Since we are constantly confronted with American culture through film and television, it is easy to believe that we “know” it and that there are hardly any differences to Germany. In retrospect, I think that a culture shock is inevitable, even if it is certainly not as severe as if you went to China, for example. But you need a few weeks to really settle in.
Definitely stay in Isla Vista! Don’t listen to horror stories of terrible apartments, there are quite a few nice places in IV. You have to be patient when looking for an apartment and of course you pay more than in Goleta, for example, but if you don’t live in IV, you just don’t get the real UCSB feeling!
There are many differences to our lectures, for example, I particularly noticed that the students do not talk to each other during the lectures or otherwise disturb each other (at least this applies to lectures with 30 students, with mass lectures with 700 students, of course, it looks different again). The professors and teaching assistants try very hard and are always there for the students.
I originally only wanted to take academic courses, but I’m very glad I didn’t. For example, one academic and two extension courses are very busy. There should be enough time to experience California. If you want to take courses from the Film and Media Studies Faculty, you should go to Joe Palladino’s office hours beforehand. He is the undergraduate advisor and can tell you exactly what the situation is like in the respective courses and can possibly even enroll you for courses. It’s worth visiting him! Of the extension courses, I liked “Effective Recruitment, Selection, and Retention” best, the lecturer is great.
If your own curriculum allows it, it is also exciting to attend a completely different course. For example, I took the “Introduction to Psychology” course, which actually has nothing to do with my studies, but was interesting for me personally.
The course crashing is half as bad as I expected. I have only experienced once that I did not get into a course (from the Communication Faculty), otherwise it always went without any problems.
In addition to the well-known things such as IV theater, parties and concerts, there is an Open Mic Night every second Wednesday at Giovanni’s where students show off their talents. Definitely worth seeing! Simply search for “AS Program Board” on Facebook and be kept up to date.
You shouldn’t be under any illusions about the weather: Even in California you need a thick jacket from time to time in winter, as it can get cold in the evenings. During the day the temperatures never drop below 15 ° C, at least not during the time I was here. Then there are also a few days in winter when it rains continuously (which is such an exceptional situation for people that they either do not leave the house at all or only with rubber boots), but luckily you can count these days on two hands. In January it was mostly around 20 degrees!
I got a prepaid card from T-Mobile. Unlimited text messages and 10 cents / min for calls for $ 15 a month, in my opinion this is the best tariff you can get at the moment. It doesn’t necessarily have to be T-Mobile, but I would definitely make sure to take a tariff with unlimited free text messages, as much more text messages are used in the USA than we are used to at home.
I got a free internet checking account with Bank of America. I would recommend everyone to open an account, the whole thing takes a maximum of an hour and is very worthwhile. Cashless shopping is simply more convenient and you also save the costs that you have to pay for using credit cards abroad for things like booking a hotel or paying for university courses.
Rental car: You should always rent via a German website such as holidayautos.de. Is cheaper than on site!
If you don’t have a Facebook account yet, you should definitely get one. The group “UCSB International Extension Student Club” is helpful for all situations!
I am happy with my decision to join Santa Barbara and I think that the semester abroad has brought me a lot, both academically and personally.