So now it’s up to me to write an experience report, I still remember how I scrolled through the experience report myself to find out what it is like in San Diego.
The university is beautiful and the campus is really huge. 30,000 students cavort here and as soon as the first week starts, there is also a lot going on here.
I think the first few weeks at university are the most stressful. Because of the status as an ALI student you have to “crash” into all courses that you need. This can be quite time consuming at times. I was “lucky” that I had already taken many subjects in Germany and therefore actually only needed one economics course. Here I took Intermediate Microeconomics, which was offered three times. I then organized my other subjects around this course. I worked out various alternative timetables and then tried to attend the courses and get one of the coveted places. However, since there were a lot of international students at the SDSU and the regular students crash into the courses, this can be difficult. I then decided on a Spanish course for beginners and a marketing course. After 3 weeks my courses were finally fixed and I had managed to only have to go to university for 8 hours on Mondays and Wednesdays. Read more student reviews on Toppharmacyschools.
For a small fee ($ 25 a month), every student can use the university’s own fitness studio (a real fitness temple!) And the swimming pool. I would recommend it to everyone, because it is definitely worth it, for such equipment you would have to pay a little more monthly fees in a gym here in Germany.
The professors were actually all really nice and always available for questions personally or by email, really great! I can only recommend Professor Quazi Shariar as an economics professor, super nice and really great! In Spanish I had Joseph Keliher, who was also totally relaxed and helpful. I can only recommend the Spanish course 101 with him, because through the many exercises I also got to know some people through the course.
Exams, exams, grades…
Unlike in Germany, in the USA you have to do a lot more during the semester, there are various exams and midterms, and homework and small quizzes are also often graded. However, the whole thing is very fair. The quizzes in my microeconomics course were usually very similar to the practice problems that you had been given as homework the previous hour.
In Spanish, I was even able to do my quizzes online. Sometimes it even pays off if you keep on working hard during the semester. In my economics course, for example, the regulation was such that 2 major exams could be included in the grade. In other words, if you had already solved the first two fairly well (although an A did not cause any major problems with a little preparation), then you could save yourself the last exam and the final exam. Class! This gave me more time to concentrate on the final grades for my other events, on the one hand a presentation in Marketing (Consumer & Buyer Behavior at Mrs. Mead) and my Spanish exams.
In summary, it can be said that the level of difficulty was well below my usual standard here in Munich and that studying was accordingly relaxed.
The city, the people, the life:
DREAMY! I think it’s an understatement. San Diego presents itself as a relaxed city of millions. At first I didn’t believe it, but San Diego doesn’t bear the title Americas Finest City for nothing. All the people are really nice and relaxed. The weather was perfect almost all the time (20-30 degrees with constant sunshine).
Due to the proximity to Mexico there are of course tons of Mexican food stalls and restaurants and they can be really addicting! Burritos are absolutely delicious and I don’t even want to know how many chicken and California burritos I’ve eaten in six months. Senior Pancho at the university is a very good and inexpensive address.
Bars, pubs, discos:
Most of it takes place in Pacific Beach or downtown San Diego. Pacific Beach is more of the relaxed area where surfers and flip-flops go out. My tip: Wednesdays in the Typhoon Saloon, there is an 80ties cover band every Wednesday and there is always something going on, really recommendable! Otherwise, classic PB Bar and Grill is on weekends. Another insider tip is the Dog in PB on Wednesdays when you can get a glass of beer for a dollar!
Downtown, on the other hand, is a lot more chic, the best thing to do is check into the Envy: a fantastic view over San Diego!
Of course, San Diego also has a lot to offer. Seaworld comes to mind as one of the first things, of course, but in my opinion it is not necessarily worth the money, because apart from the Shamu and the dolphin show it doesn’t really have anything exciting to offer. A detour to the zoo and the Wild Animal Park is more worthwhile, as there are also combination tickets at the university.
It is also worth driving up Mount Soledad near La Jolla, as you can see all of San Diego from there, which is very impressive both during the day and at night.
The port is well worth a visit and you should also allow 3.4 hours to explore the MSS Midway aircraft carrier. In September there is always a huge air show near San Diego at the Miramar Airbase. Entry to this is free. The visit is definitely worth it, as you can also see a classic American major event including pure patriotism. You can think of what you want, but it was interesting if you could have applied a little less thick.
There is also a Pacific Islander Festival in autumn where you can bring a little Hawaii to San Diego: Hula dancers, drummers and Hawaiian food and souvenirs. Entry is also free.
How did the semester go for me?
I arrived in San Diego a week before the start of the semester and, on the recommendation of a friend, had stayed at the YMCA Downtown, as it also had the cheapest single rooms. But first of all: Find another accommodation! The YMCA houses all kinds of weird guys, junkies, dealers, homeless people, you can hear the sirens all night and my room was also above the kitchen exhaust. At least there was free wifi, so I found my permanent room pretty soon via craigslist.org.
In the first few days I got myself a cell phone and a GPS. For my cell phone, I opted for a prepaid from T-Mobile. This has the advantage that there is a tariff with which you could make free calls between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. local time. This can be very practical, because in America you pay when you make a phone call even when someone calls you. Here’s another tip: in order to call Germany, it is worthwhile to register for free on peterzahlen.de. There you can call from Germany for 30 minutes on American cell phones free of charge. When the 30 minutes are over, you can of course call again if you like. It doesn’t get cheaper than that!
I had placed an ad on sandiego.craigslist.org and a nice lady answered. She was Indonesian, had lived in Germany for a number of years and had a room available. My accommodation was about 10 minutes by car from the university and the accommodation with the family meant that I cooked from time to time. There was already a bed in my room and via craigslist I was able to organize a desk and chair very quickly and cheaply.
Yes, you should have a car, otherwise I don’t think you will be really happy. That’s just my personal opinion, but I was happy that I bought a car and was therefore always flexible and independent and was able to explore the region on my days off. I tried to get a car through craigslist, but unfortunately I couldn’t find it. Finally I went to the Giant Tentsale in Qualcomm Stadium and found my car there. Trading was worthwhile here and so I was able to lower the price of the dealer properly. I bought an American model because it was very cheap and luckily I had the chance to sell the car for a good price before my flight home. All in all a bit riskier, but at least that way I got some money back. If you want to rent a cheap car: Dirtcheapcars are the cheapest, but there are quite a few junk mills, but they drive. I got my first rental car for the first few days from a rental company in Little Italy, but it wasn’t the cheapest. You may look in advance whether you can rent something from Germany, but here I have no experience of what that costs.
As soon as you buy a car, it must of course also be insured. I chose Progressives, who also offered very good service. So I once locked my keys in the car totally idiot and after a short call someone was there within half an hour to help me, everything through my insurance. Many insurance companies also insure with the German driver’s license, but I decided to get the California driver’s license, cost: 28 dollars. Is also quite easy to do. Theory has to be looked at a bit and can be repeated immediately if it is not passed. You have to do practice a few weeks later, but it’s not difficult either. The good thing about the California driver’s license is that it is proof of age, ie
I had signed up with the ADAC with a deductible of 50 euros. A little tip: if you really have something, either go to the health care center of the university or to an emergency room. Just not to one of the local Urgent Care Stations, they are all whistling and only cost extra. I had to see a doctor once and unfortunately didn’t have this knowledge beforehand, which meant that the whole thing dragged on a little longer than needed.
The surrounding area, excursions etc.
At the weekend I had plenty of time to see the region. And you should definitely do that.
Only about 2 hours away by car and on a nice day (and there are a lot of them…) a nice route to drive. But be careful: the traffic here becomes merciless at rush hour, nothing works here and you are just stuck in a traffic jam.
During my trips to LA I was always checked into a shared room in the Banana Bungalow in West Hollywood and I can only recommend the hostel. Breakfast was included (nothing special, but at least) and the people were all super nice.
In Hollywood itself you should take a look at the Rainbow Room on the Sunset Strip, here the local Rock N Roll celebrities run across your way every now and then and maybe you are like me and you meet Lemmy here in his local pub or see B -Real from Cypress Hill behind the counter.
In addition to the classic destinations such as Hollywood Blvd., Chinese Theater and Hollywood Sign, a drive on the Old Canyon Mountain Road is worthwhile. A wonderful old route through an impressive hilly landscape.
I decided not to go to San Francisco by car, but to fly. Virgin America has very comfortable and cheap flights from San Diego, I flew for 130 there and back.
In San Francisco I had taken a bed in the dorm of the Green Tortoise Hostel and I can only recommend it to everyone, because during my entire stay this was the best of all hostels. It’s also very cheap and from there you can explore the city very well and in the evenings there is always something going on in the large ballroom-like common room, street musicians come or someone makes live music, in any case I’ve met people from all over the world here, with them I still have contact today.
About 5 hours away by car and definitely worth the trip. The best thing to do is to organize a somewhat larger group, because then you can share a large double room with four people, as the beds there are big enough (we stayed at the Luxor for 2 nights (great!) And paid $ 77 per person, one before that Night at the Hooters Hotel and paid just 12.50 per person for a double room (!!) from Thursday to Friday!
The many hotels here are of course worth seeing. If you want to go out at night and are male, you can get vouchers from many taxi drivers to save you entry or at least to be let in at all. Girls actually always come to the clubs for free. My recommendation is the Moon Club in the Palms, because it is on the 53rd floor and you have an impressive view over the whole of Las Vegas. In LAX, the Club of Luxor, which you can visit for free as a hotel guest or with a voucher, you also meet faces known around the world again and again (this is how J-Lo celebrated here during our excursion in Las Vegas).
However, the best club in my opinion was the Wasted Space at the Hard Rock Hotel. Just take a look!
A detour to the Hofbräuhaus is not only worthwhile for the real Bavarians, but for everyone who would like to take the chance to get real Bavarian beer in a perfect replica of the real Hofbräuhaus.