University: California State University San Marcos
Country: United States
Continent: North America
Field of study: organization and leadership
Study type: semester abroad
Arrive in San Marcos
Of course, like everyone else, I had to send off my application in advance and wait for feedback. When the confirmation finally came, a thousand questions shot through my head. Where and how do I want to live, how do I get to know new people and how will my studies be, were the most important. After I had decided that I would like to live in a shared apartment, I thought about how I could find roommates. A Facebook group set up by the CSUSM with all the international students eventually helped me get three roommates. Together we found an apartment in Palomar Station in San Marcos. The apartment complex is very modern, everyone was super helpful and it was easy to get to the university by bus or bike. In general, it is rather complicated to rent an apartment in the USA without corresponding credits that provide information about your previous behavior in other apartments. The rent is also definitely not to be underestimated, it was divided into four but quite acceptable. We had pure luxury, especially compared to the student residence. Check existingcountries.com to see Saint Marys University Review.
In my first week I lived in an Airbnb in Vista, which I can highly recommend, because on the one hand you are not completely alone and the landlords often have valuable tips and tricks!
The cheapest car rental is definitely Dirt Cheap Car Rental in San Diego ! And furniture is best found on Craigslist or IKEA. You can always find a few bargains there. I can definitely recommend a car, as it simply makes things much more flexible and makes small things like shopping easier. If you need an Internet provider: Cox Communications offers the highest flexibility and is comparatively inexpensive.
Course crashing is not easy. Good preparation is extremely important here! The CSUSM asks you in advance to create a list of at least 10 courses that are suitable for you. I can only recommend that you select more courses than just these 10. Many courses require certain other subjects as a prerequisite, which is why you should send as many courses as possible to the CSUSM for examination and approval in advance. But you will also be informed of this several times! Otherwise, course crashing is not easy and will certainly cost you some time and nerves until you have all the courses together. But don’t let that discourage you, most of the time the professors are very friendly and the ALCI Office supports you very well !
Many thanks also to the MicroEdu team at this point ! I felt well advised at all times and was able to contact the team with any questions. I can also only recommend that you use the very good service if you have any questions, both during the preparations and during your stay there.
I ended up taking courses in Marketing Research, Marketing Analytics, Global and Cross Cultural Marketing, and Organizational Communication Ethics. At the CSUSM, it’s like that consists mainly of assignments and only about 30% of exams. That’s why it’s important that you always stay on the ball and don’t rely on the exam at the end. If you feel like you have a lot to do at home at first, don’t stress yourself out and prioritize. The CSUSM expects 2 hours of homework per unit of a course. You really need it on some days, but on the other hand you will quickly realize that not everything is worth spending all your free time on. I was always able to meet my deadlines and still experienced a lot, or just relaxed. Overall, I can recommend all of my courses, but make sure you really have the required prior knowledge.
As already mentioned, less is possible without a car. It is best to rent a car with several people, for example friends or roommates. I shared the car with my roommates, which was very easy to do even with four people. For special excursions you can always rent another car. However, I cannot recommend you to use the car as a means of transport to the university, because there is no free parking and the prices are high. It is $4 for 2 hours, $6 for 6 hours and $9 for a day pass. If you want to park for the whole semester, you will pay around $340. If you live in San Marcos, you can save costs by riding a bike or bus, for example. A monthly bus pass is $20 through the uni and must be recharged monthly so you don’t have to pay for the months you’re not there. I used the bus and always got to the university comfortably and on time.
Very briefly a few tips for everyday life. Be prepared: it will be expensive! Groceries, rent, excursions, everything has its price. It’s best if you come to terms with it quickly and make the best of it. For example, I simply gave up some groceries because they were too expensive for me. But there were other great things that I definitely discovered for myself. My most important tips for everyday life:
- Eat well and enjoy!
- There are so many offers, often very cheap and delicious. Mexican is definitely my favorite discovery, but of course other numerous restaurants. Pasta lovers are definitely right in the Old Spaghetti Factory or Olive Garden, I can only highly recommend them. A visit to a Mexican in Old Town San Diego is also part of it!
- Shop at Winco!
- You can only pay with debit cards or cash here, but the price is worth it. Compared to Ralphs or similar supermarkets, the prices here are significantly lower. When shopping, the same applies as in Germany, discounters for many things, supermarkets for specific things.
- planning is everything!
- Less happens in San Marcos itself, so make plans and don’t rely on something happening somewhere. If you have a car, there are many great options close by. By the way, fuel is comparatively cheap!
Many accommodations also have a pool, which you should definitely use. It’s also fun to meet up in a Starbucks or other coffee shop to learn, to watch Netflix series that aren’t available in Germany yet, and to simply enjoy the beautiful weather by the pool.
Life and leisure
ENJOY BOTH TO THE FULLEST!
California has an incredible amount to offer and is therefore never boring. You should try to take as much as possible with you. Don’t stay at home. What I can definitely recommend are also smaller sights nearby. The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, San Diego from a tourist point of view, the Potato Chip Rock and especially the beaches. Los Angeles is also not far away and Orange County is often worth a visit.
If you have a nice course schedule, it’s worth going to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Arizona, Joshua Tree National Park or Mexico for a longer weekend. Rosarito is particularly popular in Mexico. However, Tijuana is and remains a rather dangerous place, so it definitely doesn’t hurt to have a Spanish-speaking companion.
I can also only recommend that you plan travel time at the end, at least two weeks. Since I’ve been to Mexico, Los Angeles and San Francisco in between, I decided to devote myself to other states. I then flew to Las Vegas with a friend, visited the Grand Canyon and then flew on to New Orleans. From there we went to Miami Beach for a week, then to Washington DC and last but not least to New York. Since we booked very early, we were able to organize the whole trip very cheaply and gained many different impressions in these three weeks. You can find good flights mainly via Skyscanner and Momondo. However, keep in mind that luggage is often not included in the price of domestic flights in America. For accommodation it is worthwhile
A little note at the end: If you are a minor (under 21), think carefully about whether America is right for you. It is often easier to be of legal age.
In any case, I can only recommend America as a country, California as a state and California State University San Marcos for your semester abroad ! I haven’t regretted spending my semester abroad there for a second and would love to go back for another semester. Have fun in your semester abroad, wherever you go!