University: University of California Riverside
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Business administration, trade management
Study type: semester abroad
The application process for a semester abroad in the USA is very complex. You have to fill out a lot of forms and be careful not to lose track of the many different documents. In addition, a large number of different fees are due, so that you have to spend several hundred euros before you actually go abroad. Visit iamaccepted.com to get information about Mahidol University study abroad program.
The application process starts with the application to the university. MicroEdu supports you very well here, so that the complexity is manageable. First, the application documents must be filled out, which are then forwarded to the University of California Riverside via MicroEdu. After a few weeks, the university will give you the confirmation and you will receive important documents for the further process, such as the I-20 form. This is very important and must be presented both at the embassy and when entering the United States. You can then apply online for a visa and theVisit to a US embassy is required. Don’t worry, in the end the waiting time in front of the embassy is longer than the actual “interview”, which for me consisted of a few general questions and was done after 10 minutes. You can then start looking for an apartment and booking flights.
You should start looking for a place in a dorm early, as places are limited and popular dorms such as GrandMarc or Sterling Highlander fill up very quickly. But if you apply early, you can easily find a place. You should be aware that the halls of residence are designed for “normal” students and therefore the contract periods are significantly longer than three months. No exception is made for international students either and you have to find a new tenant yourselfwho takes over the lease. I lived in the GrandMarc and can only recommend the residence! I would put the costs for living in the GrandMarc in the middle, there are more expensive dormitories, but you can definitely live cheaper. Again, you should be aware that you have to pay fees for everything. For example, an amount of 85% of the monthly rent is due if you want to get out of your contract early and pass the rental contract on to a new tenant.
The on-site support was very good. On the introductory day, you will be informed of everything important with regard to health insurance, course selection and other things, and the individual contact persons will introduce themselves.
As an international student you always visit the Extension Center of the UCR. The building itself is a bit further away from the actual campus, so you tend to study a little further away. That’s why it’s really only recommended to everyone to choose a course on the “Main-Campus”, so that you really study on the right campus and together with the locals. Unfortunately, it’s a little harder to get into the courses because they’re usually reserved for normal students. If there are seats available, you can get in quite easily. The courses at the Extension Center can be done quite well with a little effort. In contrast to the concept of German universities, the focus is not on the final exams, but attendance and participation in class and doing the weekly homework are just as important as passing the mid-terms and finals. At the Extension Center, the lecturers usually come from practice, whereas the lecturers at the Main Campus tend to come from research.
Leisure and excursion possibilities
I can really recommend everyone to go to the university’s recreation center. A subscription for three months costs around $200, which at first glance seems quite a lot. However, a variety of sporting activities are offered. There is a large gym, swimming pool and halls for basketball and soccer. In addition, equipment for other ball sports such as tennis, table tennis or volleyball is available and there are also dance courses. The university itself also offers excursions which then take place in small groups. In general, though, it’s a good idea to team up with a few friends and rent a car to explore and do things on your own. There are several national parks in the vicinity of Riverside and they are really worth visiting. Nevertheless, there isn’t really much to do in Riverside itself and you need a car to really be able to do something with friends.
General Do’s & Don’ts
A car is key in the USA, nothing works without it, since the public transport network is only sporadically developed or accessible. There are two car rental companies within walking distance of the university, Avis and Enterprise, although Avis is definitely cheaper. The staff there is super nice and you can make friends quickly and get good prices. Definitely use the car to see a lot and in general I would recommend that you also go shopping by car. Groceries are quite expensive in the US, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. The cheapest supermarkets such as Aldi, CostCo or Walmart are about ten minutes away by car. There are StarterBro’s near the campus, although the groceries there are quite expensive.
I had an incredible time in the US and can only recommend everyone to do a semester abroad at UCR. The only negative points are the costs for the university and for daily life (you can easily get into the five-digit range) and that you unfortunately don’t study on the real campus all the time, but a little off the beaten path. Still, it was the time of my life there and the experience I had there was definitely worth all the effort.