The decision to do a semester abroad was made towards the end of my master’s degree. Since I really wanted to go to English-speaking countries and unfortunately my home university did not have a suitable partner university, I had to go looking for it as a freemover. Fortunately, I was made aware of MicroEDU by a fellow student. In a few emails, I introduced the team about my background, requirements and the time horizon in which a semester abroad was an option for me. After a few emails and comparisons from different universities, I decided to go to UC Davis for the Global Study Program to apply. The support from MicroEDU was really helpful, especially when it came to applying to college and getting my visa. According to AbbreviationFinder.org, UCD is the abbreviation of University of California Davis.
After I got the approval, I went looking for a room in Davis. Since I only wanted to spend the Spring Quarter (late March to early June) there, finding a room from Germany turned out to be a bit difficult. The websites www.craigslist.com and www.uloop.com are recommended. However, you can only register with Uloop with your UC Davis email address, which will only be activated shortly before the start of the quarter. I was lucky that a family got in touch with craigslist on my request and we were able to talk to the details via Skype. In Davis, you can expect rental costs of $ 500-800 per month, depending on your requirements for housing, location and amenities. I have lived in a fully furnished room in a house on the outskirts and paid $ 700 rent. However, the outskirts of Davis mean that you can be at the university or in the city center within 10-15 minutes. In retrospect, I would no longer look for the room from Germany, but take a room in the city via Airbnb and then search there.
Before I go into the study conditions and the campus, I will give some information about Davis as a city. The city is quite small with around 60,000-70,000 inhabitants, most of whom are students. This allows you to find your way around the city and campus very quickly, even if it seems infinitely large at the beginning. Another advantage is that at the celebrations in the city you always meet people you know, even if you haven’t been there long. This is very nice for a stay of 1-2 quarters, but for a longer stay it might get boring. If someone is drawn to the bigger cities, Sacramento is only about 20 minutes away and the Bay Area with San Francisco only about 1.5 hours. Davis is rightly known as the bicycle capital of America ! You need one on campus to get from one building to another in time. In the city, every street is equipped with a bicycle lane and since there is no mountain in the city, you can get from A to B quickly. The city is also known for its sustainable orientation, among other things the hippie movement was born there, of which some municipalities in the city still remain. Davis is indeed a small town, but the cost of living in California are by no means to be compared with those in Germany. In addition to the rent, you have to reckon with costs of $ 700-1000 per month, at least if you don’t want to live like an ascetic and go out to partying or dining more often. The city is also totally safe! You can cycle home safely in the evening / at night without having to worry!
But now to the university, the university life and the study conditions. As already mentioned, the campus is really big and consists of many small buildings, sometimes with only one lecture hall. To find your way around at the beginning and to find the right buildings for the courses, I would recommend GoogleMaps for route finding. The campus is also characterized by the many bicycles, especially during the breaks between lectures. A lot in university life happens on the so-called quad, which is a large area of grass in front of the CoHo (CoffeeHouse) and the MU (Memorial Union). Here the over 700 different clubs of the university present themselves, which cover all areas of sporting, social, cultural and curious activities. The clubs offer the opportunity to quickly get to know people who are interested in the same topics as you.
The study conditions at UC Davis are really excellent ! By participating in the Global Studies Program, you can freely choose your courses from the entire range of bachelor courses at the university, as long as you have fulfilled the prerequisite courses ( there are courses on viticulture and beer brewing that should not be missed ). Officially, you are not allowed to take part in master’s courses, but you can speak to the professors in the first few weeks of the quarter and ask for permission; if you agree, you can also take these courses. The first course selection must be taken from Germany, but you can still change the courses in the first few weeks if there are still places available. The Global Studies Program team is really helpful and always has good course suggestions ready.
But you shouldn’t take too long to choose a course, as the first homeworks, midterms, discussions, debates or something else are pending after just a few weeks. This is probably the biggest difference to the German university system in that the grade does not result from the thesis, but from a large number of small partial performances that are included in the grade as a percentage. This is very unusual at the beginning, because you always have to stay on the ball and be careful not to miss the deadline. But at the end of the quarter everything is a bit more relaxed, as you always had to prepare beforehand. When choosing a course, you should also take a close look at whether certain books are required for the courses, as these can quickly cost up to $ 300 per book and are required for submitting the Homeworks.
I had registered for programming and statistics courses from the Lower Division (basic subjects), the structure and concept of which were very good and you learned a lot! However, the demands on exams and grades were rather low and could not be compared with the German level. That means, even with a lot of traveling and partying, you can get very good grades!
Overall, it can be said that UC Davis was the perfect decision for me personally ! In the Spring Quarter there was also the advantage that the rainy season is over and you can count on sunshine and hot temperatures, as you would imagine California. The statement that Davis most aptly describes is “America for Beginners” because you get a taste of life in America / California, but at the same time you are in a relaxed small town where you don’t have to be afraid at any time!