University: University of California San Diego
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Study type: semester abroad
First things first: I had a great time in San Diego. The city has so much to offer and there is so much to see – a quarter is actually far too short, but a change of scenery is always good – and if the new wallpaper is called San Diego – even better! See jibin123 for Semester Abroad In University of California Berkeley.
I studied at UCSD from March to June (Spring Quarter) and participated in the University & Professional Studies program. On the one hand, the stay abroad was part of my American studies, on the other hand, it was a welcome alternative to everyday university life in Greifswald, which I enjoyed to the fullest.
Overall, I liked UCSD with a few minor drawbacks. The application was uncomplicated (even if you absolutely have to have an English-language health insurance certificate with you if you don’t want to purchase the in-house UCSD insurance for $400). The campus in La Jolla is very nice, the support for international students by the UCSD Extension in was good insofar as one had a contact person and was also asked to “feedback talks” at regular intervals. There was also an orientation week at the beginning of the semester, during which you got to know the campus and other program participants from all over the world. Due to the size of the university, it was quite difficult to get into some courses despite the large number of courses on offer, but with a bit of luck, most of them worked out. A bit like the “first come, first serve” principle. The workload (usually 12 SWS) was easy to manage, even if the homework and presentations have a much higher priority in America than is the case at most German universities (that I know of) and accordingly there was some time for preparation and follow-up work should plan. Despite the large number of participants, many humanities events had the character of seminars and the professors could usually be addressed by their first names. What I didn’t like so much was that, despite the tuition fees, you had to pay extra fees for almost everything at the university and that, despite the ingenious dollar exchange rate, was quite expensive. You should definitely plan a corresponding budget in San Diego.
Compared to many German universities, UCSD is huge and it takes a while to find your way around, but then it’s actually quite easy. In addition to numerous course buildings, there is a large, futuristic-looking library (the “Geisel Library”) with a great view, two fitness studios, pools, restaurants, coffee shops and an “open-air canteen” with subways, Rubio’s, Panda Express etc the campus. In addition, shuttle buses run everywhere on the university campus, some of which even go to the dormitories. In some cases I found it quite difficult to get in touch with “locals” due to the size of the courses, so I would definitely recommend everyone to join a club or look for a sport or a nice flat share if you are staying for a longer period of time.
I lived with a host family during my time in San Diego. My “host parents” Brian and Alba were 34 and 32 respectively and we got along so well that my sister is now staying with them while she is doing an internship in San Diego. I had my own room and a nice Korean host sister who I will visit in Seoul next year. The disadvantage was the long way to the university or downtown – so I often felt a bit “off the beaten path”. Of course, there is always a bit of luck involved, that the “chemistry” with the family is right. I heard from many acquaintances and other foreign students that they felt very comfortable in international flat shares and a good friend lived in a hostel downtown during the semester and was totally happy there.
It’s really easy to make contacts in San Diego. Except for a good friend from Aachen, I hardly had any contact with people from Germany, but I got to know a lot of funny Americans, Swiss and Asians, which was the purpose of the stay.
If you have the opportunity, you should definitely rent or buy a car in San Diego and sell it again later, because public transport is very bad. Many buses only run very rarely or not at all on weekends, and after midnight you often only have to take a taxi or find people who happen to be going in the same direction.
When it comes to recreation, San Diego is unique. From surfing to paragliding, you can do all kinds of sports there and the weather is always great. You can go shopping and go out in the evening (I always felt safe, despite some ominous bus acquaintances) and relax on the beach (in my opinion Coronado Beach is the most beautiful). Of course, Mexico, LA and Las Vegas, which is about 5 hours away by car, are ideal for short trips.
Anyone who is open-minded and adventurous, wants to combine the pleasant with the useful during the semester abroad, does not expect to be given any preference as an international student and has a portion of patience will definitely have an unforgettable time at UCSD – because “Sun” Diego definitely lives up to its name!