California State University San Marcos Review (8)

California State University San Marcos Review (8)

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 my stay abroad

Ever since I started my dual bachelor’s degree in business administration, I was aware that I would definitely want to spend a semester abroad. Due to various trips in the years before, both to the USA and to California, the goal of my “ semester abroad ” was quickly set. Due to the fact that my home university did not have any universities or cities that were of interest to me, the course as a freemover was quickly decided. When I was looking for a suitable university, I quickly came across MicroEdu and its numerous opportunities and cooperation with universities in the USA encountered Especially Southern California (particularly because of the weather, my passion for the ocean and related activities, etc.), it ended up being just a few universities that I was spoiled for choice. My choice was mainly San Marcos because of its proximity to San Diego but the much smaller campus, the wide range of courses and the beautiful campus. It was particularly important to me to make progress in English as well as to learn about American culture, which is why I quickly ruled out UCSD as it was a very large university with many international students. Check to see UOC study abroad opportunities.

After choosing the university, everything actually happened very quickly. After compiling the required documentation, I quickly received feedback from MicroEdu who helped me revise the required material. I had health insurance through Hanse Merkur, I received vaccinations from the company doctor in Düsseldorf and I chose the courses in advance together with my home university. Quite quickly, about nine months in advance, I received the long-awaited approval from Cal State and was allowed to apply for my visa To take care of. About two months before the semester starts, you will then receive a link with the courses offered for the semester and you have to submit a list of 10 desired courses. Firstly, it was particularly annoying that many courses listed in the module handbook were not offered and secondly that all marketing courses and numerous business courses were already full. Having heard about course crashing in the first two weeks of the semester, I didn’t let that put me off, for now.


Finding accommodation in SoCal is problematic for a variety of reasons. The dorms (which include UVA and The Quad) are right on campus, but they are way overpriced and you live with four to six roommates. So for me, that went straight away. There are Facebook groups for housing in San Marcos, in which I finally found my apartment and my roommates. I shared a room with another girl and two more shared the room next door. So there were four of us. The apartment complex had a gym, pool area and laundry just like the dorms, however it was in Escondido and separated me from campus by 45 minutes by bike, 30 minutes by train, or 10 minutes by car/Uber. However, I only paid a little less than half that.

The campus

I fell in love with the campus even before I traveled, and when I first saw it with my own eyes, I was blown away. The campus is located on a kind of hill, which gives an incredibly beautiful view. When learning in the library, when the weather is good, you can see far beyond the campus with its sports fields and San Marcos, and a kind of terrace invites you to study and linger. If you are lazy to walk, you should look around for another university or get to know the many different, mostly hidden elevator systems as quickly as possible in order to avoid the stairs, of which there are quite a few in San Marcos! The campus also has its own gym with fitness courses, several Fast food chains, a Starbucks and much more.


A semester abroad in San Diego calls for sun, beach and 365 days of good weather. However, if you arrive in mid-January in a totally rainy foreign country where you don’t know anyone and you’re more prepared for summer in terms of clothing, you can get homesick at first. As you can read in my conclusion, the semester abroad was one of the nicest times of my studies and I will always think back to it with a laugh, but it has to be said that the first 2 weeks of your “adventure” can be pretty tough will. In the end you laugh about it and semesters abroad have somehow become normal in Germany for a long time, but you can be really proud of your courageand not everything has to be pink and red. My first two weeks looked exactly like that. During the Orientation Week, the local International Office (ALCI) really does everything to connect you with each other and the start is really made easier, but when my course crashing started the following week and I was at the university sometimes up to 10 hours a day and running from one course cancellation to the next, my mood hit rock bottom more than once. Due to the fact that the semester in San Marcos was also the last one before my bachelor thesis, I had compulsory courses that I HAD to take, but many professors don’t show any understanding there. Others, however, werepleased about an international face. In the end I found courses that I can get credit for in Germany, but the goodwill of my home university also stood me in good stead here, as otherwise I would have faced quite a problem.

The living

San Marcos is a small American town and you’re in a fix without a car. Uber and bus rides are either expensive or time-consuming, and just taking the bus to San Diego takes about two hours. So I really recommend that you rent or buy a car, otherwise you might just get “stuck”. Get as much out of your stay abroad as possible! Explore the area, drive to various beaches and LA, cross the border into Tijuana, Mexico to party, and be sure to leave enough time before or after to travel the entire west coast a bit!California is and remains a dream and despite the fact that you may have a flexible schedule, many distances are too far for one day. Another piece of advice I would like to give you is don’t pay too much attention to your money! Life here is expensive and everything is expensive. Whether it’s groceries, entrance fees, books for your studies or tickets for sports games. But it’s worth every penny! You have the rest of your life to work or save, but your semester abroad is not the right time!

Special Tips

  • Oceanside Sunset Market – Every Thursday night at nearby Oceanside.
  • Whale watching tour in San Diego – if you are spending the spring semester abroad. It was incredible!
  • San Diego Liberty Market – a foodies dream!
  • Sea lions at La Jolla
  • Bonfires in Moonlight Beach – the best nights here started when we would gather 20 people at sunset, grill, drink and toast s’mores.
  • Trips with Campus REC: Campus REC offers various trips throughout the semester with or without overnight stays at very reasonable prices. Meet new people and go to places you would never have seen otherwise!
  • Weekend Trips to Vegas – The absolute must for everyone! As a girl, you can get in anywhere in Vegas for free, as numerous promoters on the Strip will approach you during the day. DJ greats like Steve Aoki, The Chainsmokers, Zedd, etc. spin here every week!
  • Last but not least: Yes, you are here to study, and at first all the essays, homework and projects seem incredibly work-intensive, but they are manageable. Definitely less difficult than in Germany, but it takes time. However, you will be rewarded with good grades. Don’t worry too much about it, because in the end you always have a small advantage as an international and just by attending the courses and handing in the homework you got a large part of the grade. So get out there and make the most of your time here! It will disappear incredibly quickly like never before!

The time in San Marcos was incredibly great and despite a few setbacks, be it in terms of the choice of course, the weather or the “driving situation”, I don’t want to miss a single minute! I’ve met so many different and incredible people from all over the world and California will always remain a part of my heart as a second home. I really envy you for having one of the most exciting times of your life ahead of you!
If you have any questions about the organization or just in general, don’t hesitate to add me on Instagram (irinaseelen) or send me an email!

California State University San Marcos Review (8)