University: University of California Riverside
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Electrical engineering
Study type: semester abroad
It was always in the back of my mind to do a semester abroad in the USA, but when I was browsing the internet on vacation, I came across MicroEdu. I’ve read through a lot of testimonials, which really helps a lot. Then I informed myself about all the requirements and got a little shock : ). Don’t be put off though, it will be 100% worth it in the end. Visit iamaccepted.com to get information about Sheffield Hallam University study abroad program.
Since I’ve always found LA very interesting, I definitely wanted to study in LA or nearby. In the end I decided on the UCR. The university has a good reputation in electrical engineering, so it was quite fitting. I proved my language skills with the IELTS, they say that the IELTS is easier than the TOEFL. You need at least a 6.0.
MicroEdu really helps you with any question so you don’t have to worry that much, they really do everything in their power : ) (Thanks again, especially to Alissa) After you’ve passed your language proficiency test, you should take care of your visa. Once I had my visa in hand, I took care of my flight.
My flight route was from Frankfurt – Seattle and from Seattle – Los Angeles. I spent the first night in a motel near the airport, it was the Super 8 Motel as far as I remember. The stupid thing about the US is that you pay for the room itself and not for the number of people staying there.
3. Arrive at Riverside + accommodation
The next day I then made my way to Riverside, the journey is about 1 hour from LA. I researched a lot of housing options in advance and read the reviews on the internet. On the advice of the previous students, I also checked the website “craigslist.com” and finally found my apartment there.
In hindsight I was very happy that it worked out as I got the best and newest apartment complex (Sterling Highlander Apartments). The actual rent for a “4-bedroom apartment” with its own toilet and shower (kitchen and living room are used together) is about $800, but I got it for $500 through Craigslist because the old student was transferring to a new university and otherwise he would have to pay for his contract, which ran until the end of August. So he paid me $300 a month and got away cheaper.
When I was in my bare room, I realized that I really have to buy a few things : ). Thank goodness there is a K-Mart and Stater Brothers directly across from the Sterling Highlander Apartments where you can really get everything you need to live. Your roomates will also help you with all questions and concerns.
After you settled into your own home, you had to start university at some point : D. On the first introductory day you will probably get to know a few people. We had people from Germany, China, Japan, France etc. Then you have to slowly register for the courses or you have to crash them (it’s a bit stressful, but the profs really help you, especially when they hear that you’re from the abroad since).
My 3 courses were
Introduction to Robotics
I found the labs in this course to be tough because you had to be proficient in C (programming language). Towards the end of the quarter we had a kind of “test” in the labs, our robot had to put a ball into a “goal” or shoot it, which was really great for me as a football fanatic. Personal details: Interesting course and young professor with a Greek accent : )
Signals and Systems
We were his first class he taught, he’s not a professor, I think some kind of lecturer or something like that. In my opinion (and most students’ opinion : p) the lectures were boring and most of the time was spent on the iPhone spent : D. In general, he is a very nice “Prof” who is available at all times and helps as best he can (usually you need him for questions about the homework because they are not easy).
Introduction to Digital Control
I found the course interesting, however, I felt that the professor wrote too much information on the board at once, so the focus was more on copying than understanding. You will find out afterwards that he will upload the lecture materials : D. About the person: Professor with a Chinese accent, some people had problems understanding him, but it was ok for me. Very intelligent professor with some publications.
Since I didn’t know that American universities have homework and lab appointments every week, I was a little surprised. Tue & Thu were the lectures and Mon & Fri were the labs, it’s really not that easy and you have to invest some time in homework and labs, which I wasn’t used to from my university in Germany. We had Wednesday off.
Otherwise the university itself is quite nice and has a lot to offer. There are several libraries and a nice canteen with various dining options. There is something for everyone: Chinese, Mexican, Japanese and Italian.
I usually rode my bike to the university because you could rent a bike from our apartment every day for free.
In itself, Riverside really has very little to nothing to offer, so you can quickly get bored. There’s a movie theater in the UV where you get discounts as a student, as well as at the Subway across the street and at Farmer Boys. Since my roomates had a car we did things sometimes, this includes the LA Clippers vs Memphis Grizzlies NBA playoff game, it was truly a memorable result which I recommend to everyone. We also made a day trip to Venice Beach, which is also worth seeing.
Most people are very nice and happy when they hear that you are from Germany or from abroad. You get to know a lot of people and good friendships develop. My roomates were 4 American born Chinese guys from the Bay Area, they were all very nice and I still keep in touch with them today. I was still in the USA about 2 months after the end of the semester. I hooked up with a German foreign student I met at our apartment complex and we traveled the country together.
First by car from Riverside (Onatrio Airport Rental Station) to:
- Death Valley National Park
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Sequoia National Park
- Yosemite National Park
- San Francisco
Then after a 2-day break by car to:
- LA and on the same day return the car to the car rental company at LAX and continue by plane to
- Flown to Miami and spent a few days there
- 6 days in NYC
I don’t want to go into too much detail about the individual places, everything is really very beautiful and you should have seen it.
I could recommend NYC to everyone again because it is something very special.
After that I flew back to Riverside (Ontario Airport) and stayed there for another month before flying back to FFM. My colleague flew directly to Germany from NYC because he had to go back to work.
I spent the last month fasting because it was the month of Ramadan (Islamic month of fasting). I almost always broke the fast in the mosque + followed by prayer (the mosque is on the way to the university “Islamic Center of Riverside”) There, a lot of friends were made again.
The end of this long experience slowly came to an end…
The whole semester abroad costs a lot, but if you can somehow afford it, I would recommend it to everyone, because it will shape you and you will never forget this time. Your English will improve, you will meet new people and have friends all over the world. If I were to do another semester abroad, I probably wouldn’t do it in Riverside, but in a larger city, because in Riverside you’re really lost without a car.