I completed a 6-week language course (Session A) at San Diego State University and spent about 3 months in total in San Diego . Before that, of course, there was still a lot to be done. VISA , international health insurance, proof of my parents’ bank accounts and a few other forms. That sounds like more effort than it actually is. Nevertheless, you should plan enough time (at least 3 months) before the start of the trip so as not to be under time pressure afterwards.
If everything is then prepared, you can start . I will only roughly address the individual points, as everything else would go beyond the scope and, in my opinion, you should also make your own picture.
Fortunately, I found a room in a 4-person shared apartment in an apartment complex (Sterling Apartments) near the university through your website Facebook group . For that I had to stay in a hostel in downtown for the first 5 days, but that didn’t pose a problem. On the contrary, I can warmly recommend the Lucky D’s Hostel, as you could meet new people quickly and it’s really not too expensive.
The room in the 4-person flat share in Sterling Apartments was very expensive, but you had your own room and bathroom, which is not necessarily the rule in the USA . The apartment complex also offers study rooms, modern PC rooms, common rooms, a small fitness studio and 2 pool areas . On top of that, you only travel one station with the trolley to the university, which suits all people who like to get up a little later
I ended up staying in Pacific Beach for a few more days. Life is much more relaxed there overall, you have everything you need around the corner and you can walk to the beach. In the end you have to decide for yourself. In my opinion, the beach area (PB, MB) is much nicer to live in , but I was also happy to live right next to the university in order to save time in the morning. If you want to live on the beach, you absolutely need a car, which I would recommend to everyone anyway. The trolley is unreliable, slow and you meet a lot of homeless people who are pretty crazy every now and then.
University / language course
If your choice fell on the SDSU, you have already done a lot right. The campus is beautiful, resembles a small village and offers everything that is needed for studying. Food, sports, entertainment, swimming pool etc.
In retrospect, the language course itself was the right choice. I was “warned” beforehand that this could possibly be a bit too undemanding, as many Asians with a significantly weaker level of English come there. However, since you were classified with a longer test at the beginning, you can learn a lot at a high level (106/107) in my opinion. There are passages or lessons that are perhaps a little less demanding, but overall I was able to significantly expand my vocabulary and was still not overwhelmed;) Ultimately, it is the relatively high price that hit me a bit on the stomach in retrospect. In other words, for the price I was asked a little too little.
Still, I don’t want to miss the time. At university I got to know the majority of my friends , with whom I spent the time in San Diego (and now also beyond). The teachers and the lessons themselves were always fun and in the end I even missed the lessons. Check act-test-centers to see more reviews from current students.
If the full program (session A + B) is too expensive for you, I recommend that you only do session A. That costs only half and you can learn a lot in the 6 weeks. You have to take into account, however, that most of the other students do both sessions (that’s how it was in my case) and then you’re the “only one” who isn’t at the university. Nevertheless, I still had contact with the people from the university, always had to wait until they had time off and had time for activities.
Sunshine State is not just a slogan , except in the gray month of May (‘Gray May’) the sun shines every day and you can enjoy the weather to the fullest. With the weather comes the Californian lifestyle , which is very relaxed and casual, especially in the beach areas. Americans as a whole are very open and friendly. In the beginning it is a bit strange when you are asked by the petrol station cashier, for example, how the day went and what is still going on today, but you get used to it over time. To be honest, after a while I found these nice conversations really interesting because you kept getting to know new people. Back in Germany I missed this openness .
Otherwise, San Diego and the surrounding area offer everything you need in terms of leisure technology. During the day you can go to the beach and relax or surf. Downtown, on the other hand, you can shop or stroll along the Seaport Village. The Balboa Park with the huge zoo, Old Town (Mexican) or the Torrey Pines Cliffs for hiking or paragliding are always worth a visit .
There are also plenty of options for party lovers at night. Either go to bars in Pacific Beach, which are very casual and often also have a dance floor on the second floor. Here you can go out for a drink / party with a t-shirt or short pants. We particularly recommend Taco Tuesday in Typhoon, which, in addition to a cheap offer of tacos and magaritas, mutates into a party temple and is a hit with all students (including Americans) every Tuesday. Downtown also has a lot of parties on the weekend. We recommend the Omnia and Parq as well as Fluxx on some days. Downtown is generally more chic and significantly more expensive (long drink at least $ 12), which means you have to dress appropriately and bring money with you. We recommend the party bus, which leaves the university and a few student residences every weekend and takes you directly to the club. At half past one (curfew) the bus picks everyone up and drives back. This saves money and the party bus always offers one or the other highlight for party-mad Americans;)
If you want to get out of San Diego, you can quickly take a rented car to Huntington Beach, LA (Venice Beach etc.) or take longer tours to Long Beach, Malibu or Santa Barbara. A tip is definitely the Potato Chip Rock about an hour outside of San Diego, from which you get a magnificent view of endless landscapes.
That’s it in a nutshell, if you still have doubts I can only say that despite all the reservations, it is definitely a must to make this trip. I had a wonderful 3 months and it was even better than I imagined I will return as soon as I get the chance.