University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: communication sciences
Study type: semester abroad
I organized my semester abroad at UCSB myself and it was worth it. I had a very nice time there.
First time to university:
The campus is very beautiful and big. It is right on the beach and has fun bike paths to get you from A to B (tip: definitely buy a bike, they are very cheap and can easily be sold in the end). The lecture halls are very modern and so is the teaching. Much reliance is placed on new technologies and methods. Since the cost of studying is much higher than in Germany, that’s to be expected… Since I studied English in Germany, understanding the lectures wasn’t a problem for me. But you get used to it pretty quickly. The performance requirements were about the same as at home, but overall it seemed a bit more school-oriented to me. What is certainly not an advantage: the cost of school supplies and books. You are expected to look at any book that is used buys. In a literature course, that can be quite expensive. There are bookstores where you can also buy used books, but they aren’t exactly cheap either, and you’re often better off with Amazon. In the end, you can also sell your books in the bookstores, which brings in at least part of the money. See mcat-test-centers for Mahidol University.
Life in Santa Barbara is awesome! I recommend everyone to stay in Isla Vista. This is the small district in Goleta where the campus is located. Almost only students and a few Mexicans live there. Homestay may be cheap, but shared accommodation is significantly better. It’s not that difficult to find a nice roommate, it only took me a week – and that from Germany. For this I recommend the nice site www.craigslist.com, which can often be of service to you. In a flat share you usually share a room, otherwise it is incredibly expensive. I had my own room and it cost about 850 dollars a month, so you wonder if a roommate is really that unreasonable; -) If you live in IV and have become good friends with your nice flat share, that’s actually half the battle for a great stay. My roommate took me everywhere, showed me a lot and introduced me to very nice people. In the end we were inseparable. I also think that one should focus more on the Americans than on the Germans. You get to know each other briefly at the beginning, but then meet up from time to time, but my goal was more to get to know the country and its people than to spend my time in groups with only Germans. That was definitely an advantage for my language skills. At the end I was even asked if I wasn’t from “Sou Cal”, Southern California.
The fun factor is also very high at UCSB and in Santa Barbara. It’s not for nothing that UCSB is in the top 10 hottest party schools in the USA. In fact, there is always something going on. Parties start almost every day in IV, the university offers and organizes a lot and for everyone who wants to dance the night away there is downtown Santa Barbara. There are many clubs gathered along the main street and the night bus ‘Bill’s Bus’ runs regularly to IV.
A small problem in Santa Barbara is the prices. Almost everything is very expensive. You can make small bargains with the dollar exchange rate, but overall the cost of living is very high. If you then want to do trips to San Francisco, Vegas, San Diego, LA etc. you should either look for a few nice people to do it with you or you have to dig deep into your pocket. Traveling in California can in no way be compared to traveling here in Europe. You really need a car for almost everything.
If you have enough time and money, you should definitely explore the rest of California after your studies. I particularly enjoyed Mammoth Mountain, Yosemite National Park and the trip to Vegas. In my opinion, the well-known cities along the coast are a must.
All in all I had a wonderful time in California. Every day was a beautiful day and it wasn’t just because of the sunny weather. Life at the university was varied and interesting, the environment is great and I definitely want to keep the friendships I made there.
During my stay I realized what it means to be dependent on others for a longer period of time and to open up to strangers. Living in another country is a unique opportunity to develop yourself. I got to know and love completely different ways and customs and met people from different cultural backgrounds. Above all, I noticed that the prejudices that prevail here in this country are not correct. I have experienced hospitality in the USA that is otherwise very rare. The people there are open-minded and very interested in foreigners and the things they are told. They are incredibly helpful for example, when my lease ended and we wanted to tour the US for two more weeks, they immediately took me and my sister in with them. You have always taken care of our well-being and shown us a side of California that a tourist only rarely gets to see.
This behavior, coupled with the impressions of a diverse culture, made my stay in the USA an impressive experience. I was able to fundamentally broaden my horizons. Exchanging ideas and looking at other life forms encourages whole new challenges and makes you much more cosmopolitan. I am determined to maintain my new friendships and to show comparable hospitality to foreigners coming to Germany.
I will certainly return soon.. maybe for an internship – or even a job.