In my experience report, I will go into the application process, the courses I have taken at the university, on-site support, the search for accommodation, as well as leisure and excursion options.
I took a total of three courses at UCSB itself. These courses were all courses from the UCSB Extension Program . Two of these courses were language courses to improve my English, especially my written skills, and the third course was a course related to my engineering studies . It is of course also possible to take any other course at UCSB. How this works exactly is explained very clearly and in detail on site.
Although I only took three extension courses, the workload was relatively large. In the language courses in particular, one should not expect that it will work like at German universities or colleges, that the professor or lecturer reads at the front and that you (in the best case) take notes and at the end write an exam. The process during the courses is much more similar to our school lessons. During the course you actively participate and at the end there are tasks that you have to work on either alone or in groups at home.
All of this is of course very much dependent on the chosen course and the professor or the teaching person. There are also lectures at UCSB that are structured like at German universities. What struck me a lot, however, is that as a student at UCSB you are much more likely to actively participate in lectures than at my university in Germany, for example.
The support at UCSB is really excellent and I’m not exaggerating. The responsible on-site employees give all extension students detailed advice on the courses before the beginning of the semester, there is a round of introductions in which the various language courses are presented by the teachers, you get to know every employee in the extension program , you can always do so personally or by email to come to the employees and much more.
There is a separate Extension Office that exclusively looks after the Extension Program and the students enrolled there. Another advantage for German students is that almost all employees speak and understand German. This can be very helpful, especially at the beginning, if you are not yet very confident in English. The support over the entire period of study and beyond was really great.
In my case, I arrived in Santa Barbara and looked for an apartment locally . This was easily possible as the rental periods usually range from July to June of the following year. The place where most of the UCSB students live is called Isla Vista. There are offices of the various providers on the housing market directly on site, where you can drop by without an appointment and find out whether there are vacancies. In addition, UCSB arranges student apartments in its own student dormitories in its own office on campus.
Another very good option, especially if you study there for less than a year, is the UCSB’s Facebook group for housing . There, students set up various apartments / rooms themselves, which they sublet for a quarter, for example, because they are staying abroad themselves.
Another thing to say about the living situation on site is that in most cases you don’t sleep alone in a room but share a room with up to three other students. If you want a single room for yourself it can be very expensive. In my case, I shared my room with two other exchange students. My lease was also for a whole year and I had to find a new tenant myself after finishing my studies. However, this was not a major problem and I found a new tenant for my room very quickly.
Leisure and excursion possibilities
The leisure opportunities on site are very diverse. I was particularly enthusiastic about the many different hiking opportunities in the mountains of Santa Barbara . The landscape there is very beautiful and there are many different attractions when hiking, from hot springs to impressive rock formations. For a small contribution you can register in an excursion club . This is run by students for students and offers, for example, equipment for surfing, stand up paddling, kayaking and much more. Various excursions to national parks or events such as wake-up yoga in the morning are also offered. During my time at UCSB, I actively used this offer, as it also offers the possibility of meeting new people .
In summary, I was very enthusiastic about my stay at UCSB in California and I can’t think of anything that I absolutely didn’t like.