Mark worked his way through CSU-Sacramento, where he graduated with a B.A. in English in 1981. He was awarded the Top Twenty Senior Award at graduation. Mark then attended a year of graduate work at CSU-Sacramento, studying Old English, Middle English, German, Latin and Greek. At the end of the year, Mark received a fellowship to teach American Literature for a year at Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet in Mainz, Germany.
While in Germany, Mark attended the Goethe Institute; taught German university students American Literature; and attended seminars in German, American and English literature. Mark successfully passed exams in both Middle High German and Modern German Literature. While in Germany, Mark frequently traveled to other countries, including Germany, France, England, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Holland and Greece. He also toured Greece and Italy by train. It was while living in Germany that Mark learned to play soccer – a passion he still follows – as an avid spectator.