University: University of California San Diego
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: International Relations
Study type: semester abroad
The University of California San Diego is part of the University of California system of public universities in California, which also includes UC Berkeley and UCLA. Located in northern La Jolla, UCSD is easily accessible by car and public transportation. The campus is very extensive and offers six undergraduate colleges and five graduate and professional schools for around 29,000 enrolled students. During my semester abroad I enrolled in courses at the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IRPS) as it is not possible to take graduate courses at the Rady School of Management. See liuxers for UNSW Study Abroad.
Before the exchange
Since I registered as a free mover for a semester abroad, I had to organize everything myself. Like many other exchange students, I applied to UCSD through MicroEdu. I was able to download the appropriate forms and the necessary information and requirements straight away from the website www.MicroEdu.com. MicroEdu takes care of the entire registration, you only have to send the completed forms and the relevant certificates to the placement office. The MicroEdu advisors are also happy to help with questions about the courses and the university.
What was a bit time-consuming in advance was obtaining detailed information about the courses, since only very short course descriptions are available on triton link (the UCSD course catalogue). I contacted the student affairs office of my graduate school directly, who were able to give me the syllabi of the last year’s courses. When you register for a semester abroad at UCSD, you must specify twelve courses that you may want to take. Before you leave, you should definitely look at the current course catalog for the corresponding quarter again, since there can always be changes to the courses from the previous year. The current course catalog on triton link will be published in February for the Spring Quarter (which starts at the end of March).
It is worth looking for accommodation before you leave. Many students arrive a week or two earlier and then look for an apartment or room in a shared flat on site. We recommend the Craigslist portal (www.craigslist.com), where not only apartments and free rooms are advertised, but also bicycles, cars, etc. can be bought and sold there. I applied for a single room in a student apartment building in Pacific Beach through KAMO Housing (www.kamohousing.com). KAMO Housing offers single or double rooms in the Bay Pointe apartment complex. You have access to all the facilities of the Bay Pointe Apartments, which includes a pool, jacuzzis, tennis and basketball courts, gym, laundry rooms, as well as a computer room where you can also print out for free.
Before the semester begins, you will receive a brief introduction to the UCSD Extension, the campus and the visa requirements and guidelines that must be observed. This takes place over two days, but only lasts a few hours each time. You will also receive blue paper cards there, which you have to have the lecturers sign during the first few weeks. These cards serve as course registration and depending on the school, approval from the relevant department must be obtained in addition to the approval of the lecturer. This card is then submitted by a due date to UCSD Extension, which completes course enrollment for the exchange student. The UCSD Extension supports you in choosing a course and if you have any questions.
Unfortunately, the support from the university itself, or the respective school departments, is very limited. Since you are not fully enrolled as a UCSD student, you do not have access to everything and therefore have a different matriculation number. This often means that as an exchange student you are treated as secondary, for example when registering for the recreation center (sports centre), where the places for sports lessons are usually already taken and the waiting lists are full. The lectures in the master’s program are often offered as seminars and held in small classes. By registering and paying the semester fees, you are entitled to take 12 units at UCSD. More courses can be taken for additional course fees. I have divided my 12 units into three courses of four units each, which are counted as six ECTS at home at my university. At the IRPS you can choose management, economics and politics subjects. I attended the courses “Doing Business in China” and “Politics and Institutions in Latin America” and “Strategic Marketing”. The courses were very demanding and involved a lot of effort during the semester. In each course, several research papers or case studies (each lecturer has their own guidelines) had to be handed in alongside the final exams or presentations. If you are in the USA or San Diego for the first time, you should definitely allow time before or after the quarter to travel, as there is not much time left or to plan well during the quarter. However, due to the large amount of work and discussions during the lessons (very often the oral participation contributes to a certain extent to the grade), you learn a lot and can improve your English skills in writing and speaking. My courses were all very interesting and I was definitely able to benefit.
San Diego really is a very beautiful city that has it all. I chose to live in Pacific Beach because you can practically live on the beach. In Pacific Beach there are also many shops, restaurants and bars. A 20 minute drive from Pacific Beach is UCSD in the hills of La Jolla. La Jolla is an extremely beautiful and rich area, also with good (surf) beaches, but there is not much going on, especially in the evening. Also 20 minutes south of Pacific Beach is San Diego Downtown. This region is very urban and actually offers everything. There are many other interesting neighborhoods like Mission Valley or Old Town that add to San Diego’s diversity. In addition, San Diego offers many sights, such as Sea World, San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park or the USS Midway.