University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: economics
Study type: semester abroad
As many of the previous speakers have also stated, I would also like to mention again at the beginning that doing a semester abroad in the USA and especially at UCSB was the best decision ever. The experiences are unique and expand your own horizon immensely. So remember, no matter how much work you put in, it’s worth it!!! See mcat-test-centers for London South Bank University.
In the following I have tried to take up a lot of things that have not yet been discussed that much, so be sure to read the other reports, especially about the university, the country and the people, there is still a lot to read that has already been discussed in detail before.
A year and a half earlier, I started the concrete preparations for the semester abroad. After the decision on country and university had been made, it was about preparing for the TOEFL and organizing an appointment. In my opinion, even with a good knowledge of English, you should take 2 weeks to prepare for the test, as the test questions have their own way. And if you are prepared for it or know the process well, you have half the battle in your pocket.
When it comes to applying to UCSB, there’s no need to worry too much, as long as you meet the deadlines, MicroEdu is there to make sure there’s not much that can go wrong. You just have to make sure that you get your own certificates (university, bank, etc.) on land in good time.
The visa has to be arranged before arrival, apart from the time required, this is also relatively unproblematic. Then there is the questionnaire from the embassy, for which you need a good hour and a half, and the appointment can also take up almost a whole day, depending on your arrival. The conversation at the embassy didn’t take me 5 minutes, but the wait was over an hour.
Taking out international health insurance beforehand is highly recommended, for example from ADAC (which costs 90 euros for three months). The university insurance that you have locally does not necessarily cover all treatments, and additional health insurance will certainly make things easier for you if the worst comes to the worst.
The dream variant is of course if you already have an apartment in Germany and can save yourself the trouble of looking for an apartment on site from the hostel/motel. However, searching on site is not a problem either, as there is always something to be found. But be prepared for steep prices. 500 – 600 $ for a shared room (shared bedroom) is already cheap.
Try to get an apartment in Isla Vista (or simply called “IV” among students). That’s where real student life takes place. If you move to Santa Barbara, you have to be prepared to commute by bus or car and it is difficult to take part in student life in the evening. Otherwise, parking is hell in IV. You will most likely not find free parking spaces near the university and university parking spaces cost a nice $10 – $15 a day.
I myself was lucky enough to be able to organize an apartment from Germany. I would like to draw your attention to an interesting option: the university’s own apartment complexes, rented out by UCSB Housing & Residential Services. You can apply for the apartments from Germany, they will also be given to internationals as long as there are free places. It is also possible to move in before the official start dates by arrangement. The prices are okay, you almost only live with Americans and the facilities are okay for IV standards. I lived in the “El Dorado Apartments” with three Americans in a flat share. Shared twin bedroom, large living room with kitchen, price around $570 per month. Almost only Americans lived in my facility, all of whom study at UCSB. atmosphere great, Great location, highly recommended. But get used to the fact that American students have a different understanding of order and tidying up in the apartment and especially in the kitchen. Like so much in California, everything is a little more chilled here. So the total order fanatic should be prepared for something;)
I also got to know the Westgate and Santa Ynez apartment complexes through friends. In my opinion both are recommended.
Another little tip:
decide on a one-off rent payment per quarter, otherwise you can get cash every month and tinker with cash through the offices of the rental company during the most modest opening hours (the so-called BARC system for paying rent by credit card worked during my period not for internationals).
Means of transportation
Buy a bike as soon as you are in IV. This is the number 1 means of transportation. The university ID is valid as a bus ticket, so you can use all buses and get to SB and back in 30 – 60 minutes. Buses run quite regularly throughout IV.
Cars can be easily rented in Goleta or at the airport. As I said, parking in IV is no fun, so think about where you park the car beforehand if you organize a car early for an excursion or something like that.
Despite the announcements of how difficult it was to get into all the economics lectures, I got all my wishes fulfilled (had three academic classes, no extension courses). If the Economics Department wants to take you out of a course, it often doesn’t hurt to speak to the lecturer again. But it should still be mentioned that you should have made a good plan for yourself when crashing courses, as I’ve also heard from some fellow students who couldn’t get into some lectures.
Regarding the learning effort: I personally had to sit on my pants to get a reasonably good grade everywhere. So you can’t get through the economics courses completely chilled and without any learning and participation. This applies to all academic classes, the extension courses were much easier, at least according to my fellow students.
Be prepared to constantly do something for the university (homework, tests, midterms, presentations, group work, etc.). You definitely won’t get bored.
The UCSB campus is awesome! IV a great place to live. I’ve always felt safe. Enjoy the time!!! There are a lot of great people and great parties!!! Make sure you have your club ID with you if you take Bill’s bus (highly recommended) to SB Downtown on Thursdays, the bouncers are no exception.
Otherwise, go to the Rec Center, hike, surf, take trips to SB, LA, San Diego, San Francisco, Vegas. And if it works out to the Grand Canyon or Yosemite National Park or even to Utah or Arizona. There is so much exciting to see.
Tip: Remember to bring warm clothes with you, the sun shines a lot in California, but sometimes the wind is really cold and it can get pretty chilly, especially at night.
Food is significantly more expensive in the USA than in Germany. But you can often get a bargain on clothes. You can buy everything on site. In IV direct everything is a bit more expensive, but of course closer to it. It is worth going to the Camino Real Market Place in Goleta (by bus or bike about 10 minutes from IV). There you can get everything you need, from furniture to food.
The university + accommodation devours most of the costs, if you are lucky you can get a scholarship. I had applied to the DAAD (note: a lot of work, but it can really be worth it) and was fortunately considered for a partial scholarship. That could cover at least part of my college fees. So the effort is definitely worth it, but I’ve also heard from many fellow students who fell through the cracks at the DAAD. So let your own university advise you beforehand whether your grades are sufficient or whether you have a chance of success. Almost every university offers courses or advice on this. If your grades are not so good or if you don’t get a turbo report from a professor, I don’t think it’s worth the annoying multi-day effort for a DAAD scholarship,
If you then plan a lot of excursions, you have to calculate well. Here it makes sense to travel with the Excursion Club of the university or to get together with other fellow students, since hotels, food and sights are also good for the wallet. But as I said, the excursions are worth it.
You will have one of the best times of your life there! Meet a lot of interesting people! And have many great experiences!
I can only encourage you to go through with your project!!!