In March 2018 I made my way to San Diego to spend the “Spring Quarter” at the University of California San Diego . I had planned for a long time to study a semester in California during my master’s degree . After the third semester, I take the opportunity to acquire the 30 ECTS that are still missing through a semester abroad . I quickly chose UC San Diego. The university is not only one of the best in the USA , but also impresses with its location in southern California directly on the Pacific . The quarter system of this university also made it possible for me to go to the USA in the German summer semester without missing the exams of the last semester in Germany.
To apply to UCSD, you need a certain grade point average (GPA of at least 3.0), a letter of motivation , proof of English (level C1) and, if necessary, a tuberculosis test from the doctor. As proof of language skills, the DAAD test was the easiest and cheapest alternative for me. You can do this at many German universities. It will also require confirmation from the bank that you have sufficient funds (approximately $ 12,000) to cover tuition , living, and other expenses . This evidence can also be provided by a family member or a scholarshipbe provided. You should allow enough time for the preparation of the application and the application for the F1 visa . I received the approval from UCSD within a few days of submitting my application.
During a quarter you usually take 12 undergraduate or 9 graduate units. This corresponds to an average of three to four courses. As at many other American universities, as an extension student, you can only take the courses on site using what is known as class crashing . During the first few weeks, the “regular” students choose their courses. Only then does it become clear whether there is still space for international students in a course. Accordingly, at the beginning of the quarter you should always attend more courses than you actually want to take, if you should no longer get a place in a course.
Class crashing is different in each department, so I can only give you tips for the courses at the Rady School of Management in the following: There is a separate waiting list for extension students for management courses. Get on this list as early as possible (preferably before the start of the introductory events) so that you can be one of the first to find free places. There are usually three sponsored classes per quarter, in which a certain number of places are reserved for international students. If you register for these courses in good time, you will have a secure place there and less stress at the beginning of the quarter. Often the same courses are offered by several professors. To get a first impression, you can look at the professors’ ratings and the grade averages for the courses themselves over the last few years or on the “Rate My Professor” page.
Alternatively, you can also choose courses from the UCSD Extension . You are mostly with other international students and not with American students. However, many of these courses do not take place on campus and are only offered after a certain number of registrations. There is also the option of taking an online course per quarter. The exact procedure for the entire course selection will be explained again in detail during the orientation event at the beginning of the quarter.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to take graduate courses from the Rady School of Management at UCSD. Since my desired online course was not offered due to fewer registrations, I decided to take three upper-division undergraduate courses at the Rady School of Management: Business Project Management , New Venture Finance and Product Marketing and Management. Weekly homework, group work and occasionally also small quizzes are usual for all courses in addition to a midterm and a final. The final grade is thus made up of many individual grades and attendance. Although this requires more work during the semester, I found the learning effort before the exams for most of the courses less than in Germany. In addition, the exams on these courses were all in multiple-choice format.
The UCSD campus is huge, so I haven’t seen all the corners during one quarter. Often it takes 20 minutes to walk from the bus stop to the lecture room. That is why many students are also out and about by skateboard or bike. The famous Geisel Library and the Price Center , where there is a food court, a bookstore and a cinema, form the center of the UCSD. But there are many other restaurants, cafes and small supermarkets all over the campus. There is also a medical center with doctors and a pharmacy there. The university is located in La Jolla, in the north of San Diego, near a cliff just a few meters from the sea and thus offers a breathtaking view.
The living in San Diego is quite expensive compared to Germany. $ 1500 a month for a private bedroom in a shared apartment and about half for a shared room are common there. The districts of Pacific Beach and La Jolla (University City) are most popular with international students. If you live in Pacific Beach, a car is an advantage, as the way to the university by bus can otherwise take 40 minutes to an hour. But you are close to the beach and many bars and nightlife options can be reached on foot. La Jolla is an affluent neighborhood in northern San Diego and is popular for its proximity to campus. There are free UCSD shuttles that go to the campus every 10-15 minutes. With an Uber or Lyft you can also get to Pacific Beach quickly in the evening. Many students book a furnished room in advance through Anatolia Housing (La Jolla) or Kamo Housing (Pacific Beach). There is a high probability that you will share an apartment with other international students. But there is also the possibility to look for an apartment on site or to rent something via Airbnb.
The cost is actually the university’s only downside. With almost 8,000 USD tuition fees, in addition to rent, health insurance , flight and the already higher cost of living, the semester abroad at UCSD is certainly not cheap. It is therefore advisable to apply for scholarships at an early stage or, if possible, to apply for BAföG abroad .
Since you usually only have lectures two to three days a week, there is still enough free time despite weekly homework. San Diego offers countless things to do and has many beaches for surfing or relaxing. The university has many different sports clubs that you can join and make new contacts so quickly. In addition to the orientation events, the UCSD Extension also offers other events where you can try out various water sports for free or meet the other internationals at the campfire on the beach. The best partying in San Diego is probably on the weekend and during the week on Taco Tuesday in Pacific Beach or downtown. It is best to start doing a lot early or plan some time to travel after the quarter, otherwise you will not be able to visit all the surrounding cities and national parks.
I really enjoyed my time in San Diego and can only recommend a semester abroad at UCSD . It offers the perfect mix of high-quality academic training and countless leisure opportunities , beautiful landscapes and good weather. In my opinion, San Diego is a beautiful city and it is not for nothing that it is called “America’s Finest City” . I would have loved to stay a quarter longer.