I did Fall Quater 2010 at UCSB – and that was definitely the best decision of my life. 🙂
The application process was very easy. The UCSB formalities were cleared within a week. Applying for a visa at the embassy was a lot more time-consuming.
My tip: Save the online form from time to time, as the page reloads every 15 minutes and the information you have previously entered will otherwise be deleted.
I booked with STA-Travel. For domestic flights I recommend “southwest”, as they do not charge any extra baggage fees.
Since I spent a few days in LA, I took the train (amtrack) to St. Barbara. Otherwise I can recommend the “Airbus”.
The first days:
At first I lived in the St. Barbara Hostel. Unfortunately the hotel is not only overpriced but also quite dirty. You’d better look for cheap accommodation in an American flat share via Craigslist. This is not only cheaper but also promises first US contacts.
I didn’t open an American account myself because of my short stay. Since you definitely need at least one credit card in the States, I had one issued by the DKB and my Raiffeisenbank. (One Visa and one Mastercard) Pay attention to your credit card limit, because I paid all my course fees with my credit card, for example – unfortunately that didn’t work the first time because the limit of the DKB is set relatively low.
I got myself a disposable cell phone including a prepaid contract from Virgin Mobile. So I paid $ 40 per month for Internet telephone and SMS flat. I was always very satisfied with the mains supply.
There is only one thing to say about living: move to IV !!! Find a bike via “Craigslist” and then a room and enjoy the time. Commuting between IV and Downtown is a costly waste of time in my opinion. (At most if you hate parties, good music and want to concentrate extremely on your studies – then move to Goleta or Downtown!
Get your student ID including the bus sticker as soon as possible, so you can use the public transport system in St Barbara for free. Otherwise I was “crashing” with courses in the first few weeks. I found my economics courses Labor Economics, Personell Economics, Statistics and Managerial Accounting very interesting. I went to all the courses I wanted to attend and that in the Term case, so don’t panic. Register at the Recreation Center (cost $ 60) so that you can use both the fitness studio and the pool area including the whirlpool. Check liuxers to see more reviews from current students.
Excursions shouldn’t be neglected. I’ve had the best weekend experiences with my friends in Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Yosemite National Park, and San Francisco. You can get a rental car through a German agency, e.g. 1a-autovermleih. (At first it sounded a bit dubious to me, but that’s a reputable agency, don’t worry) The background is that you don’t have to pay an under-25 fee with these car brokerage agencies.
We even went to Yosemite National Park with the university. Therefore, pay attention to offers from the Rec-Center or special offers for exchange students.
If you want to go surfing or experience other extraordinary things, it is best to register at the Excursion Club. Membership per term is $ 30. You can take part in “Surf Lessons” free of charge (they are also happy to receive donations in the form of beer) or take part in hikes. Surfboards and wetsuits are also given out for free.
The parties in IV are legendary. Especially on Halloween, many party-goers come to Santa Barbara. The best thing to do is just go to DP (Del Playa) and storm a house party, then what happens to you yourself. You shouldn’t go out on the street with just opened alcoholic beverages in the so-called “open containers”. All alcoholic beverages must be sealed. Attention, the police there are not in the mood to joke!
On Thursday we usually go downtown to celebrate. The best way to do this is to take the “Bills-Bus” the round trip costs $ 10. Loud party music is not only played on the bus, you can also drink alcohol. (Which is also prohibited in most taxis)
Since I have shopped extremely, EXTREMELY, I went to the customs office in Munich on a voluntary basis. Better safe than sorry. And with a lot of charm, she was able to convince the officers to appreciate the value of my luggage for themselves. So even if you plan to keep the receipts (like me) it helps a lot to write down all the items you want to register beforehand and to place them in the suitcase accordingly.
My stay abroad in St. Barbara was a complete success. I found the courses at the university really interesting (and the midterm finals system allowed me to learn a lot of new things). The people I got to know are still good friends to this day. Unfortunately, the pleasure isn’t quite that cheap. Still, the experiences are worth the money in my opinion. However, one term is almost too short to get to know the diversity of California.