The University of California San Diego, UC San Diego for short, is one of the largest universities in the USA with around 29,300 students (www.ucsd.edu). UC San Diego is in 15th place worldwide in the current Shanghai Ranking (www.shanghairanking.com), the Washington Monthly Magazine selected the University of California San Diego as the best university in the USA (www.washingtonmonthly.com). Due to the high reputation of UC San Diego, it attaches great importance to excellent performance, especially among foreign students. Overall, an average grade of at least B- is required during the semester abroad. Poor grades automatically lead to de-registration.
In total, I attended three courses with 4 units each. Economic Development, an economics course, was offered by the University’s Economic Department and, thanks to its renowned professor James Rauch, was very well attended with around 200 students. The course specifically aimed at the political and economic influence of Asian and African developing countries on the US economy. Organizational Leadership was offered by the Rady School of Management, which was the first to accept Bachelor students for its programs. The course turned out to be highly interactive and communicative. In total, students from over 20 nations attended the lecture, which promoted an intercultural exchange in a management context. The main topics were above all the ethical and social skills of prospective managers.
The course also included extremely interesting guest speakers, such as the former COO (Chief Operating Officer) of United Airlines, who reported on his experiences during and after 9/11. The Financial Markets and Investment Strategies course was offered by the International Department of UC San Diego and was specifically aimed at European students, as the course was intended to illustrate the American perspective of the European financial markets and their global effects. Basically, mathematical equations with regard to portfolio analysis and management were presented and daily comparisons were made with the DJIA and S&P 500. Read more student reviews on Educationvv.
All lectures turned out to be extremely interesting and varied. In addition, all professors were very keen to ensure the success of their students and were always available to answer questions outside of the lecture. I found the enthusiastic presentation style of American professors very pleasant and helpful for understanding the respective topic. In all lectures, the most important points of the previous and following event were always taken up in order to keep the central theme in mind. I found all the lectures intellectually stimulating. Through consistent learning and participation in the lectures, I was able to complete all courses with the top grade A.
UC San Diego is located in the suburb of La Jolla, approx. 15 km north of downtown. The UC San Diego campus is very large and adorned with numerous parks, gardens, man-made forests, fountains, and architecturally appealing buildings. The center of the campus is the eight-story, very impressive, Geisel Library, around which numerous restaurants, gardens and the food court are arranged. In addition to the RIMAC, a sports center, the UC San Diego campus offers restaurants, supermarkets, a hospital, football, soccer, baseball and tennis courts, a swimming pool, computer rooms, several libraries and a breathtaking ocean view from the north side of the campus. Shuttle buses are available to get around the large campus faster.
In terms of content, it can generally be said that the workload due to numerous essays, problem sets and midterms during the semester is much higher than in Germany. However, these reduce the learning effort for the final exams at the end of the semester enormously, which in total comes very close to the absolute workload in Germany. Overall, I assign the lectures at UC San Diego as well as those at my university in Germany to be of equal and very high quality. Compared to the home university, however, the proportion of self-study is significantly larger.
During my stay, I lived with American students in the Pacific Beach district, which is home to many international students. Due to the proximity to the sea, you can go surfing every day, play volleyball on the beach or stroll along the beach promenade. In addition to numerous beautiful beaches, San Diego also offers a beautiful city center with numerous bars and restaurants as well as the old Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park, Sea World, shopping centers and a number of leisure and sports activities. UC San Diego students can use public transportation, such as buses and trams, for free throughout most of San Diego.
Due to the cheap car rental companies in the USA, trips to northern California, Nevada or Arizona are suitable. After the final exams, I traveled through the above states with three other students for three weeks. From San Diego to the north you drive on Highway One directly on the Pacific through Los Angeles, Santa Barbara to San Francisco. From there you get through the quaint Yosemite National Park to Sequoia National Park, which you should only cross with snow chains in winter.
In addition to snow-covered mountains and forests, we also saw wolves, deer and raccoons and drove past the largest sequoia trees in the world in the Forest of the Giants. Driving east we finally came to Death Valley National Park, whose barren landscapes have already served as a backdrop for several films. Finally, after hundreds of kilometers of lonely desert, Las Vegas is reached. A city that has to offer all global sights on a smaller scale and is like a single show stage 24 hours a day.
The drive through the cactus-covered Arizona was also very rewarding. The breathtaking beauty of the American landscape was surpassed almost every hour on our multi-week trip and reached its final climax at the Grand Canyon, which in snowy December looked even more gigantic than you could imagine.
The University of California San Diego was the best possible course of study due to its excellent reputation, the excellent quality of teaching and its beautiful campus. The multicultural atmosphere, the very good equipment of the premises and the high motivation of the students ensured optimal study conditions. All professors and university staff were available around the clock for questions of all kinds and made sure that all matters went smoothly. Overall, the semester abroad was an incredible experience that created invaluable added value for me personally and academically.