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
Hi, I’m Eugen, 23 years old and I completed my semester abroad at the CSU San Marcos in Fall Term 2013. In California, I took business courses. I am studying industrial engineering at my university in Germany. Check ehuacom.com to see UC study abroad opportunities.
For my semester abroad from August to December, it was important to me to go to an English-speaking country that is as far away from Germany as possible and where it is nice and warm all the time. Also, I’ve always wanted to go to California.
Since I really wanted to go to a university where I wouldn’t meet too many exchange students and Germans, I quickly became interested in the CSU in San Marcos, as this is a rather small university with a low percentage of exchange students. San Marcos is right between San Diego and Los Angeles. MicroEdu supported me very well the whole time and was able to answer every question I had – without this help I would probably still be sitting with the documents that have to be filled out for the application. After I received the confirmation from the university, everything went very quickly, I was able to apply for my visa, book my flights and accommodation Looking for. I have had very good experiences with the tour operator ” STA-Travel ” on the flights. However, it is also advisable to look for English-speaking flight providers. Since you don’t know how long you want to travel through the USA after the semester, I only booked my return flight during my stay in the USA.
Course selection and study content
At CSU San Marcos, exchange students are looked after by the ALCI (American Language and Culture Institute). This support is very helpful, especially in the initial phase, as there is an orientation week where you can get to know the campus and the other foreign students.In addition, one is prepared for the so-called “crashing” of the courses, since one cannot simply choose courses from the range of courses. Crashing means that in the first 2 weeks of lectures you attend the courses that you would like to take and then at the end of the class you ask the professor for permission to get permission for the course. The first 2 weeks can be very annoying and exhausting, because that was the case for me. I didn’t get any of the courses I wanted initially, but it’s worth trying again after a few days as many American students are dropping their courses and places are opening up. The professors are very friendly and helpful, but I also had some that the international students sent away immediately. Above all, it helps to be persistent and to argue that you are only there for one semester and really want to take the course, etc… should there still be problems, the ALCI is always available and can also speak to the professors again.
The courses were scheduled so that I had Wednesdays and Fridays off and on Mondays I had a single lecture that started at 5: 30 p.m. So I always had a long weekend that I could use well for traveling and excursions. For each lecture, written homework had to be done every week, which was consistently collected and corrected. There were also a lot of tests, presentations and group work, so there was always something to do for the university. The final note is then composed of all the different sub-grades of the tests, homework, presentations and the exams (mid-term and finals). If you do your homework and something for the exams, it’s easy to get good grades. If you have so many smaller exams, you have to constantly learn or prepare something, but you never have exam stress because everything is spread over the entire period of a semester.
Here’s a word of warning for students who want to take business courses. I would not take courses with professor “Qi Sun” again. You can find more information on this at http: //www.ratemyprofessors.com. Apart from that, I can only recommend studying at the CSU San Marcos, because you are well looked after here, you study together with American students in small groups and the atmosphere at the university is simply very friendly, so that you quickly feel at home.
I got roomed in the UVA dormitory through MicroEdu. I shared a room with an American and it was a fun time. You can get oddballs into a room or apartment, but after a while you get along with them, because as an international student you’re always on the go, you don’t spend that much time in the dormitory. From what I’ve heard from others, you can of course get away cheaper in a shared flat, but you don’t have the same experiences as in a dormitory because there are simply a lot more people there.
Life and travel
In addition to studying, there was of course also a lot of free time, which you could use in a very varied way in California. In my free time I spent most of my time at the beach in Oceanside, Carlsbad or La Jolla Beach. Oceanside is very easy to get to via the Sprinter (train) and is also relatively cheap. The other two beaches are better accessible by car. I rented a car from Dirt Cheap Car Rental with a student I met. That cost us about $600 a month, so $300 per head. I can only recommend renting a car as there is not much you can do without a car as everything is very spread out and the rail system is not very good. As a soccer player, I joined the Club Soccer Team(is not the official university team, since you cannot join the team as a semester student).
For party-goers I can recommend Fridays and Saturdays, because on these days a party bus runs from the Players Bar to San Diego Downtown (Gas Lamp) or Pacific Beach. Heading north from San Marcos, LA is also not far away, so you can visit Hollywood, the Walk of Fame, Universal Studios, Venice Beach and many other well-known places in a weekend. Highly recommend a road trip to San Francisco, on the way you can visit Sequoia and Yosimitti National Parks. On the way back, it is also worth driving back along the coast.
Overall, life in the US is very expensive. Compared to Germany, fresh food is a bit more expensive if you don’t want to eat only fast food… As far as fast food is concerned, I can recommend Albertacos and FiveGuys in San Marcos. The only things that are really cheap are clothes and gas. The huge outlets in particular are great for shopping, which is why I recommend everyone to fly to the USA with as few clothes as possible and then go shopping there first.
The five months in California were the best time of my life, which I will never forget! Overall, studying was fun, I made new friends from all over the world and learned and seen a lot. I would repeat the semester abroad in San Marcos immediately if I could! Living in another culture and studying another language was a great experience.