Semester Abroad in UCSD

I spent my 7th semester at the end of 2017 as a semester abroad at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). In Germany, I’m studying media technology at the Technical University in Deggendorf. The organization of my voluntary semester abroad with MicroEDU worked great. Even before I sent my application, the girls responsible for North America and Canada always had an open ear for me. And even when it became clear that I would be accepted at the university I wanted, the exchange of information was flawless. Whenever a question arose, an answer came within a very short time. In the case of more complicated problems, I was given immediate help over the phone.

Course registration

A week before the actual courses start at UCSD in the Fall Quarter, there are some introductory events for the extension students, which also include the exchange students. Not only is the registration carried out, but everything is explained in detail, what-when-how-where must or can be done and, above all, how the course allocation functions. The UCSD system is a bit cumbersome and out of date, because you cannot enroll in the courses online like all “normal” students, but have to have a slip of paper signed by the respective professor and the relevant department. If you want to save yourself a lot of work and stress, you can think about which courses you want to take in advance. You should consider a lot more courses than you really need. Fortunately, that wasn’t necessary for me because I took all classes in the Visual Arts Department. Most of the other departments are much more crowded and the professors are usually more strict with the maximum number of people, as the courses are often larger than in the Vis-Arts Department. According to AbbreviationFinder, UCSD is the abbreviation of University of California San Diego.

The principle of the course “crashing” was only a problem for me because most of the lecturers had no experience with exchange students and were therefore a little overwhelmed with my concerns. Nevertheless, everyone was very friendly, found out how everything works and I was able to take all of my planned courses.


UCSD has everything to offer a student’s heart desires. Several gyms, hairdressers, coffee shops, bars, shops and much more. There is a lot on offer, especially in the Price Center, the heart of the campus. Because the campus in La Jolla is so large, there is a free shuttle bus for students. The connection to the public federal network from the campus is also a real luxury, at least for people like me – from the country.

As a German, you have to get used to the structure of the course. In most courses you have to write quizzes or hand in projects over and over again during the semester. These are then offset at the end together with the participation and attendance grade. The Americans don’t take homework and deadlines as seriously as I was used to at my German university. I had a lot of contact with American students through several group projects. So it was easy for me to make friends.

All in all, the study conditions at UCSD are absolutely great. In the so-called EnVision Lab, I had the opportunity to work with 3D printers myself or to use a laser cutter. I didn’t know that at all from my German university. The library is not only an absolute architectural highlight, but also has a lot to offer in terms of equipment (coffee shop, computer, charging options for cell phones, laptops etc., puzzle station, treadmills, and and and).

Life and leisure

The UCSD is located in La Jolla, a district of San Diego that is more northerly. Most American students live in University City, right next to the UC. However, because of its proximity to the beach, I decided to take an apartment in Pacific Beach (PB). I reserved a “shared room” in a larger apartment complex at an early stage. That wasn’t cheap, of course, but the facility was really well equipped with two hot tubs, a pool, a strength and cardio room, and several tennis and basketball courts.

I used the bus to get to the campus. In PB I was always on the road with the beach cruiser (bicycle). The shopping opportunities in PB are good and everything can be easily reached. My absolute highlight was the bus ride to the university. Bus route 30 runs right along the ocean and the journey is really breathtaking, especially at sunrise and sunset ! I will definitely never have such a “way to school” again!

California itself leaves nothing to be desired for globetrotters. I traveled to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Highway 1 with my boyfriend. But it is also worth traveling outside of the “Sunshine States”. The road trip through Death Valley to Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam and the West Rim of the Grand Canyon was an unforgettable experience.

If you are in the USA over Thanksgiving, I can only recommend visiting an American family and celebrating the Turkey Festival with them. I was lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving with distant relatives near Seattle. Traditional dishes are first served on Thursday and the day after – on “Black Friday” – there is real shopping.


Even though the tuition fees for UC San Diego are very high and life in California in general costs a lot of money – it was worth every penny! Life in the Sunshine State is anything but uncomfortable, even if there are occasional cultural differences. And San Diego is very safe and clean compared to other big cities like Los Angeles or San Francisco. My time in the USA was by far the best experience of my life !

Semester Abroad in University of California San Diego