University: University of California San Diego
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
To anticipate, my time in San Diego was unique! Here are a few tips that might make life in San Diego a little easier for you too! See liuxers for RSU Study Abroad.
Application and Visa
The application to MicroEdu was really easy, thank you very much! You should plan a bit of time for the TOEFL test, but that’s not a problem at all. I would then take care of the visa relatively quickly. No problem at all if you follow the MicroEdu leaflets and the instructions on the embassy’s website. That the visa costs so much and that you have to go to the nearest embassy in person (Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich) is a bit annoying, but everything is very easy. The embassy appointment in particular was a real joke – the wait (2 hours at the embassy despite having an appointment) took longer than the 3 questions I was then asked.
As soon as I had my visa, I booked my outward flight. Since I still wanted to travel to the USA after my study stay and therefore didn’t know when and from where I would fly back home, this was the best solution for me, since rebooking a flight costs a lot of money, especially if both places as well as timing are to be relocated. The fact that I didn’t have a return flight ticket wasn’t a problem at any point during my stay abroad, even when re-entering Mexico as a tourist (see below).
The enrollment of the courses is a bit more complicated. I had already considered in advance which courses would be suitable for me and had all these courses approved by my German university with partial study contracts. I wanted to be on the safe side because I wanted to do the last courses of my entire university career in the USA – nothing could go wrong and because I had read beforehand that you don’t always get into the courses you want, wanted by far I leave nothing to chance.
For me it all turned out differently. After I had set up my timetable with all possible courses (make sure that not only are the courses not at the same time, but also that the exam dates do not overlap), I just started in the first week, each course once to visit and then decide which ones to become. I then decided on 3 courses, Taxation for Individuals, Taxation for Companies, Intermediate Accounting A. I have to say, I’m doing my master’s in Germany, with a focus on taxation and accounting, but these 3 courses are all undergraduate. This is because, firstly, the Rady School of Management only allows you to take undergraduate courses and secondly, when choosing a course you have to consider that you have to “learn” all the technical terms in addition to some requirements. I then got these courses without any problems (!), which may also be due to the fact that they were relatively large courses.
Although the material in my three courses was completely new to me, I mean I had never learned anything about the American tax system in Germany, the exams were really easy. With 2 exams in the semester, midterm and final, and also homework every week, you are relatively busy, but I would still say that it was easily doable. Mainly because you create a very comfortable cushion for the finals with your homework and the midterm exam.
I lived in Pacific Beach and although it is relatively expensive ($825 a month for a small room is quite expensive even by Munich standards), I have to say in retrospect that choosing this part of the city was absolutely worth it.
Finding an apartment in San Diego is not easy and you have to be careful not to get so annoyed that you move in somewhere after 3 days. Here in the US everything is done on Craigslist. Every day there are endless ads for free apartments/rooms, so just check every hour and write to them immediately or, even better, call them if they have a cell phone number. For this reason, one of the first things to do should be to apply for an American cell phone number and you should always include this cell phone number in the e-mails, it makes an e-mail more credible. Also, a little tip for the e-mail: In case you are a graduate student, write that in the e-mail. Some landlords are afraid that undergraduates in particular will “bring the party home”. You can also place requests for apartments/rooms on Craigslist. It’s also a good idea, but you have to be careful, a lot of silly things are being done with it and not all the answers are serious!
Before I left for the US I spoke to a few people who had already been over there and read some testimonials here as well and the majority said that life without a car in San Diego is not possible. I had a car and in hindsight I would always do it again, although I have to say that a car is not essential, especially if you live in Pacific Beach. The bus runs regularly, as far as I know it takes forever, but if you want to save the money for a car, you should be told that it is possible, especially since you can travel for free with the university bus sticker! Since I felt I wanted to experience as much of San Diego and the surrounding area as possible, I decided to rent a car. I rented a car from perfectrentacar for $400 a month. Was a bit of a junk box, not that surprising with 216,000 miles, but it was enough. I was able to negotiate a bit as I had rented the car for a relatively long time and always paid monthly in advance. I was only allowed to drive in the San Diego area, but that extends to the Mexican border and north to Oceanside. I was able to pay an extra $15 per day for longer tours, got a newer car and everything was fine! Then one day my car wouldn’t start, but that wasn’t a problem either. Just called, he came right away with a new car that I could take and after 4 days I was able to pick up my old car again!
As I said, your own car is not absolutely necessary for the route to the university, but if you intend to explore San Diego (which is already an essential part of it and which I can only recommend), whether to Point Loma, to the port etc., then I don’t want to be dependent on public transport. Or you hope that friends will then have a car where you can connect and then just share the petrol….
Parking at the university is also important. Students can get a parking pass. This then entitles you to park in the parking spaces marked for students. Don’t do that! The pass costs about $60-$80 a month and there is no guarantee that you will get a parking space. If you have a lecture after 8 a.m., no! Instead, take the free parking lot, at the end of Torrey Pines Scientific Drive is a large sandy area, parking is free there! You have to walk to the Rady School, but the free campus shuttle will take you there. And you’ve saved money again!
With the F1 visa you are allowed to enter the USA 30 days before the start of your studies and stay in the USA for 60 days after the end of your studies – which I can only warmly recommend to everyone here. Since I wanted to stay a bit longer, I had to leave for Mexico after the end of my studies (but within the 60 days) in order to then re-enter as a “normal tourist”. It was a bit of an adventure, because the officer I contacted somehow had no idea, but it went well and, as a European, shouldn’t be a problem in 98% of the cases. And a few more small tips in this regard: before you go, talk to the visa officer at the university, who will be introduced to you at the introductory event, do not go on the weekend (Friday to Sunday), many Mexicans also want to go to the USA and the queue is correspondingly long, take enough food and, above all, drink with you and something to protect you from the sun. I stood in the blazing sun for 3 hours!!!!!! As a tourist you can stay in the country for 90 days.
I can only advise you to use the time you have, there is so much to see and explore – you just have to do it! Whether you’re going to LA for the weekend, spending a few days in Las Vegas, exploring the national parks, it’s worth it. But there is also a lot to experience in San Diego. Just hanging out with friends at the beach, taking a surf lesson, etc., the list goes on.
Or go out in the evening. Much of life takes place in Pacific Beach, which is another reason Pacific Beach is arguably San Diego’s hippest neighborhood. Tuesday is Typhoon on the program, Taco Tuesday, Thursday Beachcomber in Mission Beach – you should definitely try it. For this reason, of course, it is also practical to live in Pacific Beach, then you can bike home! And if you want to leave your leisure wear in the closet and really dress up, then it’s not that far by taxi to downtown and it’s not that expensive. Just remember, the clocks tick differently here. All clubs close at 1: 30 a.m., which means everything starts earlier here! And if you plan to have a beer on the beach, it should be said that there is an absolute ban on alcohol in public. Oh yes, and always take your ID with you when you go out, even if you want to go out to eat in the evening – there are strict controls here!
In summary, I can only say that it was absolutely amazing – I would do it again and again, exactly the same way over and over again! Organizing in advance may be exhausting and in many places really annoying, but let me tell you, it certainly pays off. And if it doesn’t go the way you imagined, just look at the Americans. Here in San Diego, with their relaxed manner, they’ve got it pretty well figured out – just don’t get excited, it’ll be fine!