University of California Santa Barbara Student Review

Organizational matters:

The application has been finishted rather quickly and smoothly. Just make sure that you meet the deadlines and apply in good time. The only small effort was the language test and going to the consulate to apply for a visa . Here I can recommend you to take the DAAD language test if you have the opportunity. This is a lot cheaper (I paid about 60 €), the TOEFL is more demanding and more expensive.

Living situation:

Living space is scarce in Isla Vista, so you have to put some work into looking for a room. Usually you share the room with one person and pay around $ 700 to $ 850. You can take care of a room early on privately in various Facebook groups (e.g. UCSB Housing) , but unfortunately this didn’t work out so well for me.

If you cannot find a room in advance, you can also search for a room directly on site, so you also have the opportunity to take a look at the rooms and get to know roommates personally. The best thing to do is to arrive 2-3 weeks earlier. During this time, I stayed in the “Student Hotel” in the Santa Catalina Hall on campus.

I eventually teamed up with other international students and we rented an entire apartment for the Fall Quarter. This option was relatively convenient because we received offers directly, but we still had to buy some furniture. We have had good experiences with KAMAP. Our apartment was on the Sabado Tarde. The location was perfect due to the proximity to the beach, restaurants and university. One street further directly on the beach on Del Playa is the busiest, and there are also many parties during the week.

In the Winter Quarter I lived in University Housing with three American students in the Sierra Madre Villages, which was very modern and large. There were even study rooms and a small fitness studio. The building is a bit out of the way and you are a bit removed from student life, which I didn’t like that much. Therefore it is only recommended to a limited extent if you want to have your peace and quiet and cycling a lot is not a problem. If you want to be in the action, move to Isla Vista.

Course choice:

I chose two extension courses and one open university course in each of the two quarters. The level of the extension courses is very simple. However, you have to be prepared for the fact that you have group projects, regularly do homework, write essays, have quizzes, midterms, and finals / presentations. Maybe it’s not that little of the amount if you are used to independent learning at the university, but it is definitely feasible and also helpful to do something regularly.

For the Open University Courses I chose two Technology Management (TMP) courses, both of which I can highly recommend as they are very practice-oriented. Entrepreneurship, in which you have to implement your own start-up idea in groups, and “Managing Technology Organizations” , which deals with topics such as corporate structure, culture and leadership. There were many group activities in both courses that were very educational.

With the Open University courses you have to crash the courses in the first few weeks, which means that you attend the courses and put yourselves on the waiting lists. Unfortunately, this is the only way to get into most open courses as a visiting student. Then you have to wait and hope that there is still a place available for you by a certain deadline. Many students withdraw from the courses, which is why it is very possible that you will get a place later. As a tip for the TMP courses, I can recommend that you enter in the lists that you want to take the TMP Certificate, which gives you priority over others. Originally I wanted to take two more TMP courses, which unfortunately was not possible due to the high demand and the small courses (mostly max. 50 students). In the Course Catalog you can already see online how many people have registered for the courses, and assess whether it is worth crashing the courses. The courses that are not overcrowded are relatively safe for you to enter.

Leisure and travel:

The main reasons I chose UCSB were the weather, the beachfront location, American college life, and the opportunities to travel to beautiful California . If you like to party, you’ve come to the right place. The UCSB can also be called a party university, because Greek life and celebrations are very important here.

Santa Barbara is only 20 minutes away. A very dignified city, here you can eat and go out with friends during the day and in the evening.

As already mentioned so often, register for the Excursion Club . With the membership you can rent surfboards, SUPs, etc. for 30 dollars per quarter and on many trips and courses. If you are interested in sports, you can use the fitness studio in the Recreation Center and attend sports courses .

California is actually like a dream – lots of sun, the sea, the cities with so many different facets, casual people, an overall very invigorating atmosphere. LA, San Francisco, San Diego and Las Vegas were well worth seeing and there were countless attractions and events. Since Isla Vista is a bit like a bubble in the long run, I would recommend organizing trips on the weekends and renting a car with friends. I was on many road trips, especially in the first quarter. The experiences in my free time will certainly stay in my memory for a long time!


I’ll keep it short: if you’ve always dreamed of experiencing the Californian (college) lifestyle, having a varied semester and discovering California, don’t hesitate. The cost of living is high, but it was more than worth it for the experience and experiences alone. One more thing: The weather in the Winter Quarter wasn’t as good as expected, so it’s best to do it in Spring, Summer or Fall!