University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Electrical engineering
Study type: semester abroad
California – “The Golden State” – sounds very far away at first, but it’s actually one of those places that you’ve always known, whether through film & television or through music, because the list of artists (Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Eagles, Linkin Park…) that are based here is very long. This state, which is characterized by contrasts with the super-rich and a great many homeless people, is home to the largest tech companies in the world, has a significant impact on our lives and, ironically, has a very ailing power grid. But there are a few things you can definitely count on in Santa Barbara : blue skies, sunsets, friendly people and every imaginable one outdoor sport. In one word it can only be described as “sensory overload”, because pretty much everything is possible here: in the morning at sunrise with hiking boots up one of the mountains and in the afternoon with a wetsuit in the waves, whether classic surfing or stand-up -Paddling or kayaking. See mcat-test-centers for Rmit University.
Santa Barbara looks almost tiny compared to the metropolitan area of Los Angeles, a two-hour drive away, and with its red roofs, white house facades and surrounding wine regions it could just as well be located on the Mediterranean. If you follow the coast a little further west, you’ll pass the UCSB campus, which sits picturesquely on the Pacific Ocean —and next to it is Isla Vista, the small 99% student town .
I was only at UCSB for the Fall Quarter, which had a rather inconvenient effect on the apartment search. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that the freshmen start their studies in this quarter and therefore take up a large part of the student dormitories, so that they are not released for extension students. On the other hand, contracts of 10 months or longer are usually concluded on the private housing market when it starts in September or August, so that it can be difficult to limit a rent to three to four months. The best option is to subletcan be found via the Facebook groups “UCSB HOUSING”, “IV Housing for UCSB Students” or “Free & For Sale (UCSB)”. Not only because this option runs for a limited period of time, but also because it means you are directly integrated into a flat-sharing community. An alternative can also be to sign a contract for the entire academic year and find someone to take over the contract after you have finished your stay. Rooms or even holiday apartments (especially in downtown) can also be found via “ Craigslist ”, but caution is advised here due to the greater anonymity. The overall rent level is very high and is around $900 upwards for a single room.
So far I had only looked for accommodation after arriving on site, as this way you can be sure not to be scammed. In Santa Barbara, however, the housing situation (towards the Fall Quarter) is so difficult that it is definitely worth getting offers a few months before departure. Although it is also possible to stay overnight in a hostel, motel or Airbnb, these are in high demand due to the holiday season in late summer and are not cheap. The dorm on campus, which is used as a student hotel, is most worthwhile. It is open to all students until the beginning of the quarter and costs $57 a nightcan be booked before the actual residents move in.
In fact, when you first set foot on UCSB’s palm-lined campus, it takes a very long moment to realize just how beautiful this place is. On the east side, the university buildings border directly on the ocean and anyone who wants to can watch the sunrise on one of the terraces (e.g. Brenn Hall) before the lectures begin. On the south side, the Lagoon separates the university from the beach behind it (Campus Point Beach) and invites you to laze around during your lunch break. The entire campus is criss-crossed by cycle paths and at rush hour you have to be careful here, because not everyone drives really carefully and nobody wears a helmet here either. If you get lost at first, you can quickly call up a map on the “Go Gaucho” app or check the availability of workspaces in the library. This is located in the center of the campus and offers various rooms for learning on eight floors. A highlight is the highest floor, because from here you can enjoy a great view of the mountains and the sea and also get your own overview of the campus. During the tour, the large Recreation Center quickly catches the eye, which is used as a sports center until late in the evening is open to all students and offers a variety of options in addition to swimming pools, sports halls, fitness studios, a climbing wall and tennis and squash courts. With or without physical activity, you can end the day here in the hot jacuzzi. Next to the Recreation Center is Harder Stadium, which hosts varsity soccer games and is open to all students for free. Basketball and volleyball games can also be watched in the Thunderdome. Also overlooking the campus grounds is the Storke Tower directly, which also draws attention to itself acoustically on the hour by ringing bells. In addition, in the University Center, people often meet for lunch, although outside the dining halls it is mainly fast food that is offered. The Food Bank, where food is distributed to students in rations per person, is highly recommended. With the prices in the supermarket, this can at least relieve the wallet somewhat.
As an extension student, a maximum of 12 CP in the undergraduate area or 8 CP in the graduate area (or 12 in a combination of both ) may be taken for the fees paid, otherwise you have to top up financially. Finally, I took two courses with 4 CP each as electives of the master’s degree : ECE 230A or ME 243 Linear Systems and ECE 277 Pattern Recognition (ME 243 stands for the equivalent designation in the catalog of the mechanical engineering faculty ). The registered letter was unproblematic in the case of ECE230A, since I received the required signatures directly from the professor and faculty. In general, there are often free places in electrical engineering courses and the professors are mostly very open to additional students from overseas. However, the ECE 277 course was already full at the beginning, so I enrolled in another course at the same timeuntil places become available. Fortunately, the students have several weeks from the beginning of the semester before it is finally decided which courses they will take for the Quarter. It is important that the conditions for full-time study (occupancy of 12 CP undergraduate or 8 CP graduate) are met, because this is a prerequisite for maintaining the student visa.
ECE 230A or ME 243 Linear Systems (Francesco Bullo)
The lecture on control engineering was based on a textbook that was available in the online library and the weekly homework was also selected from the application examples of this work. The tasks had to be independently solved and handed in without the practice hours planned for them in the timetable. The professor is one of the nicest lecturers I know and has made up for two unusual lectures in the evening with additional catering.
ECE 277 Pattern Recognition (Kenneth Rose)
There was no script, so the lectures should definitely be attended and it doesn’t hurt to sit further forward in order to be able to decipher the writing on the blackboard without frowning. Homework had to be handed in every week. Ten days before the exam, the professor suddenly told me that I wasn’t entered in his grading system and he therefore doubted that I was even enrolled. Fortunately, after consultation with the extension office, the situation was resolved.
In both courses, the overall grade was based on scores in homework, mid-term and final exams with individual focal points.
Free time in Isla Vista
The quarter’s best-spent $30 was clearly the Excursion Club membership fee, which not only offers wetsuit, surfboard, kayak, camping and ski equipment rentals, but also a full schedule of activities throughout the week. From mountaineering to yoga and jam sessions. The club house is right on Devereux Beach, so the boards don’t have to be carried very far to cool water, and anyone who wants to find out about the conditions in advance can do so with apps such as “Surfline”.or, in the case of the Point Beach campus, do it with the webcam. When surfing you should always be careful of the many rocks on the beaches, especially when the water level is low during low tide. The waves at Sands Beachcan also get very large and should be used with caution in this case. In terms of leisure activities, the Salsa and Bachata Club is also highly recommended! This meets once a week to learn new steps and it is not necessary to bring a partner. Of course, the coastal region is also great for going jogging in the fresh sea air.
Isla Vista is definitely in pole position for all kinds of travel endeavors! The airport with rental car companies, Goleta train station and the highway are practically in the vicinity. Greyhounds or (since June 2019) Flix buses can also be boarded downtown and, if the competitive prices are still up to date, Los Angeles can be reached from Santa Barbara for $5 with one of the green buses.
However, the most fun is the group trip with a car and if you want to go to San Francisco, for example, you only have to drive once on the US-101 and can then follow the same road for 300 miles, because it crosses the road after a short break in the city center finally the Golden Gate Bridge. Allow enough time for the trip, set the cruise control to 65/70 mph and sit back. Since overtaking on the left and right is allowed, there is hardly any need to change lanes and the speed limit with the endlessly straight roads also ensures that driving a car is much more pleasant than it seems here in Germany. Apart from a few traffic jams, the roads to the north are easy to drive on, and straight to the southaround LA, on the other hand, it takes a little more patience, especially on public holidays. Apps such as “Spotangels” are also recommended for traveling by car, in which free parking spaces are shown by other users. Another advantage of the location around IV is that you don’t have to drive hours out of a city to start a trip.
Although train rides in California ( Amtrak ) are quite expensive, they are still worth it. The double-decker Pacific Surfliner runs from San Luis Obispo via Santa Barbara down to San Diego to the Santa Fe Depot, often right along the ocean. “America’s Finest City” is not to be missed and a trip to Ja Jolla Beach is highly recommended! But California also has various national parks further inland(Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Sequoia) has a lot to offer. With all activities, it is nevertheless advisable to pay more attention to your belongings and, if possible, to travel in a group.
As a music lover, you should keep an eye on the events calendar, because no act on a North American tour makes a detour around Southern California, so you have the chance to experience the greats in concert on the side. And apart from that, the bars around Hollywood in particular are a great address for good live music. In addition to the “Walk of Fame”, it is also worth visiting Amoeba Music, the world’s largest store for records and CDs (according to their own statements).
Studying at UCSB, living in Santa Barbara and traveling is of course associated with very high costs, but you have the unique opportunity to study directly on the Pacific and to be able to jump into the waves every day . It is precisely here that the adventurous can use their time optimally because of the often good weather and explore California in all directions. I have very good memories of the time and this is not only due to the open people with whom you can talk at every pedestrian traffic light, but also to the beautiful landscape and theimposing cities. In addition to the specialist knowledge of the course, your own planning skills are also expanded through the previous application procedure and you make new friends worldwide. If you wear a piece of clothing from UCSB, you will quickly be approached by alumni in all corners of California, who enthusiastically report on their own student days and you can now understand why this is the case.