University of California, Santa Barbara Review (8)


City: Santa Barbara

Country: United States

Continent: North America

Field of study: economics, political science

Study type: semester abroad

University of California, Santa Barbara Review (8)

When you finally decide that you want to take this exciting step into the unknown and new, there is of course still a lot of planning and organizational work to do, especially if you want to study outside of Europe. This can actually be a bit strenuous, annoying and time-consuming, but at the end of the day the effort is absolutely worth it, since you will probably not have such an experience often or usually not at all in life. For me personally, this planning and organizational work has led to a further maturing process guided. Plan for yourself, organize yourself, make independent decisions and take responsibility for them. Depending on the type of person and decision-making character (I am very thoughtful, always rethink quite a few steps several times and would generally not classify myself as a person who likes to make decisions), you should still deal with the planning at least six months in advance. It tends to be more, especially if you don’t know exactly which country you want to go to and with such a wide range of opportunities as in the USA, for example, which university you would like to go to. See toppharmacyschools for Saint Marys University Study Abroad.

Depending on the country and university, the visa must be applied for in good time, the application deadlines must be observed, and if necessary an additional language certificate must be completed, all of which takes time and should be planned for. Leisure activities and possible excursions to explore the respective country, which in any case should not be neglected in addition to your studies and should be regarded as an equally essential part of such a trip, must also be planned. Of course, you can also save a lot of money if you start planning early (flights, excursions, etc.).

Housing time

Of course, everyone has their own personal likes and preferences when it comes to this criterion. For me, for example, the time of my stay was an enormously important factor. Most universities in the USA have a classic semester system, similar to that in Germany and Europe. The so-called Universities of California, which enjoy a very good reputationand which also includes just nine universities, offer a special “quarter system” that is otherwise not often found in the USA. The academic year is divided into four quarters or academic event times (spring, summer, fall, winter) instead of the usual two (summer, winter). For me personally, this had the advantage that the pure study or event time and thus also the associated residence time is significantly shorter (just under three months) than in a normal semester (usually around five months), since I only have one compulsory certificate for my had to complete my studies and this period of residence was sufficient for me in any case, also for private reasons,

Plannable costs

The tuition fees are, of course, quite high compared to a semester in relation to the shorter length of stay (compared to a full semester -> see “Length of stay”) and due to the good reputation of the “ Universities of California ”. But according to my research, the bottom line is still cheaper than most other good or better universities in the USA that only offer full semester stays. In addition to the tuition fees (depending on personal requirements and consumer behavior), the cost of living is at least as high(Shared apartment/dormitory, single/double room, eating out/cooking, excursions, free time, etc.), which, as already mentioned, can vary greatly from person to person in both directions, but should not be underestimated in any case. In general, the cost of living in the USA (especially in comparison to Germany!), but especially in California, is very high, in my experience especially in terms of food prices and accommodation options.


Since I completed this stay abroad voluntarily and as a freemover and thus also financed it primarily privately, I turned to “MicroEdu GmbH” for organization and advice via the Internet, which provided free assistance and very helpful support for the independent and personalized organization of the stay and the most important steps (application, visa, tips on the university, living costs, etc.) (only for their partner universities, which include the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) and countless other attractive, worldwide universities, especially from California, belong). In addition, I have financial support from the University of Kassel in the form of a PROMOS partial grant for living expenses, which was only able to cover a small part of the total costs, but was still a good support.

accommodation search

When looking for accommodation, I was also very well supported by my personal advisor at MicroEdu GmbH, who is specifically responsible for UCSB, and was well informed about the possible types of accommodation. In general, you can usually choose between apartments (WGs) and halls of residence. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, which should be weighed according to individual needs. The biggest difference is certainly in the two related areas of cost and equipment.

If you decide on a dorm, as I did, you have to pay more money depending on the room (single, double, triple) than in all shared flats that I have seen in the UCSB residential area, sometimes even significantly more. The halls of residence have the advantage that they usually have very good facilities and you don’t have to worry about many small things such as electricity costs, WLAN, washing facilities and above all food, because everything is “integrated” in the price. This should not be misunderstood, even in most shared flats, WLAN, electricity costs, etc. are not high and only represent a small surcharge, but above all the so-called integrated ” meal plans“ (10 meals/week at no extra charge) is in my eyes (especially for anti-cooks) a great advantage, since you no longer have to worry about shopping (as already mentioned, often quite expensive in the USA) and cooking yourself and that’s why can also save quite a bit of time.

On a social level, too, you have to differentiate between shared accommodation and dormitories. While you can certainly make contacts and make friends very quickly with both options (depending on the type of person), you still have the option of changing rooms in the dormitory if you don’t get along with your roommates at all. How this works in most flat shares is partly uncertain, but in any case it should be difficult to find a new flat share room in the middle of the quarter or even to get out of renting the old room. All in all, in the case of UCSB, I would personally look for a room in Isla Vista in retrospect(“Student Village” next to the UCSB campus) and against a place in the dorm. Certainly, the dormitory offers some pleasant advantages that make life easier and it is the somewhat “risk-free” variant compared to a shared apartment, where you can always have bad luck with your roommates (characteristic, too dirty, too loud, etc. ). However, the price difference is enormous and I got the impression that you can have an even better college experience in a flat share, ideally even with local American students, especially on a social level than in a dorm (where sometimes very Strict rules of conduct prevail and are enforced!) and the money saved can therefore be used for other things ( excursionsetc.) can invest.

In addition, I also recommend not being afraid to settle into a double or even triple room (even if you are a rather introverted and shy person who also likes to have some time to yourself), since you can be particularly in the beginning when you may not yet feel completely comfortable or even alone, can make direct contacts that may even become good friends for the rest of the stay. (In addition, it is generally difficult to find single rooms both in shared flats and in dormitories, since these are very rare and are also significantly more expensive than double or triple rooms.) A little tip: shared flats and apartments are available on the best to find via facebook groups!

General specifics about the USA and California

Since I’ve written extensively about the generally higher costs to be prepared for, I’ll now address a few other aspects to be prepared for. In general, especially if you’ve never been to the US, you shouldn’t get too blinded by diverse and breathtaking Instagram and social media posts in general, and thus let your expectations rise immeasurably. Don’t get me wrong, the USA is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world and there are countless breathtaking places and landscapes to discover that alone, along with the college experience, are completely worth all the effort and travel. However, all that glitters is not gold and you shouldn’t expect everything to run smoothly or even like in Germany and that a new highlight à la Hollywood or San Francisco is lurking around every corner. Everything is not as orderly and, above all, clean as in Germany. The air quality was noticeably worse for me than in my home, rural region in Germany, especially at the beginning. If you come from big cities like Frankfurt or Berlin, you probably won’t notice it that much, but you get used to it after a very short time and you don’t even notice it anymore. There are both in the smaller places, but mostly in the metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las VegasIn addition to the many beautiful areas, there are also very neglected areas affected by great poverty and suffering, which you might only see in a few or sometimes no places in Germany.

In terms of character, the Americans and especially the Californians are basically, in my opinion, a very friendly and cosmopolitan people, which may also be due to the fact that they themselves are a very multinational societyand are therefore very open and (also in comparison to many Germans) very friendly towards “new” or strangers and really welcome them and you feel treated like that. This phenomenon is particularly pronounced at the beginning, but you shouldn’t push it too hard or become intrusive or “get too conceited about it” because Americans, like probably everyone else, will like to get back to themselves at some point increasingly oriented towards their normal everyday life, without checking in on you every day and asking what you need or how you are getting by. The general friendliness is of course still omnipresent!

Furthermore, the large number of Asian (mostly Chinese) citizens, who represent a not too small proportion of the Californian population, should be emphasized. Many Europeans (especially Germans), Latin Americans and many people from the Middle East also shape the pleasant image of the international and globally networked UCSB campus.

I also recommend all (especially young) people who travel to the USA and also want to go partying, to deal with the American law in the respective state, because the Americans are known for their strict legal system, especially with regard to security measures and alcohol are. In California, possession of alcohol under the age of 21 is already a criminal offense and any form of drinking in public at any age is strictly prohibited and punished accordingly without exception. In addition, be sure to get a credit card (absolutely necessary!) and specific medical supplies (also contact lenses) prefer to bring from Germany, since procurement can often be very complicated and even simple cosmetic items are very expensive in the USA.

Institution Description: The University of California, Santa Barbara – The UCSB Complex

Now enough talk about the formalities, why UCSB? And what awaits you there? Anyone who has never been to an American university and is only used to the classic German campus will definitely have to rub their eyes first when a complete overview of the entire university complex is given. Located in Southern California, UCSB is oceanfront and the Pacific Beach is right outside the door. Depending on where you live (not everyone lives directly on the coastal road), the beach and the coast can be reached by bike from anywhere around the campus complex within ten minutes by bike (everything is very flat and everyone rides a bike). The campus itself is surrounded by many green meadowsand the Californian sunensures (for me even until the end of November!) for a large part of the year a very positive mood with super nice weather between 25 and 30 degrees.

Anyone who expects a huge and confusing campus is wrong. The campus is (depending on how you feel and compared to the respective home university) not small, but not too big either and I was able to find my way around very well within 2 weeks and knew roughly where all the important places ( lecture hall, seminar rooms, shops, Snacks, sports facilities, dormitoriesetc.) are located. The buildings and rooms in the university are very diverse. Some of them are already very old and not really what you might have imagined from an American college like from some series or films, but many are also much more modern and quite new. Similar to Germany, they are divided into different specialist groups and departments and you can actually find everything on a map without any major problems. And if you should have any questions, the employees of the International Office are available almost every day with all kindness and helpfulness and will help you to solve any kind of problem.

Another aspect that I will definitely remember positively is the very good networking of the entire campus area. Within a maximum of ten minutes (depending on where you live, less) absolutely everything can be reached very quickly by bike and is well connected. The study life (lectures, seminars), the accommodation, the social life in other dormitories and shared flats with friends, the small shops and snack bars in Isla Vista, as well as the diverse sports facilities, which I will refer to in more detail later (see “Leisure activities”) and also as well as the party street “Del Playa” in Isla Vista, where big celebrations take place almost every weekend in the quarter (unless there are exams or most students are already back home with their families), without having to use public transport to get halfway through world must drive. And of course the beach, which is located directly in front of the Del Playa coastal road. (Don’t imagine a luxury beach à la Hawaii with white sand and light blue water. It’s a small and very simple beach,

And even if you then need a little distance from the campus and want to see a little more, buses run 24 hours a day in the direction of the beautiful, Mediterranean-inspired city of Santa Barbara with a population of almost 100,000 (about 20-30 minutes drive), where, in addition to a port, there is also many nice restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs can be found. However, if you choose, you can spend all of your time at UCSB just on and around campus and you won’t lack for anything. Contrary to what the name might suggest, UCSB is not located directly in Santa Barbara, but actually in a small suburb called Goleta.

Studies: subject areas, completed courses and course selection

Of course, I didn’t deal with all the departments at UCSB, but primarily with those that were relevant to me. Nevertheless, I got the impression that at least the structure of the departments can be compared well with the German courses on offer and that most students should find an equivalent to their home department in the diverse courses offered and represented departments. In my quarter at UCSB, I attended a total of four courses and actively completed three of them.

In general, especially as an international student, you need to divide the courses at UCSB into two categories: Academic Courses, which are the “regular” courses at the university that local, fully-enrolled students also take. And the ” International Courses “, which are offered especially for international students and are also (at least according to my two course experiences) adjusted in terms of difficulty. I attended two academic and two international courses.

The two Academic Courses were from the Department of Economics and Political Science and were named “Introduction to Macroeconomic Theory” and “International Security”. The two academic courses were “Introduction to Project Management ” and the language course “Listening, Speaking and Pronunciation” recommended by UCSB for international students. How does the dialing in to the courses work?

You will be informed very early on by the UCSB itself via e-mail with a lot of information regarding courses and course selection and you can also ask the helpful responsible persons questions at any time if anything is unclear. There is also a kind of introductory event on site before the official startfor all international students, in which the necessary steps for course selection into the Academic and International Courses as well as other important topics (health insurance, etc.) are also discussed. In my experience, choosing courses for the International Courses is much easier than for the Academic Courses. The simple reason for this is that the demand for the International Courses is of course significantly lower than for the Academic Courses, in which all UCSB students really want to take part and not just the international ones.

In addition, there is such a variety of international courses that there are enough courses to accommodate all new international students. With the Academic Courses, which most international students probably have to take because of their standard domestic curriculum, things are much more complicated. I would therefore recommend finding out about the courses on offer and especially the demand for the desired academic course at an early stage (preferably from the teaching professor himself), so that in the end everything goes as you imagined and you can also complete all the desired courses. With the Academic Courses (especially in the Economics department, which is organized differently due to the high demand, than other departments) the demand for the limited course places is very high and international students do not enjoy any special rights compared to the permanently enrolled students on these courses. Therefore, you should try to get a signature on the registration document from the teaching professor in the first lecture or perhaps even in a private consultation before the lecture begins, because when the course is full, it is full. And there are usually no exceptions made just because you are an international student. Therefore, you should try to get a signature on the registration document from the teaching professor in the first lecture or perhaps even in a private consultation before the lecture begins, because when the course is full, it is full. And there are usually no exceptions made just because you are an international student. Therefore, you should try to get a signature on the registration document from the teaching professor in the first lecture or perhaps even in a private consultation before the lecture begins, because when the course is full, it is full. And there are usually no exceptions made just because you are an international student.

Everyday student life: rhythm, organization, differences, exams, levels of difficulty

Once you have successfully enrolled in all the courses and the quarter officially begins, everyday student life can begin. Some aspects are similar to the German study system and everyday life, while others are clearly distinguishable. While in Germany there is generally only one lecture + tutorial per week, in the quarter system of the UCSB, due to the shorter event period, it is usually the case that two lectures + tutorial per week take place in most academic courses, which all in all takes more timejust by being present at the events. A large number of the international courses are also held twice a week, but (according to my research and experience) there are no tutorials.

On the subject of compulsory attendance, it should be said that, similar to Germany, there is no compulsory attendance in most academic courses, but it was the case in one of my two courses and was even a not insignificant part of the grade (more on that later). You should also be present in the International Courses, which are more like small seminars and cannot be compared with the large lectures of the Academic Courses, since the groups are usually quite small and it would therefore certainly attract negative attention in the long run if one would always be absent and consequently questions from the professor could arise.

The lectures and tutorials themselves, on the other hand, are very similar to the German system and do not really differ much in terms of presentation. The lectures usually last about 90 minutes and work is done in the classic way with PowerPoint slides, but I have to say that I found the way of presentation and verbal communication as well as the focus of the content to be much more modern, contemporary, up-to-date and therefore also more excitinghave. In the tutorials, exercises for the lecture are discussed, explained and compared. The system also behaves in a very similar way digitally. There is an online platform where you can log in using your official UCSB data and where almost all relevant lecture and seminar slides as well as assignments and relevant documents are uploaded. For questions and ambiguities of any kind (content and organisation), every professor and his tutors have a weekly consultation hour as well as an e-mail address that you can contact at any time, just like in Germany.

Especially the direct communication with the professors during their office hours or even after the events will remain in my memory as positive, because especially as an international student you were treated very nicely, helpfully and patiently and you didn’t have the sometimes unpleasant impression that you were disturbing anyone or would waste time. However, one thing that was still recommended to me when communicating with professors in the USA was that it is considered extremely impolite to discuss grades with professors and that one should be very careful on this topic so as not to give the wrong impression.


While the exams in the language course and in the other international course on project management were quite diverse, I had to write a total of three exams (two midterms, one endterm) for the academic course on macroeconomics, which were spread out at regular intervals over the entire quarter and thus there was very little time to take a complete break. The composition of the grades was as follows: the first midterm exam counted for 20%, the second for 20% and the final term for 40%, which means that 80% of the grade was made up of the exams. The remaining 20% ​​also make a very big difference to the German system and are not uncommon in the USA. There were 15% for attendance in the lecture, which was tested with small (very rewarding) quizzes at the end of the events and five percent for simply attending the tutorials. 20%, which would probably not exist in this way at any university in Germany and which you should certainly “put in” to pass the respective courses. However, one must not be fooled as a result and take the whole course lightly, since, in comparison to many German universities, you usually need 60-65% of the total points to pass the courses and not just 50%, which makes it easier whole grading system compared to Germany “balances” again. which would probably not exist in this way at any university in Germany and which you should certainly “put in” to pass the respective courses. However, one must not be fooled as a result and take the whole course lightly, since, in comparison to many German universities, you usually need 60-65% of the total points to pass the courses and not just 50%, which makes it easier whole grading system compared to Germany “balances” again. which would probably not exist in this way at any university in Germany and which you should certainly “put in” to pass the respective courses. However, one must not be fooled as a result and take the whole course lightly, since, in comparison to many German universities, you usually need 60-65% of the total points to pass the courses and not just 50%, which makes it easier whole grading system compared to Germany “balances” again.

In general, you should say goodbye to the fact that you only have to take one exam per event, as has been the case in Germany for a long time or to some extent. In the language course there were regularly small (but in my opinion also very easy) exercises or homework checks and the exam consisted of five small presentations (maximum ten minutes) on any everyday topics, which extended over the entire quarter and were intended to promote active language skills. In the second international course on the subject of project management, there was a 15-minute group presentation at the end of the quarter, in which the project that had been developed over the course of almost ten weeks was to be presented, and a final MC exam with around 30 questions, which you can answer with the help of the Professors could prepare quite easily. As already mentioned: The International Courses can be considered to be much easier compared to the Academic Courses.

Certainly something like this is difficult to generalize and differs from type to type and also from course to course, but my personal impression with regard to the level of difficulty of the events (compared to Germany) was quite clear. All the events I attended seemed simpler in terms of content, tasks and requirements compared to the German equivalent, and accordingly my final grades with a healthy and organized, but by no means excessive amount of learning and work, were very positive. In terms of time, the bottom line is that in my opinion the whole course takes even more time, simply because of the larger number of examinations, but of course also because of the fact that that all events take place twice a week and not just once a week. Even if I have classified the level of difficulty as easier, which I remain quite sure of, one should consider the language handicap compared to the local students in the Academic Courses, even if one is in the upper secondary school and generally has a good-very good (B2-C1) level of English, should not be underestimated. Academic English is clearly distinguishable from everyday English and a large number of vocabulary, terms and expressions appear in the slides and tasks as well as verbally in the lectures (at least that was the case for me) that you have never heard before and accordingly, all of them must first be picked out, which is also associated with an extra expenditure of time.

Of course, there are also a large number of study lounges at UCSB for learning and a huge, very beautiful library with a sea view, in which you should always be able to find a quiet spot. It is also advisable to be a bit courageous (even if you might find it uncomfortable) and approach local students early on in the courses and find friends or study partners who can help you with problems and who may even have old exams, which you probably wouldn’t be able to get to on your own.

social life and leisure activities

Now that I’ve said enough about duty and work, I’ll come to the beautiful things in life. What is social life like at UCSB? How can you spend your free time alongside your studies? What are the options?
If you are a sports-loving person, an American university, for example UCSB, is an absolute dream destination. Where should I start? The sports possibilities are so diverse and unlimited that you hardly know what to list :


Two huge, well-equipped gyms, two indoor basketball courts, countless outdoor basketball courts, an indoor badminton court, four artificial grass soccer fields, a soccer stadium, several swimming pools, a baseball field, numerous tennis courts, volleyball courts, a climbing wall, a hockey field, table tennis tables, squash courts and probably some other facilities that I forgot or perhaps didn’t even see. All these facilities are open to every UCSB student until 11 p.m. (during the week) and can be used at any time. Even if you are traveling alone at first, there are always teammates or small groups, especially in team sports, where you are always welcomed in a friendly manner and can play along after a short consultation. However, if you are interested in practicing a particular sport on a regular basis and a little more formally, there are a few doors open to you as well. Getting into the official university teams like soccer or basketball is very difficult, if not impossible, for ordinary students or athletes (but especially international students) who have not exactly received an athletic scholarship from the university. So there are plenty of other ways

An example of this would be the UCSB Club Soccer Team, where after a few practice sessions I was finally allowed to train the whole quarter. The level goes beyond normal “hobby football” and is already on a challenging level, but not as high as that of the real university teams. Depending on qualifications and quality, playing games is also quite difficult if you are only studying a quarterback at UCSB, since the club soccer team and other teams at this level are also primarily looking for players who will then also be available for several years are available and not just for four months. However, if several training sessions per week are too much for you and you only want to exercise once a week more or less for fun, there is another level,Here you can register alone or as a group for all kinds of sports for an affordable fee and then compete with and against other students once a week.

In addition to the various sports that you can practice yourself, there are of course also regular events such as football, basketball or volleyball games of the right university teams that compete against other universities, which can often be quite emotional, entertaining and atmospheric and (depending on the according to interests) is quite fun. In addition to sports, there are regular concerts and various events on and around the campus, to which one is almost always informed by e-mail. Another major aspect in terms of leisure activities is, of course, the time with friends and new people from previously foreign countries and cultures, whom you will hopefully find and get to know during your stay at UCSB (courage and openness is required!) and then share your experiences with them power. During the day, social life with friends usually takes place in the rooms and leisure facilities (recreation center) of the respective dormitories (in lower semesters) or shared flats and apartments (mostly higher semesters) or in snack bars and shops around Isla Vista and is just about sunny weather really fun.


Now I will say a few words about the night and party life in and around the UCSB complex, because in my experience this is a topic that interests many young students in particular, as there are certain ideas about the USA that prevail also partly correspond to the truth, but partly also have to be put into perspective, but according to the stories I have been told, they also have to be judged individually from university to university. Most of the celebrations at and around UCSB take place on the weekends in the “student village” Isla Vista, which is located next to the campustakes place, where most of the UCSB students live in large houses, which usually consist of several flat shares. Most of these celebrations are private events, but are, to a greater or lesser extent, open to the public and take place on the Del Playa coastal road, but also occasionally on other surrounding streets. Are all celebrations completely free and can you just walk into every courtyard and house? jain

Surely you will always find celebrations where you can go in without any problems, because they are already very crowded and full, but with many events it definitely doesn’t hurt, at least one or the other contact person at the celebration or from the organizer to know and not to be completely “foreign”. Otherwise, it will often happen that you are immediately sent away and are not wanted, since the celebration is to take place in a smaller and completely private setting. According to stories, the very best celebrations are supposed to take place in the big fraternity houses, but in my experience it’s almost impossible to get into these celebrations without contact persons in the fraternities – especially if you’re a man. However, the celebrations in and around Del Playa also have more than enough to offer and are often very good. Well, what is the biggest difference to Germany and what should you pay attention to?In general, Americans are much more open when partying and sometimes approach strangers of their own accord, which means that there is a very pleasant and open atmosphere and you can talk to people and make contacts faster than you can in Germany is used to.

On the other hand, you shouldn’t be shocked when you hear that the celebrations start at 7/8 p.m. and when you realize that it’s all over by 12: 00 a.m. or 1: 00 a.m. at the latest. The American law and especially the Police Department of Isla Vista proceed very consistently and by 1: 00 a.m. at the latest all private celebrations are over and the music must be turned off. Followed by regular alcohol and age checks(I have already commented on the law and mindfulness with these) in the event of rule violations, the courtyards are sometimes closed at 12: 30 a.m. (since the weather is usually still very good in the evenings and at night, most of the event takes place outside) by stormed the police, did age checks and immediately turned off the music, followed of course by a yellow police ticket for the organizers of the party, which, depending on the extent of the violation, can also have consequences that should not be underestimated. All in all, it’s still a very cool atmosphere to party in huge shared houses right in front of the Pacific Ocean in warm temperatures, even if you first (especially if you’re from Germany) take into account the stricter laws and the resulting changed “party times “ must (should) get used to.

However, if you don’t feel like celebrating in Isla Vista with the (mostly quite young (18-22) students), you can of course also take the 24-hour bus or an Uber in the direction of Santa Barbara, where there are also numerous clubs The minimum age here is 21 (18 in exceptional cases) and most clubs here also close at 1: 30/2 a.m., which is why everything starts a little earlier than you are used to in Germany Entrance fees and drinks in these are certainly not cheap, but in my experience they are still absolutely affordable (depending on the club), unless you want to visit them every weekend.since you are on private property and no longer in public (like in Isla Vista, for example).

Excursions / vacation / cultural recommendations

Before I finally draw a small overall conclusion, I will now present a few recommendations for trips and vacations that I took before, during and after my time at UCSB. Since I already expected that I wouldn’t really have much time for longer extra trips during the quarter due to my studies, I already have a two-week trip in the huge (alone even a bit bigger than the whole of Germany!) and diverse before the quarter State of California (and bordering on it). My absolute favorites, which I would recommend to everyone, were the unique and beautiful city of San Francisco and the Grand Canyon National Park. In my opinion, both attractions are a must if you ever travel to the other end of the world. Other attractions that you can definitely visit are the gambling metropolis of Las Vegas (in the neighboring state of Nevada) and the city of San Diego, which is close to the Mexican border. While Las Vegas as a pure construct of huge hotels, casinos, light shows under the heading “madness” probably has no equal anywhere in the world, San Diego impresses above all with its somewhat quieter and more pleasant atmosphere, as well as the noticeable Mexican influence right on the Pacific coast. For nature lovers there are of course, depending on the time, further trips in the direction of the many othersNational parks like Yosemite, Death Valley, Joshua Tree within the realm of possibility and also (depending on personal preference) a good possibility. However, you should not underestimate the sometimes enormous distances to be covered and it is best to think about what you want to see and how far apart stations A and B are early enough so that there are no unexpected surprises at the end of the car or train journey bus rides is coming.

los Angeles

My trip ended in the metropolis of Los Angeles, which is also the largest transfer hub in the “near” of Santa Barbara, since from there you can be taken to all corners of the world and the country both globally and nationally. Since Los Angeles is only three hours by bus (depending on the connection) from Santa Barbara (by car it is estimated that it is only 90 minutes), the world metropolis is also one of the places to go for a short weekend trip, what I did too.For sports enthusiasts, it is certainly a great opportunity to fulfill their dream of an NBA, NHL, MLB or NFL game, as Los Angeles has one, sometimes even several, professional teams in all four American main sports, basketball, ice hockey, baseball and football, from which you can watch a game. I watched a Los Angeles Lakers game at the Staples Center because, as a basketball fan, I’ve always dreamed of watching an NBA game, but the other sports are certainly worth a visit as well. Note that ticket prices will be very high (depending on the opponent and I can only speak for the NBA) and you should think carefully about whether it’s worth the money.

In retrospect, the basketball game with honestly very good seats was definitely a cool experience and I’m glad I did it, but I have to honestly admit that I wouldn’t do it again for this price. But in the end everyone has to decide and know that for themselves. From a tourist point of view, I have certainly remembered Santa Monica and Venice Beach as the most beautiful and concise places in LA, both of which are absolutely worth a visit, especially when the weather is nice.

In addition, a short trip to Hollywood (probably especially if you are a movie and drama buff ) is another great way to get to know this huge city. However, as in every big city, there are also very, very poor, ugly and sometimes dangerous corners in LA in particular that you should better avoid and you shouldn’t be shocked if you drive through streets in which several blocks in a row have dozens of Tents with homeless people and junkies are lined up like you probably wouldn’t see anywhere else in Germany. (Don’t be afraid of LA! Just maybe you should hear it before you see it with your own eyes.)


To complete my wonderful stay in the USA, after the end of my Fall Quarter (mid-December), I decided once again to fulfill an eternal dream and to travel across the Pacific to Hawaii for almost a week to fly to complete my trip from there and to come back to Germany. The flight from LA to Honolulu (Oahu) takes between 4-6 hours and is very, very pleasant with the local “Hawaiian Airlines” and the price for the return flight was also absolutely reasonable. Due to my very limited time of just under a week, I decided to only stay on the island of Oahu and not to change the island again (contrary to many recommendations), which later turned out to be the right thing to do. Alone on Oahuthere are so many breathtaking places and natural spectacles that can only be imagined in dreams that it was only possible to explore a fraction of them in the short time. Especially for nature lovers, hikers and divers, Hawaii (Oahu) is a pure paradise and I am very happy to have made the trip despite the hardships of the journey (13 hours time difference and total return journey home 38 hours). Some places are so beautiful it’s almost surreal and the green mountains surrounded by gorgeous beaches and blue sea water offer a view that you couldn’t even imagine otherwise, making Hawaii one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Also in Hawaii, especially in the capital Honolulu on Oahu,

If I were to fly to Hawaii again, which is still in the stars due to the unbelievable distance to Germany, I would plan at least 3 weeks for this in order to be able to explore the other islands nearby and to complete the stay to be able to exhaust. Finally, it should be said that Hawaii and San Francisco, along with New York, are not only among the most beautiful and impressive places in the USA, but unfortunately also among the most expensive, which is why accommodation and food (especially any kind of out-of-town dining) are very expensive Take money, but the travel destinations, as already described in detail, also have a lot to offer.


Well, what did I take with me from the almost 4 months in the USA? What is my recommendation and what is the (long-term) added value of such a spectacular trip? Even if the whole undertaking takes a certain amount of planning time and work, I would absolutely recommend anyone who is still unsure whether this is the right next step in life to take it for several reasons. Not just the most obvious reasons, likeLanguage training and exploring previously unknown, unique and beautiful places in the world, but also personal training and development of increased personal responsibility as well as independently solving previously unknown problems and challenges are among the aspects that I took with me from my stay. In addition, ideally, you will make international friendships that may last a lifetime and have experiences and associated memories with new people and situations that will be present for a lifetime. In addition, that comes in our increasingly globalized worldInternational experience is always well received in the modern job market and is sometimes even required in certain sectors. There are also other “smaller” reasons, which I also classify as important, such as getting to know a new and different educational or study system, other cultures, ways of life, norms and moral concepts, as well as patterns of action and behavior of people from other nations the overarching point of intercultural communication and competence.

The fears and concerns of many young people (some of whom have never been away from home) that arise before such a trip are well known to me and all of them are partly well justified. Nevertheless, sometimes in life one should dare to take a small step into the unknown in order to find out at least something new about oneself and to be able to better classify oneself. Nowadays you are not even forced to leave your home for a whole year. There are already countless language and/or study programs that only last a few weeks and are still a good way to determine your current position, or study opportunities such as that of UCSB, which cover a complete study period in just four months, not to mention the countless financing options and inexpensive ( this does not mean the USA without a scholarship or exchange program) countries where you can travel and study very cheaply. Well, the possibilities are fortunately almost unlimited these days, you just have to want it andsometimes just daring to do something unknown and uncertain in order to take a step forward.

About the author