I decided from the start that I would go abroad during my studies. The USA was the dream destination. In the winter semester 13/14 I went to the University of California, Riverside for two quarters. Since the UCR is not a partner university of my German university (HS Esslingen), I was traveling as a freemover. I was very actively supported by MicroEDU.
Since I wanted to do the semester abroad without extending my studies, my stay in the USA had to be coordinated very well with my studies in Germany. In my case, this coordination was quite a hassle.
The earlier you start planning, the better. For me everything was short-term. This can be done, but it is correspondingly more stressful. The best thing to do here is to simply follow MicroEDU’s recommendations. For the preparation phase, I would just like to mention the most important things:
Here I was very well supported by MicroEDU. The application was therefore not a problem.
Applying for a visa is extremely nerve-wracking due to the enormous bureaucratic effort. Perseverance is required here.
Ideally, you should clarify with your home university before the semester abroad which courses will be credited and then take them later. In my case it wasn’t easy. But more on that later.
If you have only had English at school so far and you are still a little unsure how to use the language, then it is helpful to prepare a little before going abroad. One of the things that helped me was preparing for the TOEFL.
There are two different types of courses at UCR. On the one hand, the Main Campus courses. These are courses for bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the actual university. On the other hand, there are the extension courses. These take place at the Extension Center, which is located right next to the actual university campus. Get more student review on University of California Riverside on jibin123.
The extension courses are mainly intended for professionals who want to continue their education. Their level of difficulty is slightly lower than that of the Main Campus courses. Where you take your courses is up to you. If you want a chill semester with as little effort as possible for the university, then you only choose extension courses. If you want to learn something from the courses and experience American university life, choose Main Campus courses.
The main disadvantage of the Main Campus courses is that it is sometimes very difficult to take part in popular courses (especially business administration and economics Courses), sometimes even impossible. That’s because the courses are initially populated with American students. Foreign students are only allowed to take the course if there are still places available. I have seen with some courses that they were simply full and you had no chance of being accepted. Then other courses have to be selected. The system with which the free places are administered and allocated is not the best and cost me a lot of time and a lot of nerves. But we were told that this should be improved in the future. This problem does not exist with the extension courses. Here you almost always get the courses you would like to have.
Finding the right course is not always easy. The syllabi offer good descriptions. If in doubt, you can watch several events on site in the first week and then decide. When choosing a course, it is important to ensure that the prerequisites are met. This is particularly important to the ECON department.
Courses in the first quarter (all main campuses)
- Supply chain management
- Business Law
- Intermediate Macroeconomics
The teaching methods at the UCR differ somewhat from those at German universities. Instead of an exam at the end of the semester, small examinations are required again and again during the semester. These are, for example, midterms (intermediate exams), graded homework, group work or essays. So you are busy during the semester. Since the weekends were always planned for excursions, I only had the days during the week available for studying. It was quite stressful at times.
Other students who had only taken extension courses had it much more relaxed. Although the content of the courses was easier than my German courses, they were still very time-consuming. The courses on the Main Campus usually consist of a lecture and an exercise. I clearly cannot recommend the Business Law course here. Many essays on American laws and judgments had to be written here. If you are not crazy about the American legal system or about writing essays, you should stay away from this course. The professor was nonetheless very competent and had made the lecture very interesting.
Overall, the Macroeconomics course was very interesting. The lecturer was very committed and conveyed the material well.
The supply chain management course was less exciting. The content was on a rather low level, but you had to invest a lot of time in the homework.
Second quarter courses
- Statics (Main Campus)
- Introduction to Money, Banking and Credit (Main Campus)
- Cost Accounting (Extension)
- Global Investment Management (Extension)
The Statics course was the most difficult course I took at UCR. However, the material was conveyed fairly well in lectures and exercises. So you could get quite good grades here as well.
In the Introduction to Money… course, it was exactly the opposite. The content was less difficult here, but the lecture was not particularly good. One of the reasons for this was that the lecturer was not a native speaker and it was often difficult to understand him.
As already mentioned, the extension courses were a bit easier. Here, too, exams had to be completed during the semester, such as midterms or group work.
Leisure and living
The UCR is located in a rather ugly part of Riverside. Downtown, on the other hand, is quite attractive and is also suitable for going out in the evening. If you want to really party, you have to go to Los Angeles or, best of all, Las Vegas.
The location of Riverside in terms of excursions or travel is absolutely great. Destinations like San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas, Yosemite, Death Valley, Lake Tahoe and of course Los Angeles with numerous beaches are only a stone’s throw away by American standards and are perfect for weekend trips. The UCR ski club gives you the opportunity to take part in really good ski trips, including the legendary AllCal.
Anyone interested in the landscape should definitely travel to the country before or after the semester. National parks like Zyon, Grand Canyon, Arches or Monument Valley offer really breathtaking impressions.
Getting in touch with American students was not that easy at UCR. I did this best through sport (rugby and skiing). But that makes a lot more sense than just spending time with Germans. After all, you can do that in Germany too.
The apartment I was looking for me in place first because I wanted to see the room first before I book it. Here you can choose between private dormitories and university dormitories. It is also possible to rent a house with other students, for example on craigslist.org. The whole time I was in Grand Marc, a private dorm near the university. All sorts of horror stories circulate about the dormitories. It is best to get an idea of the individual systems for yourself. I didn’t have any problems with my apartment.
My English improved significantly during my stay. Of course, the best way to improve your pronunciation is to talk to Americans. In the beginning I had problems with understanding in the lectures. Especially when the lecturers came from abroad and didn’t speak particularly good English. After a short period of familiarization, the language was no longer a problem.
A semester abroad poses certain challenges. Language, organization and choice of subjects are particularly important here. In my case, however, I can say that the effort was more than worth it. The seven months in the USA were, without exaggeration, the best time of my life so far. I can only recommend everyone who has the opportunity to do a semester abroad.