The best challenge of my life
I always dreamed about exploring new places and countries and maybe even studying abroad. Unfortunately, I missed the opportunity to do this when I was in high school, but I was determined that should I ever get the opportunity to finish my education abroad I would take it. Luckily, I met Sandra at the West German Championships and we talked about the possibility to study and play Volleyball in the US. At that time, I played for USC Münster and lived in the sport boarding school there.
I decided late in spring 2016 that I would take this incredible opportunity to both study and play Volleyball in the US. It was a little bit of a challenge to get all the paperwork and videos done but Sandra guided me through the whole process and answered all my questions. Without her it would have been impossible to get everything done on time.
After a couple of schools contacted me, I was a little overwhelmed and was not sure how to make my decision. With all of Sandra’s experience she was able to help me pick the right school for me. I skyped with the coach from the College of Central Florida, a junior college, and I had a good feeling about her and the volleyball program. She offered me a full scholarship, so I decided to begin my journey in Florida. After managing to complete all the formalities and documents I needed, I was excited to start my new life in the Sunshine State.
Before I flew to the US my English was not one of my strengths (definitely not my favorite subject in school). I was worried and a little scared about a lot of things: Will I make friends? Will I be homesick? Are my Coaches good? What is college life like over there? Will my English be good enough?
I had never been to the US before I started my college experience there, so I was not sure what to expect. Reading about some of the experiences of other players on the VolleyUSA website helped me to stay positive.
College of Central Florida
With all the questions still in my head but excited about my new life, I landed at the big Orlando International Airport in Florida, where my coach picked me up and drove me to my new apartment. This was my home for the next couple of months (a nice pool included). All my teammates waited for me outside of my room to welcome me. I shared my apartment with 3 of my teammates from Brazil, Turkey, and the US. Having people from so many different countries under one roof was challenging sometimes, but I learned so much about their diverse cultures, especially the delicious food I was able to try.
I will never forget my first day of pre-season. We drove to a police academy training field to complete a workout and have a team challenge there. I remember that it was a hot, humid day in August, and I was sweating just from standing outside. The whole first week was very exhausting with 2-3 practices and workouts a day. I did not even have the chance to miss home.
Both years we won the conference title and it was fun traveling and playing with an international team. My coach pushed me very hard and it was definitely not easy to push through the whole season, but she made me a better person and volleyball player. She taught me to never give up.
I enjoyed going to a smaller junior college first, because the classes were smaller, and you see familiar faces everyday on campus. Through a lot of team events and cook outs we grew together as a team and I never felt left out. Living in Florida was also very exciting. Having beautiful national parks and beaches close by gave me the opportunity to explore many parts of the Sunshine State.
University of Missouri in Kansas City
After my two years at the College of Central Florida I wanted to finish my study in the US, and I decided to experience a new part of America. Sandra helped me throughout the transfer process and checked in with me on a regular basis. I signed my contract with the University of Missouri in Kansas City. A D1 school in the heart of the city. After my first visit I fell in love with the exciting city and how different it was to Florida.
Playing in the Western Athletic Conference meant traveling a lot by plane for games, including being stuck in New Mexico for a couple of days because the flight was cancelled. Traveling with the team was exciting and I got to see many new places. (Seattle was probably my favorite). On the other hand, I missed many classes but the university, professors and advisors were there to help out and they could move exam dates or arrange for a little bit more time to get your work done. After my season I decided to go back to Florida.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
I went back to Florida to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach. In the end it turns out I am a SUNSHINE GIRL. The team made me feel like I was home and I got along with everyone very well. Even though we had intense beach workouts I enjoyed living close to the beach. The practices and workouts were hard, they challenged me mentally and physically. But with the support I got from my team, the coaches, the university and all the students it was easier to push through.
Playing home games was one of my highlights in the US. It is just an incredible feeling knowing that most students are showing up to games to support you. Having the school band and cheerleaders cheering for you creates a great atmosphere.
I appreciate all the coaches who believed in me and pushed me to get better. It was a rocky journey, but I grew and became stronger as a person.
The whole experience was challenging, and there were hard days, but it was the most exciting time of my life and I have met so many wonderful unique people from all over the world. In all the three places I lived in the US I felt like I was at home and cannot wait to travel there again. It has given me so much and I grew as a person as well as a volleyball player. Coming back to Germany, with a completed bachelor’s degree and all the incredible memories I made, feels like the last 4 years were just a dream.
Thank you, Sandra for helping me to have the best 4 years of my life!