And how are things in Santa Barbara?

Last September, I packed my suitcase as full as possible and left for Santa Barbara. I am staying here for a total of 6 months as a visiting research student in the research group of professor Craig Hawker at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

file photo Tessa Loman

UCSB has a beautiful campus, which is located directly at the ocean and the beach. There is therefore a lot of surfing and sometimes you can even spot some dolphins. I was surprised to learn that the bike and skateboard are the transportation method here; there are bicycle and skateboard lanes all over campus. Even though I do not follow any courses, I still notice a difference in the study attitude; in general people work more and in the research group it’s normal to stay late at night in the lab or to work through the weekend.

Most students here live in Isla Vista, a neighbourhood that is located directly next to campus and that is full with houses with names like ΑΔΠ. In Isla Vista you can find most of the parties; UCSB is also known as a “party school”. Because rents in Isla Vista are very expensive (and you still have to share a room), I decided to live a little bit further from the university with a lovely landlady and her two dogs.

People here are very active, in contrast to the general prejudice about Americans, and they often hike or bike in the mountains that are close to the city. The climate definitely contributes to all this exercising with an average temperature of 20 °C. In the weekends, I like to go hiking in the mountains or I’ll visit a new place with friends; I’ve visited Disneyland in LA and went on a boat trip on Lake Cachuma for example. I also celebrated Friendsgiving; Thanksgiving but then with friends.


Because of the huge size of this country and the lack of proper public transport, it’s more difficult to visit places further away without a car. But my family came during the Christmas holiday and we went on a road trip through California and visited San Francisco, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, Death Valley, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and LA. The nature and vastness of this country keeps astonishing me and I look forward to the great places I will visit in my last month and a half here.



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