University: University of California San Diego
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Business Administration, Economics
Study type: semester abroad
First things first: The time in San Diego was the best time of my life so far!
Thanks to MicroEdu and the very good application guide, it was relatively easy to apply for the university. Within a few weeks I received the confirmation. See jibin123 for Semester Abroad In University of California Irvine.
The university requires that you either insure yourself abroad or take out insurance through the university. I have taken out insurance through the MLP. There is a special insurance for semesters abroad, where the contribution depends on the number of days you spend abroad. In total I paid 68 euros for the 4 months, which I think is an acceptable price.
I also opened a free account with Deutsche Bank to be able to withdraw cash from Bank of America free of charge in the States. This has proven to be very practical, because you often pay with cash when partying, for example, and I have always paid my rent in cash. Using online banking, I then always “shifted” money back and forth between my actual checking account, for which I also had a MasterCard, and the Deutsche Bank account.
My girlfriend and I decided to look for a suitable apartment locally and therefore booked a hotel and a rental car for the first 3 nights, which turned out to be very wise, since looking for an apartment without a car is a kind of total disaster by bus and train would have become. In total, we were on site 2.5 weeks before the start of the semester.
Arrived in San Diego, it was just “good night”. We were pretty tired and decided to start looking for a place to live on craigslist.com the next day. Since we had already arranged to meet fellow students via Facebook, we were given a guided tour of San Diego on the first day, since the two boys had been in San Diego for a month. If there are two of you and you want to live together, it is relatively difficult to find a suitable apartment. Many rooms are unfurnished or there is only one room available. In the end, we had to extend our stay at the hotel by one more night, but then we found a good solution:
First we moved to an older gentleman on Grand Avenue who had two houses in which only international students lived. We lived there for 10 days in the converted garage with our own bathroom. After that we moved into an apartment in Bay Pointe. Furnished single and double rooms can be rented there via Kamohousing. My girlfriend and I rented a double room, so we shared a room and first lived with 2 Belgians and then with 2 Brazilians. Each had a bathroom with a shower attached to their bedroom. We had a large living room with a couch, huge TV, dining table etc. and an open kitchen. The apartments also include a pool, tennis and basketball courts, jacuzzi and a gym. Mostly international and national students live in the apartment complex, but there are also some families. At the pool or at the BBQ areas you quickly get to know a lot of people.
Since the demand for the apartments is very high, the prices are also quite high: each of us had to pay $700 for a shared room. In general, rental costs in San Diego are very high, especially if you want to live in Pacific Beach, which is what pretty much everyone wants. If I were you, I wouldn’t move to La Jolla to the campus, because there really isn’t anything going on there. So off to Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach or the Beach Area in general.
Since we rented a car, it wasn’t a problem to get to the university (journey time about 15 minutes). We rented it from dirtcheapcars. The prices are okay and you have fully comprehensive insurance.
On the very first day we got a prepaid card from T-Mobile. We paid $50 a month for an Internet, SMS, landline and cell phone flat rate. The only disadvantage, however, is that you cannot make calls or text messages abroad. However, due to the Internet flat rate, this was not a problem, since you could write via Whats App or make calls via Viber or Facetime. Incidentally, T-Mobile is the only provider that offers an Internet flat rate in the prepaid tariff. With all others, you always only have a certain volume included.
Cost of living
Not only the rental prices are incredibly high, but also the prices for groceries, etc. Fresh products such as meat in particular are very expensive. If you don’t go out to eat somewhere every day and pay a little attention to what’s on offer, it’s fine. By the way, you can eat out very, very well in San Diego. I highly recommend Chipotle, a Mexican food chain, to everyone. The price is okay and still reasonably healthy.
In Pacific Beach there are special offers in the bars every day. For example, Taco Tuesday is taco day, so you can eat cheap tacos. Above all, Taco Tuesday is used to party;)
In the beginning everything was a big mess! In the first few weeks you had to take all the courses that you could possibly consider, because you only know after 2-3 weeks which courses you can enroll in, since the Americans can choose their courses first and the foreign students have to take that, what’s left. That really annoyed me, because instead of 3 subjects we now have 8! Subjects had to do homework, etc., as these are part of the overall grade. In the first 2-3 weeks you are busy.
We were lucky that our university of applied sciences in Germany is very tolerant when it comes to crediting the courses, so we didn’t really need any of the courses.
Ultimately, we took Microeconomics, Labor Economics and Financial Markets and Investment Strategies (extension course). We only had lectures on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which was very pleasant. Our courses were also among the less complex ones in terms of assignments etc. However, we had to study quite a lot for the exams. We had a midterm and a final exam in two subjects and even two midterms and a final in the third subject. If you prepare properly, it is definitely possible to get good grades. International students often have even better grades than Americans. I didn’t have any language problems at all. Before I flew I was a bit worried about understanding everything, but that wasn’t a problem.
By the way, if you want to copy or print something, be prepared (as always) for high costs. As a foreign student you pay around 20 cents per copy, whereas an American student only pays 3-4 cents. Even though you’re paying twice as much in tuition, you’re still disadvantaged compared to Americans. This is not only the case at UCSD, but at most American universities as well.
My life usually took place in Pacific Beach. For example, I also went to the gym there (24-hour fitness), so I cannot judge what is on offer on campus. However, I know that the Extension Department organized many excursions (Las Vegas, Disneyland, Padres Game, etc.) that were reasonably priced and probably well organized. I didn’t use the excursion offers because we did more with the people we met outside of the university and mostly only wanted to travel after the semester.
Living in San Diego
San Diego offers everything your heart desires. You can do any sport you can imagine. Water sports are of course particularly popular. Of course, if you already live on the beach, you have to take advantage of that.
There are many beautiful places that you should definitely visit, such as La Jolla, Coronado Island, Balboa Park or Old Town.
Whether in Pacific Beach or downtown, there’s no shortage of partying either. If you like it a bit more chic, go downtown, where you will find many chic clubs and bars, and if you like it more casual, Pacific Beach is the place for you. No matter where you go, you get to know an incredible number of people. Everyone is very open and friendly.
San Diego is also a good starting point for travelling: Grand Canyon, Vegas, San Francisco, LA, Newport Beach, Venice Beach etc. Once you are there you should plan enough time to see everything.
The time in San Diego was a once in a lifetime experience. I met a lot of people from all over the world, made many friends and improved my English at the same time. To be honest, I was happy when I had all my finals behind me, because I enjoy studying in Germany more, but that wasn’t due to UCSD, but rather to the system of American universities. I can only recommend anyone who is thinking about doing a semester abroad to go through with it. Of course it is also a challenge to organize everything, to find your way around etc. But it is definitely worth it! My stay in San Diego had a great impact on me and I wouldn’t want to miss all these experiences!