America's Finest City
San Diego is a wonderful city that offers an excellent opportunity for international students to study, live and explore. San Diego is known as “America’s Finest City,” a reputation it has earned from its beautiful weather, clean streets, sunny beaches, and cultural activities. Three San Diego beaches, including La Jolla Shores, were named among the best 25 in the U.S. by TripAdvisor. At 1,200 acres, San Diego's Balboa Park is also the nation's largest urban cultural park and home to 19 museums, botanical gardens, cultural venues, and the San Diego Zoo. Because of its wonderful climate and lifestyle, San Diego is a center for surfing, sailing, golf, hiking, and almost any other sport that you can think of.
San Diego is the 8th largest city in the U.S. and an important intellectual hub, yet it also retains a relaxed atmosphere. Ranked the second most inventive city in the world by Forbes magazine and first in the nation in the number of patents (with 3.6 patents for every 1,000 workers), the city is full of entrepreneurialism -- it is a center for hi-tech business: electronics, telecommunications, and biotechnology.
San Diego Attractions
Its year-round mild climate, beautiful beaches, and proximity to many other California attractions make San Diego the ideal location for a variety of leisure activities, such as:
- Exploring beaches, deserts, and mountains
- Hiking and biking
- Tennis, golf, soccer, beach volleyball, and any outdoor sport
- Swimming, surfing, kayaking, and sailing
- Paragliding and hang-gliding
- Visiting museums, like the USS Midway Museum, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, or the San Diego Museum of Art
- Enjoying theatrical performances
- Experiencing symphonic and other musical performances
- Shopping at malls and boutiques all over the city
- Eating out at excellent restaurants
- Participating in cultural events, like the San Diego County Fair, Comic-Con, or December Nights
- Visiting the world-famous San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, or Sea World
- Winter and Spring gray whale watching
- Running the Rock n' Roll Marathon or many other fun races
For more information on San Diego, visit: sandiego.org
San Diego Weather
San Diego enjoys beautiful weather year round with an average daily temperature of 21.4°C (70.5°F).
Taking a Bus
A bus pass costs approximately $75 per month and provides unlimited use of the public buses and trolleys in San Diego. Please contact us at email@example.com for the most current bus pass options and locations where you can purchase a bus pass.
Visit the San Diego Public Transit website to see the bus route maps and schedules.
UC San Diego Shuttles
UC San Diego offers free shuttle bus services Monday through Friday, all year (except holidays). Some shuttles run through the academic year only, with reduced services during academic breaks and summer. To learn more about the operation times and maps please see UC San Diego shuttle routes.
Renting a Car
Renting a car might be your easiest option if you do not plan to live close to campus. You will need a valid driver’s license to drive in the U.S. Come into the International Student Services Office in Building E and ask for information about renting a car.
Visit the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website for more information about driving in California.
Riding a Bike
A bike is a good choice for those planning to live on or near campus. There are several places in San Diego where you can buy a bike, including the Campus Bike and Skate shop, located at the Student Center. You'll find a great selection of bikes and skateboards, plus accessories, parts, and a full-service repair shop. If you plan to live in San Diego for a while, you may choose to buy a bike. UC San Diego has partnered with SPIN to offer shared bikes and eScooters on campus. These shared bikes and scooters are available for use on-campus only.
Taking the Train
Travel between north San Diego County (beach cities of Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, and Solana beach), the UC San Diego campus, and downtown San Diego by riding “The Coaster”. This commuter train operates Monday though Friday (except holidays). For schedules and fare information visit gonctd.com.
If you are a visitor in California over 18 years old and have a valid driver license from your home state or country (where you live permanently), you may drive in California without getting a California driver license as long as your home license remains valid. However, because local police may not be able to verify a foreign license as valid or current, you may still be cited for driving without a driver license. Therefore, UC San Diego recommends that you obtain a California driver license if you plan to drive while you are a student here. An international driver license is not the same thing as a license from your country and it is not recognized by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
If you would like a California driver license, follow these steps:
- Make an appointment through the DMV website.
- Go to the DMV on your appointment day with your passport, I-94 Arrival/Departure Record, and Address Verification. You may request an Address Verification from firstname.lastname@example.org. You must have these documents to prove your identity and legal status.
- You will be asked to complete an application, give a thumb print, have your picture taken, and pay the $41 application fee.
- You will also be asked for a Social Security Number (SSN). If you have an SSN, you must provide it. If you don’t have one, tell the DMV clerk that because you have a non-immigrant visa and you don’t have a job, you are not eligible for an SSN, and therefore you are exempt from this requirement.
- You must pass a vision exam and a test about traffic laws and signs. See an example of a test and download a study guide.
After you pass the written test, you must make an appointment to take a driving test. To take the driving test, you will need to:
- Make a behind-the-wheel driving test appointment on the DMV website here. To make an appointment over the phone, you can call 1-800-777-0133 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday. Driving tests are not given without an appointment.
- Provide proof of auto insurance. You must have liability car insurance to drive in California.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
The DMV issues driver licenses and picture identification (ID) cards. If you purchase a car, it is also the place to go to have the ownership title put in your name and to register it. Visit the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website for more information. The DMV has several offices in the San Diego area.
Opening a Bank Account
In the United States it is easier and safer to use checks and credit cards, rather than using cash. We advise you not to carry large amounts of cash with you. It is best to open an account at a bank. This way you can take money out of the account whenever you need it. Most banks are open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m. Some also are open half days on Saturdays. In order to open an account at most banks, you will need to have two valid I.D.s. A passport and a UCSD photo I.D. are usually sufficient.
Full Service Banking nearest to UC San Diego
- University Credit Union
9500 Gilman Drive (on campus first flow of Price Center)
- BluePeak Credit Union
9375 Russel Lane, Ste. 120 (on campus first flow of Gilman Parking Structure)
- Chase Bank
8807 Villa La Jolla Drive
- Bank of America
8813 Villa La Jolla Drive (on Nobel Dr.)
- US Bank
4660 La Jolla Village Drive
- Wells Fargo
4315 La Jolla Village Drive (at UTC)
- Wells Fargo
8657 Villa La Jolla Drive (inside Ralph's)
8813 Villa La Jolla Drive