It is generally recommended to every student to gain experience abroad at least once in their life as part of an exchange semester. A semester in another country will force you to leave your “comfort zone”. You will be rewarded with an expansion of your personal horizons and experiences that will enrich your life in every way. California is certainly one of the most suitable destinations for this, as, thanks to the already known language, you won’t go under completely if everything doesn’t go according to plan. The UCSB offers a classic US college system with interesting subjects, has a wonderful campus and is located in what is probably the best climate zone in the world.
The application runs through the company “MicroEDU”. MicroEDU will handle the entire application process free of charge. They provide you with the necessary forms and send them to UCSB. The only thing you have to do as a student is contact MicroEDU and fill out the forms. MicroEDU also offers a lot of information on the homepage (www.MicroEDU.com) and maintains its own database with experience reports. Please note that you apply about six months before the planned exchange, as the study places are limited. American universities are in the vast majority of cases far more expensive than European ones. The UCSB charges around $ 2000 tuition fees, which will be debited with the confirmation that you are allowed to study there. After that, the costs depend on how many units you complete in your quarter. I took a total of 5 courses of 4 units each, so a total of 20 units. The university charges $ 250 per unit, or $ 1,000 for a course with 4 units. According to AbbreviationFinder.org, UCSB is the abbreviation of University of California Santa Barbara.
In many experience reports it is recommended that you should first look for an apartment in Isla Vista on site. I can only advise you against it, as the number of free spots was extremely low, especially in autumn 2014. I knew students who “crashed” friends for 3 months. Look for apartments around 2-3 months before your departure (via Craigslist) and view them 2-6 weeks before your quarter starts. Be prepared for the fact that you will share your bedroom with someone, that is quite normal, as the properties in Isla Vista are almost twice as expensive as in St.Gallen. Be sure to look for an apartment in Isla Vista, the student city (20,000 inhabitants) right next to the campus. This is where the actual campus life takes place, including parties.
Unfortunately, there is only a “bidding” option at UCSB for “full” students (possibility to choose courses in advance). Exchange students have to “crash” all courses, ie go to the first lecture with the class crashing form and ask the professor for a signature. The UCSB extension puffs up the whole procedure in advance, but everything is only half as bad. My friends and I got all the courses we wanted. Basically, it has to be said that the US system is significantly more labor-intensive. With homework, papers, several midterms and finals, you have a lot of work to do in a relatively short quarter.
Global 1 and Global 2 (context area): Both courses have 4 units and revolve around the topic of globalization, its problem areas, spheres of impact and future prospects. Global 1 deals with the topic more from a historical perspective, Global 2 more from a contemporary perspective. Simple in terms of material, but very labor-intensive. Global 1 has three papers and a quiz every week and Global 2 has to have approx. 40 pages can be read and summarized.
- Political Science 6 (Elective): Interesting course on comparative politics. However, two midterms with essays, the professor and the TAs make the subject a bit boring.
- Finance 134a: course at HSG level, two midterms and a final.
- Macro 101: The content of this course would probably be below the HSG level, but the professor teaches it so poorly that you can skip the lectures straight away. Lectures and exercises have absolutely nothing to do with the midterms or finals. If this professor (Helleseter) is still teaching this subject, I can only recommend that you write macro after the quarter at the HSG.
Campus Life at UCSB is probably the best in the US. Life is as you would imagine it to be at a California university thanks to Hollywood films. Home parties, surfing, extremely friendly people and sun every day! Despite a lot of homework, you will have more than enough time to go on trips to LA, San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas or Hawaii. It is possible to enter the USA 30 days before the start of the visa, so you can travel in advance. Overall, the exchange at UCSB was something unique and I can really recommend it to everyone!