University: University of California San Diego
City: San Diego
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: Information Technology, Economics
Study type: semester abroad
Preparation of the stay
1.1 Choice of the host university
My choice of the University of California San Diego Extension (UCSD) was mainly based on the fact that it is represented among the top universities in the USA both in the field of economics and in the field of computer science and I would like to study at a US wanted to study at a university with precisely these areas of focus. In addition, all courses in international economics, finance and computer science that were of interest to me were offered, most of which were also recognized at my home university. An additional advantage was that the UCSD is not a private university and the tuition fees are comparatively reasonable, so that the maximum amount for tuition fees set by the DAAD was almost optimally exhausted. See mcat-test-centers for UNSW Sydney.
1.2 Flight booking
Immediately after the confirmation of the UCSD Extension, I booked two transatlantic flights and two US domestic flights through STA-Travel, because I wanted to stay in New York for four days on the way there and in Atlanta for an unspecified period of time on the way back. The two return flights were dated by the airline (Delta Airlines) for early April, as US flights can only be booked a maximum of 10 months in advance. However, the travel costs including the rebooking fee of €960 were still far below the costs that would be incurred for the separate booking of individual outward and return flights.
For most airlines flights from Europe to the USA, one piece of baggage weighing 23kg per person, one piece of hand baggage (sizes can easily be found online) and one “personal item” as hand baggage is standard per person. In view of the fact that you only need warm clothes for San Diego, it was completely sufficient for me to take a large and a slightly smaller suitcase and a backpack with me.
1.5 Health insurance
Since I was provided with the insurance package from my scholarship, I can unfortunately say little about health insurance.
1.6 Cash on site
I myself was equipped with a comdirekt credit card, which, according to comdirekt, should allow me to withdraw cash “free of charge” from any ATM with the VISA emblem. However, it was not mentioned that American ATMs usually charge a fee for servicing foreign credit cards. Accordingly, I was charged a $2 fee for each withdrawal, which isn’t too tragic as I’ve always withdrawn the maximum amount of $700. I paid the withdrawn money back into my newly opened American bank account directly at the ATM, so that I was able to smooth out the exchange rate fluctuations and didn’t have to carry a lot of cash around with me. When choosing the US bank, I chose Bank of America, because here the service of foreign credit cards is charged a maximum of $3 per withdrawal; at Wells Fargo, for example, it’s usually $5.
If you have not yet found an apartment from Germany, I can recommend arriving in San Diego a few days before the lectures start and booking a few nights in a hostel or hotel in advance. These first few days can then be used to look for an apartment on site. I had preferred to live off campus because apartments on campus are quite expensive at over $1000/month and the campus is also far away from the parts of the city that seemed appealing to me.
I finally found an apartment on Craigslist’s housing market, but before my arrival I was almost in despair because after more than 200 emails from Germany I didn’t get a single confirmation. Fortunately, the morning after my arrival, I finally had a prospect on hand, with whom I met immediately and immediately signed the lease for a room in a stone house (a specialty in Pacific Beach). Unfortunately, I was also allowed to shell out $1000/month for the room, but the house was in the center of my dream district “Pacific Beach”. Overall, I found that it’s hard to find a decent apartment in Pacific Beach and La Jolla for less than $800/month. So if you are interested in a cheaper apartment,
2.2 Location of the university
UCSD is located in La Jolla, a very affluent part of town north of San Diego. Accordingly, the cultural offerings in the immediate vicinity of the campus are very limited, apart from the Pacific, which is a mile away. Since there is practically no way to get to the busier parts of the city by public transport, especially in the evening hours, as a resident of the campus housing you either have to rely on a car or taxi or you just stay in La Jolla and get bored.
UCSD is one of the best public universities in the USA and accordingly, campus life is more learning-oriented, which is why leisure activities on campus are also very limited. Solely the sports offer of the Recreation Center offers everything your heart desires, but for extension students there are usage fees in addition to the tuition fees.
That’s why I recommend moving towards Pacific Beach. As a rule, a large number of international students live here, most of whom also get a car, so that there is usually always a chance to get a ride to the campus. If no lift is available, there is still the option during the day to take the “30” bus, which frequents Pacific Beach every 15 minutes. On average, I took the bus about three times a week.
2.3 Enrollment and Residence
Permit With the “University and Professional Studies Program” (UPS), UCSD Extension offers the opportunity to apply to UCSD without an existing exchange program with your home university. In theory, all courses can be taken anywhere in the university if the respective professor accepts the presence of extension students and places are available. As far as I know, there are 200 places available in each quarter, and in the Spring Quarter 2012 probably 300 students from all over the world applied for these 200 places.
As soon as the confirmation of enrollment has been received, the visa can be applied for, which is a somewhat longer process as you first have to fill out an online form and then you can go to one of the US embassy offices for a personal interview. However, if all forms have been filled out correctly and all required documents have been submitted, the visa application interview will not pose any problems.
2.4 UCSD Level, Method, Intensity and Examination Performance
The academic year at the University of California San Diego is divided into four sections, each referred to as a Quarter. I enrolled in Quarter Fall 2011, Winter 2012, and Spring 2012 because together they make up a student’s academic year. The summer quarter is comparatively shorter and, as a summer school, is mostly attended by foreign students.
In each quarter, the visa requirement must be met with at least 12 completed units; each further occupied unit costs an additional charge of approx. $240 for extension students. Normal bachelor, master and PHD courses consist of 4 units, so taking three courses per quarter counts as full-time study.
The workload during the lecture period is slightly higher for the Master’s and PHD courses (Graduate Level) than the workload in Germany, but if you regularly do your assignments and homework, it is relatively easy to be among the best in the course. Because doing your homework is usually a very good preparation for the intermediate and final exams. The final exam often only accounts for 40% of the overall grade. Especially in graduate-level courses, it is often necessary to complete a final presentation or a final paper instead of an exam at the end of the course.
Bachelor courses (undergraduate level) usually have a slightly lower workload than graduate level courses and the grades are usually based on a normal distribution. It is very easy to get very good grades here, as I believe that the majority of students are satisfied with a “B” and there is therefore enough space at the top of the grade scale for ambitious exchange students. As in graduate-level courses, the overall grade usually consists of midterm exams, homework and a final exam.
3.1. Living in San Diego
San Diego has almost everything you would expect from a metropolis, the only problem is that the city is so vast that you usually have to rely on a car or a ride. Especially when it comes to sports, San Diego has everything your heart desires; even winter sports can be practiced here in the mountains two hours away.
The best information about cultural and leisure opportunities as well as restaurants can be found on the Internet. Very important are happy hours (outnsd.com) as well as pre-sales for event tickets (enter the name of the event in any search engine), since the prices of these tickets on the shelf increase significantly the longer you wait to buy them.
Communicating with friends is easiest via social networks and mobile telephony, although I have found the T-mobile tariffs to be very inexpensive. Monthly pre-paid sim cards are sold free of charge and can be upgraded to more minutes or traffic online as needed.
- UCSD: http: //ucsd.edu/,
- Courses: http: //courses.ucsd.edu/ or
- https: //act.ucsd.edu/cgi-bin/tritonlink.pl/2/students/academic/classes/schedule_of_classes.pl
- UCSD Extension: http: //extension.ucsd.edu/
- Public Transport: http: //www.sdmts.com/
- Cheapest Car Rental: http: //www.dirtcheaprentacar.com/
- Cultural program: http: //www.sandiego.org/nav/Visitors/EventCalendar,
- http: //www.clublistnow.com/city-San%20Diego-nightclubs.html, http: //outnsd.com/
- Local trading platform for all kinds of products and services: http: //sandiego.craigslist.org/
3.3 Cost of living
Since San Diego has what is probably the most pleasant climate in the USA, many wealthy people are drawn here. Accordingly, the cost of living is also a bit higher than one would expect. Not counting your car and rent, you can easily spend $700 a month here without indulging in excessive luxury. You can save a lot of money, especially in the supermarket, if you equip yourself with the respective customer cards and pay a little attention to the special offers. Also, in areas like Pacific Beach, there’s a restaurant for each day of the week that offers a dinner special that’s cheaper than cooking it yourself (eg, chicken wings for $0.25 each). In addition to the usual fast food chains, there are also many restaurants that offer healthier food for little money.
From San Diego, it makes sense to travel the entire south-west of the USA in the form of road trips. You can either rent cars in San Diego or meet someone who owns a car and is willing to drive most of the time. California itself can be driven completely within 14 days, including short stops in the most important cities and national parks. The states of Nevada and Arizona are quite close by and offer enchanting landscapes and one or two highlights (Sedona, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas).
Otherwise you can get relatively cheap domestic flights to more distant cities like Seattle and Chicago. A cheap airline is Southwest and you can usually find cheap flights via the German search portal Swoodoo.de as long as you book about 7 weeks in advance.
Since San Diego is located in the west of the USA, it makes sense to visit a city in the east of the USA on the outward and return flights and accordingly book two flights from the East Coast to Germany and two flights from San Diego to the East Coast.