I am studying the Master of energy and environmental management, a three-semester economics of engineering degree program at my home university in Germany. After the two semesters of lectures and before my master’s thesis , I wanted to take the opportunity to gain experience abroad again and, in particular, to improve my English.
Choice of university & application
At the beginning of my search I wasn’t sure which country to go to. It should only be an English-speaking country. However, I quickly realized that the semester times would severely limit my choice, as I wanted to complete the winter semester in Germany in order to have completed all of the compulsory courses. In European countries and many others, however, the lectures usually started in February or early March. From fellow students I then found out about MicroEDU, on whose homepage I found the neighborhood structure of the US universities became attentive. The year is therefore divided into three quarter and two summer sessions. The Spring Quarter started at the end of March and therefore fit perfectly into my schedule.
After some more browsing, I finally shortlisted UCSB and UCD. A conversation with my supervising professor about the better suitability of universities for my subject led to the decision to go to UC Davis. The application process turned out to be a bit complicated because the university was just renegotiating the cooperation with MicroEDU and the previous and proven program was no longer available to me. Nonetheless, the MicroEDU team was very committed to ensuring that I was able to complete the semester abroad there, for which I am still very grateful. According to Abbreviation Finder, UCD is the abbreviation of University of California Davis.
I was allowed to take part in the Global Study Program at the university, which meant that I was enrolled directly at the university and not at the UC Davis Extension. In the end, I think that this was only an advantage for me, as I didn’t have to take any language tests or language courses and could therefore freely choose from the course catalog.
I submitted my application for the Spring Quarter at the end of September and I got my acceptance in January (it took a long time due to the program change). I was a bit nervous about whether the visa would work that quickly, but the two months’ lead time was more than enough. I still had the TOEFL test from my last semester abroad, although it was not a problem that it was a little older than two years.
If you are used to studying in Germany, you will be very surprised by the high tuition fees in the USA and the many fees that are necessary for preparation and enrollment.
Studying at UC Davis
During the introductory week to the Global Study Program, all important information about being a student at UC Davis was explained to you. The choice of courses was somewhat restricted by the fact that the “normal” students had priority on the courses and could therefore only take courses that had more than three available places. All foreign students were advised by the Global Study Team. I found suitable engineering courses quite easily (a change of course wasn’t a problem either) and could also choose from the higher segments.
The workload during the ten-week quarter is much higher than at German universities. At first I still thought that I could go on all kinds of (weekend) trips within California during my studies and then take a look at the surrounding area. However, I spent a lot of time with homework, reports, presentations, midterms and final exams. In the end, you learned a lot and probably internalized it in the long term;) The quality of the lectures was very good, practical exercises helped with learning and the lecturers and supervising students were open to any question (and I asked many questions due to the unfamiliar labor-intensive process).
Of course, many examinations also mean that individual grades are not so important and that you can sometimes cope with a less good grade. At first I had problems finding my way around the system and the content was also rather difficult for me. It was very helpful for me to ask fellow students for help and to form study groups. I can only advise everyone, especially because I have made such good friends (even if you are told at the beginning that you cannot make friends within the lectures, so just don’t listen to them). Ultimately, I was able to achieve very good results in all courses.
Housing & Living in Davis
After the university had been accepted, I started looking for accommodation. I found a wide range of rooms and apartments in shared flats through Craigslist. In contrast to previous opinions, I could not feel a shortage of accommodation and got a lot of answers to my inquiries. I then decided to sublet a room with its own bathroom in a shared apartment with two other girls, for which I had to pay $ 750 a month. It is more difficult to find something for a quarter than for a whole year. Often times I got the answer that I should sign an official lease (some should go for a whole year). I can only advise against that, however, as many had problems sublet and were then left with the costs. There should be a sufficient offer (at least for the spring) that contracts for subletting or a fixed period should be possible.
Davis is a very nice small town with about 60,000 inhabitants. The most popular means of transport in the exceptionally green city is the bicycle. I particularly liked the family atmosphere with its very own charm. Many international restaurants and bars invite you to pass the time. However, the nightlife is less pronounced and probably rather disappointing for all party fans.
I got to know many international (mainly Asian) students at the events of the Global Study Program, with whom I was able to spend a lot of time. I found contact with American students in the lectures. All in all , I never got bored in my free time, as there are plenty of design options in the Davis area. In contrast to probably many other universities and areas in California, I was able to completely avoid speaking German in Davis.
Fortunately, after the quarter I had planned enough time for further trips. In any case, it is worthwhile to plan two or more weeks for a round trip, and to visit the national parks as a completely different side of California in addition to the coast.
In conclusion, I can only recommend UC Davis. A high-quality university in a beautiful green small town, where you can quickly make friends. Compared to German and European universities, studying and living is quite expensive.