I decided on a semester abroad at relatively short notice, as my university in Germany has only recognized this for a short time. Due to my dual studies, the possible period for this was also quite limited, as it had to be made up of a semester and the possible vacation. There was always someone available to answer questions, so I felt comfortable with my decision to go to the University of California San Diego from the start. The university not only has a great reputation, it is also in a great location, because who is not interested in California? Only the costs were quite a blow for me. And if you only did one semester, you couldn’t apply for a foreign cash grant either. Still, I wanted to go through with this and have absolutely no regrets.
Since I was only able to travel to San Diego a few days before the start of the semester, I hardly had time to find an apartment on site, so I decided on a host family. The advantages for me were not only the lower costs, but also the culture and contact person, after all, I was traveling alone. That was okay too, the family wasn’t very welcoming, but left me alone most of the time, which I thought was okay. Another student from Asia lived in the same house, who initially showed me the area and the university. And it wasn’t far away. My host family lived in La Jolla, a really great area of San Diego, from where I was at the university in 20 minutes on foot. So I didn’t need a car at first. But a little later I realized that true student life was more likely to be in Pacific Beach. Without a car, however, I had to rely on the bus – it took me 1½ hours to cover a distance that took 10 minutes by car. The lack of mobility then led to the rental of a car. A friend recommended Sunset-Carrentals to me, which was a long way out, but quite cheap. Friends of mine shared cars that they rented from dirtcheapcarrental, that was central and also really good.
The first week at university was actually quite relaxed. We already knew each other at the beginning of the semester. Megan, who is in charge of the UPS program, the international students, is very nice. Whenever there is something you can come to her and she does her best to help. So everyone was very helpful during the introductory week. Then came the course choices. We were told that we should take at least 15 courses in order to be able to take at least 3 at the end. The knowledge, which courses were free for us, came only in the 3rd week. Until then I took every course that I could and even shared with friends who studied the same things as me. This was the only way to take many courses, as some of them overlapped. We always diligently followed the waiting lists for the courses. Incidentally, I think it’s a totally stupid system that the international students only get their turn at the very end, after all the others. In my courses, which I needed from home, most of them from the economics department, could not be obtained with a signature from the professor, so I really had to wait until the end of the third week. In the end there were 4 courses that I could have received, 3 of which luckily fit into my requirement area. I took one at the economics department, one at the rady school of management and one at the extension. All three courses were completely different and yet very interesting. In the economics course I sat with hundreds of other students in a lecture hall and wrote 2 exams during the entire semester, at the Rady School everything was more interactive, with group work, homework, oral participation, specialist work and exams, there were around 70 people here. In the extension course I sat with ten other people, all of them already working. There was a lot going on here about discussions, but here, too, a technical paper, the so-called term paper, had to be written, and exams. I really liked this colorful mix. I had chosen courses that only took place on Tuesdays and Thursdays and was there from morning to evening, but had the other days off to do something.
To enjoy life, San Diego is a dream city. There is always something going on here. I went surfing, a must here, and took a wakeboarding course, attended the Padres baseball games, at Disneyland, Seaworld and a Lakers basketball game – an incredible atmosphere. We often came around on the weekends, whether to Los Angeles, Vegas, Mexico or the Grand Canyon, everything was worth seeing. But San Diego itself really has a lot to offer. Whether rooftop bars downtown, the beautiful beaches and the great view of the Coronado skyline, the harbor or Little Italy. La Jolla is also nice, lots of small shops, great houses, beautiful stretches of sea and seals on parts of the beaches. Partying in SD never gets boring either. Tuesday is Taco Tuesday and all hell is going on. And at the weekend we mostly went downtown or to Pacific Beach. There are a lot of great clubs and bars, if not cheap, but what’s that in San Diego?
All in all, I am still completely enthusiastic about my four months that I spent there and can only advise everyone to go there. It was just great.