September 11, 2019
I have now studied for one year at UCSB and unfortunately, my stay is coming to an end. Every day here was unique and full of new experiences. I would like to tell you about my highlights in the following blog post. Maybe this will give you some ideas for planning your stay.
UC Santa Barbara is too good to be true! From cold, rainy Germany to the warm and perfect weather in California; the transition to UCSB wasn't too difficult for me. The university impresses with its large, green and clean campus, its own beach, a lagoon as well as events of all kinds taking place all over the campus (TEDxUCSB was one of my favorites). In addition to the unique environment that makes studying here more than enjoyable (scientifically proven that we get mental and physical restoration from nature), it is the students who make an exceptional, positive and fulfilling stay possible.
Gauchos are very open-minded, out-going, helpful and have interesting stories to tell; you can make great friends quickly and easily. It's no wonder that Princeton Review's 2020 List of Colleges lists Gauchos as the happiest students in California. Indeed, the social life in Isla Vista is unique and pulses with energy on the weekends. Besides UCSB's reputation as a party school, the university has an outstanding faculty with world-renowned professors and forward-looking research. It manages to combine a lively student life with excellent academic success. "Work hard, play hard" seems to me to be a fitting summary of the Gaucho life.
I took various classes in the field of Humanities. One difference to Germany is the way gender issues are addressed. UCSB has its own Department for Feminist Studies and the topic is also approached sensitively and progressively on the entire campus. The Resource Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity is celebrating its 20th anniversary next year, there are gender-inclusive restrooms and housing and even when visiting the doctor, care is taken to address patients with the right pronoun (she/her/hers, he/him/his, they/them/theirs, ze/hir/hirs or other).
In addition to these many impressions in Santa Barbara, I used holidays and vacations to travel. The best destinations are just around the corner!
Beside city trips (particularly Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and San Francisco) California has a wide range of varied climates and beautiful natural landscapes: enjoying the warm weather on the beach or being in the snow to ski - everything is possible! I loved camping in the numerous National and State Parks (of course with a campfire and s'mores)!
In Death Valley you can even see the Milky Way, the starry sky is unique! I will also never forget our great and improvised Thanksgiving dinner in Yosemite National Park.
However, some of the National Parks are quite touristy due to their popularity, that's why I enjoyed the rather unknown State Parks very much (especially Montaña de Oro). But nothing tops the Angel’s Landing Hike in Zion National Park!
My recommendation: rent a car, download a good playlist and offline map (in most National Parks there is no reception, but maybe that's what makes it so special) and off you go! Additionally: Don't plan everything, just drive off, you get to know so many great people everywhere and suddenly a vacation in Maui turns into a trip to Alaska.
I enjoyed the uniqueness of all the different places so much, but it was the great people I was traveling with that made every moment special and memorable.
That's why my conclusion remains the same with all my travels: Most important is not where you’re going, it's who you have beside you.