University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: industrial engineering
Study type: semester abroad
As part of my first master’s semester in industrial engineering with a specialization in mechanical engineering, I decided to do a semester abroad. I was in the USA from September 2017 to the end of February 2018 and had many diverse and formative experiences collected. It’s easy to explain why I was drawn to the USA so much. Western influences have accompanied me since I was a child, be it TV series, films, comics and fashion, and ever since I can remember I have been wondering whether this lifestyle is an illusion or reality, which is why I am finally dreaming of the (short) wanted to fulfill American Dreams. I was hoping to gain insights into the American philosophy of life. From oversized milk gallons to muscle cars to over-the-top celebrations and celebrations. It is the weightlessness, carefree and relaxed attitude of the Americans that (still) fascinates me. See mcat-test-centers for Santa Barbara City College SBCC.
Organization of the semester abroad at UCSB/accommodation
But first things first. My plans for the semester abroad was very meager and short term. When I arrived in Santa Barbara, I didn’t yet have an apartment and wanted to spend the first few weeks in a hotel/motel. Surprisingly, all the hotels I could afford and didn’t want to spend half my savings on for three nights turned out to be fully booked. Desperate, I sat on a park bench and prayed. At 1 am a gentleman named Kylie came and asked me what I was going to do with my suitcases so late. I explained the situation to him. He called a few hotels on his cell phone and then had to admit defeat as well. In the end he invited me to his house. I don’t know why but I had no qualms about him robbing me etc. I spent my first night at Kylie’s 2, 5 room apartment in the living room on the floor. The next day I had my first day at university. After the introductory event, I went to the subway and got some cookies. As I stood in line for the student IDs, I had offered the last cookie to a student assistant who was handing out the IDs. He was so happy that we got talking afterwards and when he found out about my situation, he offered me to spend the night with him. I stayed with him for a whole week and then one Found an apartment in the dormitory. After that, the university really got going and everything took its course.
I took a total of three courses. The first was called New Product Development. The point here was to accompany and introduce a product as part of a group project from the idea to implementation. All milestones, such as interviews with potential buyers, prototype construction and final presentations were graded individually and there was also an overall rating. My team and I decided to develop a multifunctional ruler with a built-in hole punch and mobile phone holder. This subject required a lot of collaboration and interpersonal skills. The second course was called Business Strategy & Leadership. Prof. Gary Hansen taught the course and to date he is the funniest and most humorous professor I have ever met. The course was therefore all the more interesting and I was able to learn and, above all, retain all the more. It was about getting to know different corporate strategies and distinguishing them from one another. In addition, we analyzed many use cases and case studies and discussed them in class. This subject was very interesting and important for me personally because it taught me important skills and elements, how a good manager acts and I see this knowledge as relevant for my personal future. The third and last subject was called Advanced Theories in Engineering and was by far the most demanding course at UCSB that I have attended. It was a technical subject and very math heavy. We treated linear and non-linear differential equations, developed Bessels functions, Fourier series and calculated heat and mass transfer behavior. A lot was new and I think it’s a subject that every engineer should understand and be able to apply in parts.
Supervisor relationship between lecturers and students
In general, the lectures were in classrooms and I got the feeling back from school. Nor was it divided into lectures and exercises. Rather, there were papers that you had been given as homework and that you then dealt with in the next unit. Contact with the professors was so easy that at first I thought it was the assistants. The teacher-student ratio was really excellent. I also found it interesting that students addressed the professors by their first names, which I found very difficult at first because I was used to the very formal way they were spoken to. In general I felt that the profs and the people in the US and especially in California were doing a lotare more relaxed, helpful and open than in Germany.
Cultural features in California
I also noticed that the Mexican/Spanish influence (particularly in Central and Southern California) was extreme. Starting with names like “Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Barbara” etc. you can see the Hispanic influence in many parts of the city. Countless Taco Bells and Mexican joints offering guacamole and tapas dot the cityscape. In addition, the labels on the bus and train are in English and Spanish. The most extreme of the Spanish/Mexican influence was when I was a young man, whom I met through Uber (Uber is the means of transport that is used most frequently there – you use an app to order your personal taxi to your location, where a private individual will pick you up and takes you to your agreed destination) told me that he wants to move away from California because he fears he won’t get a job after university because he doesn’t speak Spanish.
I often discussed political issues with people. I wanted to hear your opinion on topics like Muslims in the US, Donald Trump or what you think of Germany. Because California is very liberal, I didn’t meet anyone who said good things about Donald Trump. They even bought Donald Trump socks in many markets (I bought a pair too). The Americans were very interested in me, especially since they could hear my accent. When I was asked where I was from, I almost always answered Germany, which made it very easy to start a conversation. I don’t know exactly why, but Germany had a very good reputation with Americans (often also because of the national soccer team) and they were very interested in learning a few German words. I also once mentioned that I come from Turkey, but the response wasn’t as great as in Germany. Maybe it just seemed that way to me. In any case, many Americans are open and tolerant of Muslims, at least in California. There was also an MSA (Muslim Student Association) at the university that was regularly active for students, organizing meetings and seminars on campus.
Speaking of campuses. Right now, as I write this report and think back to the time, I get wanderlust. The UCSB campus is one to one like the campus from the “Zoey 101” series on Nickelodeon. Back then, when I watched the series, I could hardly imagine that such a campus existed in reality. The campus was huge, extremely clean (was cleaned every morning before classes started) and the lawns looked like they had been cut with nail scissors. There are skateboarders everywhere, passing you from left and right, your own Starbucks on campus, the college football, baseball, and basketball teams and lots of sun with good vibes. In Isla Vista, which is a district of Goleta and is right next to UC Santa Barbara, parties à la Projekt-X are celebrated on weekends and sometimes during the week (I’m not exaggerating) and the city is 99.99 % made up of students and teenagers.
The semester abroad in California may have been the best time of my life so far and I recommend UCSB to every student who wants to get both a professionally excellent education (ranked 8th in the USA among the top universities) and who is looking for the pure and especially the typical American college lifestyle.