When I decided to spend a semester abroad in Santa Barbara, reasons such as the weather and the location of University of California Santa Barbara (my decision that I wanted to go to the USA was made early on) were decisive for me.
In this regard, I was not personally disappointed either. The weather was phenomenal. Of course there are also some rainy days and it gets a little cooler in winter. However, we had a lot of sun and pleasant temperatures (during the winter), so a very good opportunity to bridge the cold German winter!
About the city: Santa Barbara is just great. The climate and the beach location make a big contribution, but also the nature (palm trees, lots of plants, mountains within reach (by bike), where I made one of the most beautiful hikes of my life (you have to go to the “Seven Falls” definitely go!)) and the shopping street (State Street) in the Mediterranean style are very nice.
At the beginning you should buy an American mobile phone card and possibly take a rental car or buy a bike directly, which makes looking for an apartment a lot easier! At anycountyprivateschools, you can actually find everything you need (apartment advertisements, bicycles, furniture, etc. ) In addition, it must be said briefly that you should be prepared for high rental prices and / or for sharing a room.
I lived in Goleta, so I traveled a lot by bike, which I didn’t find a burden. The bike path to the university (really only for bikes and joggers) did its part! On the way to University of California Santa Barbara you often saw interesting animals (dolphins, raccoons, skunks), so that is also recommended.
For university and party life, of course, you have to go to IV.
The range of sports at UCSB is impressive. There is actually something for everyone. There is a large “Recreation Center” on campus with artificial turf courts, fitness studio, swimming pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, squash and much more! You register for the courses or the Recreation Center quarterly, so that you can make good use of this.
The campus itself really impressed me. Since I am not used to a campus university in Münster, this was an additional experience for me. The campus is very green and planted and criss-crossed with cycle paths. At lunchtime we often ate in the University Center (where there is also a UCSB shop, post office and other things). There is no real cafeteria, but there are a few fast food shops. Alternatively, you can also go to the adjacent Isla Vista to eat. The food on the UCEN terrace with a view of the university’s own lagoon reminded you of how good it is!
Regarding the course selection, I have to say that this worked for me without any problems. However, I study maths where the courses are never really overcrowded (except for events from the first two semesters). But I noticed that it was sometimes a bit more difficult for economics students, for example, to get all the courses they wanted. The employees in the extension office are always available if you have any questions and will help you with all university matters!
The level in the courses was quite good. However, I am a bachelor’s student and have attended graduate courses there (you have to look at courses in higher semesters, at least in maths!). The professors were really nice and, like the teaching assistants, always helpful.
The math courses are not quite as “heavy on evidence” as in Germany, they are more applied.
Now for the rest of life in Santa Barbara or Goleta: Simply great;)
As already mentioned above, you have a lot of opportunities to do all sorts of sports, go hiking or just chill out on the beach. This is of course always very tempting, especially when the weather is good. But you can also do a lot in the evening. If you live in Goleta, like me, you always have to go to IV, which can be a bit annoying at times, so you should think about it beforehand! Personally, I usually didn’t find it bad. In IV there is always something going on (except on public holidays when all students are at home). From the “gauchos” (unit team) cheering on in various sports such as football, basketball, volleyball, which is free for students, to the cinema and, of course, to partying. There is a party bus that goes from IV to downtown and back on the weekend at night. You definitely have to go along with it. There are also lots of cool clubs and pubs there. In IV itself there are mostly house parties where we got to know a lot of funny American beer games. If you thought that the party life was exaggerated in Hollywood films, you were mistaken. There are really crazy house parties on every corner. Especially the four-day parties on Halloween are not to be missed – totally crazy. There are no discos or something in IV and you have to get used to the fact that the parties (officially, but usually not much longer) are over at 12 noon; Hard to imagine at the beginning. ;)) are over at 12 noon; Hard to imagine at the beginning. 😉
The only thing I might have wished for a little more was improving my language skills. Of course I learned a lot, but I would have liked to speak a little more English. Through the introductory event for the extension and various “Facebook” groups, etc. , we also got to know many Germans. That was of course very cool and we had a lot of fun, but we often spoke German in these groups.
Overall, I have to say that I could hardly imagine a nicer place to study and therefore I can only recommend it to everyone and want to go to Santa Barbara. In addition, you can head for so many breathtaking destinations in the “environment” (environment more by American standards;)). In the end I traveled three weeks across the western United States and saw incredible things (countless national parks – one more blatant than the other, cities (Las Vegas, San Francisco) and much, much more!)
So use the perhaps unique opportunity convince yourselves of California!