Study in University of California Santa Barbara 2

Preparations

During my master’s degree I decided to do a semester abroad as a free mover in the USA. First of all, of course, I had to decide which university I would like to study at. The University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) was recommended to me by professors because it is not just a party university (it is known for that), but also a pretty good university with an excellent materials science department. As a state university, it is not quite as expensive as the private one, but California is quite expensive overall.

UCSB has a quarter system; a quarter lasts about 3 months. I was in the USA in the fall quarter of 2015 (Sept.-Dec.). I quickly decided to apply through MicroEDU, as this gives you a German contact person and a good chance of getting a place, and the entire service is free. The MicroEDU staff always answered questions quickly and competently.

The main steps of preparation are

  • a) think about how to finance the whole thing
  • b) Take the Toefl test and apply
  • c) take care of a visa
  • d) Find an apartment
  • e) Book a flight
  1. a)As already said, it is not cheap to study in California. Even before the semester abroad begins, you have to pay for the Toefl test ($ 245), the visa (approx. $ 375), the application fees ($ 2235) and the flight (approx. 1000 €). You also have to get a certificate from the bank that you have enough money available. Funding options are BAföG abroad or a scholarship. The tuition fees for me were about $ 6,063; that depends on which courses you are taking. The total rent was $ 2,600 and the remaining living expensesabout $ 2000. But that is certainly cheaper; I went on a lot of trips and didn’t buy the cheapest groceries.

b / c) Toefl test, application and visa are straightforward if you follow the instructions from MicroEDU.

  1. d)Elaborate the house huntingbecause apartments are very scarce. Most UCSB students live in Isla Vista, a district of Goleta that is directly connected to the university. Isla Vista consists of a lot of individual houses that are rented out by private individuals and a few student residences, which however do not have such a good reputation. I would advise everyone to live in Isla Vista, as the whole student life takes place here, including daily house parties, even if the apartments are more expensive than in neighboring Goleta. Most students live in triple or double rooms ($ 500- $ 800 a month) because single rooms are almost unaffordable. The best place to go when looking for an apartment is Craigslistwhere most students post their offers. It is highly recommended that you start searching several weeks in advance from Germany because it will be very difficult to find anything shortly before the start of the quarter. I was looking for rooms to sublet because most leases usually run for a year. The whole thing then went very unbureaucratically. I took the place of a student who did a semester abroad herself and sent her the money by check after skyping with my future roommate to get to know her.
  2. e)I booked the flight through StaTravel because they have student discounts and you can easily rebook if necessary.

University courses

I was fortunate that I didn’t have to take any courses, as I already did most of the compulsory lectures in Germany. Planning is a bit difficult in this regard, because exchange students are not entitled to a place in the courses and have to crash every course. In other words, in the first few weeks you go to any course that interests you and ask the professor whether there is still a place available. It’s usually not a problem in the technical subjects, I got into all of my courses, but it’s harder in the Economics Department. It is therefore advisable to attend a few more lectures than necessary in the first few weeks. Read more student reviews on Andyeducation.

College groups

In addition to the courses, the university has a lot to offer. All sports clubs and other groups introduce themselves at the “Fun and Fitness Festival” at the beginning of the Fallquarters. It is definitely worth going there, because there you get a great overview of all the offers and you can ask questions directly. In many courses you can take part for the first time free of charge to see if you like it. This gave me the idea to learn fencingwhich was a really good decision. As with many sports, I had a choice between the course and the club. The difference is that in clubs, especially for competitions, they train several times a week and the students stay longer, whereas courses usually only go one quarter. I took the fencing course for beginners. The trainer was very dedicated and managed to transfer his enthusiasm for fencing to the students.

The Cotillion Club is made for everyone who loves to dance. I had dance classes twice a week, which was always fun because it was given by students. Although it was a beginner’s course and I could already dance, I was never bored. The course is progressing relatively quickly, so that I have also learned many new steps. Standard, Latin and nightclub dances are all danced. There are always open dance evenings on Mondays (free) and open training on Saturdays and Sundays. Because there are so many ways to dance, many students are extremely good at dancing and are happy to pass on their knowledge. Dance clubs are widespread at California universities and there are regular competitions between the universities. Cotillion Club is really great and the people there are very friendly to everyone.

Another university group that I have been to regularly is acts2fellowship. This is a Christian group that offers many (free) events. On Fridays there is always dinner, Bible discussions and afterwards some kind of activity: night hike, cooking, sports,… A great place to meet nice people or just have fun.

Leisure

There are many recreational opportunities in Santa Barbara, with mountains and sea close by and always good weather. The Excursion Club is perfect for everyone who likes to be outside. For a one-time membership fee of $ 30, you can borrow everything from sleeping bags to tents to kayaks and surfboards for free. In addition, every week there are different activities that you can take part in: camping trips, surfing, skydiving, jogging, cycling, yoga, climbing,… actually everything you can do outside. A great opportunity to learn to surf, because beginners are usually welcome and the staff members teach everything. Otherwise you can of course take weekend trips to Yosemite Park or one of the surrounding cities.

Miscellaneous

The main modes of transport in Isla Vista are bicycles and longboards. So it’s best to get one through Craigslist as soon as you arrive. You can go shopping at the Food Coop in Isla Vista, which offers many organic and Fairtrade products at wholesale prices. You can buy cheaper a little further away at Kmart or Albertsons. I ‘ve tried during my stay abroad to blend in completely under Americans to the culture to experience real as possible, which was the right decision for me in any case. It’s easy to make contacts in sports and university groups because Californians are super open-minded. You can talk to Germans as soon as you get home. Conclusion: I recommend absolutely everyone to do a semester abroad because it brings infinitely valuable experiences, new perspectives and lots of fun. Santa Barbara is paradise!

Study in University of California Santa Barbara 2