University of California San Diego Student Review

Host university

The University of California, San Diego is in La Jolla, which is north of San Diego. The campus is relatively large by HSG standards and includes shopping centers, cinemas and other entertainment options.
As an exchange student, you will be affiliated with the UCSD Extension and not with the actual UCSD. This causes some inconvenience:

  • The final decision regarding the choice of course will be made at the end of the 3rd week (the quarter only lasts 10 weeks)
  • You have to pay extra for all leisure activities and use of the sports infrastructure.
  • You are not allowed to participate in the university sports teams
  • Printing and copying in the library is twice as expensive

A warning should also be given about the parking spaces: in particular, the parking spaces marked for undergraduate students are extremely decentralized on the one hand and extremely rare on the other. It is therefore advisable to cheat at the Parking Office and pretend to be a graduate. The prices for these parking spaces are a little higher, but there are enough of them.

Academic

The lessons in all of my courses were frontal, rather untypical for American standards. The pace of the lessons is slower than at the HSG. In contrast to the University of St. Gallen, the level of knowledge is checked in the middle of the trimester using one or two midterms. At the end of the semester, the entire content is tested in a three-hour exam.

I have attended the following three 4 units (= 6 ETCS) courses:

ECON178 Economic and Business Forecasting
PSYC3 General Psychology: Cognitive Foundations and
PSYC106 Introduction to Social Psychology
The business course is credited with 4 ETCS in the economics compulsory elective area and with 2 in the elective area. The two psychology courses are credited in context studies (ReKo and KuKo).
As mentioned earlier, choosing a course is pretty nerve-wracking. Around two months before the start of your studies, you will receive an email where you can sign up for the waiting list for ECON courses. It is advisable to do this immediately, as the free places in week 3 will be allocated using the list. The first person on the list can first choose which courses they want to take (if there is still space in the course). The ECON Department cannot be negotiated with itself. Regardless of the demand, no more places will be created if the course is full.

Living

There are actually three areas where you should look for rooms / apartments:

Mission Beach:
Pros:

  • Many American students live there, but from the other two universities (SDSU and USD)
  • Typical college night life with many house parties
  • Close to the beach and bay

Disadvantage:

  • Renting a car is essential
  • 30-minute journey, often an hour in rush hours
  • High housing prices

Pacific Beach:
Pros:

  • Lots of international students and tourists
  • Lots of bars and clubs

Disadvantage:

  • Renting a car is essential
  • A 20-30 minute journey, often an hour in rush hours
  • Housing prices

UTC / UCSD Area:
Advantages:

  • Proximity to the university
  • No need to rent a car: you can bike to the university
  • Many UCSD students live there

Disadvantage:

  • There is very little going on next to the university
  • From a technical point of view not ideal, as the journey to Pacific Beach or Downtown is long

A successful apartment search is best started on craigslist.com and shortly before flying to San Diego. The rooms are often advertised at short notice and allocated within a few days.
The cheapest car rental in San Diego is DirtCheap Car Rental. With the cheapest offer, however, you really get a “dirtcheap” car. The car should be reserved as early as possible, as the supply is limited and the demand is always quite high. Alternatively, you can also find many second-hand items on craigslist.com.

Conclusion

The exchange itself was great. California in general and San Diego in particular offer an incredible number of opportunities in terms of leisure activities and travel. The climate was ideal to bridge the rainy autumn months and to keep my triathlon training going. I was disappointed with the university that as an exchange student you were treated worse in all respects compared to the regular UCSD students and that the demands are significantly lower than at the HSG. Nevertheless, I recognize the advantage of the diversity of the UCSD. I was only able to complete psychology courses through the exchange, as these are not offered to this extent at the HSG.

UCSD Geisel Library 50th Anniversary