Ina Gosen – Jacksonville & Tampa, Florida / Monroe, Louisiana

Ina Gosen
Florida & Louisiana

Where should I start? My 4 years in the United States went by in a blink of an eye. It all started in 2015 when I was in 10th grade and my dad talked to Sandra at the German U18 Volleyball championships. I wasn’t sure what to do after high school graduation, but it had always been a dream of mine to spend an exchange year in the United States. A year later I decided to get in touch with Sandra again and started my recruiting process. Let me tell you, it was a wild ride, but it was worth it.

In July 2017, I took a flight from Amsterdam to Orlando. My coach picked me up at the airport and we drove to Jacksonville, Florida where I was going to play at Florida State College at Jacksonville. The city was amazing and despite having some issues within the team we managed to win our conference. I met my two best friends there that I still talk to almost every day. Their families that both live in Jacksonville welcomed me with open arms and made me feel at home from day one.

Due to some internal reasons within the athletic department, I decided to transfer for my sophomore year even though my initial plan was to only stay in the US for one year. I was so stoked about the country that I just wanted to see more and stay longer. I ended up playing at Hillsborough Community College in beautiful Tampa. I’d still describe my year in Tampa as the best year I’ve ever had. I was named Conference Player of the Year, we traveled to tournaments in New York and all over Florida. The girls were amazing, and the coaching staff are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Unfortunately, you can only play at the junior college level for two years, so I had to leave Tampa. With the help of my coaches at HCC I managed to transfer to the University of Louisiana Monroe, a division 1 school with a football team, cheerleaders, and everything you can imagine from American movies. Even though the city was not as big as Tampa and Jacksonville, I enjoyed my time from day one and made lifelong friends. The football games, Starbucks runs and meals at our favorite local Mexican place El Paso are things that I will forever be grateful for. I got the opportunity to play Beach volleyball as well at ULM. This new challenge really pushed me to work even harder and make the most of the time I had on the court and sand. 

All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Sandra. She was always there throughout my 4 years. I could always text her and she always had some good advice. The time in the United States has shaped me into the person that I am today. Even though I had doubts sometimes or struggled on the court, off the court or with homesickness, it was truly an amazing time that I do not want to miss. Now, I have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science. The time has prepared me for life with a great education and even bigger life lessons. And if I could tell freshman year Ina one thing it would be: stop stressing, be open, seek help if you need to, people will help you and don’t be scared to ask.