University: University of California Riverside
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: mechanical engineering
Study type: semester abroad
The desire to spend a semester abroad was already great at the beginning of my studies. The international office at my university wasn’t much help on this point. A friend who had already completed a semester abroad at the time referred me to MicroEdu. The MicroEdu team was always a great help as the organization progressed. They provided me with all the necessary documents and answered any questions that arose in a very short time. The application effort is very low compared to an independent application to a North American university, since the contact is made by MicroEdu and you only have to follow the step-by-step instructions given by MicroEdu. Visit iamaccepted.com to get information about University of Birmingham study abroad program.
Riverside is about an hour’s drive east of Los Angeles. Other cities such as San Diego, Las Vegas and San Francisco are also easily accessible by car. The location for trips to the West Coast’s most famous sights couldn’t be better. National parks such as the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite National Park and many others are also very suitable for weekend trips. In winter there are several smaller winter sports areas available, most of which are only a half-hour drive away.
Riverside has little to offer. Riverside is best known for its warm climate and high crime rate. The university area is relatively safe, but stolen bicycles and vehicles are also common here. Pedestrians should not walk alone in the Riverside-Downtown area at night, as there have already been robberies here. The nightlife leaves a lot to be desired, the few and only mediocre nightclubs and bars are about 5-10 minutes drive from the university. If you value nightlife very highly, Riverside is not the right choice for you.
There are numerous options available here. I chose the International Village because it was very close to campus, the international appealed to me in the name, and you can reserve a room in advance through MicroEdu. The prices are too high for what you ultimately get. Unlike other dorms, there is no pool available and the quality of living is not the best. For example, there is always a musty smell in some hallways and rooms, and I regularly encountered cockroaches and other vermin in my apartment. The attempt by the property management to eliminate this was only half-hearted.
The big advantage of the International Village lies in the great cultural diversity that can be found here, with the proportion of Asian students clearly predominating. I met most of the people here and overall had a very good time at the International Village.
The university campus makes a very good visual impression. The university has its own fitness center and there is a wide range of sports and leisure activities.
The teaching standard is below the level in Germany, even if the school-like teaching offers its advantages and can be instructive.
When looking for courses, however, mechanical engineering students are confronted with a very sparse offer. Only a small proportion of the courses listed in the catalog are available in each quarter. As an international student, you are ranked at the bottom when choosing a course. First of all, the American students apply. If places are still available in the desired course, the professor may give consent for enrollment. It does happen (not often in mechanical engineering courses, but very often in business courses) that there is no more space available.
Compared to other universities, the tuition fees at UC Riverside are reasonable. Together with the mandatory health insurance, you should calculate with about 4100 dollars per quarter.
The public transport network is poor compared to that in German cities. Without a car it is hardly possible to leave the city limits. You can buy a car or rent it for a few days. A three-day rental car costs about $200.
However, I used public transportation for the transfer between LAX airport and Riverside. This is a very economical and not overly complicated alternative to the UCR pickup service. The bus and train fare was about $16. However, you should definitely find out about the connections in advance. The following websites are good for this purpose: www.metro.net and www.metrolinktrains.com
I bought a bicycle from www.craiglist.org for $20 to get from the dorm to university.
Since my experience is limited to UC Riverside, the aspects listed may not apply to other universities. Overall I can say that I have not regretted my stay in any way. Such a stay abroad is a unique experience and I would definitely use the opportunity to study abroad again.