Preparation of the study visit
Application to UCSB
I applied to the University of California Santa Barbara through MicroEDU in late January. I received my approval within a month. MicroEDU was found to be very helpful with the application. I can highly recommend the service thanks to precise instructions for the correct application and excellent telephone availability.
Visa acquisition and travel information
After being accepted by the University of California Santa Barbara, I took care of the application for my visa (F1). First, you have to fill out some forms online in order to make an appointment at a US embassy. It is important to read all information carefully so as not to forget any documents. I followed MicroEDU’s instructions exactly. Obtaining a visa takes a lot of effort, but everything worked smoothly for me. At the embassy, I was only asked briefly about my project in the USA and the funding. The passport will then be retained and sent back by post to the address provided. After receiving your passport, you should definitely check the visa application for correctness. Read more student reviews on Iamaccepted.
When entering the USA you have to take the I-20 form with you. Already at the check-in counter at the airport in Germany, a check was made to ensure that this was carried with you. In the event of a possible re-entry into the USA, this must also be shown. In addition, make sure that you have the signature of the host university on the I-20 form if you leave the USA during the visa period and want to re-enter.
Shortly after my arrival in the USA, I opened a bank account (Chase Bank), as this offers a number of advantages. On the one hand, you get an American debit card with which you can easily pay anywhere. On the other hand, you can use the Venmo service to send money to others quickly and easily. Opening a bank account is very easy, you only need a few documents. After the end of my stay, I closed my account again. I would advise everyone to do this in order to avoid any fees. Closing accounts is also quick and easy in every branch.
Course of studies
Orientation and enrollment
Before the semester actually started, there was a short orientation phase for the students in the field of extension at UCSB. Only international students, mostly from Germany and China, took part in this. Everything important on campus was explained to you and you were supported with enrollment.
Course choice and level
As an extension student, you are not officially enrolled at UCSB, but this does not have any disadvantages when choosing a course. First of all, a distinction must be made between language, extension undergraduate and graduate courses at UCSB. Language courses were strongly touted by UCSB during orientation. If you had achieved below 20 points in one of the areas in the TOEFL, you were obliged to take one of the courses in the area in which you had failed.
I personally found the level of the language courses to be very low. I advise against the choice if you do not have to take part in it. The UCSB extension courses are mainly attended by international students and professionals. The events are mostly in the evening to make it easier for professionals who want to continue their education. Compared to a German university course, the level of the extension courses is low. However, the learning effect can also be very high. I have taken a couple of very interesting extension courses myself. Friends have also told me about a handful of positive courses. One should be aware that the level is lower and differentiate well when choosing extension courses.
I took courses in the undergraduate and graduate areas of UCSB exclusively in the Technology and Management Department (TMP). The level of the undergraduate courses is higher than that of the extension courses. However, I found the level of these courses to be lower compared to Germany. Nevertheless, these courses were very practice-oriented and therefore sometimes extremely instructive. I personally found the graduate courses very good. The level was consistently very high and almost all the courses I took were very helpful to me. However, you should be aware that the graduate courses are sometimes associated with higher effort and the group size of an average of 10 peopleturns out to be very small. In the undergraduate area, there were always over 100 people in the courses I took.
The language and extension courses were very easy to get. All you had to do was fill out a slip of paper with your own signature and be registered directly. The effort to get into the undergraduate courses was significantly higher. Most of the courses had to be crashed. This means that you are put on a waiting list and you often have to wait a few weeks (1-2 weeks on average) for the decision whether to get the course or not. Personally, I got all of the courses I wanted. I had the feeling that as an international student you had more of an advantage in the technology and management area. However, this can be completely different in other departments. The TMP graduate courses at UCSB were often under-bookedmaking it very easy to get.
Intensity, exams and learning success
The workload for the language course and the extension courses is manageable. The courses are very feasible. The undergraduate courses, on the other hand, are very time-consuming. Even if the level is not extremely high, the high density of submissions means that the overall effort for the courses is high. I had the feeling that while the graduate courses were more demanding, the workload was the same or even less than the undergraduate courses. Because you have fewer essays and projects per course, you can immerse yourself more in the subject and deal more intensively with the problems.
In all courses taken, the overall grade consisted of many different individual grades. Often there were participation and attendance grades, which, however, rarely made up more than 15 percent of the overall grade. Essays, projects and homework were almost always part of the grade. In addition, there was often an exam in the middle of the quarter and another exam at the end of the quarter. Instead of an exam, some professors also opted for an essay or a project.
I found this different way of imparting knowledge to be very instructive and interesting. Due to the creative nature of learning, in my opinion the level is sometimes a bit lower, but you focus more on the main subject areas within a course. Overall, I was enthusiastic about the practical relevance of the professors and their lectures. Almost all professors came from the private sector or have worked for a few years in between. This enabled deep insights into the American business world, practical tips for professional life and interesting contacts to be madewill. The high number of outstanding guest lecturers, especially in the graduate courses, was very positive.
General situation at the place of study
Living and living situation
Adjacent to the University of California Santa Barbara is the Isla Vista student district, where the vast majority of students live. The residential area is unique. The first row of houses in the front street ‘Del Playa’ is built directly adjacent to the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean. If you live in Isla Vista, the distance to the university by bike is a maximum of 15 minutes. I lived in Isla Vista, which I personally liked very much. Life in Isla Vista feels like being in your own small town full of students, which I found very positive. There are also several on the university campus and adjacent to Isla VistaUCSB student dormitories. Most of them are inhabited by freshmen and often the purchase of a meal plan is compulsory. A very good alternative to Isla Vista are the apartments Sierra Madre and San Joaquin Villages, which were newly built and are therefore very modern. In addition, rental contracts for short periods are possible there.
Since the UCSB does not recognize the health insurance of the DAAD, the health insurance of the university had to be taken out in addition. The fees had already been paid in advance with the tuition fees. During my time at UCSB, I only used the university’s health care center once. You paid the bill in advance with your credit card and could then reclaim the amount in a somewhat cumbersome way. It took two months to receive the check, which I personally consider to be a long time. Otherwise I can’t say anything negative. Fortunately, however, I did not have a serious illness.
The leisure activities in Santa Barbara are very extensive. On the one hand, the UCSB offers numerous sports opportunities. The Recreation Center with a variety of equipment, places (for football, squash, climbing, etc.) and a pool could not be used free of charge as an extension student. From the Winter Quarter onwards, however, this was also possible as an extension student. Another limitation as an extension student was when you wanted to join a sports club. This was forbidden and therefore the sports offer was limited to intramural teams and the independent use of the premises and equipment of the Recreation Center.
For this reason, I mainly used the offers of the student-run excursion club. For an annual membership fee of $ 60 you got access to surfboards, wetsuits, kayaks and a lot more outdoor equipment. In addition, the club organized a wide variety of excursions every day (e.g. hiking, rafting, camping, etc.) in which I was happy to take part.
During the nine months at UCSB, I was able to experience the very different student life of American students compared to that of Germans. I often felt like I was in a US college movie that until then I thought wouldn’t exist. The friendly, relaxed and open-minded nature of the Americans was very present. It is very easy to get into conversation with Americans, but friendships are often shorter. The student parties at UCSB are hard to beat. Celebrating with a view of the Pacific Ocean at always pleasant temperatures was unique.