University of California, Santa Barbara Review (37)


City: Santa Barbara

Country: United States

Continent: North America

Field of study: Business Administration, International Business Administration

Study type: semester abroad

University of California, Santa Barbara Review (37)

The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is one of the 10 universities in the University of California System. The campus is located near Goleta, a suburb of Santa Barbara about ten kilometers away. Around 23,500 students are enrolled at the university (figure from 2017). The university not only has its own lagoon, but also its own sandy beaches and is located directly on the Pacific. Most students live in Isla Vista and thus in the immediate vicinity of the university, either in shared flats or in dorms. UCSB’s campus is very sprawling, so it’s worth getting a bike or skateboard to get around campus. There are dedicated skateboard and bike paths on campus for this purpose. See mcat-test-centers for James Cook University.

There are two types of exchange students at UCSB : those who do not come from a UCSB partner university and those exchange students who come from a UCSB partner university. The former receive “Extension” student status and are in the “University Immersion Program”, the latter are in the “Education Abroad Program” and are referred to as EAP students. As an HSG exchange student (extension student at UCSB), you have no access to the UCSB bidding system and can only choose your courses using “Course Crashing”. On the other hand, there are far fewer events for the extension studentsthan organized for the EAP students. It is therefore advisable to make friends with exchange students in the EAP program, since the university or the clubs at UCSB offer them a wide variety of events. Although officially only the EAP students received an invitation to these events (such as a Thanksgiving dinner, viewing a pumpkin patch), extension students were also very welcome.


Unfortunately, UCSB continued to increase its costs in 2019, which now break down as follows:

  • Application Fee: $200 (one-time, non-refundable and due upon application )
  • Program costs : 7,445 USD (flat fee for each quarter, including the program and course costs for 12 units)
  • Estimated cost of living : $6,430 (according to UCSB)


As previously mentioned, the bidding process is not open to extension students, so all courses must be crashed. This means that you have to go to the first lecture and have the lecturer sign a form in order to be enrolled in the course.

There are lecturers who are very open to exchange students and would like to add more students to their courses, and others who, on principle, do not allow any more students to join their courses. It is therefore advisable to create a timetable at the beginning of the quarter and to attend various lectures. In order to make sure that I reached the minimum number of units or credits, I had more forms than necessary signed by various lecturers in the first week and then only submitted those forms for the courses to the extension office that I wanted to complete.

Usually there are four units in a course. As an extension student you have to be at least in:

  • 12 units (undergraduate level)
  • 8 units (graduate level)
  • 12 units of a combination of undergraduate and graduate level

be enrolled to meet the necessary student visa requirements.


Global 1 – Global History, Culture and Ideology – Prof. David Moak – 4 Units

The course provides an overview of the impact history has had in bringing different regions of the world closer together. Topics include the ideologies of nationalism, democracy and liberalism, international trade and migration, colonialismand the globalization of cultures. Although the lecture slides were overloaded and the course content was only moderately exciting in my opinion, I recommend the course because it was not very difficult and not very complex and a good grade can be achieved. The course consisted of two lectures and one section per week. The assessment consisted of a midterm exam (take home essay) of 30 percent, a final exam of 35 percent, participation in the discussions in the sections of 20 percent and three surprise quizzes of 15 percent.

Global 2 – Introduction to Global Socioeconomic and Political Processes – Prof. Shinder S. Thandi – 4 Units

The course examines the current social, economic, political and ecological changes in a global context. Above all, the emergence of a global economy is addressed and globalization, as well as its advantages and disadvantages, are discussed. In my opinion, Global 2 was more exciting and instructive than Global 1 not only in terms of content, but also because of the way Prof. Thandi lectured. Since this course was comparatively not very complex and difficult and with enough effort a very good gradecould be achieved, I recommend this course. Like Global 1, this course consisted of two lectures and one section per week. The evaluation resulted from participation in the discussions in the section (10 percent), two tests of 10 percent each, a mid-term of 25 percent, a final of 30 percent and a group report (short paper created in teams of four) of 15 percent.

TMP 240 – Business Strategy & Leadership Skills – Prof. Karen Bogart – 4 Units (6 ECTS)

The course covers the business principles relevant in today’s increasingly competitive international business world in four areas :

Competitive Strategy and General Management, Accounting and Finance, Marketing and Sales, and Business Ethics. Personally, I was most interested in this course because, on the one hand, it was very exciting in terms of content and combined a wide variety of topics that had already been dealt with at my home university, and, on the other hand, I really appreciated the commitment of the lecturer. Prof. Bogart is now a management consultant and used to work in various companies in various functions, which is why she combines all theories with interesting anecdotes and practical examplesexplained. An important part of the course was the discussion of Harvard Business Review Cases and “playing” a management game in groups ( CapSim Simulation ). Although this course was my most work intensive and challenging course, it is highly recommended. The course consisted of two lectures of 110 minutes each per week. 40 percent of the evaluation resulted from the participation in the lessons, the case analyzes and the homework. 15 percent from a strategy and business plan for CapSim, 30 percent from a presentationregarding the final analysis of the CapSim results and an individual paper on “Lessons for a Senior Manager” (15 percent).

Before departure

As can be assumed, I organized my exchange through MicroEdu. Their employees are very helpful and help you with the selection of the right university, with the registration process, but also during the time on site. I applied for UCSB in mid-January 2019. On the one hand I had to fill out various online forms on a UCSB website and on the other hand I had to send the original documents to MicroEdu in Frankfurt. The application required, among other things, a financial confirmation, a transcript of the grades, a Proof of English (requirement: at least 80 points in the TOEFL iBT ) and a copy of the passport required. I received the confirmation for the exchange semester about three weeks later from UCSB itself. With the confirmation you also receive an I-20 form, which you need to apply for an F-1 student visa. The visa requires filling out various online forms, paying the visa fee (USD 160) and the Sevis fee (USD 350).

An appointment must then be made at the American consulate. During this appointment you have to answer a few questions from a consulate employee regarding your planned stay in the USA. Since the online process for the visa application in particular is very tedious, it is worth dealing with it at an early stage. I submitted my application in April 2019, went to the consulate at the beginning of July and got my visa in the mail two weeks later.


Since flights to Los Angeles (LAX) are in most cases cheaper than to Santa Barbara, I recommend flying to Los Angeles. From there you can, for example, take the bus to Santa Barbara, which costs five USD, or take the Amtrak train from LA Union Station to Santa Barbara or Goleta (cheapest option: USD 30.75). As already mentioned, the university is not in Santa Barbara but in Isla Vista. The drive from Santa Barbara to Isla Vista takes about 25 minutes, the bus ride a little longer. If you show your student ID, you can take the bus to Santa Barbarabe used for free. An Uber or Lyft ride costs around $25 to $30.


  • Mobile phone: You can buy SIM cards and corresponding subscriptions from many providers, which you can cancel every month or with which you can conclude a fixed-term contract. I had a three-month contract with Mint Mobile. This contract included eight gigabytes per month and cost a total of $60 ($20 per month).
  • Bank account: I did not open an American bank account and made all payments with my credit and travel cash card. In my opinion, opening a bank account is worthwhile for a longer stay in the USA and, above all, offers the advantage that you can use Venmo (an American payment app).
  • Bicycle: Both the university and various shops can be easily reached by bicycle. On Facebook, for example, in the “UCSB Free/For Sale” group, a wide variety of bicycles are offered for sale. If you don’t want to stress about reselling the bike at the end of the exchange, you can rent a bike locally, for example at the Isla Vista Bicycle Boutique. Depending on how good the bike is, renting a quarter costs between 100 and 150 USD.
  • Car: Most of the exchange students I knew did n’t buy a car but rented a car for excursions. We recommend the car rental companies at the airport in Santa Barbara, which can be reached very easily by bus.


I recommend that you start looking for accommodation in Isla Vista as early as possible as rooms are scarce. I started my search at the beginning of May 2019 and signed a subleasing contract at the end of May. Basically, the university has its own accommodation in the form of dormitories or apartments. The disadvantage of these is that often no extension students are admitted, there is only a limited offer for graduate students and most have mandatory meal plans.

In addition to the university’s own accommodation, rooms in apartments or houses are rented for different periods of time in Isla Vista. There are many offers on Facebook pages such as “UCSB Housing”. Another option is offered by student residents, such as The Icon and The Loop, but these usually have a minimum rental period of six to twelve months and are therefore not very suitable. In Isla Vista it is also normal for students to share a room with two, three or four people. Single rooms are very rare and of course more expensive than shared rooms. Basically you should know that most (home)Parties take place on the road along the coast, Del Playa Drive (DP). If you want a quieter place to live, you should ideally avoid not only Del Playa Drive, but also Sabado Tarde Road and Trigo Road and look for a room near El Colegio Road. If you still want to live on Del Playa Drive, you should look for a room at the beginning of the drive (near the university) or at the end of the drive (near Sands Beach). I stayed in a double room in the middle of Del Playa Drive on the Ocean Side. Although it was an unforgettable experience with 8 American women and an exchange studentliving and I had a direct sea view from my room, the location was a bit too loud for me. Since our apartment had one of the largest terraces in DP, there were a lot of parties on it, especially at the beginning of the quarter.

Social Life

UCSB offers a wide variety of clubs that exchange students can also join. Various events, such as theater and dance performances, comedy shows, concerts, drag queen shows, sports events and more take place on campus. The campus also includes a sprawling athletic facility with a huge recreation center. Various sports courses such as surfing, sailing, dance and yoga courses are offered here. Also recommended is a membership in the Excursion Club, which is run by students and costs $30 per quarter. Being a member of this club allows surfboards, kayaks, wetsuits and campingEquipment can be borrowed at any time. The club also offers various events (e.g. yoga on the beach, sunset stand up paddling) and trips(hikes, camping).

Isla Vista ‘s location is perfect for a variety of day or weekend trips, or for a pre or post exchange vacation. For shorter one-day trips, the Channel Islands, which lie off the coast of Santa Barbara and can be reached by ferry from Ventura, are recommended. Cathedral Peaks Hill or Inspiration Point are stunning hikes in the mountains surrounding Santa Barbara. Those less interested in nature can drive to Solvang, a Danish village in California, and visit an “Ostrichland” ostrich farm on the way.

Those planning a longer trip can fly to Hawaii or drive to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego. For those less interested in cities and more in nature experiences, Yosemite National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, the Grand Canyon, and Bryce Canyon. As previously mentioned, Isla Vista is best known for its parties. Especially at the beginning of the quarter house parties take place practically every dayat different locations at Del Playa. These parties often start very early and are usually broken up by the police at midnight. Every Thursday there are also “party buses” (transport costs ten USD) from Isla Vista to downtown Santa Barbara, where most of the students party, especially in the bars (Sandbar and Wildcat) and clubs (e.g. Eos).

Overall rating of the exchange

Although the orientation session for the extension students was not very detailed and helpful, and much fewer social events were offered to the extension students than to the EAP students, it was not very difficult to meet exchange students or American students. For me, the exchange semester at UCSB was an unforgettable experience, not only because I got an impression of American college life, improved my English and deepened my understanding of cultures, but above all because I made a lot of new friendscould close and had the opportunity to discover the cities and nature on the American west coast.

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