University: University of California San Diego
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: political science
Study type: semester abroad
1. Application and preparation for the semester abroad
In my course, the 5th semester is a mandatory semester abroad. Since a senior student was also at UCSD and I had always wanted to live in the USA for a while, I quickly made up my mind. The student was also very positive about his semester there. See mcat-test-centers for University of Victoria.
The application process was long, time-consuming and expensive. However, I was very well supported by MicroEdu. This office is financed by the American universities, so it is free of charge for the student. From there I received detailed guidelines on what to do at what point in the application process. There’s a lot of paperwork involved, but MicroEdu has always been an excellent partner, providing polite, professional, and thorough answers to my questions.
Part of the procedure is to apply for a student visa (F1). You are asked a lot of questions that you answer online, including about employers and travel destinations in recent years. Since I wasn’t sure how precise the information had to be, I chose the safe route and answered everything truthfully and in detail, thus spending a few hours on the PC. Once you have answered these questions, you make a personal appointment at the US Embassy in Berlin, Frankfurt or Munich. Here I was only asked what I would like to study there and then the visa was granted.
However, the application process was already the most unpleasant part of the semester abroad, from then on it only went uphill.
2. At San Diego
San Diego isn’t called “America’s Finest City” for nothing. The weather is always sunny and 75°, i.e. always between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius and sunny. In addition, I find the Americans to be completely uncomplicated, open-minded and overly helpful in almost all casesmet. Many things like buying a prepaid cell phone are quicker and easier than in Germany. I would say that there is hardly any place where it is easier to feel comfortable than there. You can do a lot of outdoor activities and lie down on the miles of beaches. However, the city is very spacious, nobody walks and cyclists are rarely seen. Since the local public transport is not that special either, my German roommate and I decided to rent a car. With the exception of rush hour, everything can be reached quickly and easily by car. You can be in Los Angeles in two hours from here, and by American standards there are also a number of national parks just around the corner. You can make it to Las Vegas in 5 hours.
3. Course Selection Process
The choice of courses for international students differs greatly depending on the department. I chose three political science courses. The fact that the internationals can only choose their courses three weeks after the start of the 10-week quarter, and only after the “right” students have chosen, is relatively tedious and annoying. You are required to work in 7-10 courses so that you can then be assigned in a way that suits the university. I didn’t do that, but had two courses confirmed in advance and attended the third course at risk. In the end I was lucky and, after a bit of discussion, received all three courses.
UCSD is located in La Jolla, relatively far north of San Diego. There are buses, but due to the bad connections we decided to rent a car. However, parking permits cost $60 a month and almost everyone advises against buying one because parking lots are supposed to be full by 8 in the morning. However, you can park free of charge to the west of the site, but then you have to walk about 30 minutes. This is the Torrey Pines Gliderport parking lot, which is a public parking lot.
4. Courses at UCSD
I attended three courses, International Political Economy, European Integration and Comparative Political Parties. There was a lot to do for all courses, for International Political Economy 2 exams and 1 essay of about 8 pages. For the other two courses, two essays of 5-7 pages each were necessary. In addition, around 80-150 pages of literature had to be read per week and subject. So there was always plenty to do during these 10 weeks of the semester, but I also learned a lot because the professors are highly motivated and competent. Any question is welcome, emails will be answered within a few hours. Overall you felt like a customer. A professor said: “You pay a lot of money to be here, so I will do my very best to teach a great course”. And that wasn’t just lip service, he meant it.
International Political Economy
Lecturer: Prof. Christina Schneider. This course dealt with the effects that institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and national forms of development aid in particular have on the development of states. The focus here was on the institutional design. The course was a hybrid of economics and political science. No mathematical knowledge was necessary, but the course helped to develop an understanding of economic relationships. However, the analysis was always carried out from a political science point of view, ie what possibilities there are to change development aid in such a way that it effectively achieves the goals set by politics.
This course dealt with Europe and the European Union. The course conveyed a view of the course of European integration from an American point of view. This is extremely interesting because Americans have a very different view of the EU than Europeans themselves. The professor, Prof. Fisk, is the best professor I have ever had. He was entertaining, his American was easy to understand despite speaking at a high speed, and the subject matter was interesting in every lecture. However, you had to have read the lyrics, otherwise it was difficult to follow. Overall a very good course.
Comparative Political Parties
Also Prof. Fisk. In this course, the international party system was examined, in particular the European multi-party systems. I have learned along which cleavages new parties form, why there is a two-party system or a multi-party system and how and for what reasons new parties emerge. This course was incredibly interesting, I learned more about party systems in this ten-week course than in the three semesters of my bachelor’s degree before.
To anticipate one thing: It was expensive. In the end, the time from the beginning of September to Christmas cost me around €18,000. The largest item was the tuition fees at a good €6,000. Another 1000 € was due for the flight. On site I lived in the hotel for the first four weeks because we rented our apartment could move into late, the single room cost 1100 €. The rent for the apartment was a good 700 € a month, and it is not possible to live much cheaper. However, the apartment was then fully furnished and quite large. I shared the rental car with my German roommate, the car cost a good €200 a month per head. Depending on the shop, groceries are a little cheaper or a lot more expensive than in Germany. Fuel costs less than half as in Germany, so it’s more of a secondary item. Important: My credit card company got pretty serious about the fees, especially for cash withdrawals I had to pay 7% fees. You should pay attention to that, because the Sparkasse’s verbal assurance that it was all free of charge was worth nothing.Overall it was a great time, both as an experience and as an academic input. I can recommend it to everybody.