Tell me what's cool about San Diego and/or UCSD.

I’m considering a job-based move to San Diego, and possibly, grad school (engineering or physics) at UCSD. This is actually in the opposite direction of where I’d like to move (further up on the Pacific Northwest, ideally) but hey, it’s not Indiana, so I’m open to it. So, those of you who do, have, or willun live/lived/would live in San Diego, tell me what’s cool about the town. Housing prices, pubs, publid venues, fun places to pass time or pass out, et cetera.

So, whatdoyaday? What’s good about San Diego?


I hear there’s a nice zoo there, and a rather famous amusement park in nearby Anaheim, some sort of aquatic park, too; it’s also a hop, skip & a jump from Baja California if you want to go down to Ensenada.

Plus, sun, sand, scantily-clad college students cavorting on said sand, etc.

UCSD Revelle College '81 checking in here.

Yep, I’m old and my info is undoubtedly out of date, but I really enjoyed my time there. I lived on campus the entire time, except for my junior year when I participated in the Education Abroad Program. The UCSD campus has grown significantly and one or two more undergraduate colleges have opened up since my time there.

In case you are unaware of it, the undergraduate student body is divided into colleges which are supposed to represent slightly differing philosophies of undergraduate education. Revelle tries to turn out Renaissance men and women; non-science majors have to take a bit more science then they would elsewhere; conversely science majors have to take more humanities and social science. Revelle was known as a science and engineering school, but we could major in anything, and I majored in German literature. And that’s true of the other Colleges as well; you can major in anything, in any of them. Since you’re contemplating grad school, you won’t be a member of one of the Colleges, but on the other hand, you’ll likely be a TA, so it helps to know something about the undergrads you’ll be assistant teaching.

It sounds like a cliche but you’ll be near some of the most beautiful beaches in California, and the weather is noticeably warmer than L.A.'s. Similarly, there’s even less rain, so if dry warm weather isn’t your thing, you may not like it much.

The community is somewhat like L.A., only smaller, and I would say even more laid back. The Zoo is world famous, and justly so. You won’t have the same amount of cultural offerings available as in L.A., or even S.F., but the city does possess some cultural jewels of its own. The Timken Gallery’s is one of the best collections of Old Masters in the state; the collection includes one of the 40-odd extant paintings by Pieter Breugel the Elder.

I’m sure others will be along with more info, but in short I’d have to say I was really happy going to school there.

God, I am old, getting my dates mixed up!

I graduated in '80.

What’s cool about San Diego? Other than the fact that I live here? Heh, just kidding.

Housing costs ARE NOT COOL. This is an extremely expensive area to live in. Last year my 1BR apartment near Clairemont Mesa (which is kind of in the geographic middle of things) ran me $785/month. I am now in a 1BR condo a few miles away that I purchased for $256K. So it’s a tough place to afford housing-wise. And incomes, while maybe higher than some other cities, don’t really increase to keep up. SD is one of the least “affordable” places to live - in other words, it’s not the most expensive market, but the amount of people here who can afford the median homeprice is lower than most.

Anyway, having said that, I absolutely love it here. I grew up in LA, so I’m used to the Southern California weather - I don’t need 4 distinct seasons, so it’s probably most of what I love about the place. YMMV. It’s less congested than LA (though each year I think the difference lessens).

It’s not as culturally unique as LA, but it’s still got some good stuff. It’s a big enough city that you’ll get some good concerts coming through, though sometimes a drive to Irvine or LA is in order for some stuff. There are some art museums, plenty of theaters (some of the smaller ones I’ve started to discover in the past year or so), some pretty decent restaurants.

If you like outdoor activities like biking, hiking, swimming, sailing, etc. you’ll find plenty of opportunity for that. Mission Bay Park is a huge conglomeration of beaches, grassy areas, bike paths and such that are good for weekend picnics and things like that. Torrey Pines preserve has some good hiking right on the ocean, and it’s a great view of the water. Farther inland there are some nature preserves and hiking areas that are good for hiking, running, biking, etc.

SeaWorld and Legoland are of course the big attractions, and quite honestly, I don’t bother with them. The zoo (and the rest of Balboa Park) is a fun place to walk through. Lots of the museums in town are in Balboa Park, and it’s also a good place for a picnic.

Nightlife: you’d probably want to spend time in either Pacific Beach or downtown in the Gaslamp District. Both areas have high quantities of restaurants/bars/nightclubs. Gaslamp is a little hipper and fancier, whereas PB generally caters to the younger, college crowd. I’m not as familiar with the Gaslamp area, but I’ve done my time in PB bars. :slight_smile:

UCSD is very highly regarded, as I’m sure you’re probably aware. It’s definitely a well-respected local institution, and would be a great addition to your resume, for sure.

There are lots of great cities out there with a lot to offer, but I just love it here, and would be hard pressed to move anywhere else. I don’t hold it out to be the greatest city on earth, but it works for me, and I find I’m able to find the entertainment I want and the job opportunities I need. I’ve lived here since I came down from LA for college in 1991, but I really consider it my home.

If you have specific questions (neighborhoods to live in, etc.) feel free to ask me. If you want to talk via email, that’s fine, too.

I don’t really know much about UCSD, but I just got back from a trip to San Diego (with gfloyd) on Friday. After being in/around Boston for all of my life, I found San Diego very welcoming and cheery.
The people there are so much nicer than Bostonians; if you look lost, they’ll try to help you! Public transportation was lovely. The price for a monthly train/bus college pass (goes to all of the different colleges/universities and into the city and throughout the area) is $43.50, which I’m sure you could get your money’s worth.
Balboa Park was absolutely beautiful. I didn’t get a chance to go into the Zoo, but we explored the Japanese Friendship Garden, the Desert Garden, and some other areas.
The weather was beautiful. It freaked me out that the locals were wearing winter coats and scarves, though, as I was walking around in a skirt and a tank top…
Nice weather, nice people, beaches, Balboa Park, easy and accessable public transportation…why am I still in Massachusetts?

Just a note on public transport: it may or may not be an option for you. For example, if you were to attend UCSD and not live on campus, you would not be able to use the San Diego Trolley. It does not run in the vicinity of UCSD. There is something called The Coaster that runs from North County southward, and there is a stop nearby in Sorrento Valley. You can then take a shuttle or a bus to campus - but I don’t know how that would work logistically.

I use the public transportation system here for two things: sporting events. The trolley runs to both Qualcomm stadium (for football games, etc.) and to the downtown ballpark (you could also take it downtown to party in the Gaslamp). But depending on where you live, you may need to drive a bit to actually get to the trolley lines.

I don’t know, maybe if I lived somewhere else where public transportation was prevalent, I’d be more likely to try it out. But my commute isn’t that bad, and it’s just more convenient to hop in the car at this point.

There are buses that go up to UCSD. And the buses there are clean and nice, unlike here.

scout1222 has covered things very nicely.

As a San Diegan whose only real involvement with UCSD has been taking (mostly) off-campus Extension courses, I’d just like to bring up one thing about the campus: The main library - It never fails to blow me away whenever I see it in person.

MA in Anthropology 1999 says hi!

Be advised: UCSD is a primarily a research institution, so it tends to treat students like shit. Hell, I’ll come out and say it: USCD treats students like shit. There was a little piece of concrete near the Social Sciences building that some had written “U Can Suck Dick” in, and I think that sums up UCSD’s philosophy of teaching perfectly. If you can latch onto a caring prof, you’ll live, but expect nothing outside your department (or sometimes, even within it; one of my three committee members went to Taipei for a month without telling me first and I damn near missed the thesis deadline, and the department chairman at the time had no clue who I was even after I made an appointment with him to beg for help fending off the bursar.)

Geisel Library is beautiful at night, and by day walking in from the south up the coral snake path past the statue of Paradise Lost. But it’s too tiny. Lots of dead space and structural support mean only a tenth of the catalog is inside. Another tiny fraction is off in Muir College or someplace, and the rest is in a warehouse and you have to request it be trucked in. I hated this setup and you should too.

There are two bookstores, the sleek University one in the main center with the food court just south of the library, and the delightfully archaic Groundworks down south in an older zone. Professors use one or the other but never both. There are no offcampus bookstores because there is no offcampus; you will party in Mission Beach or will you be a Mormon just over the highway. I understand UCSD is trying to squeeze out Groundworks just now so there may be only one bookstore soon. I would love to have their complete Marx and Lenin in English translation, published in Moscow circa 1980, but I doubt that’ll ever happen. It filled two walls anyway.

La Jolla is near. Too near. It makes everything damn expensive. But La Jolla Shores is the nicest beach in the town, and if you walk north, you get a de facto nudist beach if you’re into that (Black’s) and further on, the gorgeous sweep of a state park (Torrey Pines, you can drive to this one too.) Deeper into LJ is Children’s Beach, which sea lions invaded and now have to themselves. Great way to spend a morning, and free. Only place I’ve been that had live jazz at the farmer’s market.

Go to Balboa Park every Tuesday, because a different museum is free each week. The Museum of Man (anthro, yay!) is nice, so is Natural History and the art galleries. Sundays at two the outdoor pipe organ gives a free recital. Sweet. The zoo is awesome. I don’t know if Loon the mandrill is still alive, but you might ask the keeper at the monkey house how he’s doing and she might show him off. Otherwise he won’t go outside. I always wanted to go to the Wild Animal Park upstate, but could never afford it.

I like ethnic restaurants when I eat out. SD is great for this. Only place I’ve seen Persian and Ethiopian, and there were several. Mona Lisa’s in Little Italy is good. If you like meat pies and tea, Bit of Britain north of the Marine base is outstanding. If you see haggis pies, get one, I recommend it. Out Adams Ave. there’s the Georgia House, specializing in Russian cuisine (pelmeni dumplings in dill and yogurt!) and Blenheim’s Hot Ginger Ale. Across the hall is a little deli that sometimes had the Russian-style chocolates made in New York that are damn good and hard to find. And in Mission Beach, Da Kine’s, the Hawaiian plate lunch place. Teriyaki, scoop rice, scoop mac salad, bit of kim chee, choc and mac nut cake for dessert, wash it down with lilikoi juice. I just hope these places are all still there.

Further out Adams is the Kensington Theater, specializing in arty movies, and the attached Kensington Video, which is the greatest video store in the universe. You name it. They probably got it.

Plan on living real close to Mexico. It’s the only place you can afford. That or student housing.

I believe this is the first time I’ve ever seen Adams Avenue referenced in a San Diego thread here. Such memories.
Went to elementary school at Adams School (crossing 35th, I think)
Had a couple paper routes around 30th and Adams
Worked in my dad’s TV store which was close to Adams and Kensington
Lived close to the corner of 32nd for a few years
Lived on Rolled Tacos from Gordos close to Felton (musta went out of business 20 years ago now)
Went to DiMille’s (around 35th) every Friday with my band after practice
Went to a party at a friends house on Terrace and Adams that was to be torn down the week after to make way for highway 15. Everyone brought a tool of destruction; mine was a chainsaw. We hacked up assorted walls, drank beer and played loud music.
Started my first software company on the corner of Adams and N. Mtn. View
Spent way way too much time in every neighborhood bar along the way from Lancers at the corner of Park through Rosie O’Gradys and The Olde Sod (nee The Elbow Club), to to the Ken club next to the Ken theatre.

Ah, the good old days.

Oh, went to Revelle at UCSD too. Nice place.

Ph.D., May 2005 at UCSD: I’m in the humanities and have found many caring and wonderful professors and my undergrads in engineering seem to be well-cared for.

Some pros and cons about UC and SD (some repeated from other posters):

Beautiful flora and fauna on campus; many horrifyingly ugly buildings (Muir College).

Grad housing rent is reasonable IF you can beg, steal and borrow your way into it: some grad programs do offer housing to stellar students as part of the package. Grad housing is within walking distance or there is a free shuttle.

Literature grad students teach and teach and teach until they’re near death. Uncertain what teaching assistantships look like for science/eng folk.

As above, basically no viable public transportation if you live more than five miles from campus. Parking for private cars on campus is upwards of $625 for three quarters (PLUS summer parking!)

Housing in San Diego is insanely expensive (as above.) Living alone off-campus within a 25-mile radius will most likely be more than $800/mnth for a studio/rathole.

I’m an older student and have always found UC activities almost exclusively geared to the 18-22 year-old demographic.

As an aside, it’s good to see some Dopers from San Diego I wasn’t aware of before. But I do notice that we’ve got a lot of sharks around here… :eek:

Heh. :slight_smile:
I changed to this name a little earlier this year when I decided I needed a change from the boring “Jeffwc” I started with and which I was still using when I attended last year’s S.D. Dopefest.

Mmmmwhahahahah (shark laugh.) This shark is leavin’ town soon, though :smiley: