University: University of California San Diego
City: San Diego
Continent: North America
Field of study: business administration
Study type: semester abroad
In the fall of 2010, I completed an exchange semester at UCSD. All in all it was really a great, instructive and nice time. See jibin123 for Semester Abroad In California State University San Marcos.
With regard to the course content, I think it makes sense to get an idea of the course catalogue, even at home. On site, it is very useful if you know which subject you want to study and also have good alternatives at hand. In my case, for example, I only found out on site that a course was not offered at all. If you then plan too much with it, it can lead to problems…
In general, the whole course assignment is actually the biggest annoyance at UCSD. As mentioned in some other reports, the whole procedure is complicated and, above all, neither unified nor centralized. So you have to register in advance on waiting lists and do this several times and at different locations.
To be fair, it has to be said that in the end everything worked out very well. But yes, almost a month of school “on call” is tedious, so you can’t buy the books early, etc.
With a little initiative and persistence you usually reach your goal, albeit via detours;-)
A word about the books: The prices are very high, especially for new books (around 200 USD / book). But there are different ways to save money. On the one hand it is possible to buy used copies, but the discount is quite small, or you can rent the books online. This is very uncomplicated and extremely inexpensive. So I paid only 60 USD per rent for 2 books that would have cost 380 USD new… And you don’t have to lug them home either…
The professors try very hard to convey the material in an understandable way. But the assistants seemed a little overwhelmed to me.
In terms of content, it certainly makes sense to have the courage to take courses that you really haven’t done at home. The language should not be a problem for “normal” talented students and the danger that a course will be boring if you already know some of the content is therefore high.
The system with midterm exams appealed to me personally. So you are forced to learn seriously even during the semester. Especially since the final exams take place directly after the semester.
The campus is of course huge by European standards. There is everything you need; Restaurants, shops, a nice, large, well-stocked library and many sports facilities.
I can only recommend taking one of the many sports courses that are offered at extremely reasonable prices (tennis, twice a week, per semester 60 USD). These courses can be very valuable, especially for socializing.
When it comes to cars, I can really only recommend buying or renting one. Especially if you rent for 3-4 months, the rates are still quite reasonable, you have fully comprehensive insurance and if something happens to the car you get another one… You can only
use public transport to go to the university, everything else makes simple no sense. And of course you can get around a lot more with a car and it makes a lot of things easier. Just shopping without a car is quite tedious, since the distances are really massively longer than we are used to in Europe.
I lived in an apartment in La Jolla that I shared with a roommate. Personally, I have had good experiences renting an apartment through an agency. Basically you have the choice whether you want to live in Pacific Beach/Mission Beach or rather in La Jolla itself. Both have advantages and disadvantages. In La Jolla you are close to the university and therefore have short journeys. But all the nightlife happens in PB or downtown and that’s a fair bit away from La Jolla the other way around…
When it comes to costs, San Diego is certainly on the expensive side. The price level in the supermarket is comparable to that in Switzerland, of course with exceptions, but fresh products in particular are relatively expensive. The rent is also important. All in all, you have to reckon with fixed costs of around CHF 13,000 (approx. EUR 10,000). This sum can easily be increased significantly if you go on a few more trips, eat out often or enjoy going out excessively…
And yet I can only recommend San Diego as a conclusion. The climate, the people, the sea – the whole lifestyle is very pleasant and contagious! You just always have to be aware that, especially when it comes to administrative matters, everything is a bit more complicated and illogical than in Europe. But with a little patience, that’s no problem.