Get to know San Diego like a local when you’re studying abroad in the city

United States San Diego Destination 01

San Diego is a city designed for outdoor living. So, when you’re an SAF Scholar at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), you’re surrounded by natural beauty. Take your books and study in one of the city’s large urban parks, head to the beach with friends for sunset, or find your new favorite café terrace or rooftop bar close to campus. Get to know the city as your home away from home and discover the local culture that makes San Diego unique.

Beach Culture

San Diego has 70 miles of coastline and stunning beaches, that laid-back Southern California beach culture is very much a part of the city’s identity. From sailing and paddleboarding to beach volleyball and bonfire picnics, beach life is big when you’re a student in San Diego.

Surfing is also big in San Diego, and the University UCSD Surf Team are national champions many times over. If you’re a beginner or a pro at riding the waves, there are plenty of places renting boards and offering lessons. If surfing’s not your thing, head to nearby La Jolla Cove to see local sea lions lazing in the sun or walk from campus to Glider Port to watch the sun go down.

Mexican Food

San Diego is just across the border from Mexico, so unsurprisingly, Mexican cuisine is on the menu. While you’re a student in the city, pop out for some tacos at lunchtime. Oscar’s Mexican Seafood is a student favorite, thanks to its regular happy hour selling delicious cheap seafood tacos, and Taco Villa is an authentic taco shop serving Mexican dishes right on campus. In San Diego city, head to Lucha Libre for a burrito special, a great Salsa bar, and booths surrounded by portraits of Mexican wresters.

Chicano Park

This public park in the Barrio Logan neighborhood is known for its big, colorful murals depicting Chicano history and culture. They explore civil rights, social justice, and cultural heritage, and it’s a great way for you to learn about Chicano history and culture while you’re in the city.

The park hosts many cultural dances and celebrations throughout the year – the legendary Chicano Park Day held on the Saturday closest to April 22nd marks the day the land here was claimed by the people in a non-violent takeover.

Military Ties

San Diego has the second-largest naval base in the United States and several Marine Corps and Coast Guard bases, too. The city started hosting American military bases as early as the 1850s and has remained an important strategic base ever since. There are thousands of veterans who call the city home, and many businesses make a point to show they are military friendly.

You can learn about this part of San Diego’s culture through the city’s many monuments and museums. Step on board the USS Midway Museum, a decommissioned aircraft carrier at Navy Pier along San Diego Bay.