University of California, Santa Barbara Review (53)


City: Santa Barbara

Country: United States

Continent: North America

Field of study: psychology, computer science

Study type: semester abroad

University of California, Santa Barbara Review (53)

1. Preparation

After I had decided to study for a semester in an English-speaking country, I looked through specific opportunities and exchange programs, for example at my home university, FAU, and sought advice from the International Office. After I had only about 9 months to plan, all exchange programs at my home university were canceled from the start and so, as a freemover, I was very grateful for the help from MicroEdu in preparing my stay. See mcat-test-centers for Rmit University Vietnam.

The concrete preparation for my semester abroad in California at the UCSB began about nine months before the start of my studies with the acquisition of a current English certificate. A TOEFL or comparable proof of English must usually be submitted with the application to the foreign university. Especially in spring you should take care of a TOEFL appointment in good time, since test centers and appointments are very limited and I had to wait three weeks for an appointment. Another four weeks later, the test results are available online or by post and I was able to send off the application for the Fall Quarter at the beginning of April. The application should not have been made much later, since most American universities limit the places for international applicants and therefore all places are occupied at least three months before the start of the course. The “Predeparture Workshop” of the German-American Institute in Nuremberg is also highly recommended. For exchange students with the destination countries Canada and the USA, there is a common meeting place here to exchange ideas and discuss cultural differences.

It is worthwhile to search for flights in good time and in detail and also to include open jaw flights — the airport of departure and the airport of destination on the journey home differ. For price reasons, you should always book a return flight, even if you are not sure how much time you will need for vacation or sightseeing after your studies. Rebooking the return flight usually costs very little, whereas single flights are astronomically expensive. For example, it was cheaper for me to fly from Munich to Los Angeles and then fly back from Los Angeles to Dublin in Ireland than Munich – Los Angeles there and back. The I-20 form is also sent with the notification of admission for the semester abroad, with which you can apply for a student visa (F-1 / J-1) at an American consulate here in Germany. The visa costs a little over 200 euros at the moment and you should apply for it at least one month before your planned departure. More detailed information about the visa and the application process can be found very precisely on the MicroEdu website.

  1. Accommodation

The housing situation for international students at the big universities in California is quite borderline. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that there are no dormitory places available for international students, unless you stay there longer (> 1 year) or do your degree in the USA. On the other hand, there are very high rents in residential areas popular with students. If you study at UCSB, you live a little outside of the city of Santa Barbara, but right next to the university in a student town near the sea (Isla Vista). Here, 500 to 1000 dollars are often due, depending on whether you value a single room or, like most Americans, live in twos or threes in a room (and then four to ten in an apartment). Furthermore, one must be careful because the apartments with the best location (sea view / del playa drive) are also the party houses and it’s the dirtiest there. You don’t want to live there;) That’s why it’s all the more important to invest a lot of time in looking for an apartment and to look at as many apartments as possible in order to get an insight and to be able to assess what you can get for your money. So, after 7 days of unsuccessfully looking for a flat, I opened a shared flat with 3 other Germans, in which we each shared a bedroom. This apartment had been freshly renovated for us (renovated wouldn’t do justice to the condition) and cost about $600 a month per capita. Even if you arrive with the firm intention of moving into a shared flat with Americans, in retrospect it wasn’t a mistake with Germans or Americans. to reside international. If you make an effort, you can still get in touch with enough Americans, even if it was more difficult than expected due to the large number of (German) exchange students at UCSB.

  1. Studies and courses

The selection and level of the courses is sometimes decisive when choosing a host university. So you have to be aware that not all favorite courses from the course catalog are also offered in the semester/quarter in which you study there. It should also be noted that not every university offers courses for master’s students, but often only courses at bachelor’s level can be selected. Once you have found suitable courses, you should think about enough alternatives, as there is no guarantee that you will be able to take these courses. Enrolled students who wish to graduate always have priority over guest students when choosing courses. Since there are strict participant limits, it may well be that some courses are fully booked before the semester begins. however, there are continuous partial exams (midterms, exams) and more homework than we do. The advantage is quite clear that you deal more with the content during the lecture period and the individual exams are then also about smaller sub-areas and are therefore simpler. Oh yes, the official end of the semester at UCSB is given two weeks too late, so the last university week this year was definitely on December 10th for all students (for some even a week before), whereas the official end of the semester was December 19th. specified. Is quite helpful if you want to use the time afterwards for traveling around or going home.

  1. Supervision at the host university

The international office is called the “extension office” at UCSB and is the first point of contact for all kinds of problems. You can also pay for your courses here and get information about extension courses. If you have specific questions related to academic courses, it is better to contact the supervisor or the secretariat of the relevant department. There is also an office at the university for those looking for housing (UCSB Housing), where helpful employees can arrange housing and give good tips on the search.

  1. Facilities at the host university

The facilities at the UCSB are generally very good and are above German standards. The campus grounds stretch picturesquely along the sea and boast evergreen manicured lawns, so that the daily bike ride through the grounds is simply fun. Especially as a campus university, it can boast a wide range of facilities in the area of ​​”recreation”, i.e. sports and leisure time. There is a huge range of varsity sports, gyms and outdoor pools for around $60 per semester. There are numerous computers and rooms with workstations, and additional equipment is provided by computer rooms for the respective departments. WiFi is available throughout the campus. There is a large library with group and individual study rooms. Unfortunately, the book loan costs extra for international students.

  1. Everyday life & free time

Besides the university, you can hardly save yourself from interesting leisure activities. Surfing is very popular and is practiced a lot by UCSB students. There is an “Excursion Club” that offers weekly surfing, climbing and kayaking courses, hikes and multi-day trips to national parks. The first thing you should do in the USA is get an American SIM card, preferably with a flat rate. Especially when looking for an apartment or if you are looking for bicycles or furniture on Craigslist, for example, you cannot avoid an American cell phone number. Be sure to get a used bike (about $80) or a skateboard to get around campus and Isla Vista. You really don’t need a car, except for excursions. Here it is recommended to use or cheaper rental cars. de to rent a car with other people. Attractions worth visiting from Santa Barbara include Malibu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Yosemite Park, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. There is a good outlet shopping center in Camarillo, about an hour’s drive from Santa Barbara. Isla Vista itself isn’t very big and gets pretty lonely and empty during the semester breaks. Then it is advisable to take the bus to Santa Barbara, which is free for students, more often. Isla Vista has quite a bit to offer in terms of culinary delights for its size. The best Mexican food is at Freebirds (about $8), cheap pitas are at Pita Pit (about $6), and by far the best food is at South Coast Deli (about $9 for fancy salads and sandwiches) served;)

  1. Financial

Studying in the US is expensive. You should try to get a foreign student loan or a travel grant or a full grant. After the tuition fees are already at least 3000 euros, amounts in the 5-digit range quickly accumulate in half a year. My home university gave me the short-term opportunity for a DAAD partial scholarship, which at least covered my travel expenses. You don’t actually need your own bank account in the USA, because you can withdraw money worldwide with the Visa credit card from the DKB free of charge.

  1. Conclusion

My experience is that when preparing for the semester abroad, you think and worry far too much. When the time is right and you’re on the plane or actually arrive on site, everything is much easier than you thought. The Californians are totally friendly and relaxed and more of the optimist type;)

If I had had the opportunity to go abroad earlier during my studies, it would probably have been better in hindsight. I was one of the oldest among the international students, since most of them are already going during their bachelor’s degree and the Americans come to the university very young and are only 18 or 19 years old as “fresh men”. That wasn’t a problem in itself, but for example a few courses were interesting for me as a master’s student because I had already heard almost everything from my department. All in all, it was my nicest and most varied semester, during which I got to know so many nice people from all over the world, practiced my English and visited the most beautiful places in the USA.

About the author