How dangerous is Shelltown San Diego, California
University of California San Diego
In March 2016 I decided to go to the USA for a semester abroad. As a freemover, choosing the right city and university was not that easy, but College Contact events and field reports helped me to ultimately choose the University of California San Diego - luckily for me!
After the decision had been made, it was time to organize. Here I can give the all-clear as far as the dreaded bureaucratic effort is concerned, because College Contact gives you great instructions tailored to the chosen universitythat you can follow step by step. Deadlines etc. were also listed here so that you always knew what time you should have done something.
Application, visa & insurance
First I took care of the language test, I decided on the DAAD, as it was offered inexpensively at the university and probably involves significantly less learning effort than TOEFL & Co. (DAAD tests are however designed by the universities themselves and can be, As far as the level of difficulty is concerned, it differs from university to university, so it's best to ask fellow students at your university about experience).
As soon as I had confirmed my necessary C1 level, I took care of the application including a letter of motivation and, after receiving the confirmation, I took care of the visa and other formalities such as international health insurance etc.
For the visa you first have to fill out some forms online and then appear at the embassy of your choice at your appointment. The online forms take a little time, so take your time, as all information must be filled out correctly, otherwise the visit to the embassy will be worthless in the end. The appointment at the embassy (Munich) itself then went quite quickly and without a major interview or complications.
A tip regarding international health insurance, if you also opt for the UCSD: Plan additional costs here, the UCSD formally forces you to have internal health insurance, as the requirements for organizing your own health insurance are extremely complicated. I had organized my own, but would recommend taking out insurance from the university in the future. Unfortunately, it is significantly more expensive in comparison, but it saves you a lot of nerves and bureaucracy.
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To organize the course selection and evaluation of the courses
In advance, I had the responsible coordinator at my home university issue me a letter of recognition. Here it is then precisely defined which courses at UCSD I can count towards which courses at my home university (Münster).
To do this, I searched the UCSD course catalog for the relevant quarter for suitable courses in my degree program (psychology, master’s). Do not get confused by the short descriptions, for some courses you can get detailed syllabi via College Contact, which give you and the coordinator of your university information about the more precise content of the courses.
After my semester abroad, I received an original transcript and certificate from UCSD and submitted it to the examination office for crediting the ECTS together with the letter of recognition.
The first two to three weeks at UCSD are involved in class crashing. You attend as many courses as possible and hunt for the signatures of the professors. Since the normal students of the university are preferred for places in the courses, one has to hope that after the three weeks after the start of studies there will still be places available in the desired courses in order to be able to enroll. It is therefore an advantage if you have several courses to choose from in advance that can be counted towards a course at your home university.
This system may seem strange at first and, to be honest, I wasn't particularly enthusiastic at first, after all, you pay a high amount of tuition fees. After the first few days, however, I also discovered my personal advantages: Imagine you come to a foreign university and have no idea how the courses run, which ones might be of interest to you, which professors you like, etc ... Class crashing gives you the opportunity to get to know everything in peace and quiet and to be able to decide which courses are your favorites after trying it out.
Ultimately, after the crashing phase was over, I got two of the three courses I wanted. In retrospect, there was also a place available for me in my third course request, but since I was very enthusiastic about the other course, I did not change any more. My subjects were Clinical Psychology, Industrial & Organizational Psychology and Social psychology.
To the University
The UCSD is considered a very respected university and accordingly has high demands on its students. Since you not only have finals, but also midterms, homework, etc., you are very challenged during the semester and have to do something every day and should therefore not underestimate the effort. However, the courses are much more lively and interesting than at German universities, so it's more fun. I had great professorswho, in my opinion, embodied the perfect mix of expertise and sympathy and who lectures Consequently not only educational, but also exciting and funny designed.
The campus is located in La Jolla, near the famous Blacks Beach. The location of the university really can't be beat, you can walk to the sea and even on a good day see the sea from one of the higher floors of the Geisel Library! La Jolla itself is a beautiful area, but I would not recommend living there as a student on a semester abroad, as it is rather quiet here and there are above all rich families.
The campus itself is unbelievably large and beautifully designed with lots of trees and green landscapes. You can find everything you need, from the food court to the recreation area to the supermarket. There are even bus shuttles running around the campus, which I personally only used to get to the parking lot, my buildings for the lectures were all nice and relaxed within walking distance.
The parking situation at UCSD is not ideal, but not as bad as many local students feel. If you don't want to come at 7 a.m., you drive to Regents Parking Lot, which is about 5 minutes by bus from the main campus (shuttle is free for UCSD students).
Housing & San Diego as a city
I lived in Pacific Beach, an area of San Diego that any student will recommend. The area is located directly on one of the most beautiful beaches in San Diego and there is always something going on. Numerous students live here and celebrate together, e.g. at the famous Taco Tuesday in one of the many bars and clubs on site. On the one hand you can enjoy the typical American "beach life" here, on the other hand you have everything you would otherwise expect in downtown (Bars, restaurants, clubs, supermarkets, fitness studios etc.) within walking distance. The UCSD is also not far from here, 10 minutes by car (without traffic jams).
I lived here in the Bay Pointe Apartments, which you book through Kamo Housing. It is a large complex with many buildings and great amenities such as pool, jacuzzi, tennis courts, computer room with free use of printers, cinema and free coffee bar. Many international students live here, including many Germans. Four people always live in an apartment, which consists of a large living and dining area with a balcony and two bedrooms, each with an attached bathroom. You always share a room and a bathroom for two. Sharing a room is common with the high cost of living in San Diego, but finding a nice roommate can actually be a lot of fun. In general, living in this complex was an absolute stroke of luck for me, as I made many close friends with whom I am still in great contact today. In terms of price-performance ratio, a room in this complex in Pacific Beach can't be beat either. Some apartments are nicer and better equipped than others, but you can change apartment at any time (if available) if you are dissatisfied or request additional items for the apartment from Kamo Housing (e.g. missing kitchen utensils).
I would strongly recommend renting a car from dirtcheaprentalcars due to independence and excursions in San Diego. You pay $ 400 a month and are fully insured. It's only worth it if you can share it with someone else, otherwise Uber and Lyft are likely to be cheaper overall.
Choosing San Diego as a city for their semester abroad is something I don't think anyone can ever regret. Thanks to the fabulous weather, the local people are always in a good mood and also super open to international people, so that you always feel welcome. The city itself has a lot of activities and sights to offer, from dreamy beaches with numerous water sports options to food markets to wine tastings in the surrounding wine regions, everyone will find something new to discover every day! Excursions to other cities and national parks from San Diego are also super feasible over a weekend, but I would recommend traveling before or after the semester, as San Diego itself has a lot of beautiful things to offer.
In short: The perfect city and perfect universityto spend a semester abroad with the right mix of university and free time.
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