University of San Diego (California, USA)

Amol Arora


The University of San Diego (USD) is a small catholic university located 15 minutes from downtown. It is widely considered to have one of the most beautiful and scenic campuses in the country. Staff often think of it as a country club that teaches. With a student population hovering around 6000 it’s a tight nit community where most people know your name.



I lived in the University Terrace Apartments (UTAs). Generally they are 2 bedroom and 2 bathroom with 4 students. A kitchen, living room and a fantastic terrace which gives a view of downtown. At night you get a splendid view of any fireworks going on in downtown or sea world. The UTAs generally cater towards older students in their third of fourth years that still live on campus. It is across the street from the main campus which adds a greater level of privacy though it is still considered University housing.

The majority of second years (sophomores) live in the Alcala Vista Apartments. On the far right end of the school there are several different apartment blocks with varying floor layouts. Generally Apartments have 4 students, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a small living room and kitchen. In a very scenic part of the school with barbecue areas outside. They’re a five minute walk from the larger school gym and sports fields.

Carmel Apartments are located adjacent to the UTAs and is where the majority of third and fourth years reside. It’s a private apartment block and is considered off campus though USD can be seen from most windows and is a 2 minute walk away. Room sizes vary and the apartment is not furnished. The apartment complex has a 24/7 gym, pools and hot tubs. My suggestion is to live on campus and you’ll almost certainly make friends with Carmel dwellers who are always keen to invite you over for pool parties and barbecues.

Student Life

With a small student body and a very laid back attitude, the onus is on you to make the most of your time there. Though there are colleague games going on (mostly baseball and football), USD isn’t particularly known as a sport dominating school. Events are usually organised by individual societies e.g. rock climbing and outdoor adventure. The school has its fraternities and sororities which is where you’re much more likely to have the true American college experience. Some of the things I did during my year there include joining Alpha Kappa Psi (a professional business fraternity), road trip to San Fransisco, road trip to Houston, hike all over San Diego, county fairs, and take a quick trip to Mexico.

Alpha Kappa Psi University of San Diego



USD has a medium sized campus with constant buses helping students move around quickly. There are two gyms accessible to all students with others being reserved for athletes and UTA residents. Classrooms are all on the left half of the campus with the right side having residences and all other amenities such as basketball courts, tennis courts, pools and car parks. Walking from end to end takes approximately 30 minutes with nothing resembling Basser steps at UNSW.


Surrounding Travel

  • Mexico: the border is a 20 minute drive south. Many San Diegans will cross the border for Friday drinks. The process for non-US citizens is a little more complicated so if you’re going for a trip I suggest having all your travel and visa documents in order.
  • LA: the drive is only 2 hours so it’s perfect for a day trip or to head over on the weekend. Check out Hollywood, Disney Land, Universal Studios and other theme parks like 6 flags.
  • San Diego: San Diego itself has highly diverse areas. Hillcrest will give you a Newtown feel. Little Italy has farmers markets every week. La Jolla has McMansions, beaches and fantastic hiking trails.
  • San Fransisco: a 9 hour drive or 2 hour flight. I’ve seen tickets as low as $49!
  • California: apart from its cities, CA is home to tremendous national parks, mammoth mountain for skiing and Yosemite. The I-5 can take you from the Mexican to Canadian Border.


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