University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
Information on the application process:
I processed the application process through the organization College Contact free of charge and without any problems. The procedure is as follows:
- The student develops an interest in one or more MicroEdu partner universities (worldwide)
- MicroEdu then provides the student with free information material on the relevant universities and helps the student with the decision-making process (e-mail correspondence)
- The student obtains the necessary documents for the application to the prioritized university and sends them to MicroEdu, where the documents are checked for completeness
- MicroEdu forwards these documents to the university and is responsible for all communication with the university abroad
- In the event of a successful application, MicroEdu confirms the acceptance of the student for the semester abroad and off you go!
Ultimately, I chose the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) for my semester abroad. Insurance for the international students is included in the tuition fees of this university. However, this insurance does not cover 100% of all potential insurance claims, so unexpected costs may arise for the student. That’s why I decided to take out additional international health insurance through the ADAC in advance. This covers all major insured events and is somewhat cheaper than other foreign health insurance policies. See mcat-test-centers for Fudan University.
The visa application was carried out via an online portal and the confirmation was available in just under a week. Afterwards it was necessary to make an appointment at one of the three embassies in Germany (Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich). The conversation at the embassy was relaxed and lasted about 3 minutes. After that, the visa documents were handed over directly.
The free luggage on Lufthansa & United flights was 23kg each. For a semester in California, this weight is definitely sufficient on the outward flight, since you mainly need summer clothes and you can buy good and mostly cheaper clothes locally. However, one should not underestimate the temperatures in California, as they can fall below the 10 degree mark in the evening hours and warmer clothing is required. Especially in the national parks it can also freeze in winter.
On the return flight there is the option of checking in an additional second suitcase, which costs 90 euros per suitcase at United and is therefore significantly cheaper compared to a package to Germany (approx. 150 euros). In addition, you have your belongings with you the entire time and do not bear the risk of the package getting lost.
I organized the journey together with a fellow student and it is definitely advisable to be there in good time. In our case, we flew from Frankfurt three weeks before the start of the semester and made a stopover in Vancouver, which I can definitely recommend. We made the booking through the company STA Travel, which specializes in students and provides MicroEdu students with a 4% discount on flights. In addition, the employees helped us to sensibly incorporate the stopovers (on the return flight Miami & New York) into the trip and to book appropriate hostels for the stays there.
Accommodation and catering
The housing situation in Santa Barbara and Isla Vista, UCSB’s student district, is currently very difficult. The international students were advised to first look for an apartment or a room on site, which later turned out to be quite a demanding and nerve-wracking undertaking. Many international students (and especially those who were only a quarter at UCSB) had great problems finding accommodation and sometimes had to stay in hostels for up to 6 weeks before they found accommodation. In addition, it was almost impossible to get a room in Isla Vista as the demand was way too high.
I ended up living with one other person in a small guest house in Goleta, about 5 km from the university, which had advantages and disadvantages. Pros were that it was a nice little house in a nice residential area and there was a certain quiet compared to Isla Vista. On the other hand, you had to cycle almost 5km to the university every day, which wasn’t very nice, especially in the evenings or if you had to pick up the bike again in IV after a few cold drinks the next day. In addition, I sometimes didn’t have the courage to go to Isla Vista just for a beer.
As far as food is concerned, you definitely have to get used to the American lifestyle. It’s often cheaper to go to one of the many fast food chains than to create your own meals. This is because the prices of these chains are very cheap and in addition some healthy products are expensive compared to Germany. We definitely recommend Habbit (burger chain) or Freebirds, which is a bit more expensive. The Woodstock pizzeria is a must on Wednesday evenings, as there is a cheap beer flat rate on this evening. If you then want to cook, you can also find many products that have about the same price as in Germany. Recommended are the two supermarkets Ralphs & Vons, both of which are available in nearby Goleta.
Occupancy of courses
The booking of courses turned out to be quite relaxed. So-called “extension courses” could be selected in advance, which mostly took place in the evenings or partly at the weekend and could therefore also be taken by working people or normal students for further training in addition to international students. It was no problem getting a place in the courses and you had already organized part of it from home. However, you should be aware that it can happen that you take a course with only international students or in my case with over 90% Germans. There was also the possibility to “crash” courses on site. In this procedure you go to the courses open to all students and ask the relevant lecturer if there is still space in the course. If this is the case, you fill out a corresponding form and enroll in the course. With the courses I wanted, this was not a problem. I would also recommend that you take at least one of these courses to get in touch with the Americans. The disadvantage of these courses is that the courses cost around $1000 per course.
I had the following courses and was very satisfied:
- Business Development for the Global Marketspace (BUSAD X411.1)
- Fundamentals of the Practical Project Management (ENGR X452.09)
- Speaking Skills for the Global Marketspace (LING X491.4)
- Group Communication (COMM XSB 150)
- Organizational Communication (COMM XSB 122)
The extension courses are generally not as difficult as the open courses. However, you have to submit a relatively large number of examinations during the semester, so that the final grade is usually made up of several grades. The “Group Communication” course involves a lot of effort, but the lectures are very exciting. In the last three weeks of the “Organizational Communication” course, there was a group project that was supposed to establish a practical connection and was a lot of fun.
Sports and other leisure activities
The UCSB Recreation Center is perfect for exercising. For $60 for three months, unlimited use can be made of the entire sports field, tennis courts and fitness room, as well as a large swimming area (including a whirlpool). In addition, there is an offer in the area of intramural sports, in which both international students and permanently enrolled students have the opportunity to found a team in various sports (e.g. football, beach volleyball) and compete against other teams for fun. If you would like to try surfing or stand-up paddling, you can register with the Excursion Club and for $30 per semester you can borrow used surfboards and general equipment for camping trips or various types of water sports for free. In addition, the Excursion Club offers various tours.
Although enrolled students can attend university sporting events for free, international students must pay to attend. In my opinion, this is not understandable given the high tuition fees that we pay, and is therefore a point of criticism. In addition, there are certain events that are only accessible to permanently enrolled students.
What to see and do
During the semester abroad you should take enough time to travel. There are generally many travel destinations and things to do in California and the surrounding states. My highlights were San Francisco (including Highway 1) and Las Vegas (including the Grand Canyon). However, next time I would try to make the trip to Las Vegas in the summer for the legendary pool parties. There are also some tours to Los Angeles, which is only 1.5 hours away from Santa Barbara. Yosemite National Park and San Diego are also said to be worthwhile, but you tend not to want to be on the road every weekend and instead enjoy the local student life. It’s definitely worth it!
A semester at UCSB is definitely a unique and unforgettable experience and you will have a great time! If you do the courses well, you have about 2-3 days a week at university and the rest of the week free time. You can use this time to take advantage of the wide range of sports on offer, to enjoy the beach and the mostly great weather or to get to know and love the often excessive party life. In my opinion, UCSB offers a good mix of everything that makes up student life.