 euros plus flight), but my parents had to put up a big chunk of money before the time came and I lost a lot of nerves in the fight with my clerk.
Regarding the foreign student loan, it should also be said that you have a good chance, even if you don’t get one in Germany (like me) and they also take over the cheapest flight at the time of booking (just let the travel agency confirm it!).
Despite the financial hurdles, I would recommend MicroEdu com to anyone who doesn’t have the opportunity to go abroad through their university (this saves you any kind of tuition fees in most cases!).