UCSB – A recommended adventure
Of course, you should deal with things like visas , health insurance and flights in your preparation . However, these things require relatively little effort in my opinion(provided you live in a city with a US embassy / consulate). Cheap flights to Los Angeles can be found from all major German airports – you may have to change trains once, which shouldn’t be a problem. Alternatively, you can fly from LA to Santa Barbara; is much more relaxed than by car / train, but costs around € 200 more. To whom it is worth this 200 €, I can only warmly recommend it. If you land in LA and drive from there by car / train to Santa Barbara, you can use this fact to spend a few days in LA. As a result, the first of the many attractions in California has already been “checked off”. Because you will find that there are too many wonderful things to see so that it is impossible to see everything in a quarter. In LA you should definitely rent a car, because without a car it is quite tedious to reach the sights in LA or some are not accessible without a car.
In my opinion, however, the most important and cumbersome point in the whole preparation is the search for an apartment . Most of the rooms / apartments are only given long-term (at least 12 months). A few providers also offer short-term leases, but often only for a substantial surcharge. For this reason, it is important to start looking for an apartment as early as possible (at least 6 months in advance); at least if you want to live in Isla Vista (IV). Alternatively, you can arrive 2-3 weeks before the start of the semester and try to find something on site. Unfortunately, it is not possible to live on campus. In any case, I would recommend living directly in Isla Vista, because only there you can experience the real student life. In principle, in IV, with the exception of the time around the midterms and finals, not a day goes by on which an event does not take place in one of the bars (e.g. Tue: Gio’s, Wed: WoodStock’s, Thu: Downtown) – private parties or smaller meetings Ins are available daily even during the exam period.
In order to get to the university from Isla Vista and to be able to move around the large campus relatively easily, it is important to have a bike . Otherwise it will be quite tedious, as the distances can be very long. Bicycles are cheap at Kmart in Goleta. The bicycle shops in IV are mostly smaller shops and therefore significantly more expensive. When buying bikes through Craigslist, you should also be careful, as some of them are stolen or in poor condition. At the end of the semester it is relatively easy to sell the bike again.
The university campus is sensational: buildings like in the film and the beach in the middle of the campus . I think there are only a few universities in the world with their own beach on campus. In contrast to the beach in IV, the university’s beach has no problem with oil / tar, which is caused by the oil platforms off the coast. Check act-test-centers to see more reviews from current students.
Shopping opportunities in Isla Vista are unfortunately limited and relatively expensive. There are large supermarkets in Goleta, which can be reached by bus within a few minutes. Alternatively, you can borrow a car from other students / neighbors or drive with them. For those who stay longer than a quarter, it is advisable to buy a car and sell it again in the end – it makes many things easier, but above all it makes traveling easier.
However, there are a few points that unfortunately were not as expected. For example, the support from the Housing Office was less helpful in looking for an apartment. Sometimes we had the feeling that the people responsible did not represent our interests, but the interests of the real estate agents. If you are looking for an apartment, do not turn to Abrego Villas / Majestic Apartments (overpriced prices, incompetent staff, multiple breaches of contract, problems with the refund of the deposit, etc.)
In addition, business administration / economics students in advanced semesters may have problems choosing a course. The level of the Extension School is relatively low, which is why some universities do not recognize the Extension School courses at all or give them a limit (max. 1). Students then have to take the remaining courses at the “normal” university. Here there is the “class crash”, which is mostly not a problem. Most professors are happy that internationals are interested in their courses and allow participation in their courses. In the Economics Department, on the other hand, things are different: courses for internationals are assigned centrally via the Econ Undergraduate Office (while US students can vote online and change their choice whenever they want). Even during the allocation process for internationals, US students may want to change their selection afterwards and are therefore always preferred to international students. As with me, this can lead to major problems (due to the progress of studies and the level of the courses at UCSB , my university would only have accepted 3 of the Econ courses offered).
In general, it should be noted that the strengths of UCSB are more in the area of engineering , physics , chemistry , etc. and not in the area of economics / business administration / finance. This is also reflected in the range of courses. So if you have a very restrictive home university, UCSB cannot guarantee that you will be able to take one of the courses that your home university may require. However, it must also be mentioned that some people in the administrative part of the Economics Department have been replaced due to complaints from numerous students, so that in the future the efforts regarding the wishes / requirements of the internationals will be significantly intensified.
In general, I would recommend you to take courses at the “normal” university, as it is so much easier to come into contact with Americans and thus to be invited to parties more often and more easily (in the extension courses there are usually only internationals). Finally, you are indeed in the United States come to the United States know and not to spend your time with Germans.
All in all, the semester abroad was a great experience (the positives predominate) . Santa Barbara is ideally located for traveling through California from there (located in the middle). With a little luck you can even find cheap flights across the country from the airport in Santa Barbara, otherwise LA is only 2 hours away by car. I would recommend a semester abroad in California to anyone and I am glad I had this experience.