Yannic Scholtyssek has escaped temporarily. He left Berlin and its gray winters behind where he is a master’s student in Engineering Science at Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin). Instead, he spent ten months under the California sun and attended the University of California in Santa Barbara, a city located in central California against the dramatic backdrop of the Santa Ynez Mountains.
The 22-year-old fulfilled his dream of spending a year abroad by applying to one of TU Berlin’s partner universities, UCSB, through its overseas exchange program. TU Berlin has agreements with over 300 international universities, offering students an opportunity to study abroad
and call another place home for a year. Further advantages: Yannic Scholtyssek did not have to pay tuition fees and received a merit-based scholarship of EUR 400 each month. “The Office of International Affairs at TU Berlin consistently provided me with advice and support,” he says. Cooperation agreements allow his coursework at UCSB to be recognized in his degree program in Berlin.
Right at the start he participated in a get-together welcome event offered to exchange students to learn about life in Santa Barbara. A family he only just met at the event then invited him to dinner. “We talked until late into the night and it was really nice and inviting to spend time with them.”
Everyday university life was a great challenge – and adjustment. Coursework was demanding and his growth of knowledge tremendous, primarily due to the increased amount of homework assigned, he explains. “Every week I had three homework assignments per course, often keeping me busy from 9:00 to 18:00 during the week.” However, there were many advantages: “My English continually improved and also outside of the university it was very exciting to get to know new people and the country.”
In order to travel on the weekends and explore the beautiful landscape, Yannick had to work hard and prepare for classes during the week. Although free time was a rare commodity, he still managed to go climbing in Yosemite National Park, hike Big Sur, and canoe to the oil stations off the coast. He particularly enjoyed taking off on a surfboard and riding the waves into the sunset after a long day. “You decompress and relax and become one with the waves,” he raves.
The year in Santa Barbara was not his first time studying abroad. Yannic spent a semester in Lulea, Sweden, during his bachelor’s degree. “When again will I have the opportunity to spend a longer period abroad without commitments back home?” he asks. “I have had so many cool experiences, met so many wonderful people, and learned such a great deal.” Studying abroad was simply an amazing experience.