Before the stay / application process
The support from MicroEDU really made the whole process easier. Above all, the detailed instructions on how to fill out the application and what to look out for, as well as the quick answers to some desperate questions, helped a lot. I am glad that I took advantage of this free support and did not plunge into the adventure completely alone.
I applied for the visa around May, in June I was at the embassy in Munich and a few days later I had it. You shouldn’t forget that all the fun naturally costs fees. You should also note that you are only allowed to enter the country 30 days before the start of your studies.
Fortunately, I was able to avoid a language test because UCSD accepts the DAAD language test and my English lecturer willingly filled it out. This saved me around € 200 and the effort and preparatory learning. I therefore recommend that you do your research before deciding on the more complex TOEFL test. Read more student reviews on Mcat-test-centers.
Finances also play a major role when applying to UCSD itself. Be aware that proof of $ 14,000 will be required to ensure that you can afford the trimester. I would never have got there with this amount, I am counting on $ 20,000. Since the form is in English, 2 of my banks have messed up, with the third it worked out quite well.
I took out health insurance at MLP for a low price (45 € for 4 months), under no circumstances should you take the one from the university itself.
1) Apartment & Life
Since I belong to the kind of person who prefers to be on the safe side and who leaves in a calm and organized manner, I decided not to search on site, but to rent a room from Kamo-Housing. It made it easier for me to travel around with my family before going to college, while also saving me the hassle of Craigslist. I have heard from many that the Americans are not the most reliable reply-writers and that you really have to stay tuned to find something. The downside was the high price ($ 330 / week for a single room) and the fact that you couldn’t choose your roommate.
I honestly admit that the price-performance ratio with Kamo-Housing is unfortunately not right. Of course you have amenities such as a gym, pool and jacuzzi, but the apartment is pretty shabby and not really clean. So if you’re staying longer than a trimester, I recommend looking for something else. For my 3 months it was fine.
I lived in Pacific Beach and I am very happy with my decision. The proximity to the beach, the shops and cafes was just more important to me personally than the proximity to the university. Even though I’m only 20 and therefore couldn’t go to bars, I still had a lot of fun. Since my friends did not go out several times a week, but were more likely to be at home for cozy cooking and drinking, my minority was really not a big issue. So don’t let that put you off. I’ve tried to watch the sunset on the beach as often as possible, meet up with friends (most internationals live in PB) etc. and Pacific Beach is a better choice. I can’t really say much about other residential areas because, as I said, most of the internationals, including my friends, lived in PB. If you decide to go to this part of the city, a bicycle is also really an advantage, because no matter where you live, you can easily cycle to any supermarket or beach section. Cheap bikes can be bought second-hand or at Walmart. I bought a new beach cruiser for $ 90 and sold it for 50.
There are students who can really manage without a car, but I found it more practical to have a car. I rented it from Dirt Cheap Car Rental for $ 600 a month. This price includes the surcharge for minors, insurance without excess and the travel distance to LA and Santa Barbara. Since I was only in San Diego for 3.5 months anyway, it was more affordable and less stressful for me than buying a car. If you put less emphasis on comfort and just want to save or are of legal age, you can get the car for $ 400 a month. If you are sure that you want to have a car but do not want to buy one, you should reserve relatively early, as all cars can be taken at peak times (September and January).
The UCSD Extension really welcomed us international students and always helped them willingly and competently. The class crashing at the beginning can be a bit nerve-wracking and the fact that you do not have an official student email address and are not registered in the system of the respective courses can sometimes become a problem (e.g. if courses do not take place and you are not in the email Distributor is inside), but it doesn’t happen often.
I took the courses Managing Diverse Teams (MGT18) at the Rady School of Management, General Psychology: Behavioral Foundations (PSYC4) and History of US Urban Communities (USP1).
In general, the learning curve has been very great. In the 10 weeks I wrote 7 exams, 4 term papers and 8 weekly journals. In addition, there is an enormous reading effort, since the lectures (unlike my German ones) are extremely based on literature. But if you stay more or less on the ball and learn, you will be rewarded with good grades.
I particularly liked MGT18, Professor McKay is extremely competent and engaging and the lessons are less frontal and more interactive. We had to buy a reader ($ 140) in which we then had to read a few texts per week, which we then had to reflect on in weekly partner journals. I can recommend all 3 courses and would choose them again. Of course, I was lucky that I was able to take my favorite courses. Since this was foreseeable early, I didn’t have to “crash” as many courses as other students did during the first 3 weeks until it was finally certain that one was accepted.
The university in general is very spacious, but nice and clean. Parking is very expensive and there are probably too few parking spaces for what is needed. That’s why I always parked outside the site (La Jolla Shores Drive and Gliderport), but never had to walk longer than 10 minutes.
4) Travel & Excursions
Since the workload at university can sometimes be overwhelming, I would recommend planning enough time for travel before or after the actual trimester. In August, I took the typical California tour with my family from San Francisco to San Diego and Las Vegas, and then flew to New York in December before Christmas. During the semester only small trips to Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Yosemite NP or Mexico were possible, but in the relatively short time I really managed everything I wanted to do.
San Diego is a really nice city too, with lots to do. Now that I’ve seen a few cities in the US, San Diego is definitely my favorite. Especially if you live in Pacific Beach, you feel more like in a small village where everyone knows each other than in the second largest city in California. But if you drive to other parts of the city you have a huge range of shopping malls (Fashion Valley, Premium Outlets, etc.), restaurants (you can have breakfast particularly well at Hashhouse, Italian food in Cafe Calabria) and excursion destinations (Coronado Island, Aquatica Waterpark, Seaworld, Zoo).
I have planned to find out about cell phone contracts before I leave. That’s why I was a bit overwhelmed and just took the next best contract with AT&T: $ 60 for 2 GB Internet, unlimited texting and calling and after 1 month I switched to the contract for $ 40 for 200 MB, unlimited texting and calling, because you can get anywhere anyway Has wifi and therefore hardly needs mobile internet. But there are definitely cheaper ones.
In contrast to the cell phone contract, I did extensive research on credit cards. The best offer for me was the Germanwings Gold Cards (Master & Visa) from Barclaycard. I did not have any fees when paying by card or when withdrawing. Only the fees of the American ATMs ($ 3 per withdrawal) were incurred.
But of course, life in the USA is generally a bit more expensive, be it food or housing. You should definitely take that into account before you decide on it.
Even though all of my savings are now gone and it was really exhausting and intensive to learn at the university, I had a great time in San Diego and wouldn’t do anything differently. I can only recommend it to everyone and I am glad I chose San Diego and the UCSD.
I advise everyone to allow time to travel and invest some time in studying. Then you can have a great time and still bring home good grades for studying in Germany.