My semester abroad at California State University San Marcos was an incredibly great, exciting and important experience for me ! Since the only thing I had booked from Germany was a motel for the first 4 nights, my first priority was looking for and finding accommodation. I wrote to a few families, made appointments (usually everyone answered me on the same day) and my wonderful host family via the website http://csusm.och101.com/ offered by the universityfound! I can only recommend to everyone for whom on-campus housing is much too expensive to live with a host family, as this allows you to get to know the life and culture of Americans much better. Although you have to follow certain rules in a family, I had all the freedoms in the world and never once felt restricted by my host family. On the contrary: Since I always rode my bike in San Marcos, my host mother took me to go shopping every Sunday and initially showed me the city and the university. Find more review on California State University San Marcos on existingcountries.
The university is incredibly clear, as the very modern buildings are well signposted and set up. The orientation week, which was carried out by the local ALCI office, gave me a good overview of the university, the surrounding area and, above all, the dreaded class crashing. The American Language and Culture Institute (ALCI) is the first point of contact next to MicroEDU, all employees are incredibly friendly, helpful and always open to questions. I had to “crash” all of my 4 courses required for the visa on site and was very surprised how easy it was to get a place in the course as an exchange student in most of the courses. Most teachers are very keen to accommodate as many exchange students as possible in their courses and are therefore very helpful and friendly with the students. Economics and psychology courses fill up quickly. Good planning BEFORE the first week of university is really the be- all and end-all of Class Crashing – but this shouldn’t be a problem thanks to the very clear website on which not only the course descriptions, but also the times and rooms are listed.
A little tip: It helped me a lot to think “outside the box” and to try something new that I hadn’t even had in mind before. For example, I took a dance course at CSUSM, which in the end turned out to be super exciting and interesting and in which I made many new contacts with Americans, because it was a more interactive course in which I made contact with new people was necessary.
San Marcos is a very nice little town with lots of restaurants and shops but no clubs. Since the way to downtown San Diego is not far by car, you don’t have to go without partying, especially on the weekend! With the Sprinter you can reach the beach in Oceanside in less than 20 minutes, so that you always have the opportunity to go to the sea, especially in the summer months after or before university. If you take the same Sprinter in the other direction, you are in less than 10 minutes in Escondido, from where you can reach the mall located there super quickly. Because of its location is San Marcos is the perfect starting point to the rest of California to visit. During my semester at CSUSM, I went to Grand Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles – not to mention the beautiful little towns that surround San Marcos. As I mentioned above, I didn’t have a car and I always rode my bike to go shopping (there’s a huge supermarket right next to the university, by the way) and to the university. In order to reach destinations such as Los Angeles or Las Vegas, however, you are bound to a car, which is much cheaper to rent in California than in Germany (little tip: inform yourself well beforehand about any toll fees that you will pay if you drive on certain roads, “toll roads”).
I can 100% recommend a semester at CSUSM and think that it is a great starting point to get to know the state of California with all its facets.