University: San Diego State University
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Aerospace Engineering
Study type: semester abroad
Unfortunately, the semester abroad is now over for me and I will describe my experiences here. Be sure to read many of the reports before you go. That really helps a lot. See andyeducation for Riga Stradins University Study Abroad.
So now to me. First of all, there are different philosophies on how to do a semester abroad. I have to say in advance that I haven’t been to the library once (oh yes, I think I’ve gone through it once), of course I’ve had courses that I’ve been able to get credit for and I’ve also completed them well, but I didn’t ” I over-learned”;-)
Therefore, if you want to handle the semester in San Diego differently (which is really difficult), you should perhaps also read other field reports. Everyone else is right here!
Here we go.
The idea came to me in January, and the planning started in February. You should definitely not start much later than 5 months beforehand. There is a lot to do with Bafög, visa, Toefl test and a lot of things that you don’t think about beforehand.
Applying is super easy with the help of MicroEdu. I got the confirmation after 3 weeks.
You should also send the Bafög application 5 months in advance. With regard to the Toefl Test vs. Placement Test, opinions differ. I did the Toefl and was glad I didn’t have to do the test on site. I don’t know which one is easier now. Everyone says something different anyway. I’m definitely up for the toefl test in advance. Then everything is relaxed and you can spend the first few days on the beach instead of studying for an English test. I think that’s the best argument for the Toefl;-)
Then everything takes its course. Visa, pick out subjects, clarify because of the recognition, make yourself hot in Google Street View, read reports, etc. and at some point the departure is already there. There were two of us, so I flew with a buddy (which helps a lot, especially in the first few weeks). Of course there was a strict ban on German as soon as we got on the plane;-) We flew directly to LA and then took the train to San Diego. Was relatively easy.
The first time is quite stressful. We booked the first week at the OB International Hostel in beautiful Ocean Beach and from there we looked at the apartment and car. Promising an apartment in Germany is nonsense. It’s good to check craigslist.com for prices and location, but be sure to do your local research. After a week you should have found something. If you read the reports here, Pacific Beach is awesome. I would say not necessarily. The most important thing is that you live on the beach. I think Mission Beach is almost even nicer. I was in Ocean Beach that was awesome too. I also think it’s very important that you live with Americans. There were two of us, but we lived separately and it was worth it. You’re not there to speak German and each of us has met nice people. Oh yes, there are also people who want to look for an apartment at the university. That sucks. Absolutely not. You will regret it! You can probably do that somewhere in Texas, but if you go to San Diego, you have to go to the beach.
As I said, the apartment can be found within a week on craigslist.com as well as everything else your heart desires, be it a car, furniture, skateboard, surfboard…
I live in a nice terraced house in Ocean Beach with 2 nice girls and a guy. Couldn’t have imagined it better. You should plan between 550 and 700 dollars for the rent. For me it was 630.
A car is also almost essential. The only public transport that you can use is the trolley. Buses aren’t that great, they’re awkward to drive and, if sometimes useful, they take up too much time in the long run. Some rent a car for the whole semester for a lot of money. We bought one and ended up checking it out again. Is the best way. For $1000 you should be able to find a Honda Civic, Toyota or Hyundai that will do the job for the semester. Gasoline costs only a quarter of the price in Germany. It is best to have a mechanic look through the car before you buy it.
At university I had 2 courses in thermodynamics, a geography course, surfing, sailing and sea kayaking.
That was a total of 12 credits and a lot of fun. Of course, the sports courses in particular were awesome. They take place at the Mission Beach Aquatic Center in Mission Beach. Another reason not to live at the university. It is particularly cool that there are about 3 surf courses a day where you can also take part in each one. Most courses at the Aquatic Center cost around $150 per semester. Money that is definitely worth it!
The Aztec Recreation Center is also very cool, where you can use a 24-hour gym with a climbing wall, basketball hall and also a pool and water basin with a membership for 27 dollars a month. I can only recommend it. I usually preferred the sea to the pool, but I used the gym and basketball hall extensively.
In terms of food, there is fast food on campus such as Rubios, Panda Express for a relatively large amount of money. But it’s good for hunger and it doesn’t taste bad either.
I used to live in Ocean Beach. I always drove to the next trolley station (where there are enough parking spaces) and from there it was 20 minutes to the university. Was the best option since the semester ticket for the trolley costs the same as the parking ticket at the university ($150). So I could use the bus and trolley for the whole semester. Sometimes also very practical.
Now I come to the part that was the most beautiful. Life in San Diego is just awesome. Cruising the beach promenades with his longboard, lying on the beach, surfing, going out in cool bars and clubs in the evening. You can hardly imagine it better.
I especially liked the small bars with a dance floor in PB like Typhon Saloon, PB Bar & Grill, Johnny V, and Bar West. Prices ok lots of young people and no strict dress code or anything. Simply beach flair and a good party. There are also some nice locations in Ocean Beach like Gallaghers or Winston’s. Otherwise, the many house parties are also great.
Downtown there are also some fancy clubs like Envy or Stingaree. However, the prices are quite high. I haven’t been downtown that often, but from what I’ve heard it’s worth it.
Of course, you never get bored during the day either. Either drive around with the longboard, lie on a beautiful beach or of course go surfing. There are a lot of great surf spots. With the surf course you are on the beach in Mission Beach, which is also great for beginners. During the course you get the boards (made of foam). They’re also good to start with, but if you surf a lot and want to go out yourself, you can’t avoid getting your own board, which you can of course sell again at the end. You will of course find what you are looking for on craigslist. Where else? A wetsuit is also required from October/November.
Now to the surf spots (plus beautiful beaches, so also interesting for non-surfers).
Ocean Beach at the pier, Ocean Beach at Dog Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach in front of and behind the pier, Windansea (rather for experienced surfers but nice beach), Blacks Beach, Del Mar and Cardiff. Those were the places I’ve been. Blacks Beach in particular is amazing. You absolutely have to go. Very beautiful! In short, the sport is by no means neglected.
Otherwise there is also a lot to see in San Diego. You can decide for yourself what is worthwhile and what is not. I haven’t been everywhere either, but just count what’s there: Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, museums in Balboa Park, whale watching (from the end of December), kayaking in caves, jet skiing.
Then of course there are many places that you should definitely visit. These include Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and Mexico (inform beforehand because of safety, but don’t be intimidated by the Americans. They’re pretty busy there. I would say definitely go there but not necessarily to Tijuana). Unfortunately, I haven’t been to San Francisco and Hawaii, but it would certainly be worth it.
If you have a motorcycle license definitely rent a Harley and head north. I’m going to Santa Barbara. It’s a nice route. If you don’t have a driver’s license, you can get one for 18 dollars;-)
Then to go shopping. I’m not usually a big fan of shopping, but it’s just fun in San Diego. Clothing costs less than half compared to Germany, and even less in the outlet centers in Carlsbad and on the Mexican border. So it’s best to take an empty suitcase with you, it will certainly be more than full at the end.
Food in the supermarket is a bit more expensive than here, but not bad. Most of them in XXL sizes, of course. There’s no such thing as half a liter of milk. The gallon has to come from there.
Otherwise, the Mexican burritos are highly recommended, which are actually available everywhere. The fast food at Jack in the Box or In and Out is also often the “daily bread” if you are too lazy to cook.
Yes, what else can I say. You’re broke after the semester. But it’s worth every penny. You meet nice people, you improve your English a lot, you have a lot of fun, sometimes you have to overcome some difficulties and you experience so many cool things. I can write another 10 pages of everything I’ve experienced. But I think everyone who was there could.
At this point, many thanks to MicroEdu. You always get good advice and good help, which makes a lot of things easier for you.
Well, San Diego is simply amazing and if you don’t go, it’s your own fault!