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
First of all: Everything went great with MicroEdu and they were always available to answer my many questions. The processing went great and the team always took care of everything immediately! Check existingcountries.com to see Brock University Review.
The application process is a little bit time-consuming, but worth every effort. The application documents have to be filled out, a “financial statement” from the bank is required, the passport, the F1 student visa, a language certificate (I had the DAAD) and the current transcript of records (overview of grades). In addition, the university requires an international vaccination card with proof of some vaccinations and a negative tuberculosis test. You should take care of everything early enough so that afterwards time doesn’t run so fast and you can book the flight with peace of mind.
Everyone has to decide for themselves whether they want their own apartment, flat share, student residence or host family. At first I couldn’t imagine living in a host family, so I moved into a shared flat where a couple of American boys lived. However, after almost three weeks I moved to a host family near the university, where I lived until the end. Basically, the rent is quite expensive. I didn’t organize my host family through any agency, so the rent was a little lower. Personally, I would advise against living in the UVA (University Village Apartment) or Quad (dormitory). Although the apartments are located right next to the university, they are very overpriced for what they offer. And there are definitely many other options around the university where you can live. It’s also a good idea not to make anything final until you’ve seen your new home. Of course there are also many black sheep or maybe you just don’t feel comfortable.
In terms of costs, there is almost no limit. Depending on where you live, you can easily pay between USD 500 and USD 1000 in rent per month.
The orientation week
The orientation week is compulsory for all students and takes place one week before the actual start of the semester. There the campus is shown and everything about visa, I-20, life in the USA, culture and rules and regulations is explained. In addition, the team from the ALCI Office (American Language and Cultural Institute) is always available for questions and problems. They not only help with study matters, but also with problems with finding accommodation.
The courses crash
In the first week of the semester, the courses that you want to take have to be crashed. Since an ALCI student is not considered a “full semester student”, you cannot enroll in the courses online like the other students, you have to crash them. This means that you go to all the courses that are potentially suitable and look at the event. Before or after the lesson (depending) you have to talk to the professor and hope that he has a free place in the class. Some courses are less popular and therefore “open”, others are already “closed” and others have a “wait list”. Unfortunately, I didn’t get into all the courses I wanted and I didn’t want some of the courses I wanted anymore after I was in the event.
The semester is over faster than you want to admit. The professors make sure that you don’t get bored. Attendance is compulsory as a student at an American university. The system is slightly different than the German one. The American system is more like school and there is a lot of emphasis on group work and teamwork. Homework has to be handed in regularly, projects and presentations have to be prepared and held. Time management is very important, otherwise it is difficult to keep up.
I “only” had to take three courses (Leadership, Management and Marketing), each of which had 4 units. And of course everything was included, from assignments such as book, film and business analysis to marketing campaigns, written and oral exams, presentations, country quizzes, projects, current events, role-playing games, self-tests and group work. For my courses I had to read many, many pages in various books and write quite a bit at home. But in my opinion, the system is so much better because you work continuously throughout the semester and so there is no exam suddenly appearing at the end of the semester;-)
The midterms and final exams consist largely of true-false questions and multiple choice. But if you’re used to the level in Germany, the American one shouldn’t be too shocking.
San Marcos is about 50 minutes from San Diego. Distances are normal here and manageable if you have a car. There are many things to do in San Diego such as B. the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park or the Cabrillo National Monument. Los Angeles is a two hour drive away and Las Vegas is four to five hours away. There are various options for renting cars on site. Recommended are Dirt Cheap Car Rental (here the name says it all) or Hertz in Escondido. After Oceanside to the beach or to the mall in Escondido, you can also take the bus and Sprinter (train). Of course there are enough party locations in San Diego! The possibilities are diverse and the university also organizes many events. During my time at the CSUSM, band contests, various sporting events, a casino night with poker and blackjack tables, Mardi Gras (carnival) and many events where you could get to know different cultures. In addition, a new building – a student union (opening: spring 2014) – is currently being built, which is to be used as a place to stay and meet for leisure activities.
Domestic flights are not too expensive either. So you can easily fly over to San Francisco or Hawaii. San Marcos itself as a city doesn’t offer much for its students. There is a sports bar, a grocery store and one or two restaurants right next to the university. It’s a 45 minute Sprinter ride to the beach at Oceanside. Unfortunately, there is not much public transport.
The weeks of preparation and all the organization were worth it! I really enjoyed my time at CSUSM and felt really comfortable. The campus is not too big so everything is very personal and you don’t feel too lost. It was very important that the exchange students get to know each other and feel comfortable. Smaller events take place regularly and it never gets boring. The professors also try very hard to ensure that you get along and don’t have any questions.
The semester at CSUSM and my time in California were great and I would do it again anytime!