Before I report on anything, I would like to point out that the following experience report is exclusively about my experiences and those of me. Impressions of institutions, processes, personalities and the country itself can of course differ greatly from reality.
Planning and application process
The planning and application process begins long before the semester abroad actually starts. Most of the students I spoke to personally started planning or organizing the semester abroad a year before the start of the semester. I also planned this stay abroad about a year in advance. I wasn’t even aware of a number of things that I had to organize them. Only when it becomes concrete do the problems and difficulties pile up. But I also grew with these problems and difficulties, but more on that later.
After applying through MicroEDU, I received feedback relatively quickly – I got the impression that it is a little different or “easier” if you apply through an organization like MicroEDU than if you apply directly to the university is applying. So if you are not applying to an elite university, it is probably not absolutely necessary to apply to several universities at the same time. But also ask the boys and girls at MicroEDU, they certainly have better experience. While we are with the boys and girls at MicroEDU, at this point again, MANY THANKS! You do a great job and offer students real added value and that for free.
To cut a long story short: Allow plenty of time (around a year) for planning and organization! And do yourself a favor and don’t do this during exam time. I myself made this mistake because I underestimated everything that was coming my way. An essential part of the preparation time is the application for a visa and thus also the interview. Don’t worry here. The interview is really only a formality and ends after two minutes. They asked me how I want to finance the whole thing and why I want to come back.
Before arriving in San Marcos, I looked for an apartment with two other internationals. I STRONGLY recommend that you do not live with Germans or at least not exclusively with German students. I deliberately avoided that and was able to significantly improve my English because I had to speak English all the time. I got in touch with the other two through a Facebook group. Then we looked around for apartments together. We ended up in the apartment complex “The Avenue San Marcos”. You can walk to the university here and the apartments are really great. Say goodbye to the fact that you can live cheaply. The US and California in particularis simply a lot more expensive than Germany and that runs through almost all areas. I paid around 950 euros with everything (utilities, internet, etc.) and have a single room – I think that’s about average.
I would also advise you to organize accommodation before your arrival – that makes things a lot easier when you arrive.
Everyday life and university life
As you have probably heard and read a few times, everyday university life is giving way in the USA clearly from that in Germany. The whole thing is much more academic, there are weekly quizzes and numerous homework. The type and scope of these things, however, depend heavily on the subject and the professor. But none of this is really difficult and the learning curve is therefore limited. Nevertheless, you have a lot to do during the week and then have the weekend off. The range of leisure activities in San Marcos is very limited. And you need a car for almost all activities. I didn’t have a car myself and I regret a little that we didn’t get one. To have a party, we usually drove to Encinitas (approx. 15 minutes by car) or to San Diego (approx. 30-40 minutes by car), I promise you, San Diego in particular is worth it!
- Check topschoolsintheusa for more about California State University San Marcos Rankings.
However, you should make friends with the locals right from the start and always be open to new people and experiences, as this is the only way to get to house parties “American style”.
The university campus is very modern and beautifully designed, all faculties are on the same campus and there is a real “we-feeling”. We were also regularly at the sporting events of the different teams at the university. This also resulted in friendships with the team members that will probably continue to exist in the future.
Choice of subjects
In Germany I am studying business administration with a focus on financial management, so I then took the following subjects in the USA: ECON 202 Principles of Macroeconomics, ECON 441 International Economics of Trade, ENTR 320 Entrepreneurship and FIN 321 Investment Analysis. As already mentioned, it wasn’t particularly difficult to get a reasonably good grade in these subjects. An exception was FIN 321 Investment Analysis – this subject was actually a bit more difficult, because there are extremely many technical terms and vocabulary here, some of which I did not yet know, so it was a bit “difficult” and required a little more work, but that was at the end makeable.
As far as I know, Cal State San Marcos has only recently abolished so-called “class crashing” and you choose the courses at this university in advance, it worked wonderfully and of course provides planning security.
The following is now “Grumbling at a high level”, but if I had to decide again which university to go to, I would probably go to San Diego , this university is a lot bigger and I heard that it was extra there Lectures for internationals because there seem to be so many international students. That was, among other things, the reason why I decided against San Diego and for San Marcos. However, from my point of view, you improve your English less at university and more in your free time. Here it is important that you have roommates who do not speak German. Other than that, San Diego is a really great city !
Overall, this experience abroad was an experience that I would like to miss under any circumstances, I was both human and significantly more advanced than linguistically, fantastic people and places come to know the world and made friends for life. In the end, it probably doesn’t matter where exactly you go, there will be advantages and disadvantages everywhere, it is important to take the step. So do not wait any longer and take the opportunity that is offered to you and embark on this journey.
If you have more detailed questions about specific points, feel free to contact me.