University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: mathematics
Study type: semester abroad
I’m studying mathematics at the RWTH Aachen in the 7th semester and have decided to spend a semester at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). There, an academic year is divided into four quarters, so I was able to study at UCSB for two quarters during the winter semester at RWTH. Since the university is not a partner university of RWTH, I had to apply directly to the university. This is offered by the University Immersion Program, an exchange program for international students who want to study there for one, two or three quarters. An advantage of the University Immersion Program is that it is much easier to get a place than applying normally, since the admission requirements for students who want to graduate there are quite tough. In addition, you get to know other students from different countries as part of the exchange program. This offers the perfect opportunity to make international contacts – not just with American students. See mcat-test-centers for University of Auckland.
I started finding out about a semester abroad in November of the previous year and there was more than enough time. After I had all the documents I needed for the application, I applied to UCSB in January and was accepted just two weeks later. So I still had enough time to plan all other organizational things.
The semester abroad was in my 7th semester; just two days after I submitted my bachelor thesis, it started.
Finding an apartment has turned out to be quite complicated. I’ve already regularly searched Craigslist for housing offers from Germany and wrote tons of emails, but in most cases I didn’t even get an answer instead of a rejection.
On site, I lived in the hotel for the first few days and continued my search from there. Prices in Santa Barbara are quite high. If you want to live near the university, you pay an average of $700 a month for a room with one other person living in it; There are hardly any single rooms. Due to the massive housing shortage, many students were looking for accommodation at the end of September, which did not make it any easier to find accommodation yourself, especially if you do not want to sign a contract for a whole year. After several moves and thanks to the help of the UCSB Community Housing Office, I finally found a very nice apartment after 2 weeks of intensive searching.
Although the apartment was about 10 kilometers from the university, I was lucky because I lived right next to a stop for an express bus to the university, so it only took me 20 minutes to get there.
Although there are very cheap bikes in the USA, mostly under $100, I, like some fellow students, have had very bad experiences with them. The wheels have brakes, but they don’t really work. If you’re going down a hill with it, braking doesn’t help at all and you have no chance of stopping the bike. Even after I had the brakes adjusted at a bike shop, the problem persisted, which is why I stopped riding the bike and the $100 was thrown out the window.
I took two master’s courses every quarter. At least in the case of math, the selection is significantly smaller than in Aachen and many of the master’s subjects offered here I had already heard in Aachen during my bachelor’s degree, which is why it wasn’t easy to find two subjects per quarter, even though I even took computer science subjects, which I could have counted. In addition, the number of participants for many Master’s courses is limited to 20 and as an exchange student you have no opportunity to register for the subject beforehand, but have to go to the professor after the first lecture and ask his permission to hear the subject. But I was lucky and got a place in all the subjects I wanted to take. Due to the small courses, the professors were able to take time for each individual student;
Since in the USA not only the result of the usually two exams per subject counts for the final grade, but also the weekly homework, as an ambitious student you deal much more with the tasks than you would normally do in Aachen and try to get every single one right. Although this is a bit more stressful than just getting the 50% for admission, it naturally has the positive side effect that the homework prepares you reasonably well for the exams. Since the final exams are always in the week after the last lectures, you are forced to understand and work on everything during the semester, otherwise there would not be enough time to prepare for the exams.
Leisure time is also not neglected in Santa Barbara. For one thing, the city is sandwiched between the mountains and the sea, and even the university has its own beach area. On the other hand, due to the central location, many destinations in California are easy to reach. The weather is not a problem as even in winter the average daily temperature is 18 degrees and rain is very rare.
I had a great time in Santa Barbara and would recommend UCSB to anyone who wants to spend a semester abroad in the US. : -)