First steps to move abroad

In one of my last blog posts, I started to give a broad overview of my experiences in the USA. My adventure of studying in the USA will be almost over in one month. To talk more about my experience and what I learned from it, which might be helpful for some who are considering going to the US, I will make a short series about my US experience, including the ups and downs.

I will start with my why behind going to the US and my recruiting process.

WHY study in the US

Doing track at a high level and studying at the same time can be quite exhausting, no matter in which country, but especially in Germany (or Europe), where both systems are completely independent. When I finished high school, I was contacted by some coaches in the USA if I would consider studying abroad to combine college and track better. I didn’t want to do that at that time because I was too afraid of 1. moving abroad at the age of 18 and 2. overtraining and getting injured, as I had heard too often. So, I started my bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. Happy with my decision (but still quite often injured), I finished my bachelor 4 years later and had a great time in Cologne. Then came the question, what’s next? Where do I want to do my Master’s? The idea of going to the USA came up without even knowing if I could do my Master’s abroad because I didn’t know anyone who did. So, I contacted a company that helps international students study abroad and asked for advice.

Recruiting

That was the beginning of my journey to the University of South Carolina. It was only a month from the first counseling session to the first calls with college coaches.

The recruiting process was exhausting. I created an Excel sheet and took notes after every call I had (yeah, that’s me, and I recommend it to keep track!) With the time differences, I talked to coaches almost every night for 2 months and started figuring out my 3 favorite schools. I wanted to visit the universities before I decided because the universities can pay for you to visit them. So I did that and flew to the USA and visited the University of Kansas, the University of New Mexico, and University of South Carolina.

I am really glad I did these visits as they gave me a lot more insight though talking to other athletes and just seeing everything in person rather than just having Zoom calls. However, when you visit a university, always keep in mind that you don’t see everything and most things get polished off! They want you to commit to their university, so they show you the good things, not those that need improvement. That’s why talking to your teammates is crucial and maybe the biggest advice I would give. Really ask deep questions and observe how everyone interacts with the team. Observation will be your best friend.

To make the right decision for you, have a few things in mind first: What is your why for moving to the US? Is it to have a great time, to live in warm weather, to get a great degree, or to become the best athlete you can be?

Commitment

The answer was: I want to become the best athlete I can be while pursuing a Master’s degree of my interest. I focused mainly on the athlete part, which is good, but I forgot to pay attention to the environment and other things (people, city…). To become the best athlete, you can be more things than a great coach, and good facilities are needed, starting with being happy and having fun with where you live… Coming from Germany, visiting an SEC school can be overwhelming because they have way more opportunities than I was used to. But facilities are not everything… (More on that later).

That being said, I committed to the University of South Carolina after my visit because I felt like the coach at the time was an excellent fit for me, and the training group was one of the best in the country for the 400/400m hurdles.

Next, I will talk about my experience moving to the US and how my begininng was at an SEC school as a graduate student.

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