University of California San Diego Review (3)

University: University of California San Diego

Country: United States

Continent: North America

Field of study: mathematics

Study type: semester abroad

University of California San Diego Review (3)

The preparations

As with any application, there is a lot of paperwork to do first, but a MicroEdu does a lot of the work for you. You get a checklist so you can be sure you haven’t forgotten anything. Once the application has been sent, the real work begins: obtaining a visa. In addition to various fees, an F-1 student visa requires you to fill out questionnaires and even stop by a US embassy in Berlin, Frankfurt or Munich to take part in a “visa interview”. A few short questions had to be answeredand then you got the visa. In my case it was three months before the adventure trip. With that, the biggest hurdle has been overcome. There are still a few things to be done in the next few months, such as applying for a credit card. See mcat-test-centers for University of Winnipeg.

my apartment I booked through the agency “Anatolia Housing”. This was very easy as you could already book it from Germany. So I spent the first few weeks traveling and not looking for an apartment. However, it has advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand you are guaranteed an apartment, which in my case is clean and relatively spacious, but you can also be unlucky. I’ve heard from many that they have had bug problems. In addition, this agency does not appear particularly trustworthy because there is no contact person; it’s all done via email. Last but not least, you can’t choose your roommates. You have the choice between “shared room” and “private room”. The apartments consist of a living room, kitchen and two bathrooms as well as two rooms with two beds each. “Shared room” means you share a bedroom. However these rooms are very small with only one desk and far too small closets so I would not recommend this at all! The “private room” variant is the only appropriate one. Nevertheless, 1-2 other students from all over the world live in your apartment. In my case it wastwo friendly Brazilians. We got along well, even if our daily rhythms were very different, which was exhausting towards the end while preparing for exams.

The arrival

Before college started, I planned a longer trip that would start in San Francisco. From there I drove into Sequioa National Park and on to the coast, down the 101 Highway to Los Angeles. Then another detour into the desert and finally to San Diego. These are just a few of California ‘s many tourist destinations. The trip was very varied and will definitely remain in the best memories, because you experience unique landscapes that Europe does not have to offer.

The first few weeks

I arrived in San Diego in time for the new international student orientation meeting. Here you learned everything important and got to know many people with whom you did something during the semester. A week later, the Quarter at UCSDofficially began and a critical point was pending: the choice of course. When applying, you had no certainty that you would be able to take your desired courses, because as an international student you are the last to come to the courses – the locals have priority. You had to go to every professor and ask them whether you could be accepted into the course or not. Fortunately, this was not an obstacle in mathematics, because theProfessors were happy to welcome an international student. So I was able to take the courses I wanted, but this is not the case for all students. Many have problems taking popular courses from departments such as engineering. That’s why the first few weeks are very stressful for many, because you have to be in several courses at the same time until you know where to stay.


I took two English courses at the UCSD Extension and two graduate courses in the Mathematics Department, on topology and differential geometry. It should be noted at this point that not everyone was allowed to take graduate courses. It depends on whether or not you were admitted to such courses when you applied. This is usually found out directly in the approval e-mail.

The English courses were at an advanced level and basically offered a crash course in English grammar and writing skills, which was very helpful for me as I haven’t learned anything like this since school. The professors were extremely friendly and open-minded and the atmosphere was very relaxed. The level was just right because you could get a good grade with little effort, but additional materials were made available if you wanted to keep practicing.

The level of mathematics courses, on the other hand, was significantly higher, which is due to the fact that the courses are aimed at graduate students. You have a high degree of personal responsibility for being able to follow the course and not lagging behind. In particular, you have to expect to catch up on a lot at home. However, the courses are very small – less than 10 participants per course. The atmosphere is very informal and you are in closer contact with the professors than you are used to in Germany. You are friendly to each other and quickly get caught up in conversations after the lecture. In terms of content, the math courses were great! The professors are internationally renowned and can convey their material very well. Within the 10 weeks havegreatly improved my math skills. I was able to take a lot with me for my bachelor thesis and other courses in Cologne.

The following should be noted: The level of the bachelor and graduate courses differs greatly in mathematics (or in general in natural sciences ). While the latter are demanding, the bachelor’s courses are of a very low level compared to Germany, e.g. students in mathematics at UCSD learn things that we learn in the first weeks of the semester only from the second year onwards. Therefore, I would like to issue a warning: If you want to do this stay to further your education in a scientific field and you have NOT been accepted for the graduate courses, you must be prepared for disappointment. (That’s how it was for example my roommates). On the other hand, you are cordially invited to take courses in other departments at UCSDto broaden your horizons.


Aside from the fact that the Mathematical Institute looks dreary inside, the campus itself is very nicely designed. Unlike the rest of the cityscape, it is characterized by nature – many trees and meadows make it pleasant to stay there, especially because you don’t hear the noise from the streets. At the heart of the campus is the Geisel Library, one of UCSD’s landmarks. On the 8th floor you have a wonderful view if you want to study in peace. Near the library is the Price Center, where you can get lunch. However, you will have to get used to the quality of the food, because you only get fast food! Whether it’s Panda Express, Burger King or the Subway, you won’t find a decent meal on campus.

To the east of the campus, only a road separates the university from a cliff whose landscape is a nature reserve. There are a couple of walking trails here that lead to the cliff and offer stunningly beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. Occasionally I retreated here to study in peace and enjoy the sun. A steep winding road leads down to the beach. Not many people are to be found here; in comparison, beaches like La Jolla Shores get crowded on weekends, making the stretch of beach near the university unique.

I was also able to practice my sport, gymnastics, in San Diego. There is a gym not far from campus where I used to train regularly. The people there were very open, as Americans generally seem to be, because you were warmly welcomed here too. They even agreed to pick me up from home for training. However, my fellow gymnasts were often not students, but a colorful mix from different nations. It was interesting to learn about their lives and just have fun together.


But there is also a lot to experience away from the university. The recreation department offers day and weekend trips for a fair price, such as kayaking or camping in the desert, which I decided to do. Gear is provided and you take a small group trip to Joshua Tree National Park for the weekend – one of my favorite places in California. This park consists of two deserts that meet there. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful and by the end of October it’s not that hot anymore, so it’s good for hiking and climbing. It was an unforgettable weekend!

In general, the recreational value is quite high and there is something for everyone. One can surf, snorkel or simply lie on the beach all day to enjoy the almost constantly sunny weather. A trip to one of the numerous national parks is worthwhile for nature lovers, while city lovers visit well-known cities such as Los Angeles or San Francisco. You definitely won’t get bored in California!

Towards the end of the semester, however, the learning stress increases noticeably, so you should enjoy your free time beforehand. All exams take place within two weeks and there is no way to make up an exam. With a bit of effort, you should be able to get the required grade of “B”. After my last exam I had a few days to celebrate and enjoy the weather before heading back home.

That ended my stay in San Diego. It was a wonderful time and certainly an unforgettable experience that enriched me in different ways and also refined my CV.

About the author