University of California San Diego, Fall Term 09/2011 – 12/2011
The University of California San Diego (UCSD) is located north of San Diego in the La Jolla district. The university is home to around 26,000 students. San Diego or UCSD is a very attractive place to study that I can recommend to everyone. I was enrolled at UCSD for a trimester in autumn 2011 as part of a so-called freemover semester. The exchange students are looked after by the UCSD Extension department. The people there (in my case in the person of Ms. Megan Schuck) are very helpful and find a suitable solution for every problem. In addition to an obligatory information day at the beginning, various other events are held where you can make contact with other exchange students.
In the run-up to a planned study visit at UCSD, the following points must be completed:
Proof of English: Enrollment at UCSD requires a TOEFL result of 79 points or the Cambridge Advanced Certificate, which in my opinion is fair and feasible. The TOEFL test should be taken as early as possible, as the result will not be sent to you until a few weeks later.
Registration at the UCSD, about six months before the start of your studies: The MicroEDU organization (MicroEDU; www.MicroEDU.com) offers support in the form of checklists, information on the individual universities and competent advice on all kinds of questions and problems in connection with a planned study visit. MicroEDU checked my application documents for completeness and correctness in order to maximize my chances of being admitted to the UCSD. All further correspondence with UCSD was subsequently carried out by MicroEDU. The MicroEDU consultants are paid by the universities and offer their services to students free of charge.
Applying for a US visa: Immediately after receiving the confirmation of admission from UCSD, in my case about 3 months before the start of studies, the visa should be requested online from the US embassy (http://bern.usembassy.gov/non-immigrant_visas.html ). After completing the online form, you will receive an appointment at the embassy where you have to pass in person. Once a visa has been issued, a student can enter the USA at the earliest 1 month before the start of their studies and must leave the country no later than 2 months after the end of their studies. So there are a total of 3 more months to discover and travel to the country, which I definitely recommend.
Screen the UCSD course catalog and request the syllabi of possible courses to be taken from the respective lecturer. A syllabus is a detailed description of the course. Depending on the organizational structure of the home university, the syllabi of the intended course choice should be submitted to the UCSD application dossier for examination in advance so that one knows before the course enrollment whether this course can ultimately be credited or not. This point is a bit tedious, as the contact details of the lecturers sometimes have to be obtained via detours in the UCSD administration.
If possible, insurance cover should be ensured through home health insurance. It is important to know here that European insurance companies usually only pay afterwards. So if medical care is required in the US, a credit card must first be available. Otherwise, with the exception of life support measures, no benefits will be provided.
For registration, UCSD requires a list with 3-4 times as many courses as one would actually like to attend. The reason why a multiple number of courses has to be listed is due to the so-called class crashing system that is widespread in the USA: In contrast to regularly enrolled students, exchange students cannot select the courses in advance, but have to sit down and sit down in the lecture first at the end of the first lecture directly with the lecturer for a place in his course. If the latter gives his OK or his signature, the student must go to the exchange service office with the appropriate form, where he will then be enrolled in the course. This process is a bit of a pain and can be a bit stressful during the first 1-3 weeks. Read more student reviews on Act-test-centers.
Trimesters are offered at UCSD, which include the examination block in the last week and are therefore shorter than usual semesters and examination periods in Europe. The UCSD requires a lot of work, which, however, is spread over the entire trimester in the majority of the courses and therefore does not concentrate on the examination block. In my chosen courses we sometimes wrote weekly papers as well as group work and midterms (exams in the middle of the trimester). The examination performances of the courses differ considerably and are mostly visible in the course catalog, but certainly in the syllabus of the respective course. Enrollment as an exchange student for one trimester including the registration fee costs USD 6,250. It contains 3 courses, which results in a maximum of 12 units or 18 ECTS (factor 1.5). Further courses cost extra, usually between $ 300 and $ 600. It should be noted that not all courses from the course catalog are available for exchange students or at least not for students at Master’s level (graduate students). This should be clarified with the respective lecturer in advance.
In general, the choice of courses for Master’s students at UCSD is somewhat more limited than for Bachelor’s students (undergraduates). Due to the fact that I had already completed my main courses at home, I still had no trouble finding equivalent courses for the context area. The UCSD Extension Studies department (which looks after the exchange students) also organizes its own courses, although not all of them are open to graduate students. Business courses at the Rady School of Management are either not accessible to exchange students or are only intended for undergraduates.
I have taken the following courses:
- Globalization (4 units, corresponds to 6 ECTS, Professors Stephan Haggard and Barry Naughton): 2 lectures of 90 minutes per week, the examination consists of 4 assignments (papers), 1 midterm exam, 1 final exam. Very interesting and interactive course, which discusses topics related to globalization from an economic, business and political point of view.
- International Politics & Pacific Studies (4 units, Professor Barbara F. Walter): 2 lectures of 90 minutes per week, the examination is 7 papers of 3 pages each. The topics mostly concern international conflicts on a political and economic level (e.g. North Korea, Taiwan, Iraq war, terrorism, etc.). The research effort for these papers is relatively high, but it is worthwhile because, in addition to the high learning effect, there is no exam stress at the end and only 7 of 12 topics have to be selected and answered.
- Clean Tech (4 units, lecturer Josh Graff Zivin): 1 lecture of 3 hours per week, the examination is a group work in the form of a business plan abstract or a marketing idea for a freely chosen product in the field of clean tech, with a focus on the policies in Target market. Also recommended.
The UCSD campus is around 4 km2 and, in addition to various institutes, libraries and teaching rooms, also houses several large car parks, various residential and sports facilities (baseball, football, basketball, athletics, fitness center, swimming pool, etc.), restaurants / cafes as well a university’s own bookstore. Prospective students can use Google Maps / Street View to view some impressions on the screen in advance. Important to know: Parking tickets for the campus can be bought in the parking office, category C is reserved for students and costs around 180 USD per trimester / 3 months. However, these parking spaces are generally overcrowded during the semester on weekdays, so you should allow for waiting times of up to 30 minutes. Access to the on-campus fitness center is $ 90 per semester.
Living in San Diego
In general, it is advisable to rent a car for your stay in San Diego. There is a bus system, but due to the vastness of San Diego, the city cannot be compared to Swiss cities and bus trips to the university can take an hour or more. Regular taxi rides are also extremely expensive due to the long distances involved. Depending on where you live, even the beach can only be reached by car. For car rental, I recommend Dirt Cheap Rent a Car (www.dirtcheaprentacar.com), where a car is available from around USD 400 / month including insurance.
The type and location of accommodation depends on the individual needs of the student. You can live on the campus itself as well as in the immediate or further vicinity. The Pacific Beach district with its countless bars and clubs is recommended for party-loving students. The disadvantage is the long way to the university (approx. 1 hour by bus, approx. 15 minutes by car). Personally, I lived around 3km from the university in the La Jolla district in the Costa Verde apartment complex, which I can highly recommend. (Anatolia Corporate Housing, www.ac-housing.com). The apartments are equipped with a kitchen, TV, washing machine and offer parking, access to the in-house fitness center and housekeeping every other week. There are also various shopping centers in the neighborhood and the university can be reached by bus and car in a few minutes. The area is rather quiet.
San Diego has many beautiful beaches. In downtown Coronado Beach is recommended, the Pacific Beach district (PB for short) has Mission Beach, Scribbs Beach is close to the university and Torrey Pines is recommended for sunset jogging.
Enjoy the sunset with a beer in the Beachwood Rooftop Bar in PB, afterwards, as already mentioned, countless bars and clubs in PB invite you to linger on weekdays. Bar West is highly recommended on Thursdays. On the weekends the party goes downtown, the Fluxx Club, Ivy / Andaz, the Marriott Rooftop Bar and the Gaslamp Quarter in general are worth mentioning. Important to know: You can hardly get into a club without a passport and alcohol is only served in many restaurants when you show it. In addition, curfew is already at 2 a.m. In contrast to Europe, it is worth going out early in the evening.
You shouldn’t miss a baseball game by the San Diego Padres in Petco Park (Downtown), a football game by the San Diego Chargers in Qualcomm Stadium (Fashion Valley), Balboa Park with its museums and zoo and a visit to Sea World in near Mission Beach or on the USS Midway (aircraft carrier museum ship) downtown.