University of California Davis Student Review

I’m studying the English master’s degree in Environmental Sciences in Freiburg and wanted to study in California for a semester . My aunt, who lives near San Francisco, told me about UC Davis that the university was good for my focus on ecology / environment / wildlife . Fortunately for UC Davis you don’t have to take a TOEFL test , you can also take the DAAD test and with me they also accepted the Oxford Online Placement Test, along with three academic English texts that I wrote during my studies in Freiburg. That was probably an exception. The Global Study Program (GSP) team was always very helpful and answered all of my emails in a helpful way. After I was accepted, I took care of the visa (5 weeks before the start of my studies) and booked the flight.


According to TOPMBADIRECTORY, GSP sends out a booklet with good tips for finding accommodation . I did some research on Craigslist beforehand. There is also the UC Davis Global Study Program Facebook group where many opportunities are posted. I ‘ve seen a lot of offers and it wasn’t difficult to find one. Of course, you should have photos sent to you or Skype with people. I was very satisfied, I lived in a house with 8 girls and everyone was very nice. I also knew some who lived in “host families” or in “student apartment complexes”. It is very convenient to do everything in Davis by bike and find accommodation that is not too far from campus. Rooms in Davis are expensive compared to Germany and many share a room. It’s nothing to me as I need privacy, but it’s a great way to save money.


As a GSP student, you have to attend 12 units. It was difficult for me to get the timetable in such a way that I had 12 units with courses that interest me and the courses do not overlap in the times. Also, any courses I wanted were full in the enrollment process, and UC Davis students have the privilege of enrolling courses. I then selected other courses, but when I was already in Davis I personally went to the courses that were full and addressed the professors directly and said that I would very much like to take the courses. It worked out on all of the courses and I got all I wanted . You also have about a week to change courses. I then had 4 courses and 13 units.

I learned more at UC Davis than in Freiburg. I took 4 courses and 3 of them were great. In contrast to Freiburg, the courses involved more practical activities and all professors were competent and committed . Many courses have a practical “laboratory part” in addition to the theory. Most of the courses also have homework to help you stay tuned to the topic and better prepare for the exams.

The Restoration Ecology course was very well divided, as the homework grade was always very easy to get, and then there was a project with several parts that were each graded, group work and a final exam. You learned a lot as a result and got a good grade . The professor was also always very committed and nice (Valerie Eviner).

My other course, Field Methods in Wildlife , was great too. The exams were fair, we had a great weekend excursion in which we saw a lot of animals and learned different monitoring methods and we had the homework to analyze and observe animals outside over the entire quarter and to write a “field notebook”. The professor (Dirk Van Vuren) and other visiting professors were all very good.

I didn’t like my third course, and the professor is known for speaking and mumbling so quickly that even American students have difficulty understanding him. Unfortunately, I didn’t know beforehand. In addition, the course was only about learning as much content as possible by heart, for 2 midterms and a final exam. There were no extra activities, no other work. The grade consisted of the exams only. So I didn’t learn a lot and just tried to get everything into my head (Mammals, Prof. Douglas Kelt).

To get the 12 units added, the GSP team helped me and recommended the “Presentation skills” course. There is no grade, but passed or failed. It was great fun and I learned very well how to give a good presentation .

In general, I had less free time than in Freiburg and had to study a lot more, because the quarter is short and you have to study for all possible exams for 4 courses at the same time and do other work and homework.

All professors have office hours where you can talk to them at any time, and they all have teaching assistants who can help at any time. All professors always answered emails immediately and were helpful. In contrast to Freiburg, the course is demanding and time-consuming, but you can get help and support anywhere at any time .


I enjoyed my time in Davis. It is a very green, small university town and you can do everything by bike or you can use the good bus network. The campus is huge, with lots of meadows and trees and squirrels are jumping around everywhere. A beautiful park is located on the campus, where a small river flows through it (arboretum). There are many bike lanes on campus with lots of students riding around at certain times. You have to be careful not to collide with other cyclists, because that happens often, especially in the roundabout when everyone wants to turn. And you should always have a light on your bike, because the police often drive around and check.

I’ve made a few trips with Outdoor Adventures, an organization of the university, for example to Point Reyes (beautiful!) And rafting on the American River. That was great fun, and they also offer trips to Yosemite National Park and many more. I thought I could always go away at the weekend, but at times I had a lot to do for the university. I also went to the Activity and Recreation Center (ARC) often to do sports. There are many different courses on offer and there is a large fitness center. There are many other sports activities on offer in UC Davis.

You can read all about Davis on Daviswiki. In Downtown, there are many food options . You should definitely try a burger from “Burgers and Brew” and drink a milk tea in the Old Tea House or elsewhere. Every Wednesday and Saturday there is the Farmers Market, where you can also try food for free. The Graduate bar was also very popular and has a regular introduction to country dancing. There is a free shuttle from UC Davis to Sacramento. Old Sacramento is worth a trip. The weather is of course perfect, although it can get too hot in summer. I think the Spring Quarter is the best in terms of weather. The people in Davis are nice and accommodating, and there are many international students. Many students come from China, Japan and Korea and many American students come from the Bay area, whose families also come from these countries.

I can recommend this university to everyone and it was a great experience to study in Davis.

University of California Davis