I spent the 2007 Fall Quarter at the University of California at Santa Barbara and I’m still very excited about it !!! It was just a super beautiful and wonderful time there that I will not forget! I studied economics there and took 3 courses. In Germany I’m studying business administration, but UCSB mainly offers economics courses, so I had no choice but to deal with micro / macro again 😉 Find more review on University of California Santa Barbara on existingcountries.
The university and the campus are really super nice, the location is brilliant right by the sea and despite the size, even people like me with little orientation knew their way around relatively quickly! There is also a huge range of sports there – as one is used to in the USA – I took a golf course there, for example. I would also recommend you to stop by the RecCenter (the sports center of the UCSB) right at the start and register, it costs 60 dollars for the whole quarter. There is a huge selection of fitness equipment, pool, basketball courts, tennis courts … etc! So it’s worth it!
In addition, when you arrive you should stop by the Extension Center on Hollister Avenue and pick up your student ID and some information there… the people there are really very helpful and give you various city / campus maps for orientation or give you tips for the apartment search.
In terms of living, Santa Barbara is really an expensive place! So be prepared for rents (mostly for a shared room) in the range of 500-1000 dollars a month! It is best to look for rooms online beforehand (e.g. at www. Craigslist.org)! However, it is better then on site, because you can drop by in person! I would then arrive at least 2 weeks in advance. Such an apartment search can be a bit tough… so stay persistent and don’t let yourself get down when a couple of Americans choke you when they hear that you are European…
I myself lived in Isla Vista, which is a “student town” in the Goleta district, right next to the campus. I would recommend that everyone move there if you don’t stay longer than 1 year… on the one hand, you can be at the university in a few minutes on foot or by bike and, on the other hand, it’s just funny there! There are ONLY students, and of course there is always something going on in the evening 😉 So there is certainly no lack of party opportunities there! You can certainly live more beautifully in downtown Santa Barbara (about 15-20 minutes away via 101) but then you have to plan the travel time by bus. As I said, I was very happy with my room in IV and would do it again!
Again something on the topic of university: even if they might tell you something else at the Extension Center, in my opinion the best way to get into a course is to visit the professor in person beforehand. That means simply going to him in his office hours, introducing yourself, saying that you are an international student, etc. and then asking if you could attend his course… and here too you have to be persistent! But most of the professors (at least at Economics it was like that) were really nice and immediately accepted.
Otherwise, Santa Barbara as a city is simply a dream, the location, the weather, State Street,… everything. It’s really cute with not even 100,000 inhabitants, but I think it’s perfect for studying. And if you need that big city feeling, you can be in LA in 1.5 hours! So folks, GO to Santa Barbara, you’ll love it !!!