Study Abroad in University of California, San Diego

From 3.-28. January 2014 I took part in the Academic English Program at the University of California San Diego – Extension, UCSD- Extension for short.

The first day: After a placement test, there was an extensive tour of the campus. This was followed by the organizational part, which was slightly unstructured. Although I had already paid my course fees four to five weeks before the course started and had all the documents confirming this with me, I was told that I had not paid. So I didn’t get a student ID. Only two days later, after asking several times a day what was going on, did I get a brief answer with the information that nothing was missing from me. Interesting…

Always advertised in the information brochures and on the website, the anticipation for the course was more than great. But already after the first sessions this joy came to an abrupt end.
The course initially only consisted of four participants, but this increased to 9 in the course of the first week. Actually good, I thought! But if the other course participants (from Korea, Brazil, Africa and Egypt) never spoke English at university or school and are only just starting there, then you can more than imagine the extent of my despair. They were all really nice and I got on well with all of the course participants. Unfortunately, my intention was not not to learn anything. So I waited the second and also the third day.

Since nothing has changed in the course and its content, I then complained. My reasoning was that the information brochures defined different requirements than those actually practiced on site. To date, we have not read a single academic text, talked about any academic or economic topic, or looked at or heard anything in this direction. We received texts that were similar to our texts in English from the 5th and 6th grade and the teacher even read out the instructions and mnemonics. Well, after my complaint, there were a total of three arguments with the teacher, who absolutely couldn’t understand why I was doing this, because his material is appropriate for the course and exceptions cannot be dealt with.

Of course, I wasn’t satisfied with that. After all, it was an advertised academic course and after all I wanted to get something for my money. So my complaint went up to the director. The solutions that were offered to me looked like I switched to a communication course, which was already overcrowded and where the general level was not higher, or I stayed in my current course and the teacher gave me extra texts and assignments. I chose the latter and stayed with the course.

Suddenly the teacher put on a completely different tone and you could feel that he was under a little pressure. We now had to write essays and different texts every day and have learned to structure the scientific texts. We received specialist texts and had to give a total of two presentations on a selected academic topic. The teacher raised the whole level a bit and gave me more tasks. In the end, it was ok for me and I was glad that I had the conversations and arguments. Because in retrospect I learned a lot. Nevertheless, I was generally dissatisfied with the course and I was more than happy that I was only four weeks at UCSD and that my stay was split between two universities.

The campus

I liked the UCSD campus very much and felt very comfortable. In the first week I got lost regularly because the campus is so big. But since you could use the WLAN free of charge on the entire site, I always got back on the right track. The campus is easily accessible by public transport. From the Old Town Transit Station, an express bus drives to the campus every 8 minutes in the morning. The journey time is about 15-20 minutes, depending on the traffic, and the journey was always very pleasant.

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There are many green oases on the campus itself and the beach is not far away either. In addition, there was a farmers market every Tuesday, which is well worth a visit.

Organized excursions

At the UCSD extension, monthly plans were drawn up and distributed that included a program for foreign students, such as a weekend in Las Vegas, a hiking tour through the mountains in San Diego, a day at the beach, whale watching, a visit to the zoo or at SeaWorld. The program looked really good and I signed up for some activities. The process looked like that there was always a registration deadline until where you registered by name and with your student ID for the desired tour. When registering, the entry fee for the respective excursion might have to be paid and you received information about meeting points and times. I had a lot of fun taking part in the excursions and I quickly met a lot of different students. As one of the few Europeans

Conclusion on the UCSD

Although I have learned a lot despite all the stress, I can
not recommend this course if you already have a good level of English in Germany. It was of course a great time, but I realized for myself that at the second university, where I went to the UCSD after the course, I learned a lot more and was offered more than at the UCSD.

When I complained, the director even told me personally that this is a recurring problem with German course participants, as our language skills are much better than in many other countries and that he therefore understands me very well. This made it clear to me once again how well we are actually doing with our school system in Germany and if the professor has even understood me and has been confronted with the topic several times, then it just doesn’t make sense in my eyes, so much Spending money on a course that also takes a whole week to grapple with getting what was promised in advance.

In order to not only see the negative, here is a brief overview of the advantages and disadvantages:


  • Nice fellow students and employees at the extension
  • Contact with international people
  • Beautiful campus with great opportunities
  • If you have any concerns or problems, you will always find an open ear among the extension staff
  • Good program for foreign students
  • Nice welcome and farewell party with snacks and a cozy program to feel good


  • Language level too low with good knowledge of English
  • The same timetable every day and everything with the same teacher
  • Too monotonous lessons
  • Processes partly unorganized

San Diego

Finally, let’s come back to San Diego. This city just delights you. She is so beautiful and you just have to love her. I haven’t regretted a single day that when I made my decision I decided against LA and for SD. Even after I visited LA, my decision was confirmed. SD is a big city with a center (Downtown), where you also have that big city feeling. However, you can still be anywhere you want to be in SD within 20 minutes via the freeways and you have great nature and incredible beaches everywhere. It was just amazing and I enjoyed every day.

The people of San Diego are very nice. It took a bit of getting used to at the beginning, but after two days I was in and really enjoyed it. Sure, most of it is fake and not real, but you are still happy when you are welcomed warmly and with a smile everywhere. I didn’t have a car in SD itself. But even with the public transport it worked really well and I don’t agree with the statement that you can’t get any further without a car. You need more time, but the connection to the university was great. I lived near an S-Bahn that is called Greenline there. There are three of them in total and they run very regularly, every 15 minutes, and there are usually good bus connections.

I also shared my view of San Diego with everyone I met in Germany. Everyone loved this city and were happy to be there, just like me.

University of California, San Diego 2