As we already had a little insight to the lovely Californian life, I will try not to repeat what the mhmk’lers on the (almost) “island” already shared.
25 students from all over Germany came together to spend their semester abroad in “America’s finest city” (aka. San Diego). As with most other private universities the National University of cause is not as popular as the big State University of San Diego:
“Oh, you’re studying here? So, are you’re studying at the SDSU (San Diego State University)?”
“No, I’m studying at the National University.“
Although the SDSU is more popular, still the NU is the second biggstest private univesity of the Sate of California and it is one of the highest in the university rankings. The average age of the students is 35, which was not exactly what we expected. The reason for that is that the majority of the people studying at the NU already gained work-experience, and now want to catch upon their missing degree. Which in the end doesn’t even matter because we’re not studying together with Americans anyways; actually not even with other International Students. The monthly courses the mhmk students visit are mostly designed especially for them. Results in the fact that it is just us 25 studying together. This is bit of a pity- most of the students here would have loved to share classes with American students. Well, at least we had the chance to switch our morning classes to evening classes in October, so we can join an American course at least for 1 month (evening= 5 pm – 10 pm, but worth it). Though having some more English speaking students around would have been desirable, the uni is still really meeting our expectations. The building is really nice (it’s a bit cold in it but I think we all get used to the AC), the professors are really nice, the people from the international office are friendly, welcoming and always busy planning new trips to any kinds of attractions SD has to offer and (most important) the WLAN always works ;). We just started our September course last Tuesday… What should be mentioned by now is that we only have one course per month (on 2 days/week). Simple calculations thus show that we only have 8 sessions to visit per month. This sounds like a ridiculously little number- which indeed it is; though it not at all less work than in Germany; there is a lot more homework at American Universities than it is common at the mhmk. We have to write at least one assignment per week (mostly including a research, analysis and empiric study in form of an interview). Unfortunately it sounded much more like a “bed of roses” than it turned out to be in the end.
All in all, you can say that uni-life(though it actually hasn’t really started yet) is fun in San Diego. The professor is really nice and the assignments are challenging, but fun. Our first course is called “Intercultural Communication” and our really professor takes that literally. We are spending more time outside the classroom than having actual lectures. In the 2 classes we had until now, we already went to the Balboa Park to the Mingei museum, to the San Diego Magazine to talk to the owner and to a presentation at the library. For our homework each of us got a random city and a random country assigned (e.g. Iraq and Memphis), about which we have to research various aspects, as well as we have to find people from the assigned country, who are living in San Diego, to talk to- it is kind of challenging, but even more fun!
San Diego as a city is a great place to study. The NU is about 15 minutes’ drive to Pacific Beach. The harbor and beaches are beautiful and everybody enjoys hanging out there. There are so many different places to visit in San Diego; there is no time for boredom. But one thing that definitely needs to be mentioned is that it is nearly impossible to come around without a car. Many of us were too optimistic towards the public transport system here in SD. Renting a car simply makes it much easier. The distances are really far (much farer than the most of us would have guessed) and there are affordable car rental companies around SD, so nearly all of us are mobile right now.
San Diego has dozens of shopping malls and outlets– which makes it a real paradise for all the girls here! Also the districts “Downtown” and “Hillcrest” are so much fun to visit. Not only the shops, but also the huge variety of restaurants is great for all people, who love to try new food (from all kinds of nationalities).
Downtown, which is really touristy during the day, becomes a real hotspot at night. This is where the nightlife happens. There are many great clubs, bars and pubs all over the place. Unfortunately most of them are really expensive (about 20 dollars to get in), but if you come early it is definitely worth it (as all clubs are closing at 2 am- which is something a German student definitely needs to get used to). To go out a bit less expensive but with of course with as much fun, most people go to pacific beach. That’s where all the students hang out and party. Unfortunately (as we all know) partying/ drinking alcohol is prohibited for people under the age of 21 and San Diego’s Clubs and Bars are really strict with that. There is no chance to get in without your passport (ID is not valid).
But still, besides partying there is so much more to do in SD. You can visit Balboa Park (a really beautifully arranged park with many museums to visit), go to Oldtown (an old Mexican-American district, where you can find lots of little shops),drive over to Coronado Island (to go to the beach or simply visit the beautiful town of Coronado) and so much more.
All in all, everyone seems really happy here and San Diego seems to be a great choice for a semester abroad!
Lots of sunny greatings from America’s findest city :).