8th grade. 14 year-old me was listening to a guest speaker who was telling us about her experience of studying in the U.S. I remember being mesmerized right away. The idea of studying abroad while playing volleyball was my dream since that day.
Two years later I got in contact with Sandra Brunke. She told me all about studying and playing in the States. We met and texted several times so she could answer all of my questions and get to know me. At the German championship she got to meet my parents as well and we made it official by signing a contract. From that moment on the adventure and excitement began. I remember all the things I had to do: from making a player video, taking tests like the TOEFL and the SAT, filling out a lot of paperwork, and getting a VISA. During that time Sandra was the biggest help. I probably would have given up if she wasn’t there to help and push me.
Once you have done most of the work it is time to sit back and wait for offers and coaches contacting you. I remember how excited I got whenever I got a new email. Immediately I would look up the university, the volleyball program and the location. When I got an offer from a school in Florida I knew that this is where I wanted to go. August 3rd, 2015 was the day my life would change forever. Sounds cheesy but it’s true! I didn’t know a person could feel so many different emotions at the same time. Of course I was freaking excited and happy to go to Florida but at the same time I was sad to leave my family and friends. Once in the plane though the excitement conquered all these other feelings.
Volleyball in the States is much different than what I have experienced in Germany. The practices are more intense, longer and punishment became a whole new thing. But it made me better and stronger as a player and a person. In Florida I had both indoor and beach volleyball, which was a great combination to improve my skills but also my condition. The two years in Florida were basically vacation. The weather was amazing and it only took me 25 minutes to bike to the beach. I met amazing people from all over the world who I am still in contact with today.
Since my test scores from the two tests I mentioned before were pretty bad, I went to a junior college for two years and then transferred to another school. (Yes, it is not the end if your test scores are not that good! Sandra will have a solution for you!!). After Florida I really wanted to go to a big city and after watching Gossip Girl I had my mind set to New York. I talked to Sandra and she said that it is going to be hard because a lot of people want to go to New York, obviously. I guess she must have really liked me because she used all her connections and convincing powers to get me a scholarship at a D1 school in Brooklyn, New York.
I mean it is New York. What can I say?! It was perfect. I was living in Brooklyn but just a minute walk from my apartment and I could see the skyline of Manhattan. During my time in New York I gained a lot of muscle weight and I think besides the conditioning with my beach volleyball coach in Florida I have never been so fit in my life. It was truly amazing for me to see what my body was capable of.
Before coming to the U.S. my biggest fear was my English, because it was really bad. But you will improve very fast, don’t worry! I was also concerned about school and in general going to a new country with new people and a different language. It was all fine though. Your team and coaches will become your second family, school is school (interesting and a little annoying sometimes) and everything else that is new is exciting. I do have to say that as a student-athlete you will miss classes sometimes but your professors know and will support and help you catching up.
People always ask me what I liked better… Florida or New York. I always smile and say that I can’t tell because they both have been so different but amazing. Looking back now I am actually glad and thankful that I didn’t do well on the tests because that way I got to experience two great places with two amazing teams and lots of awesome people. I graduated with my Bachelor in psychology in May 2019. When the time came to leave the four years and America behind I was really sad and wished I could go back in time and start all over again. You think four years are a long time but really it passes by so fast. You are in the best hands with Sandra. Over the past four years Sandra became a friend and even took care of me after graduating. So if you like adventures, meeting new people, playing and working hard for your team and in school, then you have come to the right place!!