Nico in San Diego

Table of Contents

Overall Thoughts & Feelings

If you like good weather, surfing, and a laid-back lifestyle and have a lot of money to spend, San Diego is the perfect place for you. I definitely had some of the best months of my life here, met amazing people, and dived deep into Southern California culture. It’s for sure a very special place in the states, because of its amazing weather, great beaches, beautiful sunsets, and most importantly super laid-back and friendly people.


  • Approx 3000$/ month.
  • Living: 1250$ for a private room in a shared house per month but rent prices are steadily increasing.
  • Food: 400-600$ a month, exponentially more when you go on dates.
  • Parties: Cover between 10-30$; Beer mostly around 8-14$ but can also be much more, long drinks between 12-25$.
  • Trips: Depends where you go – A lot of things in California can be done by car; SD offers cheap flights to some destinations but flights are definitely more expensive than Ryanair flights in Europe.
  • Car: It is recommendable to rent a car in your time here as San Diego’s Public Transport is not the best. There is a special car rental place that rents used cars for quite fair prices. You pay 600$ a month but can ideally share it with roommates and friends so it will be less.


I lived in a shared house in the East College area, approx 15-20 min or 5 min by bike from University. I liked it here as you’re very close to Campus and there are always tons of parties going on, although it can be quite tough to get into one of the Frat parties there if you do not know anyone. The downside is, that the college area is about a 15-20 min car ride from Downtown or the Beaches, which is where most of the Bars, Clubs, and cool things are happening. On the day you can somewhat rely on public transport to get there but if you wanna go back from parties there at night you’ll need an Uber. Quite some exchange students lived at Pacific Beach, which is the Party Area and really gives you the Southern Cali vibes as you can walk to the beach and go for a surf every day if you want. I would be intrigued to choose this option if I had the option again, but this would definitely be even more costly, as rent is around 1450$ there and you will for sure need a car to get to University.

The university and some supermarkets and food chains were close. You’ll have the classic college life there which is really nice, but honestly, the area could be anywhere in the US, so you don’t have the California Beach life living here. Still, I would say 60-70% of exchange students choose this option.


Campus life is very nice, there is a lot going on in terms of events and especially sports events like Basketball and Football. You also have an amazing gym and swimming pool on campus which you can use basically all year long. There are also really good music acts coming to Campus as they have a really good arena.


  • Strategic Brand Management: You learn a lot about branding and its different facets here. The professor is amazing and very skilled in terms of his teaching methods but also demands a lot as he did his MBA at Harvard and applies their teaching methods to the class. Participation is super important here, you’ll discuss cases in this class every week that you’ll need to prepare, but they are honestly really interesting and helpful. Also the guest speakers he brings in are amazing.
  • Product Innovation: Similar to WU’s Innovation, but quite a lot better, as you go through all the Design Thinking stages with an innovation for a company of your choice. Other than that everyone needs to prepare a Case and there is a final exam
  • Advertising Campaigns: Easy class with a mediocre teacher. It was her first year teaching so maybe it’ll improve in the future, but overall many of the concepts here are kind of general knowledge. You’ll get an easy A though
  • Advertising Creative: Amazing class which will give you skills in all the major Adobe programs. It is incredibly hands-on, the teacher is the founder of one of California’s biggest independent ad agencies and has tons of experience but is also super nice. Can for sure recommend this class if you want to get some experience in the graphic design part of marketing.

Level of difficulty depends on the subject but is kind of comparable to most of the MSc Marketing classes, except for the two advertising classes that are a bit easier


Sadly the university did not organize any specific events for international students, except for an introduction at the beginning. There are, however, quite a lot of cool events for all the Freshmen at the beginning. If you are open-minded you’ll definitely find friends, but it requires some effort, especially in the graduate exchange. Also, exchange people tend to stay in their nationality groups sadly and there are a LOT of Germans and some Austrians there that stick together (and by a lot I mean 200-300, it’s crazy). Obviously, it can be fun to hang out with people from the same nationality, but I’d encourage everyone to try their best to break out of this bubble and hang out with other nationalities or especially make American friends. The main reason why my time here was so unique and incredible is definitely thanks to the many American friends I made, which for sure required more effort and proactiveness but was so much worth it.

Places to Visit

As San Diego is already such a cool (and expensive place) I did not travel too much as I wanted to enjoy my time here. I visited friends in Chicago and New York and did a trip to Northern California and Yosemite at Thanksgiving which I would definitely recommend as there is again such a different vibe up there and the nature is incredible.

Country & City Vibes

The lifestyle in San Diego is as SoCal as it gets, you can go surfing, hang out at the beach, and play all kinds of sports. The parties are super fun and you can have the best of both worlds, by having a real college experience on campus but also having the California experience when you leave the area.

Everyone is super nice and friendly and really individualistic. People can for sure be quite superficial and fake sometimes, but you’ll find your way to deal with that and see when people actually mean what they say and when not.

Public transport is quite bad and can get even a bit dangerous at night if you are a girl (at least that’s what I heard, I mostly felt fine as a guy). Having a car will definitely make things easier.

Surfing, partying, trying amazing food, and just enjoying SoCals endless sun. Trust me, it’s worth the crazy prices

San Diego itself is very safe for a big American city. Of course, you see way more homeless (and crazy) people compared to Vienna, but that’s just how it is in the US.


Honestly, as long as you have all your documents, the visa process is quite easy. You’ll get a letter from SDSU in early June that you’ll need for that – I advise you to start applying for the visa right on that day, as it takes a few weeks to get an embassy appointment. The visa costs around 400$ in total.

Message us on LinkedIn

Message us on Instagram

Message us via E-Mail