My preparation for my semester abroad began about a year before I went to San Diego. Since I had decided to do a semester abroad in the summer semester, there were two decision criteria for me. One of the most important things was to find a university that was located in the west, preferably in California, in order to have guaranteed sun in spring and summer. Another criterion, however, was the semester system offered by the university. The US semester systemand von Deutschland only fits together in the winter semester, the summer semester in the USA will already start if we are still in the winter semester. So I had to look for a university that offered Quarter. There weren’t too many options in California, but the thought of going to San Diego was in my head and after I saw that the UCSD was part of the universities with Qaurter systems, the decision had already been made. Read more student reviews on Jibin123.
I contacted MicroEDU for the first time for more information and then gathered all the necessary documents that were requested. The advice from MicroEDU was really great. Emails were answered quickly and phone calls were always given time to answer all questions. This was really a great support, because my FH in Bochum didn’t really want to deal with the whole thing.
Finding suitable accommodation turned out to be a bit difficult, although I was there very early and there were many offers. I looked on various Facebook pages for suitable offers, as well as on Airbnb and Craigslist, which is a page in the USA where you can get pretty much everything, from furniture to cars and apartments / rooms. Unfortunately, the problem was often that shared rooms were offered, which was out of the question for me. If there was a good offer, it wasn’t near the university or at least near the beach.
From experience reports from former students in San Diego, I learned that it is good to live in Pacific Beach, this part of San Diego is a little further south of the university but right on the beach. So I looked around for rooms in Pacific Beach but also in La Jolla, where the university is located. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful. I then came across an offer in University City, this district is a little southeast of the university. After a conversation with the landlady via Skype, it was clear to me that this is the accommodation where I would like to spend the next few months. It was a nice big house in a typical American settlement. I could use the kitchen as well as the washing machine and the garden. In addition to my landlady and her two children, I had two other roommates with whom I got along well. In retrospect, I am very happy to have found this accommodation, even if at first I thought that this was a little far from everything. But with my car I was quickly at the university and also on the beach in Pacific Beach. However, I would recommend that if you can find an offer via Craigslist that appeals to you, to take a look at the apartment and the room beforehand via Skype, if you are not already there. I have often heard that some offers are posted on this site that do not correspond to what is promised. You should check this before signing a contract.
Even before university began, I drove to UCSD to see where I would study for the next three months. When I got there I was really overwhelmed. The campus is incredibly big and you have to get an overview of everything first. During the orientation days we were also told that when choosing a course you should pay attention to where the rooms are, otherwise you won’t be able to walk from north to south within the break. There is also an app on which there is also a map of the entire campus and in which you can also search for rooms. This was really helpful. Otherwise, I think the university is incredibly beautiful. You feel like you’re just walking through a forest.
Probably the most famous building of the university is the library, which is in the center of the campus. This is 8 stories high and the higher you go, the quieter you have to be. I think you have to go in there to study or do homework. The semester in the USA is also structured differently than at German universities, at least at those I know. There is not just one exam at the end of the semester, which then counts 100%. In my subjects I had to hand in homework, had tests and the exams were divided into a midterm and a final. However, the weighting of the individual components is left to the professors themselves. I think the system is really good. You have to do more during the semester, but I perceived the learning effort before the exams as much less than here in Germany. I also think it’s good that there are so-called TA’s in every course. These are other students who have already attended the course and are now working for the professor. They look through homework or tests and are present every hour. It is quite helpful to have the vets as they can answer most questions and you don’t always have to wait for the professor to have time or to answer. The TA’s are also there to explain certain topics that you haven’t understood, either in their office hours or sometimes before the lecture.
As you may already know, you have to ‘crash’ courses in the USA. This means that in the first few weeks you take more courses than you need and try to get into the course as soon as other students drop out. There was a clear rule at UCSD that American students had priority and could choose their courses. Since the Americans also have to ‘crash’ the courses, it is very crowded in the first few weeks and you have to be patientto get courses. An email was sent a few weeks before the start of the semester with the information that you could put yourself on waiting lists. I did this too, but it doesn’t always mean good things if you are in first place, as there are no opportunities for some subjects to get into the courses. The Americans also have a waiting list and only after this has been processed do international students join the courses.
There is an exception for the sponsored courses. It is said that there are places for international students right from the start, which is why you have a very good chance of getting into the course, even if you are still on the waiting list. I have to say that the ‘class crashing’ takes a lot of nerves, even if you keep being told that nobody will be left without courses, which of course is also the case, it sometimes takes until the last possible day before you get an acceptance . Another option is to take courses at the extension school. Some of these are a bit more unusual and not just standard courses. You only have to pay attention to the date on which you have to have canceled, otherwise you have to take the course or pay the fee.
Afterwards I at least got courses that I could make friends with and which also turned out to be not bad. However, I had arranged other courses with professors at home and could therefore not get anything taken into account.
Business Project Management: A great course on the basics of project management, led by one of the leading project managers. The professor conveyed the material very well and showed how much she enjoyed the subject. There was weekly homework, 4 tests and a midterm and a final. All tasks were very fair and the grading was also clear.
Enterprise Finance: My definitely hardest course at the Rady School of Management. At the beginning, the course looked as if you could do it well with what you had already learned, but this was not entirely true. The topics were not even very difficult and not too extensive, you could understand everything with a little more effort than for the other courses, provided you have some interest in corporate finance topics. There were 4 homework assignments, which were a bit more extensive but still easy to do. The exams in the middle and at the end of the semester were not that easy anymore. I had the feeling that a lot more background knowledge was asked than what the professor had conveyed to us.
Financial Accounting for Non Accountants: This was the only course I didn’t take at the Rady School. It was offered by the Exension School and sounded pretty good to me. It always took place in the evening, as the Extension School is also for people who want to continue their education in addition to their job. In itself, the course was also quite good and not too demanding, which was certainly also due to the fact that the midterm and the final were ‘take home’ exams. However, I cannot recommend the Extension School courses if you want to meet new people. In my course, they were all professionals who just wanted to get their certificate quickly. Unfortunately, it was not possible to make contacts there.
Free time in San Diego
You can’t really say enough about the recreational opportunities. San Diego has definitely deserved the name ‘Americas finest City’. There are all sorts of things that you can do there. Directly in La Jolla, near the university are the La Jolla Coves, they are known for the fact that there are always seals lying there. You can even go down to them. Furthermore, La Jolla has a very nice “town center”, if you can call it that. There are beautiful streets that you can just walk through and the restaurants there are very good and you have a direct view of the Pacific.
What I can only recommend is to go to Coronado Island. This is the small island just outside San Diego. Half of the island is accessible, the other half is occupied by the US Navy, which is why you can see ships of the Navy around Coronado. As soon as you leave the bridge that connects San Diego and Coronado, you think you are in a different city. Of course there are also very nice corners in San Diego itself, but I have to say that I just really like CoronadoHas. With all the beautiful houses, everything looks very classy. The main street is separated by a lane full of palm trees. In my opinion, Coronado Island is also the most beautiful beach. Especially in front of the Hotel del Cornado, which you should definitely have a look at, you can lie great. Coronado also has the best view of the San Diego skyline. Exactly there in the westernmost part you will also find an area with many small shops and restaurants.
Since San Diego is quite hilly, you can also find one or the other place to go ‘hiking’. Here you should definitely do the Potato Chip Walk Hike, a hike to a rock jump where you can take great pictures. However, you have to expect waiting times as there are always some people there. In addition to all of the daytime activities, San Diego also offers some evening options. Every Tuesday is the famous ‘Taco Tuesday’, then there are always special offers in San Diego for tacos, of course, but there are also always some offers for drinks. You can go particularly well to Pacific Beach, where there are also clubs to party. At the weekend you can go to the Gaslamp Quarter go, which is in downtown and offers some clubs.
One last aspect, which made it possible for me to experience all these things, at least much faster and more comfortably. I rented a car there for the entire time. In my opinion, this was also necessary because everything in San Diego is quite far apart and you usually sit on the bus for a long time, if one is going there at all. I would have walked 25 minutes to my next bus stop on my own. I didn’t share the car either, which was mainly because my accommodation was further away from everyone else. If you have friends in your area, the car can certainly be shared and therefore less expensive to have. I can only recommend Dirty Cheap Car Rental to you. As the name suggests, they offer the cars very cheaply, which of course also means that you don’t get any new cars. But this does not matter, as long as they are driving and should there be a problem, you can always contact them and they will repair the car immediately. I felt really well taken care of there and wasn’t afraid of anything happening.
First of all, I can only advise anyone who is still considering doing a semester abroad to actually do it. Certainly there will always be situations that are new and that you have to deal with first, but no one can take away the experience you gain during the semester. I also have to say that I keep going to San Diego. The people there are incredibly open-minded and nice and the attitude that is lived there, that everything doesn’t always have to be stressful, is really good. San Diego is certainly not a cheap city, which you can tell from the incredibly high rents. The food prices cannot be compared with our German ones either. Still, I think it was worth the money because you can just get out of your familiar environment for a few months and have completely new experiences. I can’t think of a better city and university that I could have chosen for my semester abroad.