UC Santa Barbara campus

UCSB Reviews (6)

For me it was crucial to spend a semester abroad at a good US university in order to be able to evaluate the option of a possible master’s degree in the States without depriving me of the opportunity to travel a few times due to intensive university engagement. With a 35th place worldwide in the Times Higher Education Ranking and various Nobel Prize winners, including one in the Economics Department, I considered the UCSB to be qualified here. On the other hand, I wanted to get to know the Californian mentality, because I had also thought about starting a career in the USA and California, as an economically important state, is an interesting option here. Of course, the positive experience reports from previous years, including the descriptions of IVs, also contributed to the decision.

In retrospect, I didn’t have the impression that I was studying at a really good university. The course level was very different and the vast majority of American fellow students in the undergraduate area were only interested in the (hallucinogenic) magic IVs. This is in no way intended to diminish my positive experience; I had a good, exciting and educational time in Santa Barbara, but you should be aware of this fact in advance. The cost is around $ 1500 for enrollment and $ 1000 per course (actually $ 250 per unit, but all university courses have 4 units).

Application process

Like many predecessors, I chose your website, which I can only recommend – very uncomplicated, always helpful and probably much less complex than an individual application. Some organizational hurdles, above all getting a visa, have to be dealt with by yourself, of course, which is a huge bureaucratic effort, but the process itself ran without problems. The on-site support was very poor for free movers. Apart from an introductory event on the part of the university, there were no activities such as a buddy system or similar.


First and foremost, the crashing should be mentioned in relation to the courses. As a free mover, the professor has to give his consent to attend the course – which he is happy to do in principle, but the space often limits him. Accordingly, you should also choose some backup courses at the beginning of the quarter. The crediting office in St. Gallen was very helpful because I only had my preferred courses checked in advance. In the end, I was able to take four out of five desired courses (only Micro II was hopelessly overcrowded):

  • Econ 134A: Financial Management -> Finance
  • Comm 130: Political Communication -> Action Competence
  • Hist 145D: War and Diplomacy in the Middle East – Arab Spring -> Cultural Competence
  • Comm 132: Media Policy and Regulation -> Elective Area

Theoretically, there are also so-called extension courses, which are primarily designed as part-time training, but can also be attended by students. However, I was very satisfied with the above compilation, especially since Hist 145D was a decentralized subject, which reduced the learning curve for midterms and finals. In general, you have assignments or papers to do every week (plus readings, but you quickly notice what is really important and what is not), but there is definitely enough time for extra-university activities. Longer trips are also possible if you concentrate the weekly work on a day or two. In principle, attendance is compulsory in all courses, a breach of this results in the worst case in a cancellation of the visa (and thus a direct journey home), whereby here too, of course, certain freedoms exist as long as one studies “properly”. A comparable learning stress as in the St. Gallen examination phase does not arise during the finals, since you are forced to work continuously in advance. Check hetongdiy to see more reviews from current students.

Local life

I flew to Santa Barbara a week before the start of my studies (the city has a small airport that can be reached via Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Phoenix, for example) to look for an apartment. After a few days of unsuccessful attempts to find something in IV (the students are extremely unreliable when it comes to appointments), I finally found accommodation with a private landlord, about 5 minutes from IV and 10 minutes from the university by bike . The general rule is: buy a bike as soon as possible, you are actually only traveling with it, unless you want to go into town (then you take the bus, or in the evening to party “Bob’s Party Bus”), but what not is absolutely necessary, as IV has everything necessary for life (of course still recommended, especially if you want to eat something good now and then). If you want to live in IV yourself, you should take care of an apartment relatively early, but preferably on site, as shared apartments are sometimes overcrowded or unbelievably dirty or even dubious via craigslist (the method of choice for looking for an apartment) Offers are disseminated. In addition, you should be prepared for relatively high prices and a lower standard of hygiene.


During the semester abroad, I was not only able to answer the questions mentioned at the beginning for myself, but also to learn a lot about a country and its culture that I thought I already knew enough about. I was also able to experience many impressive moments, people and places – in short: I had a great time and can only recommend it, but you should also be aware of the special features of a stay at UCSB.

UC Santa Barbara campus