I spent my semester abroad at California State University San Marcos in the US state of California. The semester started in January. For foreign students, it all began with an orientation week, during which we were brought closer to both the university and on a short trip to Oceanside after completing the first half of the orientation week. During the orientation week you had the opportunity to make contact with other international students. In the semester in which I did my semester abroad at California State University, I was the only German who attended the normal courses with the American students. The majority of the international students came from Asian countries, especially China and Korea. When choosing my university, I was particularly careful to choose a university where the likelihood of meeting other German students is not so high, especially since the main goal of my semester abroad should be to improve my English skills. After about 2 weeks of my stay, I was admittedly a little “shocked” when I happened upon a group of about 30 German students. On the one hand, it was of course nice to finally be able to change a few words in the mother tongue after 2 weeks of exclusively using English, on the other hand, the worry increased that in the future only German would be spoken. Fortunately (based on my use of the German language) this group presented itself as a group consisting exclusively of business informatics who did not take part in a classic Semester Abroad program, but came through a separate program in which lectures were exclusively for the German group were held and no American students attended. At this point I can only say that I was VERY happy to have been in a group with American students, so that a) I wasn’t tempted to speak German and b) I was able to make American friends. Note: California State University San Marcos is also known as CSUSM on abbreviationfinder.
Regarding initial concerns that one might not be able to cope with the language, I can only give the all-clear! I had the same concern. But you can get in really quickly! I admittedly found the first few days a bit exhausting, especially since all of a sudden only English lectures and only English rattled on me and you sometimes have to concentrate a little at the beginning if you want to understand “everything”. I think it is a bit Utopian that you will understand every word at some point (within one semester), but I can say that in the end I understood pretty much everything that was honestly not the case in the first few days. But I think that’s completely normal and you shouldn’t panic! In the lectures, to my own amazement, I understood almost everything the professors said from the very first event. With the exception of one professor, who sometimes tended to speak a little more quietly and, above all, a bit cuddly, everyone spoke very clearly and distinctly, so that although it took a little concentration at first to understand everything, it wasn’t as difficult as I expected would have! What I found a little “shocking” for me personally was the fact that even after 5 months in the USA it still sometimes happened to me that I actually did not understand some Americans who did not speak to me directly, but to each other. But I think that once again I had too high demands on myself. After all, here in Germany there is also something like Low German, which not necessarily everyone (not even every German) always understands one hundred percent and the Americans may just have a few slang idioms that you don’t then absolutely understands. But as I said, I had this experience primarily when people didn’t communicate with me directly! EVERYONE (including people I didn’t know at all) spoke to me very clearly, so that there were usually no problems. And in an emergency it doesn’t cost anything to ask again if you haven’t understood something. And I tell you: Americans (at least in California) are EXTREMELY friendly and helpful! I’ve never met people as open and helpful as in California. Before I went to the United States, I heard about things like “culture shock” that I had been prophesied and the deceptive superficiality of Americans. Allegedly, Americans should be very superficial and not at all as friendly as one initially thinks. I cannot fully subscribe to that! Certainly there are people who may fall into this cliché, but of the people I have met that is a very small minority! As soon as an American realizes that someone needs help, he tries to help – complete strangers! Even if you haven’t asked him for help directly. For example in the train, if you ask the person sitting next to you for directions or whatever, who unfortunately cannot help you and someone else who sits 5 rows ahead notices, I’ve actually experienced that this person got up and wanted to help immediately! Once an American even accompanied me to Walmart when I was trying to get out of the tram station.
In order to talk about the university, which is probably one of the most interesting things for you when you are thinking about choosing a suitable university, I would like to start with the size of the university. The courses I took were taught in small classes that never had more than 30 people. I even had a class where we were maybe 12 people. This means that questions can be asked at any time and the professors are available at any time via e-mail. They are also very helpful! What I found VERY positive about the American system in universities is the fact that you are encouraged to work continuously throughout the semester! I don’t know what it is like at your home university in Germany. I am doing a dual course of study, Accordingly, I only have 1. 5 years to get through my bachelor’s degree and unfortunately that is partly God’s very nice bulimia learning. I don’t know to what extent this is different at “normal” state universities, but I think it is quite common in Germany to write an exam at the end, which then represents the grade. This is not possible in America. You are required to do something continuously throughout the semester. There are courses in which, for example, 4 exams are written that are spread over the semester and ultimately result in the final grade. Often these exams are supplemented by a whole series of assignments, labs or presentations to be given. I don’t think the level of difficulty is too high, but commitment is required, because if you don’t do anything, receives poor partial grades, cannot achieve a good final grade. However, if you do your homework, you will be rewarded for it! Personally, I liked this VERY much! I really did a lot for the university in America, but was still not as annoyed with everything as I always am here in Germany. . . I really enjoyed studying there and didn’t think it was that bad having to do a lot of homework, especially since this reward effect was very strong, which I don’t necessarily feel here in Germany. In 2 courses I was ultimately the best, even though I was only in the course with American students. Here in Germany I’m more of the type of student who, the last few nights before the exams, starts sorting the chaos in the blocks, filing it down and thinking about it what kind of material you have covered during the semester. In the end it has still led to pretty good exam results so far, but nothing has stuck in the long term. . . as sad as it is. In the US, almost everything seems to have stuck! You just have to deal with the matter over and over again. A very accommodating system for me! This MUST. . .
And although I did MUCH more homework etc. at home than I have ever done here in all of my studies, the bottom line is that I still had significantly more free time than I have here in Germany. That was probably due to the fact that I only had to attend 4 different series of lectures and so in the meantime often had a break, which I could already use for homework etc. and did not have to start in the evening around 10 p. m. , as it is here in Germany is common to my dual studies. I also found the fact that I lived directly on campus to be very advantageous, especially since I had to walk 5 to 15 minutes (depending on the room in which my lecture took place) until I got home. As a result, I always went home in longer breaks and was able to use the time wisely so that, as I said, I didn’t have to do my homework at night. However, there is also a library on campus, in which you can also have some peace and quiet, although the spaces can be relatively crowded during “rush hour”.
Otherwise, I can only recommend living on campus. You get to know Americans and their values and norms much better if you live with them directly. At first I felt very comfortable in my apartment, until one day my roommates started an extremely ridiculous argument that I originally had absolutely nothing to do with. Unfortunately, everything ended up like in a weird American film, so I have to admit that I felt quite uncomfortable at times (for a while everyone ignored each other and no one could talk to the other anymore, then at some point “behind my back. ” “Blasphemed, or actually it wasn’t behind the back, but especially so that you could still hear what they said. . ). Well Hopefully this remark does not lead to your decision not to live on campus! I was just a little unlucky with my roommates! That doesn’t mean that everyone is like that! I’ve also lived with girls who just got out of high school. Somehow a bit of a catfight,. . by itself, I can only recommend life on campus. What I always found really great was the “Monday Night Dinner”. Every Monday evening the owner of the University Village cooked for anyone who wanted. You then sat together for dinner (which was free!) And again had a lot of nice conversations.
I also found activities organized from California State University San Marcos to be very great. For example, there was once the opportunity to go on a ski trip. The price was really free and I really wanted to be there. Unfortunately I didn’t get any more space. As a tip: if the Campus Recreation Center organizes things that interest you, try to be there as soon as the registration starts so that you don’t miss out on these great activities! As a rule, there are posters all over the campus to inform you of this! You just have to act in time;-)
Regarding California in general, I can really only say that it is a VERY exciting “country” (given its size you could almost call it that) that has a lot to offer. Especially in relation to nature! At least my feeling was that you can really find incredibly beautiful landscapes there! And in half a year it will be completely impossible to explore all of this! Especially when you are actually there to study!;-) As a tip: I bought a bike at Walmart for $ 99 on my second day and sold it again for $ 60 afterwards. That was pretty much my best investment there!:-) I’d do it again like that!
What would I give to go back to California one more time. . .
Oh yes, it’s not even 20 kilometers from San Marcos to the beach. A bike is more than awesome for that too:-)
I wish you an unforgettable semester abroad at Cal State San Marcos !!!! Believe me you will have it!:-) Jealous! I also want to once again. . .