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Navigating Germany, US

Navigation Germany, USPeople all over the world dream of studying abroad for at least one semester. Being able to learn more about other cultures, improving or developing language skills, or just experiencing a whole new life in a different surrounding is attractive for many students. I am one of the lucky ones who is able to live that dream. But is it really a dream?

I’m a tennis student from Germany. This is my second year studying in the U.S. The idea of coming here to study developed when I was 16 years old. It has always been clear to me that I want to study abroad and improve my English skills, but at the same time I wanted to keep playing tennis on a high level. So, when some of my tennis friends told me about their idea to get an athletic scholarship in America, I was totally amazed by it.

It’s not like I didn’t want to study in Germany, but the university experience there compared to the U.S. differs in many aspects. For example, the number of classes students take, university life, student activities and so on. In Germany, there are no classifications, like freshman, sophomore, junior and senior. Students simply identify themselves in saying in which semester they are in.

The general degree plan also varies in many points — there are no general classes in Germany, just classes related to your major. You wouldn’t take any history classes unless you are majoring in it. In Germany, you have more classes than in the U.S. At Lamar, students usually take five classes per semester, but inGermany, they take around seven to nine classes per semester. So, getting a bachelor’s degree usually takes three years instead of four.

During the semester, students in Germany have no chance to collect credits. Usually, every class has one final exam at the end of the semester. It is also not common thatprofessors take attendance, so you do not get credit for that. Basically, it’s up to the student if they go to class and study for their final.

The whole college experience is completely different compared to the U.S. because there is no living on campus. If you want to live close to the university, you have to take care of it by searching for apartments in that area.

Also, there aren’t many opportunities to eat on campus — the dining hall usually just opens for lunch. Most importantly for me, there are no sports teams. That means for foreign people, the only way to get into the university is by having an impressive academic history. As you can see, studying in Germanyjust consists of studying. But, the universities cost nothing for the citizens, unless you want to go to a private university.

So, I decided to start studying in the U.S. by getting an athletic scholarship. My goal was to be able to practice tennis on a high level and also to get the full American college experience, like in the movies. Well, as I am here right now, I can tell it is not like the movies, but what is ever the same in movies and real life?

Not a single thing.

Being under an athletic scholarship here is quite tough. Waking up nearly every morning at 5:30 to go to work outs, having classes after, and then having tennis practice again in the afternoon can be very stressful. With a schedule like this six days a week, you finally know how to appreciate your free time and your time of not being sore.

The fall semester in tennis is thought of as preparation time for the season, which starts in spring. In fall, we practice a lot and compete in four tournaments to get some match experience before the season starts. In spring, we travel nearly every weekend to different schools in Texas and Louisiana. This is a really intense semester because the focus just lays on studying and playing tennis.

When coming here, I had to adjust my lifestyle to this whole new environment. In Germany, I never lived on my own and in a way, was never alone. I always had my family close to me.Here, I have my friends, but they are on a completely other level than family.

For me, getting homesick is part of the decision of studying abroad. Being able to Facetime with my family on a regular basis helps. One of the most difficult things to adjust to is living in the dorms and managing my money. Doing laundry by myself and figuring out how to manage the amount of money I get from my parents every month were all new situations for me.

In my second year, I can say that being here made me into another person, meaning my views on certain things have changed. I learned a lot about myself and what I expect from life.

Still, like everyone else who is in the stage from turning from a teenager to an adult, I am still not sure about major aspects of my life and need to figure them out.

One statement I can make with certainty is that studying abroad was one of the best decisions in my life, considering the good and the bad experiences.

Story by Amelie Vossagaetter, UP contributor

Category: Opinion