University of California San Diego Review (16)

University: University of California San Diego

City: San Diego

Country: United States

Continent: North America

Field of study: communication sciences

Study type: Summer Sessions

University of California San Diego Review (16)

In the summer of 2008 (August 4th – September 6th) I took part in a summer session at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) via MicroEdu. See liuxers for SMU Study Abroad.

The planning in advance via MicroEdu went relatively smoothly and in retrospect I am very happy that the organization did some of the work for me. As an intermediary between the students and the university, the contact is more secure than it would probably have been if you applied directly to the university. The contact persons were always very friendly and open-minded.
The effort involved in submitting documents was not nearly as great as I have experienced when renting an apartment, for example. Some family members could hardly believe that it is so easy to suddenly be a student in the USA.

Of course, you should think carefully about the costs to be incurred in advance. Since studying in the USA is generally never free of charge, you should also be open about it, because after all, many employers count a stay abroad as very high and for the student it can be an experience of a lifetime and you yourself have never been there before past challenges!
I also find the option of conducting a telephone interview with the MicroEdu staff as proof of language proficiency very commendable instead of taking a TOEFL test if you have good English performance (at school and/or university) in advance, which must be proven. I took advantage of this opportunity and saved myself some money as a result.
I also heard about these enrollment methods for foreign students, so I was only too pleased that we were able to be assured of the courses after prior selection. These regulations also exist at German universities and sometimes some students go home without a place on a course or module subject, but in a foreign country this is always something that should be avoided.

Since I was enrolled as a part-time student, I didn’t need a visa, but the organization also gave me comprehensive information about this. With early precautions, the exhibition should also run without complications. A valid passport is of course also mandatory as a tourist (like I was). Everything else is then filled out using a form at the airport or on the plane. You should get used to the fact that you won’t get very far with ordinary “school English” without further language practice. At the airport, too, you should be able to ask all the questions of the staff in the event of any incidents. For example, I also had the “enjoyment” of a special check on the return flight (indicated by four “S” on the ticket) and since American airport employees can also be very annoyed and hectic, you shouldn’t unnecessarily lengthen the process due to a lack of language skills. In other private and university use, too, it is advisable to put yourself in the shoes of this more fluent and colloquial word usage and not to remain on the British English taught at school. Some British words are there bsw. not even known. to empathize with this more fluent and colloquial word usage and not to remain on the British English taught at school. Some British words are there bsw. not even known. to empathize with this more fluent and colloquial word usage and not to remain on the British English taught at school. Some British words are there bsw. not even known.

I lived with a local host family, pretty much in the middle between the university and downtown, near Genesee Avenue. If you don’t want to take the bus for 30 minutes every day (which wasn’t a problem for me), you should find an apartment or shared flat near the university, such as bsw. to choose UTC. Thanks to my German acquaintances, I was able to get to know the university apartments and was very pleasantly surprised. These are significantly higher in standard and cleaner than some German university dormitories I’ve seen. In the summer, thanks to the semester breaks of many US students and more capacity for accommodation, you can be lucky and use a 5-man apartment almost to yourself.

Otherwise, the area was very informal and the bus connections were quite good during the day and, in contrast to some German tram systems, also quite simple. At night, however, one would have wished for better transport options in a larger city like this. Many buses only run until 10.30 p.m. and after a visit to a bar or club in the evening you have to take a taxi, which in my case added up significantly (partly due to the ignorance of the taxi drivers). For a longer stay (one semester), a rental car might be useful (already inform yourself about favorable conditions in Germany), which can only be rented with an international driver’s license and only with restrictions under 25 years of age.

I got in touch with my host family through the “San Diego Homestay” placement agency, which unfortunately I cannot recommend 100%. The lady was usually very curt, couldn’t give any truthful information and usually only got in touch when payment was due. For a stay of only a few weeks, one cannot hope for much information about one’s host family in advance, so to speak, in contrast to an exchange year.
My host parents were very nice and the house was quite comfortable. However, as a clean and orderly German, you have to put up with the American disorder, since in my case the hygiene left a lot to be desired from time to time. These things can probably also be traced back to their relatively young age (both were only 27). Nevertheless, you could experience a lot with both of them in terms of partying and use the experience of living in an American family and experiencing many typical American customs personally. The price you pay for room and board is a few hundred dollars less than a campus apartment, but with this option for regular meals, you should consider some extra expenses for lunch and other errands,

Despite the strong euro in recent times, this advantage is noticed differently when shopping in the supermarket. You sometimes pay more for fruit and fresh produce (and of course German items), but you often save on ready meals, drinks, etc. (which are usually only available in jumbo packs) and drugstore items.
However, there is a general deduction for the living and general costs in my grade evaluation, since for living in the village for several weeks, in contrast to a 14-day vacation, you also have to plan for everyday items (food, etc.) or a visit to the doctor (which we almost all had to experience thanks to the far too cool air conditioning systems), which can be very expensive for foreigners.
However, these are the only points to criticize. In part, of course, these things are also due to the different and often freer and more generous (if not to say lavish) lifestyle of the Americans, which for Europeans initially seems exuberant and not moderate for our salaries, but to which one quickly gets used, since he also has many sympathetic traits.

University life was very attractive. I took the Introduction to Communication course in the Communication/General (COGN) department and learned a lot from it. Since I have already attended a number of communication courses at my German university, I can say with a clear conscience that the level is significantly higher and the material is significantly more comprehensive than what is taught in Germany. When it comes to communicator and recipient in this country, I had to examine philosophical topics in the USA and write an essay on pseudo-realities in the first week : -)

Nevertheless, I was enthusiastic about this profound topic. You should plan a significantly higher workload than in Germany, especially in the humanities courses. Since our 5-week course had the same workload as the 10-week semester, I sometimes had to read 60 pages or more before each lecture and work out questions about it, since the midterm (exam) was due after the first two weeks. So you should be able to combine your explorations and excursions with your university work. If you’ve ever made a guest appearance in the land of unlimited opportunities, you should take advantage of it. The university staff also gave us the strongest recommendation on the introductory day: “We don’t want to see you working all the time – go out and have fun!”

This system of having fewer lectures and investing more in homework and follow-up work is now being adopted in Germany with the Bachelor/Master system.

However, I found the price for the reader that I had to buy a bit outrageous:
$96! For a German student, it is a bit steep for documents for a subject and, as always, only payable by credit card.

The contact with the professors and lecturers in my course was very informal. It was very often offered to use the professors’ office hours if a fact or a text was unclear and it was important that every student did his or her workload. The employees were also interested in knowing the names of the course participants, which I rarely experienced at German universities with 26,000 students. I also liked the organization itself. The staff at the International Office took great care of us.

As previously described, the campus was green and cosy. The Price Center on campus offered some shopping and dining options with a few restaurants, and the distances between the buildings are still bearable and once you know the system, the rooms are easy to find.
The fellow students (in my course 70% Asian Americans, 20% Native Americans and only a few other nationalities and with me 2 Summer Session students) were very nice and approachable.

Nice excursion destinations, which of course should definitely be visited in addition to university life, if you are already in such a great spot on earth, are for example:

In San Diego:

  • Seaworld
  • San Diego Zoo
  • Downtown
  • old town
  • Bars and clubs on the beach promenades (Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach,…) –> in the clubs you should pay attention to the different dress codes – while you can dress casually on Pacific Beach, some club operators in downtown require a more elegant dress code look without jeans and sneakers)
  • Balboa Park (good for nature shots)
  • PointLoma
  • Hotel Del Coronado (location for some movies)
  • one of the many shopping malls (Fashion Valley, UTC, Carlsbad Outlets)

If there is enough time to explore these many great cities in the west, there are of course the well-known recommendations (but you should plan a few days for such a trip, as a short detour is really not worth it):


  • disneyland
  • LA (about 2.5 hours by car from San Diego), including Universal Studios there
  • Newport and Laguna Beach (2 hours away)
  • Las Vegas (5 hours away)
  • San Francisco (over 4 hours away)
  • Grand Canyon
  • Phoenix, Ariz

In general, I am very enthusiastic about my almost 6-week stay in the land of unlimited opportunities. Since it was my first visit to the States, there was of course a lot to discover and new cultural insights arose.
San Diego itself is a wonderful city to study in. It really deserves the weather-related designation “the finest city of the US”. The amount of precipitation in summer is almost zero, it is very pleasantly warm every day (about 25 degrees Celsius, but feels warmer) and even in winter you can count on an average temperature of 15-17 degrees, in contrast to cold Germany, a real one Recreation. If you don’t like the overcrowded tourist beaches, our insider tip for beaches near the university is a real recommendation or the La Jolla Shores. Here, however, attention should be paid to the immorality of nude bathing.

Since I’ve been a fan of the United States and the way of life since I was a child, I came here with great expectations. All in all I have nothing but positive things to say about the people of San Diego and the other areas we have traveled to. Everyone is very polite, nice, courteous, easy-going, generous and, especially in California, very open-minded and just have this sunshine mentality in their facial expressions. For example, I couldn’t claim that in Germany strangers greet me with a smile almost every day on the street or that all men, as women, let me go first when getting off the bus : -)

Thanks again to MicroEdu for the kind support that made my stay in the land of my heart a wonderful one!!! Since I am now studying American Studies in Germany, my American university experience prepared me wonderfully and this trip confirmed my fascination with the American way of life!

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