Hello! If you’re reading this, it probably means you’re interested in studying abroad in Santa Barbara. I’ll give you the “too long, didn’t read” version up front: It’s really expensive, but it’s worth it and I would do it again in the same way at any time.
The application process was very easy and problem-free . To be accepted into the University Immersion Program (UIP), your application only needs to be received in good time. The main point here was in principle only the mandatory TOEFL or IELTS language test. With regard to the language tests, I can clearly recommend the IELTS (as it has already been recommended to me); Among other things, because there you deal with the “speaking” part with an interviewer and you don’t have to speak stiffly into a computer. This way you can still improve and react to the interviewer’s feedback. The most important point in all the paperwork is of course the visa. Once the university has confirmed, the long but interesting trip to the consulate (not the embassy!) Will start. I simply combined this with a trip to Berlin.
The geography institute at UCSB is world class and many other institutes also do excellent in the rankings. In general, an enormously good teaching is noticeable and it is probably unusual for most German students that the teachers show serious interest in the students and always try to please the students and actually convey content.
The courses at the host university have to be “crashed”. Even if as a UIP student you are actually a second-class student, since the regular students have privileges in almost all matters, this has never been a problem for me and my local friends and we got all the courses we wanted. Sometimes it seems close, but we were always lucky because every lecturer can talk to them and international students are always seen as enrichment. It gets tricky for the people who are still in their bachelor’s degree (or ~ pre-diploma), so in Santa Barbara are still “undergraduates”; they are not that popular (in the sense of “nothing special”) and must definitely expect not to be allowed into “graduate” courses.
The majority of the students are very young. Between the ages of 18 and 22, most undergraduates and graduate students are significantly fewer and some live outside of Isla Vista. It is noticeable that, unlike in Germany, most bachelor’s degrees do not automatically do the master’s degree. You are something special as a master’s student. I would estimate around 75% are undergraduates and only 25% are graduates. This leads to a small dilemma: In terms of studies, you should be clearly in the graduate area, but age-wise you probably feel most comfortable at your early 20s. At 25, however, I also felt very comfortable as friends with 22-year-olds and sometimes younger students. Isla Vista, not Downtown Santa Barbara and not Goleta, is not only a crystal clear recommendation because it is simply too far away in the long run. Getting an affordable single room in IV is difficult, but it’s worth it. As you may have seen from other sources, Santa Barbara is very expensive. It is the fourth most expensive city in the USA and there are certainly four students who share a room and each pays $ 700. A room, not an apartment! You can get a single room for around $ 600-700, depending on the distance to the university / beach, but it’s very competitive. However, it is much more common to share a room with one person and pay around $ 500-600 rent. When looking for an apartment I would definitely recommend craigslist and especially to look at the apartment. Rent the first few days in the hostel and then go looking. If you live in Isla Vista you don’t need a car! Just one bike and the second-hand market is very cheap and lively for that matter. Personally, I have the first quarter in Goleta near Dos Pueblos High School, had a single room in a house with 3 roommates, and paid $ 600 plus utilities for it. For the 20-minute bike tour to the university, I bought a new, inexpensive entry-level mountain bike ($ 380) and never rewarded the bike purchase. Since the living situation became very inharmonious in the long run due to the owner of the house and one of the roommates, I moved to an apartment in the Storke Family Housing for the second quarter. I had a room there and lived with a student and her mother; smaller than in Goleta, but of course very close to IV / Campus, for $ 670 per semester. A general tip about the cost of living: don’t underestimate it. Use the official estimates for your calculations.
For on-site support
The support from the Extension Office, which organized the UIP, was great at the beginning, and later rather moderate. I suspect that the staff was very annoyed by some “care cases” and that this was then passed on to the majority of the students. In principle, however, they did their job and more or less every problem was solved. Check jibin123 to see more reviews from current students.
Leisure and excursion possibilities
I really don’t want to go into detail here, as there is a lot of information about Cali. Nevertheless, I give you some local information here. Excursion Club: Club at the university that makes great excursions: climbing, hiking, surfing, skydiving, shooting, camping, canoeing … Costs only $ 30 in the quarter, you get to know great people and, above all, you can sign up for free at any time (!) Rent equipment (tents, canoes, surfboards, wetsuits, …). In my eyes the absolute insider tip. Another relatively hidden gem is “Horseback Riding” on Refugio Beach. For $ 45 there is a 2 hour trip on western horses through the really beautiful Californian mountains through streams along waterfalls with a view of the ocean. You really don’t have to be a horse lover to enjoy it.
Buy a bike, surf the web, eat a BBQ burger at Dogtown in IV, join the Undie run, celebrate Halloween in IV, travel to California (San Diego !, San Fran, LA), visit the small Danish village of Solvang
Even if everyone drives like crazy in IV: Pay attention to the traffic rules. A friend was unlucky and had to pay a $ 230 fine because he ran over a stop sign on his bike. The same also applies to “open container”, i.e. alcoholic beverages that are opened in public, and “public urination”. The cops don’t understand joke and don’t allow themselves to be talked to. Penalties run into the hundreds of dollars. So watch out;)
Don’t stay in IV over the Christmas holidays or spring break. It is extinct and all shops and restaurants are closed! Travel!
In conclusion, I would like to summarize that overall I liked it very, very much and also enjoyed the unexpectedly strong contact with many other international students (actually mainly Norwegians) and made friends for life.
Financially this was probably the biggest investment of my life, but I firmly believe that it was worth every penny 🙂