University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Business Administration, International Business Administration
Study type: semester abroad
A year before my trip, when I was researching the right place for my semester abroad, I saw a video about the University of California Santa Barbara and it was immediately clear to me: This is my dream university! Everything should be confirmed on site and I stayed in Santa Barbara for almost eight months instead of the originally planned five. See mcat-test-centers for Libera Universita Internazionale Degli Studi Sociali.
I can wholeheartedly recommend applying through MicroEdu. All of my questions were answered quickly, in detail and individually. Everything is very uncomplicated. I sent the documents around seven months before the start, including an English test. I would do that soon enough. A personal appointment at an American consulate or embassy (e.g. in Frankfurt or Berlin) is required for the student visa. After that, all that was left was to book the flightand it could already start. The cheapest way is to fly to Los Angeles and then take a two-hour long-distance bus to Santa Barbara. Flights with a stopover are sometimes surprisingly cheap and you can save some money here.
Flight, visa, tuition fees, expensive rent and groceries – yes, studying in California is not exactly cheap. But believe me, the experience is worth every penny. Finding an apartment was the only really arduous part of the preparations. I would recommend arriving early and taking a look around, then you’ll get a better idea of the apartments. The rooms are mostly booked via Facebook groups(UCSB Housing, IV Housing for UCSB Students). It is best to look for subleasing offers from American students who go abroad themselves and sublet their room for the time being. It often doesn’t work right away, so just keep calm. All exchange students finally found a room.
Santa Barbara, UCSB, Isla Vista
Santa Barbara is a cozy and beautiful coastal city two hours drive north of Los Angeles. The Pacific Ocean on one side and the Santa Ynez Mountains on the other. It’s what you imagine California to be: a beach, palm trees, a long pier and a marina. Most of life takes place on State Street, there are also many restaurants where you can drink delicious Californian wine.
UCSB is about 20 minutes away in the suburbs. There are regular buses to downtown, which can be used by all students free of charge. The location couldn’t be more spectacular: Right on the sea with its own beach, bell tower and lagoon! The campus is much larger by German standards and most use a bike (there are bike-only roundabouts) or a skateboard. At first you really have to be careful not to cause a crash.
In general, I found it to be a great sense of community. Every second one you see has the UCSB initials on their clothes and you can call yourself “ Gaucho ” if you (have) visited UCSB. Due to the beautiful weather, it is completely normal to wear flip flops to the university. Dining options abound at the University Center, and the eight-story library is a retreat for study. However, my favorite place for my assignments was in front of the library on a meadow under palm trees with a coffee in the sun. In general, the university is like a city of its own : there is a health center for doctor visits, its own post office and a huge recreation center, where pretty much any sport can be practiced (fitness, soccer fields, swimming, climbing wall, etc.). The varsity teams also regularly play in front of spectators, for example football at Harder Stadium, where the audience traditionally throws tortillas in the air during the game. Of course, the games against the biggest rivals Cal Poly are particularly important.
Most UCSB students live in College Town Isla Vista (IV for short), which is directly adjacent to the university. A separate small town by the sea consisting almost entirely of students. Living there was a unique experience. The houses on del Playa Drive (DP) have their balconies directly on the cliffs facing the water and you can get everywhere in a few minutes by bike or skateboard. There are also many places to eat, a small supermarket, a cinema, hairdressers, a tattoo studio and so on. The houses usually consist of several flat shares, and it is also completely normal to share the bedroom with one or two other people. You get used to it quickly and it’s part of the experience. However, this also makes things a bit more chaotic and you should not expect sparkling clean apartments. The usual price for doubles or triples is between $600 and $800. There are also single rooms, but they cost at least $1000.
Americans are very friendly and open and my roommates quickly accepted me into their circle of friends. In addition, each quarter there are a variety of other international students at UCSB. This is a great way to make lots of new contacts and find friends.
The UCSB is a very renowned university and regularly high up in the rankings, so former Nobel Prize winners also teach there as professors.
As an exchange student you can choose between the Open University courses and the Extension courses. The professors were all very nice and helpful. I chose three extension courses per quarter. These are cheaper and usually less time-consuming, but are not part of a bachelor’s or master’s program. They usually take place in the evenings with a high proportion of other international students. You have to “crash” the Open University courses, which means asking at the beginning whether there are still enough places available. The extension courses can be booked online.
Welcome to Isla Vista! The weather is fantastic, the sun is almost always shining and the sky is blue. Only in the Winter Quarter does it rain more often. Typical days off look like this: surfboard under your arm and into the ocean, celebrate parties, play “Beer die” and watch the sunset in the evening.
Surfing in particular is a lot of fun, even as a beginner, and where better to learn than with the sea in front of the door? There will be a big party at the weekend ! Known for its hilarious house parties, IV feels like something out of an American college movie. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in the evening, when all of DP fills up with people, or in the afternoon, when daygers are partying on the balconies on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific. On Thursdays, the party bus also drives downtown to the clubs and bars.
What is also simply part of it is the game “Beer die”. Outside, 4 people throw dice at a table, which is usually painted with UCSB and IV motifs. Almost every house has such a table. With music included, it’s the perfect activity for a Sunday afternoon. There are also very funny “punishments” for the losers. the up!
In the evening it is particularly beautiful to watch the sun sink into the sea at Sands Beach. With a bit of luck you can also see dolphins, sea lions or even whales.
What I liked best was the atmosphere and life in IV. However , Santa Barbara is also a perfect starting point for onward travel. The Golden State of California leaves nothing to be desired. You can rent a car for this and do not have to buy one yourself. Los Angeles is within easy reach for a day trip. Other highlights for me were a weekend in San Francisco, camping in Yosemite National Park, Pismo Beach, San Diego and a trip to the neighboring state of Las Vegas. When we drove to Lake Tahoe for Thanksgiving, there was suddenly thick snow, so that winter sports fans can also get their money’s worth.
- Definitely looking for a place to stay in IV
- Join the Excursion Club ($30 per quarter) and rent surfboards, wetsuits, kayaks and much more outdoor gear. Excursions are also offered weekly (surfing, SUP, climbing, skydiving, camping and much more)
- Try the “Super Deluxe Melt Bagel” at Bagel Cafe : )
- Open an American bank account locally: Makes paying the rent easier and you can use the Venmo app, which is popular in America, to exchange money with each other (you have fees with a credit card)
- The Lizard’s Mouth lookout in the mountains with great views of Santa Barbara
- Live on DP if the opportunity arises. A dream to have the sea right in front of the door and to hear the waves even at night. Despite the many parties, I didn’t find it too loud, because the police ended them at 12 p.m. and by then you’re usually out and about.
- Downtown Funk Zone: Next to State Street, another nice area to go out with restaurants, bars and often live music.
- The nights are cool, so take something to wear with you. Or simply buy cozy college sweaters on site.
- In addition to the housing groups, also check out the other Facebook groups (Free & For Sale, Rideshare, UCSB/IV Bike Exchange,…)
- Santa Barbara Ski and Snowboard Club: Ski trips and good parties
- IMLeagues: Form teams and, for example, play football and other sports and take part in competitions
- Land Shark Santa Barbara: A kind of party bus that you can rent downtown with groups, which first drives through the city and then into the sea and becomes a party boat. Great for celebrating birthdays, for example.
- Improv Show: Improv comedy performed by UCSB students, was always a lot of fun to watch
It’s all been a year now and Santa Barbara, UCSB and Isla Vista are unforgettable memories for me. A place almost too good to be true with sun, sand, sea and American college life straight out of the movies.