University: University of California San Diego
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
Basically, I can only recommend a semester abroad. It’s a great experience and you experience a lot! Here’s some I find useful info on planning and living in San Diego. See liuxers for SUT Study Abroad.
Preparation and application
I chose UCSD for several reasons: for example, the great location, the wide range of courses and the very good reputation all spoke in favor of UCSD.
MicroEdu supports you throughout the entire application process. Nevertheless, plan enough time to organize all the necessary forms and documents, be it for visa, health insurance or financial proof. Once submitted, I received acceptance from UCSD within a few weeks.
After the confirmation I organized the visa. You will also receive precise information from the university on how to proceed. Then I booked the flights.
I already looked after an apartment before I left. I rented an apartment through Anatolia Housing and I highly recommend it. While it’s not cheap, it saves a lot of hassle if you can arrive and already have accommodation. I met other international students who had to change their apartment several times because there was nothing left for the entire semester. Most “normal” apartments are not furnished and the minimum rental period is 6 months or one year. Since I was only there for a little over 4 months, I opted for a furnished apartment close to the campus. You can book either single or double rooms and live with one or two other (unfortunately only international) students. However, the location was perfect, 10 minutes from campus by bus. The apartments are also ok, you even have free access to a relatively large gym. There is also a pool and jacuzzi. In the area (approx. 5 minutes on foot) there is a new, very large shopping center, supermarkets, restaurants, etc. The beach is also only approx. 15 minutes away by bus.
Many students also live in Pacific Beach, which is always very busy in the evenings. But then you need a car to get to the university. My opinion was: I live close to the university and can take the bus to school and then drive away in my free time. I would do it again. Driving to the university seems to be relatively difficult (finding a parking space, expensive parking tickets, etc.)
Arrive in San Diego
I soon opened an American bank account locally, as I think it’s easier with a US card and account. This is quick and not a problem at all.
Unfortunately, it’s just like this in the USA: You can’t do anything without a car. I got a car taken care of within the first week of my arrival. There are buses, but they don’t run that often (especially not in the evening and on weekends) and the journey always takes a long time (e.g. to downtown San Diego it takes 50 minutes by express bus (otherwise 1.5 hours), by car around 20 minutes). Basically you have two options: Either rent a car, but from my experience you have to reckon with about $650 per month for an older rental car. Don’t be fooled by the low prices advertised ($350 per month). These prices include very strict mileage and region limits and do not include insurance. For example, if you want to go to LA or even Las Vegas, there are very high extra charges,
That’s why I decided to buy a car. Looking back I would probably rent a car for the 4 months. Unfortunately, I was a bit unlucky because I had to take the car to the workshop twice. I would say if you are staying longer than 6 months it is very likely worth buying. All in all, I spent a bit more on the car I bought than if I had rented one. However, I had a real American SUV for 4 months, and was completely independent of any rental car company. Compulsory insurance can also be taken out very easily over the phone. On the other hand, you definitely save yourself some trouble with a rental car. There is still a lot of paperwork to do before you finally become the official owner of a purchased car.
In summary, I think it’s a question of how much risk you want to take. If you just want a car and nothing to do with it, the only option is to rent it.
I really liked UCSD, the campus is huge and beautiful in the summer. I attended two economics courses and one business administration course. The business administration lectures take place at the Rady School of Management. This is apparently widely known for its high quality. Although the courses are relatively complex (reading and writing case studies every week, compulsory attendance, group work, etc.), I found this lecture the most interesting and learned the most. There are often midterm tests as well. Overall, I find the level to be lower (compared to Switzerland). Luckily I was able to split my courses over two (long) days and had enough time to do everything for the university and to enjoy enough free time.
Think in advance which subjects you would like to attend. Plan at least twice as many courses as you can actually take. Since international students can only enroll after all American students, many courses are already full. Most of the time you have to put yourself on a waiting list in advance. My tip: do this as soon as you get an email from the university. Every minute counts!
Info for Swiss students: Be aware that instead of the usual 30 ECTS per semester, 12 units at UCSD count as full-time study. For me, this resulted in the equivalent of 18 ECTS at my home university in Switzerland. So I completed 3 more Swiss subjects online so that I could still get close to 30 points. Of course, this increased my workload considerably.
UCSD has a very wide range of sports (according to UCSD, the largest sports center on the entire West Coast). International students can use this for around $100 per quarter.
The beautiful beach of La Jolla is quite close, about 15 minutes by bus. There is always something going on in Pacific Beach (bars, clubs, shops, huge beach), otherwise downtown is also not far by car. Many students go on weekend trips to LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas, etc.
There are also regular events at the university itself, especially for internationals.
In conclusion, I can highly recommend San Diego and UCSD as a place for a semester abroad. The city is beautiful, the weather anyway and I really liked the university. I met a lot of new people and saw and experienced a lot.