Florida & New Jersey
My name is Miriam Stingl and I am from Vienna, Austria. I heard about the opportunity to come to the US with an athletic scholarship through one of my friends I played club volleyball with in Vienna. After contacting Sandra Brunke from VolleyUSA about the opportunity to move abroad the process began. I had to take a few tests such as TOEFL, SAT etc. and at the end of July 2017 I was on the plane to fly to Houston, Texas. I definitely had a little culture shock when I first landed, however I didn’t really have the time to think about how I felt about my new life, since volleyball practice and pre season started the next day already. Within a few weeks I started adjusting to the language, people, team etc. and soon started loving my experience there. I played as a Right Side/Outside. My first two years in Texas were a really amazing as well as challenging experience, but I wouldn’t change any part of it. When it comes to the game atmosphere, the difference that I noticed compared to what I was used to in Europe, is that the gyms are always super loud and the game speed is a little quicker.
After receiving my Associates degree in Business Administration I transferred to the University of North Florida to continue my education and volleyball career. From the first week there I loved Florida and the University. I got there in June 2019 and besides practicing and taking summer classes we were always at the beach. Since I was at a Junior College my first two years and then transferred to a Division 1 school, there was definitely a difference in the level of play and commitment, but I honestly loved that aspect because I felt like it made me grow as a player and person. Overall I had so many great moments and I loved the fact that we would fly to certain games and see other parts of the country.
After graduating from the University of North Florida with my Bachelors of Business Administration, I had the opportunity to play another year of collegiate volleyball, since the NCAA granted another season for everyone that was hit by Corona. That was great news for me and I really wanted to use that last year, therefore I decided to transfer to Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey. This was a great opportunity for me, since the school offers a 4+1 program and I wanted to complete my MBA in my last year of eligibility. Also, by doing this I moved closer to New York, which was like a dream come true.
At this point I want to thank Sandra for all the support and help throughout all these years. She is amazing and always there when you need her. I couldn’t have done this journey without her. But back to my journey. I went to FDU as a grad transfer for just one season and I have to say this past year has been really great. Playing the sport I love close to a city like New York is an unreal experience. I really enjoyed the fact that I transferred twice and experienced three different parts of the country and had three different college experiences. This past year was the perfect end to my collegiate career. It was fun to go to college close to New York, because we would go there a lot, especially on weekends. I also had an internship and worked on campus during this year. Right now the plan is to do OPT for 12 months and work for a company in New York, however I am also contemplating on continuing my volleyball career.
There are so many things I could add to this, but I would never finish. Personally, it was the best decision for me to pack my things when I was 18, leave Austria and move to the US for college. I learned so much in these past five years, met so many amazing people, made great memories and had such a great time playing the sport I love. I think if you have the opportunity to go to a different country and leave the comfort of your home you should always do that even if it sounds a bit scary.