University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: social sciences, natural sciences
Study type: semester abroad
A “quarter” at the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
It’s 9: 00 a.m. on Tuesday morning in the penultimate week of the semester and the alarm clock rings. I only have a lecture at 11: 00 a.m. Every ten minutes the snooze function prevents me from finding my way back into the deep sleep phase. After 40 minutes I give up annoyed, turn around, wake up the person in the next bed and remind him that he has a seminar at 9: 30 am. Because the alarm clock that rang wasn’t mine, it was my roommate’s. Sharing a room with a fellow student is one of the many things that a German in Santa Barbara finds unusual at first, but eventually learns to appreciate. But let’s start from the beginning. See mcat-test-centers for University of Portsmouth.
From March to June 2016 I spent a semester abroad at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) via MicroEdu.com. I’m studying medicine in Germany, which unfortunately wasn’t possible for me during a short stay abroad in the USA. That’s why I applied for a semester off at my home university. Ever since my high school year in Sacramento, California, I have had a desire to temporarily return to college. I specifically chose UCSB over UCLA or UC San Diego because I have an active and close-knit student lifewanted to experience. UCSB is very good at this because all of the non-dormitory students live together in a small neighborhood of Santa Barbara called Isla Vista (IV) right on the coast next to campus. This creates a unique atmosphere where you are only surrounded by young people and where it is easy to make new friends. Social events are never more than a 20 minute walk away. This means that I was able to fully participate in everyday life even without a car, which is not a matter of course in America.
After signing up on MicroEdu decided on a university and submitted the specific application documents, I was sent a very clear to-do list. The biggest challenge during the preparation was finding an apartment. The housing market in Isla Vista is so tight that you can’t look for an apartment on site. If you want to live authentically with locals in a flat share, you should look for a room one to three months before arrival via Facebook groups such as “UCSB Housing”. The price for a room in a shared flat is between 500 and 1000 dollars and it is normal to share a room with one or more people. I lived in a two-bed room in a four-person roommate for $750 a month. The Americans are unusually relaxed when it comes to looking for roommates. They hardly do “WG castings” and only make sure that you pay your rent on time. That means Skype once and you can move in.
Like all UCs, the UCSB enjoys a very good reputation among the public schools in America. The professors I met were very committed, motivated and genuinely interested in offering good teaching for us students. Everyday university life is organized somewhat differently than in Germany. There is a midterm and a final exam and various graded homework, mainly essays, during the semester. It is also typical that there are “reading assignments” every week, ie recommendations for reading at home, which some of the lectures, homework and exams then refer to. The course catalog of the university is also very impressive. In addition to the classic courses, you can find almost everything you are interested in, from basketball and dozens of languages to theater and music. I opted for the related course “Immune system and AIDS” and two unrelated courses called “International Security” (Political Science) and “Global Conflict”(Global Studies). I was particularly enthusiastic about the last two courses with their creative work tasks, such as writing strategy briefs on curbing the opium trade in Afghanistan or on conflict resolution between Israel and Palestine. I can only recommend everyone to be creative when choosing a course and to use the large selection.
When it comes to spending your free time, it is important to be well informed at the beginning of the semester. At UCSB, many clubs and organizations offer exciting evening events, such as salsa or blues dance courses. Particularly noteworthy is the “Excursion Club”. This is a student club that offers a variety of outdoor gear for rent, including tents, sleeping bags, and surfboards, for a semester fee of $30. He also offers organized excursions almost every day. This can be small bike tours to three-day camping trips. Beyond Santa Barbara, there’s a lot to discover in California, from great cities like LA to unique national parks like Yosemite. I often travel with friends over the weekend. I particularly remember the trip to Tijuana, Mexico. It’s an interesting experience to walk 100 meters from San Diego through a border structure and find yourself in a completely different culture.
After the end of the semester, my visa was still valid for 60 days. I used this so-called “grace period” to do a four-week internship in Washington DC on a Democrat’s campaign team. It was exciting to delve so deeply into America’s political system and to get to know the East Coast after California. Afterwards, friends visited me in Boston and we went on a three-week road trip to Miami.
All in all I spent almost six months in the USA and am grateful for the many new experiences and friends. Finally, three quick tips for UCSB:
- Look for a flat share in good time via the Facebook group “UCSB Housing”
- Use ratemyprofessors.com when registering
- Join the Excusion Club
All that remains to be said is enjoy the time, look forward to the relaxed Californian lifestyle, be open to new things and get involved with the laid-back Americans. Have fun!