University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: linguistics
Study type: semester abroad
At the beginning of 2008 I decided to do a semester abroad. I came across the MicroEdu.com address in the department at my home university and initially sent a non-binding inquiry about possibilities because I wasn’t sure whether my wish could be realized at all, since I had to/wanted to take my little son (3) with me. I also got a response very quickly which was very encouraging. MicroEdu then also supported me in all further steps, which was absolutely great, because one is a bit awkward when one organizes such a stay not as part of an exchange program but on one’s own initiative. See mcat-test-centers for Griffith College Dublin.
I then submitted my application documents quite quickly and in mid-May I had the acceptance from the university. I was also absolutely satisfied with the choice of UCSB, the location of the university is simply fantastic (directly by the sea) and the size is still manageable. On campus you can easily reach everything on foot, there are various places to eat (in addition to the canteen there are, among others, Subway, Jamba Juice, Wendy’s and Panda Express) and lots of places (inside and outside) where you can spend your free time.
The range of courses was great, I attended courses in linguistics and was totally satisfied. Almost all courses are accompanied by tutorials and the professors/lecturers were all very helpful and open to questions or problems from the students. The affiliated extension program was also absolutely great – the only disadvantage was that the courses were only in the evening or at the weekend. I did the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) program there, which I can only recommend to any aspiring teacher. The teachers were all (also in the academic courses) very helpful, committed and competent. Professionally, I took a lot with me. The groups were always very small in the extension courses, which was clearly an advantage.
I had already organized my accommodation in advance. I couldn’t find anything through the WISE foundation, which works with the university and places most of the students, so I searched privately (via google) and then lived with my son in a shared house. That was ok but very expensive. Living in SB is generally quite expensive and the whole living situation is a bit difficult, since there are not enough host families etc for the many students who always come to SB. And I’ve hardly heard any good things about the host families that exist, so it’s probably more advisable to look for a flat share – preferably with American roommates in order to make friends right away.
I only have good things to say about Santa Barbara in general. The city is beautiful because it is both directly on the sea and half in the mountains. The scenery is therefore fantastic, no matter in which direction you look. Everything is very clean and well maintained and there are many beautiful beaches. Downtown is very European laid out, so you can go there by bus and then walk everywhere. There are many shops and the public transport is also very well organized. In addition, there are actually separate cycle paths everywhere.
On the one hand, the city is very family-friendly and safe – which I personally really appreciated – but it also has a district, Isla Vista, right next to the university, where things are “hot” in terms of partying – but this is just hearsay on my part. Students who value a varied nightlife should look for a room directly in Isla Vista. From there you can also reach the university in a few minutes by bus or bike.
The people in SB are generally incredibly friendly and pleasant, that was almost a change for me; I’m used to something different from my hometown;-)
There were actually more than enough excursion possibilities. It takes about 2 hours to drive to LA, where there is Hollywood itself, Disneyland and Universal Studios, for example, and of course all the beautiful beaches in Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, etc. 45 minutes south of SB are the Camarillo Premium Outlets, where you can shop extremely cheaply – especially around the holidays.
In SB itself there is a zoo, which isn’t particularly exciting, however, various museums and you can also book whale-watching tours or go hiking on the Channel Islands or similar.
For those who don’t have a car and don’t want to rent one, there is the possibility to take the Airbus to LA or San Francisco. I haven’t made it myself, but it’s said to be very good and not that expensive.
In conclusion, I can really only say that I was very happy with my choice and that I can only encourage other students with children to dare something like this, because it was also an enormous enrichment for my son – he has the kindergarten at UCSB visited and thereby learned English very well.
And once again a big compliment to MicroEdu, without whom I probably would never have realized my dream.