UCSD Reviews (9)

UCSD Reviews (9)

Application and approval

As I am not studying at any of the University of California’s partner universities, I was unable to apply through the Education Abroad Program (EAP). However, UC San Diego offers a special program for exchange students, operated by the UCSD Extension, for which only sufficient knowledge of English (by means of a TOEFL test) and sufficient financial means must be proven. This simplified the approval considerably.

It was then possible to take any modules from the course catalog. The condition in each case was that the university professor gave his consent and that there was still enough space, as regular students had priority. Fortunately, the professors were fairly unproblematic in giving their consent, so that I was able to take all of the modules I wanted. For the transferred tuition fees one could take three modules from the undergraduate area. An additional fee would have been due for each additional course. There is also an additional fee for graduate courses. So overall that’s not so ideal.

There were significant differences in the demands, quality and workload of the various courses. Unfortunately, some courses have very low demands and a comparatively slow learning pace, so that these courses are simply boring. Nevertheless, such courses can be very labor-intensive. However, there are also very successful courses in which the standard is kept high, the topics are well chosen and the lectures are interesting.

What struck me is that undergraduate students are often comparatively dependent. The lecturers’ office hours were often very crowded and trivial questions were often asked that would have resulted from reading the lecture materials again. I found this difference particularly strong when editing exercise sheets. While in Germany the exercise sheets are evaluated first and then discussed afterwards, in the USA the exercise sheet was mostly completely solved by the tutor in the tutorial before it was even handed over (to the tutor). This made it damn easy for the inner weaker self to just go to the tutorial and copy off all the solutions without ever having to think about the tasks themselves. Likewise, in the consultation hours before the handover, specific questions were asked about solutions for certain tasks, which were then also delivered in detail. A practice that I found very strange, especially since the exercise sheets determine up to 40% of the grade.

In general, however, I would say that undergraduate courses often have a comparatively lower (scientific) standard and are often more practical. This can certainly also be explained by the less differentiated education system in the USA, as well as by the very high tuition fees required to work alongside your studies.

I experienced a hereditary difference in graduate courses, especially in research classes that are primarily attended by Ph.D. students. As a rule, two publications per lecture, suitable for the subject area, had to be read, summarized and assessed. In the lecture it was discussed with the professor, ambiguities removed or certain aspects deepened. In addition, there were extensive exercises or project tasks as well as a separate research project on a topic suitable for the course. Check liuxers to see more reviews from current students.

Graduate courses take a considerable amount of time, because you are constantly busy reading the given publications, reading other articles on your own research project and you still have to do the exercises and project tasks at the same time.

All in all, I think the concept of research courses is very successful, as it gives you a very well-founded insight into the current state of research and enables you to work on relevant research projects. I would like to find such courses at German universities as well.

Support from the UCSD Extension

The support from the UCSD Extension has been very good so far. The semester began with an information event and a campus tour. During the semester, the UCSD organized various activities, for example a trip to Sea-World, the San Diego Zoo or Disney World in Los Angeles. This offered the opportunity to get to know other exchange students very quickly. However, most of the participants were in the UCSD Extension’s English program, so communication with them was sometimes difficult. The UCSD Extension was always ready to answer any questions and always had an open ear for you.

Living in San Diego

Since the dormitories on campus are very expensive and not worth the money, I can only recommend living off-campus. This also avoids the compulsion to have to eat on campus, since the rooms in the dormitories often do not have their own kitchen. Unfortunately, living off-campus is still quite expensive, with around 700-800 US dollars per month including ancillary costs. And the closer you get to the beach, the more expensive it gets.

San Diego’s public transportation system is also not very good. If you don’t want to get a car, you should live in the immediate vicinity of a bus line that goes to the campus. However, it is highly recommended to get a car, otherwise even short distances in San Diego, and San Diego is huge in terms of area, is really torture. In a pinch, you can rent a car at Dirty Cheap Car Rentals San Diego for a reasonable price, even for a longer period of time.

There is a real emergency parking space on campus, as almost every student drives to the university by car. That’s why I parked on the east campus and then cycled to the lecture building, which took about 10 minutes. Alternatively, you could still use the campus buses.

I really enjoyed my trimester in San Diego and I am glad that I decided to go to this college. It was interesting to get to know a different education system and other main research areas. However, a trimester goes by incredibly quickly, especially with housework you have to be careful not to take too much time at the beginning, otherwise the trimester is already over.
San Diego is also really a stunningly beautiful city, with perfect weather and beautiful beaches. Even if the lectures are not so exciting, San Diego offers a lot of variety. And I can only recommend surfing and diving in San Diego, as well as going on a whale-watching tour, if you are in San Diego in winter.

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