UCSD Review

By | June 21, 2021


So, I’ll try to get a good picture of how my semester abroad went, because these experience reports helped me a lot at the time. As many have already written here, the preparation was the worst and most exhausting part of the semester abroad. Especially if your university hardly helps you with the preparation. I started dealing with the choice of a country and then a city extremely early, about 1. 5 years in advance, but many only started researching 6 months in advance.

What you should pay attention to:

  • in case you a university chooses, first make certain that courses are offered that you need and whether it several alternatives are
  • take a look at the location of the university, if a university is in LA but is super far outside, because LA is huge, or you live in Silicon Valley, where it is incredibly expensive to live, you have to put something like that into the (budget) Include planning
  • Think about whether traveling, having fun or going to a good university is the most important thing for you
  • the visa to apply online is a huge effort, so take some time for this
  • If you book a return flight: It is of course cheaper to book to San Diego and from San Diego and not to specify two different cities. But I booked my return flight from NY because I always knew that I still wanted to travel around. So if you are going to travel, think about where and when you want to do this.

Car and transportation

I rented a car at the hostel for a week ($ 130 from Dirt Cheap Car – definitely the cheapest rental). It didn’t bring me much, but at least I was able to quickly look at several houses in a row, and also drive a little further, e. g. up to La Jolla. When I started university, I shared a car with my roommate for a month. That was $ 200 pp. If you share a car, I would recommend getting 3 people together to make it cheaper. It was difficult for us because we had different university times and you always had to sort of coordinate. A car is definitely useful for shopping and short trips. Attention: The cars at Dirt Cheap are only rented for SD, so you can’t go on a trip to Las Vegas or LA with them, you would have to rent one extra, for example over the weekend.

After a month, my roommate didn’t want a car anymore because he only went to university twice a week and was taken away by a friend. So I bought a bus ticket ($ 125 for the semester). But I have to say that MOST of them drove a bus and not, as mentioned in the other experience reports, everyone had a car! It takes about an hour to take the bus from Mission Beach and 20 minutes by car if you are not driving in rush hour. In addition to the cost of the car, there is the UCSD parking permit, which costs $ 60 per month and does not guarantee a parking space. You still have to look for something new every morning. But I would recommend getting a CarPool sticker (you only have to be in the car with 3 people at a time). So you can stand on pre-reserved CarPool parking spaces,


The UCSD’s really a good university, it is more demanding and has better teachers than the SDSU, as I said some German. In addition, if you really want to improve your English during the semester, you shouldn’t go to the SDSU as a German, as there were ONLY Germans there. But sometimes you were spoken to in German in clubs in PB because many assumed that there were only Germans in the club anyway. Otherwise the campus is really nice, you just have to know that everything really costs extra and you don’t get anything for free like at German state universities. But that’s the way it is in America.

Otherwise, the university was really exhausting, I had to prepare a lot of homework, essays, presentations, essays, etc. , which is really unusual in relation to German universities, where you never have to do anything during the semester. In terms of level, everything was feasible, you are also told exactly what and how much you have to do, but it was really time-consuming and you didn’t have as much time for traveling or partying as expected. But that is the case at all universities in America and was possibly only a bit more extreme at UC.

Class crashing

I found the class crashing catastrophic! In all honesty, if you didn’t have a free hand in choosing a course or a lot of leeway, then you should really think twice about going to the UCSD / generally to a university in America. I have a very accommodating professor in Germany who has already accepted many courses in advance. I had about 3 alternative courses for every course I needed and still it was horror for me.

I had to take 4 courses at UCSD with 4 units each, which is a lot, because normal are 3 courses or a total of 12 units. 4 more units were not only more strenuous, but also cost $ 250 more per unit, for a total of $ 1000. But it was no different for me. My course is ” Media Management ” so I tried to take courses from the areas of Management, Communications, Culture, Art & Technology and Visual Art, which turned out to be very problematic. The colleges are very far apart, you always have to hurry to get from one course to the next and then also find the rooms. Thank goodness there is a UCSD Tritons app with a card in it and Google Maps also helped. In any case, you had to introduce yourself to each professor, explain why you would like to take the course and ask for a signature. Unfortunately, most professors are completely uninformed and do not even know what you are talking about, so it is better to contact the faculties and speak to those responsible there or write an email in advance (everything can be found on the UCSD website). It also helps to check the page where you can research the courses to see if, after the American students have chosen courses, the words “FULL WAITLIST” are behind the courses. If that is the case, you have next to no chance of getting into the courses.

There are also different deadlines for different faculties. The class crashing phase of the Rady School of Management, for example, lasts 3 weeks, which means that you always had to go to the courses, submit homework online in a portal (TED) and read the respective pages. Of course, that didn’t work out if you were on the waiting list for 10 courses and they also overlapped. You just have to try to find out how strict the professionals are and the best thing to do is to talk to them and explain that you are internationals.

After many courses were canceled in the first few days and the professors told me that I probably had no chance of getting into their course, I always researched further courses and sent them to my professor from Germany and had them approved. In the end, I didn’t get a course that I had picked out beforehand, my professor from university was also annoyed to get a stressed email from me every day, and I and many other students (especially Germans) suffer from burnout every day because we thought we weren’t getting the courses we need. For me it was the case that I had to choose a specialization in the 5th semester and I had freedom of choice between a few subjects, but not complete freedom of course. Other students, like the Norwegians,So if you belong to the second group – don’t panic, you will find something. If you belong to my group of students – think twice about how special your course is and whether you have enough options, and above all what happens if you don’t get the courses. My roommate (SDSU, but also German) didn’t get a master’s course and is now allowed to stay on for a whole semester.

In the end I got courses (on the last (!!) day of the CC phase) and they were almost only Rady School of Management courses. They are one of the only faculties that were quite well organized as there was a waiting list and an online portal where you could “apply” to the courses. On the last day I slipped into 3 courses at once and got another course from the “Culture, Art and Technology” (CAT) faculty beforehand.

In total I then had:

  • Business Project Management – Rady School
  • Organizational Leadership – Rady School
  • Innovation to Market A – Rady School
  • Public, Rhetorical, Practical Communication – CAT

The courses were all really interesting and the professors were really good. If you want little work, have a look at RatemyProfessor. com, and read the reviews there, most of them are really true.


According to act-test-centers, the UCSD semester only lasts until the beginning / middle of December and is a 10-week program. Therefore, if you want to travel, it is best to do it before and after. I booked my flight at the end of January because I wanted to travel with friends from UCSD. Many of them did a road trip before studying, which is certainly very good as the weather is even better then (especially in cities on the east coast). During the semester I went to Mexico, SF, LA or Las Vegas (especially recommended until September because there are pool parties there). After the semester, I went on a road trip with my family, then went to Hawaii for a week (if you want to go there, definitely go to Maui), then went to Miami, Chicago and then NYC. That was a really good combination in my opinion and not particularly expensive if you book all the flights with Spirit Airlines ;-).

Conclusion and cost point

I don’t know exactly how much I paid, because I haven’t calculated all of that yet, but nobody there came out with 10,000 €, I think. Alone, because the exchange rate was so infinitely bad in autumn / winter 2015, you really had to spend more than expected. I think with the trips at the end and in the middle of it I spent around 18,000. You have to consider that the university alone costs 8,000 €, the flight 1000, the hostel at the beginning 400, car and bus costs, flights, hotels and hostels, rent, etc.

But overall it was a really good time. In my opinion, San Diego is the best city in California: to live and study. All other big cities are very close and San Diego is huge too but feels like a small town. I would definitely do it again, even if the university time was really stressful and not as easy as I thought.

UCSD Review