University: University of California Riverside
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
The MicroEdu team gave me great support in preparing for the semester abroad and I can only recommend the website to anyone who would like to go to a university in the USA.
I made my decision to go to the University of California Riverside (UCR) in Riverside mainly for three different reasons:
California was an obvious choice because of the large number of universities in the MicroEdu network. Riverside was the first thing that caught my eye because the tuition was low compared to other universities in California. On the other hand, the application requirements were very low at the time I applied. Visit iamaccepted.com to get information about University of Canterbury study abroad program.
No English test was mandatory, just a letter of recommendation. English teachers expected to have sufficient knowledge of English. I was very happy that I didn’t have to prepare for a TOEFL test or something similar in addition to exams, so I chose the “easy” route. In addition, the location of Riverside was interesting for me because it is very centrally located in Southern California and I went abroad with the aim of seeing as much of California as possible.
1.1 Information on the application process (procedure / deadlines)
I received all information about the application from the MicroEdu website. These can easily be requested online. Overall, it was important for the application that you or a person in your close family circle can confirm that you have more than around €8,000 available.
The application process went very quickly via MicroEdu. After I had all the forms and documents together, I was able to scan them and email them to MicroEdu for verification. My contact person checked all the documents and supported me with suggestions for improvement. I was then able to send the original documents by post to MicroEdu, which forwarded them to UCR.
Regarding the chronology: I found out about the possible universities in January 2010 and at the beginning of April my corrected application documents were sent to California. Already at the beginning of May I had a confirmation and was able to book my flight early.
All international students are required to obtain prescribed health insurance through UCR. In my opinion, however, insurance is expensive and you are obliged to pay for it.
1.3 Visa (application period, place)
After I had my written confirmation from the UCR, the first thing I did was the flight over the Student travel agency STA Travel booked. There you get another 20-30€ discount with MicroEdu. Once the flight was booked, it was time to apply for a visa. This is only possible with the documents from the UCR, since the I-20 form is enclosed there, which contains the individual SEVIS number for the visa. It is only possible to request an appointment online with the SEVIS number. For the visa process, I completely relied on the information documents from MicroEdu, which really describe the process in detail. You should really pay attention to everything on the leaflet, especially that the envelope in which the passport is returned has sufficient postage! (Unfortunately, I had forgotten the addition) But before I could go to Berlin, I had to apply for an appointment online. However, before the appointment can be requested, an endlessly long questionnaire must be filled out online. It should be noted that if you do not fill out a field for 1 minute, the program will throw you out and the previous status will not be saved. Therefore one should look for Always save each completed questionnaire page in case the program closes. The procedure for the online questionnaire is, however, also explained in detail by MicroEdu. It is also important that you have had a biometric photo taken by the photographer before the online process, which you also have in digital form. The digital image that is uploaded online at the beginning of the questionnaire must be the same as that submitted in Berlin!
After completing the questionnaire, you get access to the consulate’s homepage in Berlin, where the next available appointments are displayed. I didn’t have to wait long for my appointment
need, about 2-3 weeks. However, if you apply for an appointment a little later (mid/end of June), you have to wait longer for the next possible appointment. I would recommend everyone to
pick an appointment early in the morning and be there very early. The line is already long at half past eight and otherwise you wait all day. If you absolutely want to take a bag into the building, then only a very small one, and an envelope with all the necessary documents. Some people were sent away again with their bags because they cannot be stored there.
In the consulate itself, things went super fast. I had slept in Berlin the night before and was standing around half past seven in front of the consulate, so I was one of the first to be let in at just before eight. Nevertheless, it took a total of 2.5 hours until I was through with everything. Another tip: Always tell them that the passport photo is not old! Some people were sent away again because they said the photo is 2 months old.
My flight route was via Frankfurt and San Francisco to Los Angeles. The flight and entry into San Francisco went smoothly.
I flew to California with an almost empty piece of luggage, which really made sense, because you can buy clothes very well and very cheaply in the USA. The weather is very warm and dry during the day, as the region is already part of the desert. However, it gets really cold in the evenings! I only had long trousers and a sweater with me, which I always had to wear in the evenings. So after the first week we went straight to the outlet mall in Ontario (only 20 minutes from Riverside and highly recommended).
In LA I was picked up by the UCR shuttle. I had decided to do this in advance because I was supposed to arrive in the evening. And I was really happy that someone picked me up and drove me to my first accommodation. $100 didn’t matter to me, even if it’s $23 cheaper via Supershuttle.
I arrived in Riverside on a Monday evening and the sign-up event at the Extension Center started the following Thursday. Since the official quarter (and thus also the main campus classes) only start a week later, I would always recommend anyone who already has accommodation and only want to travel at the end of the quarter not to arrive earlier. The American all only come to Riverside a day or two before the start of the quarter and the campus was completely empty in the first week that the extension classes started!
The town of Riverside offers many options for dining and lodging if you have a car . I had thought about renting one for trips only, so I only looked for apartments near the campus. In general, a good area to live in is Canyon Crest. I know that many students lived there in houses of four or five, which were probably very cheap.
I found my flat share through craigslist.com in the Inland Empire region. I started looking two months in advance and it was very difficult because many shared flats wanted to get to know
you personally beforehand. Not knowing if I’d find anything in time for my arrival, I asked a fellow Riverside high school senior. Luckily, with the help of my fellow student, I was able to stay with friends for the first week, which made my search a lot easier. Nevertheless, about two weeks before departure, I found a room in a 3-person shared flat on craigslist.com, which was very close to the campus. A girl in the shared flat wanted to come in at exactly the same time do a semester abroad in Europe. So I had my own room with a complete inventory.
I also shared a bathroom with one of my roommates.
I was able to borrow a bike from the family I lived with for the first week. That was really great, because it only took me 2 minutes to the Extension Center, where I had 4 lectures, and only 5 minutes to the Main Campus. My apartment was very close to campus, on a side street off University Avenue, two blocks from the Extension Center. In general, living close to the campus is very expensive. There are a number of options for accommodation close to campus from the UCR: In the International Village, which is directly behind the Extension Center some of my friends stayed in double rooms. In contrast to my rent, which was $500 with internet etc, the IV costs almost twice as much! In retrospect, I probably would have done it anyway, because you got to know a lot of exchange students. I often took a taxi home from the IV in the evenings because all students were advised not to cycle alone at night, let alone walk alone. Taking a taxi in Riverside is actually not a problem if you are prepared for waiting times. With 220,000 inhabitants, the city has only three taxi companies and in the evenings almost all the taxis are there occupied, I once had to wait 60 minutes for a taxi. But if you know that, you can plan the time in advance.
As already indicated in chapter 2.1, it is unfortunately dangerous in the evenings in Riverside. The university is just outside and the street between the university and downtown (University Avenue) is dangerous, especially for women.
There are only a few houses between downtown and the university, mainly fast food chains. Therefore, many homeless people live on the streets in this area, who “roam around” especially at night. I was aware of the security situation in advance, but I clearly underestimated it. Since I didn’t have a car, I always had to rely on friends or taxis in the evenings. You should really be aware of that! I don’t want to scare anyone away or discourage the Riverside location, but the uni location isn’t the safest and I wouldn’t recommend going to Riverside without a car.
There is public transport, but as a woman I was advised not to travel alone, especially in the evenings. My roommates, however, saw it differently. They often took the bus two stops to the campus because the parking lot on the main campus was often very crowded in the afternoon. I also took the bus to downtown, which worked great. I’ve never tried it at night.
2.3 Meals & Costs
On University Avenue, just one block downtown from my apartment, was the grocery store “Food4Less” where I always shopped. It wasn’t a problem with the bike and my roommates often took me with them. Also very popular is Trader Joe’s, an organic grocery chain that my roommates often drive to. The closest one on campus is at Riverside Plaza. I found the (from a German point of view) normal staple foods expensive , especially fruit and vegetables. Fast food is of course super cheap and there is also a large fast food lunch menu on campus. Opposite “Food4Less” was also the car rental company “Enterprise” and a mobile phone provider shop “Boost” where I bought my American cell phone. For only $55 prepaid per month
, I could send unlimited texts, calls in the USA and even international textings. Enterprise car rental was slightly more expensive than Hertz, but is about 15 minutes away by car.
In the Extension Center at Christian Kindschy’s office, there were always many different providers and discounts on display. After that, Hetz was the cheapest. All car rental companies pick you up from home, unfortunately Hertz does not on Saturdays. I also bought a navigation device online from Ebay, as the car rental companies always charge a daily rate that was too expensive for me in the long run. Besides, that was TomTom in the USA on Ebay much cheaper than here ($70) and in Germany I could simply load a European road map onto the device.
Overall, my costs were higher than expected. The UCR costs stated in advance only apply to 12 units, with which you can take around 3-4 courses. However, since I wanted to take more courses, including a highly recommended writing tutorial, I ended up with 19 units. $250 had to be paid for each additional unit.
All in all, I spent an estimated €10,000 (incl. tuition fees) on travel, food and shopping in the three months. You really have to be aware of that when you sign up for California decides. I’ve traveled a lot and spent a lot of money accordingly.
First of all, it is important to know that you are not accepted as an international student directly at the UCR , but at the Extension Center. The Extension Center is an institution of the UCR in
which foreign students and professionals can take courses for further education. Students enrolled in the University Credit Program are given the opportunity to approach the professors on the Main Campus Courses and request a seat in the lectures. This option is unrestricted in all fields of study, with the exception of Business Administration.
Registering was very easy. Unfortunately, due to my field of study, only about 10 campus courses were available to me. Mainly accounting and fundamentals subjects. I would recommend every student to go to the Extension Center and talk to Christian Kindschy before the “official” first day. He is the responsible coordinator and very helpful. Since Americans have priority in the choice of courses, places in the campus classes are limited and you have to be quick . Choosing a course in the Extension Center itself was very easy and I was able to change my courses as I wished in the first two weeks. However, the courses in the Extension Center are mainly in the mornings and
3.2 Registration for courses
I took a total of five courses and one tutorial, one of which was on Main Campus. I could have taken more courses on the main campus, but I preferred to write my financing courses in Germany.
The Writing Tutorial was an IEP course at the Extension Center and consisted of two parts: On the one hand, a workshop was offered every week where you had to appear at least three times to get a “pass” in the transcript. on the other hand, you had the opportunity to arrange appointments with your tutor during the week to correct your homework and essays with him. I found the tutorial to be great support and would recommend it to anyone who wants something is uncertain, for example in the structure of an essay.
3.2.1 Recommended courses
From my courses at the Extension Center, I can recommend two courses: First, Consumer Behavior. A course in which the marketing topic is discussed with many examples and was
an exciting lecture through group work and presentation. I would also choose Project Management again. The lecturer provides a very good script, so you almost don’t have to use the book. In addition, the term papers and tests took place online, so that you could decide yourself when to work on the subject during the week.
I have heard from many students that organizational behavior in particular should be a highly recommended course on the main campus.
3.2.2 Courses not to be recommended
My other lectures were all not bad. However, Management Communications was very time-consuming because you had to read two books at the same time and the lecture content was not particularly exciting.
I chose nonprofit management because of time constraints and should only be taken by people who are very interested in nonprofits. It was a very small course with many opportunities for exchange, but a very tough and outdated book to use as a basis for the course.
The campus is really huge and at first I had some trouble finding everything. Luckily, everyone feels that way at the start of the semester. Having a bicycle also allowed me to get around
campus quickly. It’s really classic American and very large in scale.
There are various libraries on campus, but I never studied in them. In the Riveria Library, for example, you can rent small study rooms to meet up with your group for
group work. There are also computers in each library with WiFi access. All in all, you can use your access data to log in and surf the Internet anywhere on campus and at the Extension Center. I ordered and bought all books online. You can also borrow some textbooks from the library and then make copies, but I’ve never tried that.
On the main campus in the HUB Hall there is a very large range of food all day long. In
University Village, which is located across from the Extension Center, there are also places to
eat and a Starbucks everywhere.
There are also numerous fast food chains on University Avenue towards downtown.
3.3.3 Sport and other leisure activities
The Recreation Center is located on campus and registers for only $70 per quarter . In addition to the general offer of fitness equipment, you can also attend fitness classes and join an intramural sports team (tennis, football, basketball, volleyball, etc.). There is also a swimming pool in another building for which you can buy day tickets.
3.3.4 Student Discounts
On campus you can buy a concession card for $25 which allows you to ride an entire quarter bus. In addition, next to the HUB Hall, the ticket office offers numerous discounts for almost all tourist attractions in California, from Disneyland to Universal Studios. The Extension Center also offers different trips for the international students every weekend. In my experience, trips with the Extension Center were almost always cheaper than driving yourself. However, the excursions are not group excursions. You are often simply dropped off with a ticket in front of the attraction and picked up again in the evening. It is therefore advisable to book the excursions with someone.
- Contact options
As already mentioned, Christian Kindschy is the contact person for all students of the UCP program. However, the confirmation letter is signed by Ms. Jenkins-Deas, who is the Director of the International Education Program. All further information can be found on the UCR homepage (www.ucr.edu).
- What to see and do
There really are a lot of attractions to take away from California. I was out almost every weekend and still didn’t see everything I had planned to do.
Below is a short list of my California highlights:
- San Francisco (with cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge!)
- Los Angeles (Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica)
- Las Vegas
- Beach Cities (Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach)
- Yosemite National Park
- Sequia & Kings Canyon National Park
- Death Valley National Park
- Universal Studios