California was my dream destination for my semester abroad and my decision finally fell on San Diego.
An accommodation on-campus is not provided for international students. If you want to book from home, Kamo Housing (Bay Pointe Apartments in Pacific Beach) or Anatolia Housing (Costa Verde Apartments close to the university) are ideal. In addition to standard apartments, both also offer a gym and pool . A lot of international students lived here, so they often came to visit. A shared room costs around $ 800, a private room around $ 1500. When I asked in mid-August, everything at Kamo was already booked for the fall semester.
The other option is to search for an apartment through Facebook groups and Craigslist. It is best to be on site to search and to stay at a hostel, Airbnb or free in the Solana Beach Host Family Program for the first time . You can be lucky and find something good quickly, but it can also take a while. But in the end everyone had found something. The prices ranged from $ 600 to $ 800 for a shared room and $ 900-1300 for a single room.
The question of Pacific Beach or the area around La Jolla cannot be answered one-sidedly. If I had the choice, I would choose Pacific Beach again, it is the busiest place and my apartment was only five minutes from the beach . But the students who lived in Costa Verde, for example, also had a cool time and were always quick to get to the people in PB through Uber or car sharing.
The main question here is whether you want to rent a car (costs from around $ 400 per month). Personally, I was at the university in an hour by bus ($ 2.25 each way) or by Uber / Lyft (about $ 5) in 20 minutes. Because of this, and because you don’t normally have to go to university every day, I – like my roommates – decided against a car. For longer tours we were lucky that we had enough people with cars among our friends.
University and courses
UCSD is a huge university with a correspondingly large and beautiful campus for over 25,000 students. The dimension can be a bit overwhelming at the beginning, but you settle in very quickly . The majority of UCSD students are Asian-American.
The initial “class crashing” turned out to be quite stressful, as you have to attend many courses at the same time, reschedule the schedule and simply have to organize a lot. Especially places in computer science courses are very difficult to get hold of, you need luck and perseverance. In contrast, I was able to take (business) computer science- related courses at the Cognitive Science Department comparatively easily , for example data science .
All of my courses were very interesting and were held by highly motivated and competent professors who wanted to inspire the students with the respective topic. Unfortunately, this is missed far too often in Germany . The following applies: the more advanced the course, the smaller the course size. Unfortunately, I had the disadvantage (in the semester abroad you also want to experience something in your free time) that my courses involved a fairly high workload. Weekly tests, readings, and assignments took up quite a bit of time. For this, the effort in the USA is ultimately rewarded.
San Diego and Leisure
San Diego is a city with an extremely high recreational value and top weather almost all the time . You will definitely not get bored, the three months are far too short. Through the UPS program you will get to know a lot of people, maybe – for example through the courses – also some Americans. But they often have a different rhythm than the exchange students.
San Diego is the surfer city of the USA and there are surf courses that can be booked directly through the university . Especially if you live near the beach, it makes sense to buy your own surfboard. The numerous beaches in and around San Diego not only attract surfers, but also invite you to relax and swim. Downtown San Diego is some distance from the university and Pacific Beach, but is definitely worth the one or the other tour. Some of my highlights:Balboa Park, Old Town, the Gaslamp Quarter, Coronado Island, the USS Midway, a Padres baseball game, a SDSU college football game with prior tailgate and much more. Furthermore, there are constant events such as district festivals. You can go out well in Pacific Beach (attention, the clubs and bars in California close at half past one …) or at home parties, for example with the party-loving SDSU students.
You should definitely not miss out on weekend trips and longer trips. California has so much to offer . Not too far away, for example, is Palms Springs and Joshua Tree National Park. The (relatively) short distance to Hawaii is also very seductive. A trip to one of the islands is definitely a lasting memory . The question is, of course, how much air the university leaves you or what your requirements are. For me it was unfortunately rather difficult in terms of time, which is why I have by far not seen everything that I would have wanted to see.
I can recommend a semester abroad at UCSD to everyone . You can take a lot with you both during your studies and in your free time. Sunny California and San Diego are fantastic regions and cities that you can enjoy with new friends.