San Diego – Housing and Living
San Diego really is a dream city, with warm temperatures and sunny days all year round! In addition, San Diego is close to many other attractive travel destinations such as Los Angeles , San Francisco, Las Vegas, many national parks and the drive to Mexico is of course not too far. San Diego is a typical American city, but you can find your way around quickly and don’t have the hectic city life, but rather the Cali lifestyle. The people are very friendly and always open to a conversation . Although you can still enjoy days on the beach until December can, it can also have temperatures below 10 degrees from November, so it is advisable to bring a little warmer clothing with you.
Most students live in either Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, or the College Area, with some opting for the more remote but hip areas like Hillcrest or North Park. We really wanted to live near the beach, so we decided to look for an apartment in Pacific Beach. Basically, a lot of Germans and Scandinavians live in Pacific Beach and Mission Beach, but if you choose BLVD63 in the college area, you will mainly have contact with exchange students. The contact with Americans in the beach areas is rather difficult, but compared to the college area you are much closer to many bars, restaurants and clubs and of course the beach.
It is advisable to start looking for an apartment on site and therefore arrive two to three weeks before the start of the semester and book an Airbnb or a hostel for this time. A rental car for this time is also very beneficial. The search for an apartment can be very time-consuming, but it is usually not worthwhile to respond to the first offer right away. Many apartments in Pacific Beach and Mission Beach will still be rented out as vacation homes over the summer (at double the price), which is why many apartments will not become available until September 1st. There are different ways where you can look for apartments, we found ours through Craigslist, but there are also many local brokers who make their living from housing brokerage for exchange students. These intermediaries can usually be found on Facebook. It should be noted, however, that they often charge relatively high commissions. Living in San Diego is generally very expensive (even by Swiss standards), shared rooms (2 people) cost between 600 and 900 dollars per month on average, while single rooms cost between 1000 and 1500. The closer to the beach, the higher the prices.
It is also advisable to rent one car per apartment, especially if you choose an accommodation near the beach. In this sense, San Diego is very American, you hardly get anywhere without a car and public transport is rather poor. The best thing to do is to rent a car from DirtCheap for the entire semester. You then pay between $ 700 and $ 800 a month for the car. We would rather advise against buying a car, as there can be high hidden costs and at the end of the semester you have the stress of selling the car again.
Basically, life in San Diego is very expensive, especially healthy eating. Celebrating can also not be cheap, while dining in a restaurant is very cheap compared to Switzerland. It is advisable to arrive with cash and otherwise pay by credit card. Opening a bank account in the USA is rather difficult and time-consuming for the Swiss.
There is a lot of partying in San Diego, but if you are looking for long nights, you are probably better off in other places, as everything closes at 2 a.m. due to the legal curfew.
San Diego State University (SDSU)
With around 33,000 students, San Diego State University is the largest in the county, but it is still relatively manageable . The campus is about 20 minutes by car inland from downtown and has great facilities such as a huge fitness center, a pool, tennis courts, etc. If you drive to the university, you can park your car in one of the many parking garages where from 10 a.m. there is an acute lack of parking spaces. A parking permit costs around $ 150 per vehicle and can be purchased at the beginning of the semester.
There are also enough places to eat on campus, but those who prefer to avoid fast food and prefer cheaper and healthier alternatives are better off taking something with them from home. However, every Thursday there is a great food market on campus .
San Diego State University, like many other American universities, makes a lot of headlines with its sports teams. Football and basketball in particular are very popular at the SDSU and it is definitely advisable to experience the Aztec spirit up close at a game . The tickets for football and basketball are free for exchange students at the ALI.
The fraternities and sororities, the American connections, also have a high priority at the SDSU. San Diego State University is generally known as a party university , which as an exchange student, if you do not live at the university and do not belong to a fraternity or sorority, is less likely to notice. The pledging, the admission procedure to a fraternity or sorority is very difficult and takes a relatively long time, so that it is hardly worthwhile for a semester. But even without wild college parties, there is always something going on in San Diego.
Basically, the American system is quite different from that at the University of St. Gallen. The lectures are rather smaller, attendance is very important, is mostly checked and is part of the final grade, and the courses are more school-based, with several intermediate assignments and homework. We have often heard from previous exchange students that most courses require little effort, but in the end the effort was greater than expected due to many intermediate performances and group work. The level at the SDSU is also lower than at the HSG.
The course selection systemis also new and no longer works with course crahsing as it used to, but via a web portal that is similar to bidding at the HSG. Places in the course are not guaranteed for exchange students and American students always have priority in the waiting list system. For some of us, it was just now difficult to get a place in popular courses such as finance or microeconomics. Every ALI exchange student who has opted for the Undergraduate Business Courses program must also attend at least two special sessions that are specially offered for exchange students. A total of at least four courses, each with 3 units (= 6 ECTS), must be taken at undergraduate level in order to obtain Visa status. More courses can be chosen which then leads to an increase in the semester fees. However, it is advisable to pay this on site and not in advance. Are in terms of effortfour courses are easily feasible , even with five courses there is still enough time for excursions and travel.
BA 323 – Fundamentals of Finance (Prof. Dr. Andrew Do)
Fully creditable as finance at the University of St. Gallen
Dedicated lecturer, but one who is very difficult to understand. His lessons were a mixture of exhausting and very amusing . In terms of content, the course is not too demanding, although the exams become more difficult as the semester progresses. You could save yourself attending the course if there was no compulsory attendance, at the end you have to teach the majority of the material yourself. It was interesting that you can solve most of the tasks with a financial calculator, which you should definitely get yourself (available for about 50 dollars on Amazon). With a feasible effort, you can get very good grades. The book is very expensive and not worth buying.
ECON 321 – Intermediate Microeconomic Theory (Prof. Steve Rockland)
Creditable as Mikro II at the University of St. Gallen
Good lecturer who explains the subject matter in a structured and understandable manner. The course is easy to do with the appropriate effort. There are three exams and a final exam covering all of the material. Cheat sheets are allowed in all exams. The final exam contains a lot of material and is more difficult than the other exams. The book is very helpful for understanding and can be borrowed for about 30 dollars in the bookstore for the semester.
MGT 357 – Multinational Business & Comparative Management (Prof. Dr. Blue Robbins)
Creditable in the compulsory elective area and elective area at the University of St. Gallen
Rather boring course and very extensive, but not particularly demanding material. The lecturer reads mostly from the extensive slide sets. For the three exams you mainly have to learn the slides by heart and with the appropriate effort, the course is very feasible. In addition, there is a creative group project in the course, which was fun and varied , but also took up a lot of time. The book is very expensive and you really don’t need it for the course.
MGT 358 – Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship (Prof. Timothy C. Orlando)
Creditable in the elective area and reflective and cultural competence at the University of St. Gallen
Rather boring, but extensive course, the lecturer usually speaks for 2 hours without interruption and without supporting materials. The course focuses more on the theoretical side of entrepreneurship, if you are looking for a more practical approach, this course is more likely to be wrong. The grade is made up of two rather difficult and strictly graded exams and a participation grade. Attendance and good class notes are very important in this course. For the exams you have to learn a lot by heart and even with a lot of effort it is rather difficult to get good grades. It’s worth buying the book for around $ 30 on Amazon.
In summary, our semester in San Diego was a great time and we can only recommend it to everyone! An international experience, no matter where you end up at the end, is always an exciting and unforgettable time in which you also learn a lot personally. We have had a lot of great experiences, traveled a lot from San Diego and met a lot of cool people. However, if you are looking for an academic challenge or want to significantly improve your English skills, you are in the wrong place in San Diego.