University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: mathematics, statistics
Study type: semester abroad
I spent my semester abroad at UCSB in Santa Barbara, California. I was there for a total of 2 quarters (from the beginning of September 2010 to the end of March 2011) and am now trying to summarize and reproduce my experience a little:
Planning and start:
About a year before I left, I started to seriously consider the topic of a semester abroad. I had thought about it before, but I thought that the 5th semester would be a good time to gain some experience abroad. It was immediately clear to me that I only wanted to go to English-speaking countries and it quickly became clear: it should be the USA! I then found out about MicroEdu on the Internet, which courses in my field of study (mathematics) are offered so regularly and at which universities the offer is quite diverse. In addition, I was very attracted by the climate of California, so my selection was limited and Santa Barbara and San Diego were still in the running. But since I already had someone in my immediate circle of relatives, who had had very good experiences at UCSB, I decided to apply there. After I had taken the TOEFL test in early 2010, this all went quite quickly and easily, as I quickly had all the required documents together and was able to use the specifications and forms from MicroEdu directly. After the successful application (the confirmation came in the mail a few weeks later) I booked a return flight to Los Angeles from Düsseldorf in May 2010. Between May and September I still had to go to the American Embassy in Berlin for the visa, otherwise there were still a few smaller things to be done, such as a transcript or updating my passport. See mcat-test-centers for St Francis College.
At the beginning of September we finally went to LA.
When I landed in LA, I booked a rental car with two other Germans who also wanted to go to UCSB in order to get to Santa Barbara from there. So we drove there by car to our hostel, which we had already booked from home, in order to start looking for an apartment from there. We initially booked the hostel for three nights and that’s how long we still had the car, since the hostel is in downtown Santa Barbara, but the university is in Isla Vista, a part of Goleta, a few miles west of Santa Barbara. On the first day we took care of cell phones or American SIM cards for our cell phones in order to contact landlords of apartments or flat shares that could be found on the internet (craigslist). We inspected some rooms both in American families in the house, as well as student apartments and were shocked to find out how high the rents are in Santa Barbara and the surrounding area. $800 for a room or $700 for a shared room was not uncommon. In the end we (me and a friend of mine from Germany, who did the semester abroad with me) found a room in a family in Goleta, which we were then able to move into after three days in a hostel. In the first few days we took care of bicycles because it was a good one from our apartment to the university who did the semester abroad with me) a room with a family in Goleta, which we were able to move into after three days in a hostel. In the first few days we took care of bicycles because it was a good one from our apartment to the university who did the semester abroad with me) a room with a family in Goleta, which we were able to move into after three days in a hostel. In the first few days we took care of bicycles because it was a good one from our apartment to the university bit and we didn’t always want to drive the bus, so we explored the surrounding area with our new companions.
A week later the university started. On the first day there was a welcome for all exchange students. There were about 150 people in a lecture hall, about a third of whom were German, a third Norwegian and a third Chinese, with very few exceptions from other nations. We got the first information about the “crashing” of courses, so come to a course and ask the professor if he can sign that you can take part in the course.
My roommate and I chose the same courses because we study the same subject in Germany and want to do the same specializations. In math it was absolutely no problem to “crash” the courses and the offer was also quite diverse, because apart from the math institute you can also find many courses at the statistics institute that are offered in Germany under math.
Paying for the courses and the reimbursement of the course fees by the Auslandsbafög went without complications and the lectures in English were not too big a problem either. You quickly got to know some fellow students, especially in the smaller courses, and it was easy to intervene. Taking graduate courses as a German bachelor student also did not cause any problems.
Study time and exams:
During the semester we then had to solve a lot of homework, as is usual in math studies in Germany. Then there were the so-called “midterms”, i.e. exams about halfway through the semester, which then also flow into the final grade of the subject. In addition to homework, one was then forced to constantly rework the current content of the subjects and to repeat the lectures. Luckily, especially at the beginning of the quarter, there was still time to visit the beach, play a lot of sports such as soccer or beach volleyball and experience a few typical American celebrations such as Halloween. The last weeks of the first quarter at the beginning of December were quite stressful, as one is used to in Germany when it comes to the exams.
After the exams we had about three weeks of Christmas vacation. During this time I traveled through California with my family who came to visit and spent some time in Santa Barbara and also celebrated New Year’s Eve there with some friends.
The second quarter then started right at the beginning of January, and with it the “crashing” of the courses again. This time everything went smoothly. This time I also signed up with some friends in the university’s own fitness studio, the Recreation Center. That costs 60 dollars for a quarter, i.e. about 3 months. But you get a lot there and I think it’s definitely worth it. There are some squash and racquetball courts (similar to squash), plus some weight rooms, 3 large halls for basketball or similar, 2 swimming pools and a heated jacuzzi. There are also some outdoor facilities such as tennis courts, artificial grass courts, beach volleyball courts, basketball courts, etc. The range of sporting opportunities is really huge and we also signed up with some Germans and Norwegians for the intramurals in football, an internal university football tournament, so that we had a game on the large field every week. The second semester went by even faster than the first and the exams were over by mid-March. After that I had another week off in Santa Barbara and then I traveled around with two other Germans for another two weeks.
Tips for exchange students at UCSB:
- When looking for a place to live or otherwise when looking for used equipment such as bicycles or furniture, it is worth taking a look at craigslist first. This is a website where anyone can quickly and easily list anything for sale, there are several areas to search online including an extra one for Santa Barbara. This site is also very suitable for selling some things at the end.
- Buying an American prepaid mobile phone card right away at the beginning definitely saves money
- A car makes looking for an apartment a lot easier, especially if you don’t just want to look in the student district “Isla Vista”.
- A cheap first place to stay is the hostel in downtown Santa Barbara, buses also run from there to the university, there is free Wi-Fi and breakfast too.