Preparation & application
My preparations as a free mover (unfortunately my home university didn’t offer a program through which students can go to the USA) started about a year before my departure. After several e-mails and comparing several universities, I knew that I wanted to go to Texas. The application (actually simply working through a checklist) couldn’t be easier, both MicroEDU and Texas State University help you as best they can. So you always know what needs to be done, but the application is still time-consuming (search for and application for a scholarship, application for a visa, as well as a TOEFL test will be part of the checklist for most).
Texas State has a relatively small program for international students by comparison. But that’s definitely more of an advantage than a disadvantage, you are something special at the university and the International Office welcomes every applicant, which also makes it a lot easier to get positive feedback for the application. After accepting the study place offer, you get all the necessary information, checklists and documents directly from Texas, including the necessary travel documents (don’t forget to bring the I-20) and documents for housing. Usually the university tries to accommodate all international students together. But you can also look for accommodation on your own if you prefer to live with Americans. I decided to live with the other internationals, which I in no way regret. Our accommodation (vistas) was right on, but not on campus, which is very beneficial when it comes to partying and alcohol. The next supermarket was within walking distance without any problems.
University & courses
Not really surprising was how ridiculously simple the university in Texas is compared to my home university. You have to do 12 credits in the semester, which is usually four different courses, but this can vary depending on the course choice, not all courses necessarily bring you 3 credits. If you stay on the ball a little and submit work on time, hardly anything can actually go wrong. Thanks to the many opportunities to get “extra credits” to improve the grade, it is also super easy to get top grades. As an international student is normally classified as a freshman (i. e. student in the first year of study), one is dependent on the help of the International Office when it comes to choosing a course. The people there help you very well, I had no problems getting the courses I wanted.
In general, the university has a wonderful campus and offers endless opportunities to spend time. A lot is shown in the introductory week, but the campus is so big that it takes some time to really find your way. In addition to the buildings in which classes are held, there are numerous sports facilities where you can train and play for free. If you want, you can also join student groups, for example to do sports, for academic purposes or just to get in touch with people. Every semester you can also register for intramurals, which are competitions in different sports in a league system. You decide on a sport, set up a team or join an existing one and play with this team against other student teams.
If you want, you can eat in the numerous dining halls on campus, but only if you buy a meal plan. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it, the food is basically the same all the time, not particularly healthy, and costs around $ 6 per meal. If you have so-called swipes (with each swipe I pay for a meal) at the end of the semester, they expire and are not reimbursed. So go to the nearest HEB (supermarket) and cook something yourself. The prices for groceries in the supermarket are roughly comparable to the German ones, but if you want to live very healthily, you have to expect a little more.
If you want to work in Texas during your time, you have to do so ON CAMPUS. International students are not allowed to work anywhere else for more than 20 hours a week. I myself simply asked the Department for Languages whether I, as a native, could not be a German tutor, and I was immediately accepted. The International Office will be of great help with applications and tax matters.
The official sports teams at the university are rather poor compared to other teams in the Sun Belt Conference (with the possible exception of baseball and basketball). Nevertheless, it is cool to go to the games, with a student ID entry is always free and there are often enough fan and / or promotional items for free. The highlights are the football games that take place in the fall semester. Don’t miss the tailgates in the large parking lot in front of the stadium!! For me, these are one of the coolest experiences at Texas State.
Texas & San Marcos
To be honest, at first I didn’t really know what to expect in Texas, you can hear crazy things about the people there every now and then. I was pleasantly surprised, the people there are super friendly! Grade Texans are very proud and comparatively rarely leave their state. Therefore, as an international with an accent, you are immediately an attraction, you are constantly spoken to and invited, it was super easy to get to know people there. I can only advise you to make friends with cool American students, I was lucky enough to be invited to many things by my friends there (ACL festival, parties on private boats or in a lakehouse, over spring break in a house in South Padre Iceland, to name just a few).
When I arrived in Texas, I was overwhelmed by the heat and humidity in August. You don’t have much choice but to spend the days by the river or pool, even over winter it remains comparatively warm and you can even swim in the San Marcos River all year round, the water temperature is constant all year round.
The party culture in the USA is definitely different from that in Germany. Remember, drinking on the street, even in the brown paper bags is forbidden! And of course you shouldn’t forget that in the USA you have to be 21 or older to come and drink to clubs. (In Austin, however, fake IDs usually also work to get into clubs, but San Marcos is much stricter). In general, however, party nights start around 11 p. m. in the bars and then you go from club to club until the lights go on at 2 a. m. and you have to go home. For this, admission to the clubs is free, apart from special concerts. If you have enough of the square in San Marcos after a while, he can take party buses (10 USD) from certain points in San Marcos to Austin and party there on 6th Street. The parties there also end at 2 a. m. , but it is definitely advisable to take the buses.
All in all, Texas was absolutely perfect for me. I couldn’t have asked for a better time and better memories and I can only recommend everyone to study at this university!