University of California, Davis 6

For the Fall and Winter Quarter 08/09, I was enrolled in Agriculture Economics at UC Davis. I still remember my first day at the Extension Center very well. Most of the students were Asians, many came from South America and around 10 students from Europe. And at first I felt quite lost with my 178cm and blonde hair. Fortunately there was another German girl among the students who quickly became a close friend. But I also got along well with the Asian exchange students after some initial difficulties. It was interesting to experience what it is like when the fellow students all talk to each other in a language that you don’t understand yourself at all.

In the first few days, all newcomers will be tested for a few hours in the Extension Center for their English skills (verbally & in writing) and classified accordingly in levels. The higher levels then have the opportunity to take courses outside the Extension Center. These so-called open campus courses are a little more difficult, as there is of course no consideration for linguistic comprehension difficulties. Still, these courses are a great way to get in touch with Americans and get to know the “real” UC Davis university life. For the open campus courses, you register directly at the Extension Center. Linguistically, I had few problems with the courses, although there were some overlaps with my German modules in terms of content, but basically the courses followed my German courses well and I learned a lot. Since I am in the master’s course, the number of participants per lecture was quite manageable (20-30 students). From other fellow students, however, I know that there are somewhat larger classes in the Bachelor’s degree and that you are also taught in large halls.

However, the professors all like to take their time after the lecture or during office hours and help with problems. In contrast to Germany, the contact between professor and student is closer. They behave in a more unauthorized manner and do not shy away from clarifying questions of understanding by email or in direct conversation. Another difference to studying at my German university is that I got regular homework here. It was often asked to prepare intensively for the next lecture. So here you are more or less forced to repeat the material of the lecture and “stay on the ball”. In Germany it was more common for me to do nothing for the whole semester and then to start studying in the last few weeks before the exams. This “learning behavior” is not possible here.

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The teachers at the Extension Center are also all very patient, helpful and close to the students. Some of them also meet the students outside of the class for lunch or dinner. You don’t have to worry about bad grades at the Extension Center, the requirements are quite low and homework can be done within a few minutes. However, only intensive English courses are offered here; for non-subject courses, it is necessary to take part in the open campus program.

The city of Davis is small, peaceful, clean and very student-friendly. There are numerous bars, cinemas and restaurants as well as a few clubs (with most American students having private apartment parties on weekends). The shopping possibilities in Davis, however, are very limited, which is why it is recommended to go shopping to Vacaville, Sacramento (free) or for around 23 dollars to San Francisco.
Of course there are also some fast food chains in Davis, but Davis is quite “green” -oriented. There are organic supermarkets, lots of parks and electric cars. You can also meet sport-loving joggers and cyclists at any time of the day or night. So you don’t have to be afraid that you will become fat and lazy here 🙂 If you want to do sports even in bad weather, you can register for free (depending on student status) or for 85 dollars per quarter at the ARC Activities and Recreation Center. The ARC is close to the campus and is still open until late in the evening and offers numerous fitness courses in addition to an indoor running track, climbing wall and basketball field.

What is relatively expensive here in California are cosmetics, shower gel, cotton wool pads, etc. I was surprised that even the no-name products are quite expensive. Otherwise, groceries are about as expensive as in Germany. And in some supermarkets there are even typical German products such as black bread or Haribo gummy bears 😉 So I really didn’t miss anything here (except for the mulled wine in winter).

I applied for a room with a host family while in Germany. Most of the host families I’ve heard of here are really nice and do a lot with “their” students. I was also very lucky and lived with a host family with 2 other exchange students (Chile & Korea), which was often a linguistic challenge, but was still a lot of fun and I got an insight into the American way of life as well as the Chilean / Korean culture can experience.

I recommend anyone who chooses Davis to get a bike as soon as possible. The bus routes do not cover all of Davis by a long way and at rush hour they are usually totally overcrowded.

Since bicycle theft is a minor problem in Davis, it is advisable to pay attention to quality when purchasing the lock and to always chain the bicycle securely, even for short errands. For the raining season (between November and February) it is advantageous to have a rain jacket, as it sometimes rains for days during this time. But it doesn’t get really cold here compared to Germany. In autumn it would be quite cool at night due to the cloudless sky, but I never needed a scarf or gloves.

Looking back, I would choose Davis again and again and I am very grateful for the support MicroEDU gave me in applying for a university place.

University of California, Davis 6