University: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA
City: Santa Barbara
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: literary studies
Study type: semester abroad
I spent a total of three months in beautiful Santa Barbara (September to December 2007) taking courses in English Literature. Then there were two extension courses, because after all, you have to take twelve units. The search for the courses was difficult – it takes time to find all twelve units and then to really get started. Unfortunately, I initially assumed that the whole thing would be a little cheaper – but it turned out that you have to pay about 180 dollars for ONE (!) Unit. Everyone can calculate for themselves what the whole thing will cost… That was a pretty big shock at first, but if there is no other way… If you don’t want to spend that much, you should also take a look at the extension courses! See mcat-test-centers for University of Sheffield.
When university started, I was very busy right from the start – in my seminar I had to write a short paper every week and in my lecture a total of five (!) books were read. Then there were two homework assignments and two exams. At first I wasn’t so sure if I would be able to do it all, but afterwards I’m glad that it wasn’t so lax – after all, you want to learn something!;-) If you attend a lecture, you usually also have to take part in a discussion group. This is actually quite helpful, because there many complicated facts are explained again in detail and in simple words.
Compared to the courses at the university, the extension courses are very simple and fairly relaxed – the perfect balance.;-) If you’re always on the ball, you can learn a lot here too. I have chosen two courses in the field of graphic design, which I can really use for my media studies. Unfortunately, practical work is not done that often at the universities here in Germany…
In general, I have to say that you have to make an effort at the university and are sometimes quite stressed, but that should be worth it, because then you can expect very good grades. Apart from that, the course content is very interesting (at least as far as English studies are concerned) and you have the opportunity to take courses that are not normally offered in Germany. As far as the benefit is concerned, I “only” gave it a 2.0, because I’m actually already free of certificates in English and therefore didn’t necessarily have to rely on the certificates that I did here. Otherwise, it is important to clarify beforehand whether the certificates acquired here can be credited in Germany. It would be a shame if it turns out that it doesn’t work after all.
There are only good things to say about living in Santa Barbara – the weather is great, the beaches are gorgeous and the city is just great. The environment was just perfect for me, because there was no way I would have wanted to study in Los Angeles or any other big city. The disadvantage is that everything is relatively expensive – you have to pay a little attention to the prices…
If you want to go out at night, you can either go to downtown Santa Barbara or to Isla Vista – the options are rather limited there. In my opinion, you quickly get fed up with Isla Vista – you can meet nice people here quite quickly, but you also have to put up with all the drunk people who sometimes drink so much as if they had just turned sixteen and were allowed to be alone for the first time go out.;-) Also, Isla Vista is relatively ugly and Santa Barbara has a lot more to offer in comparison – it would be a shame if you spent every weekend in Isla Vista… If you have the opportunity (and already 21 years is old ;-)), then it’s also worth going to Los Angeles; the city logically has much more to offer in this regard.
I lived with a host family, for which you have to apply in advance. Everyone has to decide for themselves how they want to live, but for me the host family was definitely the right choice and I can only recommend it (and you keep hearing that it shouldn’t be that easy to get an apartment or a room at all to find). To be honest, most of the apartments I’ve seen in Isla Vista looked really bad – I wouldn’t have wanted to trade them. Also, I was able to take many trips with my host family, all of which would otherwise have been quite expensive (Los Angeles, Palm Desert, Big Sur, San Francisco, etc.). I also thought it was great that there was a second student living in our house besides me. Overall I have to say that we all got along great – and who has their own pool and jacuzzi when they’re looking for a room somewhere in town…?!;-)
Unfortunately, there is nothing to gloss over when it comes to costs. Such a semester abroad is VERY expensive, even if it is “only” three months. If you have about 6,000 euros available, then that’s not bad. Depending on your lifestyle, it can also be more expensive (or a little cheaper) – but you should have a certain cushion, I think. In addition, one has to say that there are a lot of costs that one would not necessarily have expected (at least that’s what I had to experience). Nevertheless, I think that you should use the time to see the country (even if it is expensive). Who knows when we’ll get there again! In any case, I have the good feeling that I have seen a lot and will probably fly there again this summer. : -)