About 1 year before the start of my semester abroad, I took care of the planning , especially the choice of the university , as many universities in California were suitable for me .
In retrospect, San Diego and UCSD definitely turned out to be the right choice for me . Even if the UCSD is one of the most expensive Californian universities and the price really only includes the three courses that you take, I don’t regret a cent and spent a wonderful and unforgettable time there. However, I think it’s important to note that the high tuition fees by no means guarantee academically high quality. Furthermore, it makes a difference whether you do a semester abroad and thus extension. Are you a student, or an international student? As an extension student, you are not an official UCSD student and cannot use some special student discounts or similar and are dependent on class crashing.
Other planning steps that you should consider in advance concern the organization of the visa , flight , health insurance (there is hardly any other option here than to take the insurance of the university).
We recommend the Skypicker website for flight searches, which gives you a good overview of the time and day of the cheapest flights, provided you are flexible in this regard.
Living / car
Regarding the living situation , I have decided to rent an apartment in advance from Kamo Housing in Pacific Beach. Kamo Housing rents these apartments from BayPointe and rents them out itself. Yes, the rent of $ 750 for a shared room is admittedly not justified and it is definitely not luxury apartments that are being advertised. I was so happy with my roommates and felt incredibly comfortable which ultimately helped make Kamo Housing a very good choice in my case. We were also very lucky with our apartment, as it was one of the best preserved. Should you have any problems or further requests (such as towels, ants problems), Kamo Housing will immediately write an e-mail, because they react very quickly and have taken care of everything.
I shared a car with two friends that we rented from San Diego Car Rental. The price was okay ($ 475 including 3 people allowed to drive; range to LA County; GPS) even compared to other car rental companies. In terms of customer service, however, this car rental company did not do well, as it was not possible for them to withdraw the money for the car in equal parts from all three accounts, as we asked each time. So my recommendation for San Diego Car Rental is only in the middle.
I recommend renting a car in any case , because Uber (cheaper than taxis) is very expensive in the long run and public transport is not very well developed and you have to accept significantly longer distances.
Class crashing / university
The location of the UCSD is beautiful and is in La Jolla , my favorite area in San Diego.
The campus is really very large and the distance from one course to the next can quickly take up to 20 minutes.
Unfortunately, apart from the 3 courses, there is really nothing / not much in the high tuition fees. With the exception of a distant car park (Torrey Pines Gliderport) there is no free parking, prices in shops on campus are airport-level and as an extension student you are not a real UCSD student (printing is not included etc.)
Class crashing was absolutely no problem in two of my courses, only in one course (Drugs & Behavior) I initially had problems getting the Department Stamp (in addition to the signature of the lecturer). In the end I was very lucky and was able to take my 3 elective courses .
Management: Business Ethics & Corporate Social Responsibility (Moran)
This course requires a lot of commitment during the semester: Reading reflection journals, quizzes, participation in the classes. In terms of quality, this course was the best. We were only about 25 students and our professor made the course very entertaining.
Psychology: Drugs & Behavior (Anagnostaras)
In this course, all exams (2 midterms and 1 final) are taken online. That may sound easier than it is, because many of the questions are asked so specifically that an answer cannot be found either in the lecture slides or on the Internet. Otherwise, it is a pure lecture course, as you may know from Germany.
Psychology: Eating Disorders (Kaye)
The task for the midterm in this course was to prepare a project (work of art, essay, collage, etc.), which should, for example, educate other fellow students about eating disorders. In this course, too, only lectures were given, each week by a different lecturer.
My two psychology – courses have made me both interested as I like ; However, their academic degree is no better than courses in Germany.
The city of San Diego made a lasting impression on me and cast a spell over me . The weather is absolutely perfect: in summer there is no oppressive and humid heat like in Germany, but it is very pleasant despite the high temperatures. In winter it gets cooler in the evening, but during the day until December I could still walk around in short clothes on many days during the day.
Living in San Diego / California
Certainly also influenced by the bad euro / dollar exchange rate, life in San Diego and California is very expensive. Grocery shopping in supermarkets is significantly more expensive, especially products such as cheese or other dairy products. Very expensive, but also with a fantastic selection, if you like to shop organically and organically, Whole Foods is.
In my opinion, the more expensive cost of living also results from the fact that, knowing that you will only be there for a limited time, you are prepared to spend more money than in everyday life at home. I think if you live in California for an extended period of time, the cost of living shouldn’t be small, but definitely lower.
My top sightseeing tips
One of my favorite areas is definitely La Jolla , a more upscale district north of Pacific Beach, with many nice restaurants, shops and beautiful beaches. Worth a visit are La Jolla Cove (sea lions very close) and Blacksbeach and the Torrey Pines Hike. Otherwise, a kayak tour, SUP (stand-up paddling), surfing and snorkeling in the sea are worthwhile.
Cardiff-by-the-Sea and Encinitas are also very nice (no longer part of San Diego City, but part of the more extensive San Diego County area, which is huge). Here you will find beautiful beaches, great surf spots and very relaxed beach locations – it is less touristy, “dirty” and party-like here than in Pacific Beach. PB definitely also has beautiful beaches and a few cool bars, but it is more popular with people who live out Taco Tuesdays more excessively, want to enjoy inexpensive drinks and partying – which of course many people like.
Coronado Island with the famous Hotel del Coronado is beautiful and not far away.
Downtown has much fancier clubs than PB and lots of cool bars; There is a lot going on on 5th Avenue.
Northpark and Southpark are “less” known than PB, but offer very nice restaurants and variety.
I definitely recommend the Sunset Cliffs and shortly afterwards Point Loma with the Cabrillo National Monument for a visit.
My travel destinations in California and the neighboring states of Arizona and Nevada were: Los Angeles, the beaches: Santa Monica, Newport Beach, Manhattan Beach, Joshua Tree National Park, Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon, Las Vegas, Hawaii (Oahu ), Palm Springs.
My highlights and explicit recommendations are : Yosemite National Park, Santa Monica, Hawaii and the Lower Antelope Canyon.
Of course, everything doesn’t always go perfectly – but I can give a 100% recommendation , especially for the beautiful city of San Diego!