I took a language course at UCI (or University of California Irvine according to act-test-centers) from January to March 2011. Because after my studies in Germany I wanted to improve my English skills and I chose California for that.
The language course is structured in such a way that each student is taught according to their abilities. For this purpose, a test (grammar, listening comprehension, reading and writing) is carried out at the beginning, based on the results you are then divided into levels 1 to 7. Although I didn’t study English much after I graduated from high school in 2005, I was placed in the top level.
Levels 1 – 5 consist of Grammar & Writing (10 hours per week), Speaking & Listening (8 hours per week) and Reading & Writing (5 hours per week), while Levels 6 and 7 each have 10 hours of Reading & Writing, 5 Have hours of Speaking & Listening plus 2 elective courses, which means you can also take courses at UCI ($ 250 is covered by the extension if you want to take courses at University of California Irvine, you have to pay for the rest out of your own pocket). There are many options open to you.
I couldn’t have wished for a better university for the language course, because the teachers are super nice, totally motivated and just really do their best for the students. It was really fun going to class. The classes are very small (maximum 13 people), which can lead to a lively exchange. The majority of all students at UCI are Asians, who are shaped by their culture and are much more cautious in teaching than we Europeans.
My class consists of 10 Asians, a Kuwait, a Brazilian and me. At first it was quite difficult to come into contact with the Asians, as they really mostly stay among themselves and speak their languages, but if you stick with it and make an effort, they also open up to the outside world.
Every day there is little homework, especially writing essays, reading and summarizing texts and over the 10 weeks you wrote an argumentative essay, the question of which you defined at the beginning and then worked on it during the course. In order to become more confident in English, there were different forms of presentation in front of the class: improvisational speeches, debates, interviews, teaching in an American elementary school, etc. There is really a lot of emphasis on variety and on getting the students to talk. After five weeks, a mid-term exam was taken in all courses: in the form of a written exam, presentation or role play and at the end there was the final exam. That may sound like a lot now, but it is only half as bad. It is a lot of fun to work with and the grades are awarded very mildly!;-)
On the whole, the teachers are really supportive and always with great commitment, but my teacher in Reading and Writing, for example, had great problems getting the Chinese to participate orally, so that she gave up halfway through the time and became somewhat resigned. But if you really want to work, you will also get ahead.
Accustomed I Columbia Court; 10 minutes walk from the extension building. I shared the apartment with three other girls. It was very spacious and each twin room had its own bathroom, the kitchen was fully equipped and the living area had a comfortable couch and a dining table. There was no desk in the rooms, so we always did our homework together at the kitchen table – which can also be very sociable. Columbia Court also had a pool (and whirlpool) with a barbecue area, and a basketball and volleyball court.
All we had to do to buy groceries was cross the street. In addition to a supermarket, Starbucks and other small restaurants were also available. There are also shops everywhere around the campus, so that one was not limited to this “shopping district”. The location was really perfect. And you get used to the footpaths that you may have to cover very quickly. At first I wanted to buy a bike, but then I left it (Info: You can theoretically rent bikes on campus). There are also buses around the campus that you don’t have to pay for.
It was presented at the beginning directly different Activities that have been offered over the 10 weeks. For some (e. g. the Lakers or Ducks games) you should register as soon as possible, as the cards are very popular and the contingent is limited, for others such as Disneyland, Universal Studios etc. you can really take your time, because it was enough to report to the office the evening before. However, I would do well to find out about the prices, because you can often get away much cheaper if you buy the tickets yourself at the Student Center and organize the “journey” yourself. It depends on how mobile you are. But if you don’t know a lot of people yet, the organized excursion is of course great – you make new contacts so quickly (if not only Asians are on the way – when I went on the trip to Disneyland, we were 150 people and 10 of them were not Asians).
I really enjoyed life in and around Irvine. I got to know so many people from different cultures. . . At the beginning I had a culture shock – not because of America, but because it was so unusual to live and learn with people from all parts of the world. But you get used to it quickly.
I was really lucky with the people (with whom a lot stands or falls in my opinion) that I got to know. As a German you are more of an isolated case in Irvine and the others quickly group themselves together according to their countries. But it was awesome. There were lots of parties, we went to New Port, Anaheim a lot and just “hung out” and played sports (the Anteater Recreation Center is highly recommended: 3 month membership is $ 90 and you can take courses, swim and all seats from basketball to squash and also borrow equipment at no extra charge. )
As a student at the UCI Extension, it is very difficult to come into contact with American students, which was sometimes a shame. . . But when you just sit down at the table in the cafeteria, have a nice chat in the sports courses or enjoy the superbowl in the pub looks, it’s faster than you think. You are very open and always look forward to new acquaintances:-)
I am happy that I chose to go to the UCI. It was really an unforgettable time that I wouldn’t want to miss.