California State University San Marcos Review (1)

California State University San Marcos Review (1)

University: California State University San Marcos

City: San Marcos (CA)

Country: United States

Continent: North America

Field of study: business administration

Study type: semester abroad

Before it started

First of all, MicroEdu gave me great support in preparing for my semester abroad. After I applied to the CSUSM and had received a confirmation, I still had to apply for my visa at the embassy. In order to be able to apply for the visa at all, you need special documents from the host university in the USA. MicroEdu had forwarded this to me from America, so I could get started. Check to see Riga Stradins University Review.

You can get an appointment within just a few weeks – I was lucky and was able to keep an appointment after just two weeks. A little tip at this point: Prepare all the documents (such as the documents from the university, financial proof, proof that you are coming back to DE, etc.) well. You will receive detailed information on this from CoCo.

The appointment with the embassy went really well and after about 30 minutes I had my visa.

From this point everything was fixed!

Arrive in San Marcos

Since I had decided to live with a host family, I was picked up at the airport in San Diego by Jenny, an employee of the host family agency HomeStayServices, and driven to my host family.

I arrived on Saturday and the introductory week at CSUSM started on Monday. From Monday to Thursday we were well integrated into the university and received some important information. We also took a trip to the beach in Oceanside to learn how to get there with the Sprinter. Here you have already met many students from different countries. Americans weren’t there yet because they were still on semester breaks at the time, so the campus was initially very empty. But that should change soon…

Varsity type

The dreaded course crashing

At the CSUSM, American students can register online for courses via the CSUSM portal Cougar Courses at the beginning of the semester. Visiting students do not yet have access to this portal at this point in time and therefore cannot register and secure places in courses.

The enrollment in courses, however, happens via the so-called course crashing. In the first week of study, every guest student has to go to the professors of the desired course and ask for a place. This happens either at the beginning or towards the end of the lecture. You need “Permission Numbers” from the professors, which can only be assigned if there are still places available in the course. Of course, it can happen that too many Americans have already signed up for the respective course so that there is no longer any space left. If this is the case, don’t give up and try another course. Find out beforehand online (at http: // about your chances or the free places in the courses and try the courses with the most free places first.

I focused on marketing courses and got all the courses I wanted as well. So don’t stress, but see it as an opportunity if you don’t get your first wish – maybe the alternative course is even better! J

The University

According to my host family, friends and other students, CSUSM is one of the smaller universities in America. Compared to my technical college, however, it is huge!

In addition, the campus is super well maintained, clean and just absolutely beautiful. Everything is in Mediterranean style and spacious. There are huge terraces with lounge furniture and music, lots of green spaces, a hall with various fast food stands, a small store with snacks such as sushi (yummi!), university stores, etc. For the sporty: Next to basketball courts, soccer field, etc. there is also a fitness center (The Clarke) on campus, which is even free for students including courses (Zumba, Yoga, Pilates,…). Loved going there and unless you go during 5pm prime time it’s not crowded at all.

In addition to the fitness center, I took part in the soccer intramurals with other students from the university. This is a tournament in which various student teams from the university take part. On Saturdays there were always games against the other teams at the university. We even won the tournament! I can really recommend you, because it was really a lot of fun! Of course, there are also intramurals for various other sports. Just get information on site; the activities are often presented on campus and also in the Clark (Gym).


A total of 12 units are included in the tuition fees, so I chose two 4-unit courses and two 2-unit courses. Since I also wanted to learn something during the semester abroad and didn’t just want to attend basic courses, I decided to choose courses from higher academic years.

I really, really liked the two marketing courses Consumer Behavior (MKTG 445) and Global & Cross Cultural Marketing (MKTG 448). The professor Beverly Anderson is super competent and you can really learn a lot. She makes a lot of reference to current topics and works a lot with case studies, which really helps. I can definitely recommend the courses!

I also took courses in Personal Selling & Business Development (MKTG 340) and Project Management (OM 435). The courses were designed differently than those just described. In the marketing course we had to simulate sales talks in sales and were evaluated for this. In the OM course we had to give presentations about various tasks almost every week.

Unlike in Germany, where there is only one final exam at the end of the semester, you have to constantly show performance at the CSUSM. Whether midterms, tests, quizzes, presentations, homework assignments or finals – you stay on the ball and learn continuously. It’s more time-consuming, of course, but it’s really doable! JAnd of course there is still enough free time


Priority 1: Rent a car! Here in Germany we are really spoiled with public transport, which I really can’t say about America. Or do you want to drive 50 minutes from the university to the beach in the Sprinter or always be dependent on others? I quickly decided against it and rented a car with my girlfriend from “Express Rent A Cheap Car” for €400/month. Many have rented one through “Dirt Cheap Car” and I’ve only heard good things about it here. So: go for it!

San Marcos is a great starting point for excursions! I often drove to the beach in Oceanside, Encinitas or Carlsbad. In all three places you can also do something good in the evening, because there are very cool bars and restaurants here! Thanks to my American friends, I got to know extremely good places! If you decide to go to San Marcos, be sure to eat a burger at LTH in Oceanside and drink Latitude 33 California Honey Hips beer – HEAVEN!J

There aren’t any real nightclubs here, but that wasn’t bad at all for me. For example, at the weekend there is a shuttle from the university in San Marcos to downtown San Diego (about 40 minutes; costs about $25 including club entry) – so if you want to party, you can do that from San Marcos too!

Of course, I was also often in beautiful San Diego Downtown (only about 30 minutes away), drove to the beach there, went to the nightclubs in the evenings or went on excursions there. Here are a few tips for San Diego and the surrounding area:

  • La Jolla: An extremely beautiful place right on the cliffs. You definitely have to do this! You can walk along the cliffs and have a nice drink or eat downtown. Parking: 1624 Torrey Pines Rd
  • Sunset Cliffs: Very close to La Jolla are these cliffs. Drive here at sunset.
  • Potato Chip Hike (put that into Google). Address: Mt Woodson Rd, Ramona, CA 92065. Park at the curb and follow the Hiking Trail sign. The way up takes about 1.5 hours (back only about 45 minutes due to the steepness).
  • Moonlit Beach in Encinitas (Parking: B Street, Encinitas, CA 92024).
  • Mission Beach and Pacific Beach with many bars and restaurants.
  • Old Town San Diego
  • Little Italy
  • Seaport Village with the harbor
  • Be sure to go to Coronado Island! This is a small island of San Diego with a long white beach. It’s really gorgeous here! Just park in the side streets.J
  • Balboa Park
  • Stroll through San Diego Downtown
  • Shop at Westfield Horton Plaza (324 Horton Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101)
  • Eat Fish Tacos on Tuesday – that’s “Taco Tuesday” there
  • Go to one of the breweries and test different, unusual beers there. E.g. here: Ballast Point Tasting Room & Kitchen Restaurant, 2215 India St, San Diego, CA 92101

LA is also just over an hour away, so in addition to the obligatory tourist sightseeing, I also saw the Lakers basketball games in the STAPLES Arena. The possibilities are very large due to the 1A location of San Marcos!

In spring break I went on a road trip to San Francisco with four friends. We drove up Route 1 and did some beach and city hopping along the way. During the tour we stopped in Solvang, Malibu Beach and in Santa Barbara. I can recommend to everyone! The tour is perfect for a week!


Half a year in San Marcos and in America was awesome! I have experienced so much, met extremely good people and can recommend the CSUSM and San Marcos to everyone! Since I’ve been back, I’ve had a lot of wanderlust and will certainly fly back again in the future.

Especially for those who don’t just want to hang out with other visiting students, San Marcos is the place to be. The courses are only with Americans and not almost exclusively with other Germans like at the CSUSD.. In addition, you are already in San Diego Downtown in half an hour

Good luck in deciding the “right” university and have fun in the semester abroad!

California State University San Marcos Review (1)