My decision for UCSB
Having an already in bachelor semester abroad have graduated, it was clear for me to want to do another semester abroad as part of the master. Choosing the USA as a study location as a freemover is not cheap in view of the tuition fees, but if you decide to do so, it at least has the advantage of being able to choose between many universities. The location, an attractive campus and an active study life were important to me when choosing. UCSB met precisely these criteria. The video “Soaring over UCSB” on the Vimeo platform gives a great impression of the attractiveness of the campus and its location. After the 2 minutes you definitely want to go there.
The courses offered played a secondary role for me, since by this point I had already completed almost all of the courses in my master’s degree.
Planning the semester abroad
It is ideal to start planning for the semester abroad six months in advance. There is no fixed application deadline at UCSB; it depends on the number of applicants and in part also on the applicant himself. Experience has shown that the application process at the USCB for the fall quarter closes annually in May / June. The fact that the application process at UCSB ended unusually late in June last year (2015) made it possible for me to complete the semester abroad. Read more student reviews on Hetongdiy.
I applied relatively late and accordingly benefited a lot from the help from MicroEDU. Coordination and feedback on all organizational points was always very quick, so I also encourage those who decide to spend a semester abroad at very short notice to apply. Last but not least, the good contact between the employees and the university is an advantage. As an applicant, you will almost certainly increase your chances of being able to study at UCSB if you apply through agencies such as MicroEDU, which have been placing students for a long time and have proven themselves for UCSB.
Organizational things that you have to take care of yourself in the application phase, such as getting a timely appointment for the TOEFL test (where I could conveniently get a test location nearby, but also one, seemed more problematic or time-consuming to me) Surcharge for a test date in the same week had to be accepted). Depending on your knowledge of English, the short / non-existent preparation time for the test can also play a relevant role.
MicroEDU provides information on all the “to-do’s” required for the application.
For me, choosing a course was a little easier. I didn’t need any courses that I wanted to have recognized at my home university. I was happy to be able to choose non-subject courses based on my interests. For example, I took the ‘Communications for international students’ course, which offered an interesting mix of soft skills, presentation techniques and cultural topics.
With the ‘Regular Courses’ it must be noted that it is possible to take the courses before the start of the semester, but the class crashing only takes place in the first 2 weeks of the term as to whether you can take the course as an international student. The regular courses are more expensive, usually require more work and are usually rated more strictly than the ‘Extension Courses’ (courses exclusively for international students).
The extension courses can be “bought” before the start of the term. After the purchase, the place in the course is safe.
Depending on the number of units, the costs of the courses differ. For the visa to be valid, at least 12 units (undergraduate courses) must be taken per term. For graduate courses there are 8 units. If you want to take regular courses, you should wait to buy the extension courses until you have decided whether you can take the course as a foreign student. I think you can have the money for paid extension courses reimbursed, but it’s best to ask MicroEDU again.
Immediately next to the campus is the “village” of Isla Vista, which consists almost entirely of students. The location of Isla Vista is ideal for the daily commute to university, to live close to the beach and to experience as much student life as possible. Especially on the weekends, many public and private parties are celebrated on the “DP” (Del Playa Road). A very lively “village”, which for many students, especially those from abroad, embodies the immediate feeling of college life, but is still unique in the whole of the USA, not least because of its location. For me personally, experiencing this “world” in Isla Vista was one of the main reasons why I enjoyed the semester abroad so much.
You can also live more quietly in Isla Vista. This is possible in the outskirts of Isla Vista, and if you take care not to live near the houses of fraternities and sororities. Larger parties are also popular there. For those who like it very quiet, living in Goleta is recommended. Santa Barbara itself is also an option, but here you have to accept a longer journey by bus (approx. 30 minutes).
Housing itself can be very expensive. The prices vary from $ 500-1000 (there is really no upper limit) for a room. Most of the rooms are not singles (single rooms), but doubles or triples, ie you share your room with one or more flatmates.
Finding an apartment is not easy, especially in the fall quarter. In my experience and what one has heard from other students, those who arrived 2-4 weeks before the start of the term and went looking for them found the best accommodation (especially cheap ones). During this time the offer is greatest and you may be able to team up with a few people.
The public Facebook group “UCSB HOUSING” is a way of finding accommodation or posting an ad as a searcher. The group consists of over 5000 members and advertisements are posted regularly, especially at the end of a term. Foreign students feel that their chances are somewhat worse. Of course, it is also good to be there to view the apartment. It can be very practical to find accommodation from home and accept it bindingly, but of course you can also be unlucky with it.
In addition, accommodations are offered on Craigslist or I have received a few calls as a searcher for an advertisement. By the way, getting a domestic contract should be one of the first steps. Telephoning for communication when looking for an apartment has proven to be much more helpful for me than emails.
You can also find out more about housing options on campus.
To get around in everyday life on campus and in IV, many buy a skateboard or bike, mostly on Craigslist. At rush hour, the campus is teeming with bikes and skateboards. In addition, you can have a bus sticker stuck on your student ID at the beginning of the term, with which you can use all buses in Goleta and Santa Barbara free of charge. This is particularly helpful for shopping.
It is also worth considering buying a used car. For the numerous trips and for shopping, etc., it makes life easier or you save noticeable money in the long run. The cars can usually be resold for a price similar to the purchase price. I even met people who still sold the car for a profit. You just have to be cheeky enough to trust yourself to do it. But even with a lower retail value, this is really worth considering.
For renting cars I recommend the websites autoscout24 or sunnycars, as these German websites are usually much cheaper and always have fully comprehensive insurance, which the Americans can pay for when renting a car.
Free time can also be used excellently in Isla Vista. In the middle of the “DP” (Del Playa Road) you will find the so-called Excursion Club. Anyone who joins here for a fee of over 30 dollars for a term can usually borrow gear for free (tent equipment, various boards for surfing / stand-up paddling, etc.) or take part in very affordable tours (camping, hiking, surfing, etc.) ). This is not only suitable for getting to know the wonderful surrounding area, but also for making contacts.
For sports enthusiasts, the Reg’Cen (Recreation Center) also offers a gym, tennis courts, climbing walls, squash courts, outdoor swimming pool, and small hot tub – exactly my world for a fee of $ 30.
You should also take the opportunity to go hiking in any case, whether with the excursion club or privately with friends. The surrounding area in Santa Barbara will reward you with postcard-like views. The hike to the Inspiration Point in Santa Barbara is very well known.
Back to the parties: If you don’t have to go to university early on Friday (compulsory attendance), you can ring in the party weekend on Thursday. Real party buses (the party really starts on the bus), such as Bill’s bus and other providers, go to Santa Barbara Downtown from 9.30 p.m. and back again when the clubs close at 2 p.m. On Thursdays the clubs (Tonic, Eos, Wildcat, Sharkeez, Sandbar) downtown are occupied by the students.
Santa Barbara itself also has a lot to offer. A rather cozier city in the USA due to its size. The Spanish architectural style resulting from the history dominates the entire city and gives it a very pleasant flair. In the Court House there is an observation tower with a fantastic view of the city (free of charge), at the pier you can eat delicious food and at Groupon there are (sometimes very high) discounts for wine tastings at the numerous winegrowers from the region who visit for Make students more affordable. You should definitely try the ribs in Joe’s Café.
Depending on the travel before, during and after the term, the costs for the semester abroad can vary greatly. You won’t be able to travel much for less than € 10,000. I’ve spent more than € 13,000, but I’ve also traveled a lot (LA, Las Vegas, island hopping in Hawaii, San Francisco, San Diego, New York City, Washington DC).
There is potential for savings by finding cheap accommodation, choosing a course, if possible, shopping at Costco (the metro from the USA). I was only able to arrive shortly before the start of the term, so I had difficulty finding (cheap) accommodation.
Overall, the cost of living is significantly higher than ours. I remember the large Nutella glass I paid $ 7.99 for at Albertsons in Goleta, which we have on sale at Real for € 2.79.