University of California Riverside Review

Gap year after graduation

I completed two trimesters at UCR from September 2016 to March 2017. According to Abbreviation Finder, UCR is the abbreviation of University of California Riverside.

The gap year as such

The gap year after graduating from high school can be recommended for anyone who wants to go abroad, wants to improve their language and doesn’t know exactly what they want to study. At university I took courses from public speaking to Spanish, French, literature and political philosophy. I was completely free and could try everything once – that was really great! At the same time, of course, you learn the language very well. But you should be aware (which I personally wasn’t aware of before) that the gap year as such is not a real program at the university. In all of my time there, I haven’t met anyone else who did a gap year like me. You have to make your own way and find your courses and have no students whom you see again in the several courses. I am basically quite open and still have a lot of cool and nice people Got to know in time, but if you are more cautious and prefer to belong to a group, it may be more difficult. I have often also heard: “After your time here, you don’t have a degree at all? You only learn all of this out of interest and can’t get credit for it at all? – That’s a waste of time and money.” In my opinion, that’s not true. After this orientation phase (which is admittedly not exactly cheap), you at least know more precisely what you want to do later. If you just start to study something haphazardly and then break it off, you lose your time and money. In addition, such an international experience is simply priceless.

How 3 trimesters became 2

Three trimesters were planned (until June 2017), but I flew home early after two trimesters, which was not a problem academically, as I only completed one gap year (i.e. I wasn’t working towards a degree). Basically, I would recommend such a time for people who, like me, want to go abroad after graduation, but do not want to do an au pair or work & travel. But in my opinion, one or two trimesters are enough to find out what you want to study later and to improve your language skills. I didn’t want to do a third trimester for various reasons:

  1. I had taken 7 courses to date and had actually already decided what I wanted to study.
  2. Have domestic students (i.e. the students who study there normally and not only there for one or two trimesters) priority when it comes to the choice of course, ie as an international student you may not get the courses you want because they are full.
  3. I had the opportunity to do an internship in Germany.
  4. Even if it sounds stupid, most international students are mostly friends with other international students, who are usually gone after three months. After I came back after Christmas and all my friends (apart from my roommates) were back in my home country, I had to more or less start all over again when it came to socializing. That was really tough the first three weeks, but after that I also had a great time in the second trimester. But then I didn’t want to do the whole thing a third time (because most of my friends, like me, left at the end of March).
  5. Every trimester costs a lot more money, and since I no longer had any academic reasons to do the third trimester, I flew home early.


I really liked the UCR as a university, the professors and tutors were very nice and helpful. I guess I was lucky with my professors too – I can’t really complain about any of them. I can totally recommend the Public Speaking course, which is supposed to be one of the best in the whole university be. The professor is young and extremely committed, the tone of voice during the lectures is relaxed and funny – a course in which people were very rarely absent because everyone just loved to go there. The course can be recommended to anyone who wants to learn how to better perform in front of people and give speeches – no matter what the subject of study is. Often the courses at UCR were pretty easy – in the literature and philosophy courses I often went through things that I already knew from high school. My philosophy professor (who was also in Germany for a while) said to me: “You have a German Abitur? Then you have the level of a student who is here in the 3rd year ”. But that is probably similar at other universities in the USA. The students at UCR were always open and nice. In the second trimester I was also a member of a dance club, which I was welcomed to very nicely, even though I was the only foreigner there and only a member for three months.
Highly recommended for sports enthusiasts is the university’s Recreation Center, where membership for international students costs $ 70 per month or $ 120 for the trimester. Sounds like a lot, but it’s worth it: Included are pool, whirlpool, climbing wall, two huge floors of fitness studios, good fitness courses, badminton and squash fields (and I think even basketball fields).

The International Village as a place of residence

I can only recommend the International Village to a limited extent – it all depends on what you are looking for. If you want to have some peace and quiet, be close to the university and have no problem taking the shuttle to go shopping, we recommend it. It’s also quite clean compared to the other student dormitories. On the other hand, I think that there is no supermarket in the immediate vicinity, that there are a lot of international students living there and that you get to know such hard Americans, that parties never take place there, that the fire alarm is constantly (up to three times a day !!) triggered incorrectly and you have to evacuate the building, that there is no pool and that the gym there doesn’t really deserve its name. Personally, I would recommend the University Village Towers or the Sterling Highlander. The Sterling is quite new and also very large, with both international and American students living hereand there is always something going on. The University Village Towers are close to the university, have a lot of American students (but they are also right on the highway, if you catch a window on this side it is definitely very noisy).

Riverside and excursions

About Riverside itself you can say that there are no clubs and hardly any bars – but there are always parties. As a bar / country club nearby, there is the Brandon Iron in San Bernadino, which we have often been to, in 20-30 minutes you can take the Uber or Lyft. Riverside itself is not particularly exciting, although the city center has quite nice corners. Rent a car if you want to do something. Many places are also easy to reach from here : Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs and many national parks such as the Joshua Tree, Desert Valley, the Mojave Desert and many more.


Finally, I can recommend both the Gap Year and the UCR.

University of California Riverside Review